LATROBE, Pa. – The seeds were sown the day before on the Saint Vincent College campus, and after a little more than 24 hours worth of marinating in the sweat and frustration of an NFL training camp they blossomed under the lights at Latrobe Stadium.
Blossomed might be the wrong word. Exploded is a more accurate description.
"It was another good day of work for us," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "The venue changed, and we really appreciate these fans and this atmosphere that was provided for us here tonight. It was fun to have a little change of pace."
The first competition period during the Steelers' traditional Friday Night Lights practice included the second installment of backs-on-backers. As it turned out, this drill was impacted by what had happened during a tight ends-on-linebackers session on Thursday afternoon.
In the Thursday drill, the tight ends had their way with the linebackers, and that assessment came directly from Tomlin. For example, Heath Miller put Jarvis Jones on the ground three different times in what was a definitive win for the offense.
Not so much on Friday night during backs-on-backers.
The session began with Tomlin matching Lawrence Timmons vs. Le'Veon Bell, and Timmons winning that repetition got things rolling for the defense. Sean Spence, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Chris Carter, and Howard Jones all either ran around or ran over a corps of backs that was without LeGarrette Blount.
The evening's schedule included a Zambelli fireworks presentation as the grand finale, but a Bell-Williams collision lit the powder keg a couple of hours early.
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's sixth day of Training Camp.
Williams blasted into Bell and then drove him back and onto the ground, and when the players continued to tussle with Bell on the bottom, Blount jumped into the fray to help Bell even though he was wearing neither a helmet nor pads. The ensuing melee didn't last very long, and no one was injured during it, but those who wanted the Steelers to show a little bit more attitude between the white lines had to like what they saw.
"It's the ebb and flow associated with team development," said Tomlin. "The tight ends kicked the linebackers butts the other day, and the linebackers came back today with a vengeance. It's what team development is about. I would image the backs and tight ends come out here tomorrow with a get-back attitude. It is an emotional game, and they do lose that element of it sometimes. But those things are growth opportunities, and opportunities for us to teach. All of that is part of team development, even when it's a little bit negative.
"It is emotional, and at times you're going to feel like you've been wronged, but at the same time you have to keep your wits about you, because we step into stadiums with one goal in mind, and that's to win. Obviously, 15-yard penalties don't help us in that cause."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"On the injury front, there was really nothing in this practice. Maybe a groin strain there for Shaq Richardson. We continue to get guys back and increase their level of participation, guys like C.J. Goodwin and Le'Veon Bell, a couple of the tight ends made it back. Justin Brown didn't practice today because of a broken nose. (Jarvis Jones) just got a tight groin much like a lot of guys that I'm giving days to. Le'Veon Bell had a tight groin. Shaq Richardson had a tight groin tonight. It's part of training camp. Some of the unanticipated direction changes with football even when you're in top physical condition your muscles break down. It's just part of it. We'll give him a day or two. He'll be back out."