LATROBE, Pa. – Coach Mike Tomlin assessed the Buffalo Bills as a "great dance partner" for joint practices this week at Saint Vincent College. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley was in complete agreement, particularly given the different steps the Bills put on display for the Steelers.
"The biggest thing for us is going against another team," Haley said. "It's a different level of competition, and that's just natural. I thought everybody handled it pretty well for the most part. And for us, especially our guys up front, a chance to block a 4-3, penetrating defense, was significant.
"We for months and months go against our defense, which is a two-gap team, hold-their-space," Haley continued. "Sometimes when you then see a 4-3 team later in the season it's a little bit of a shock because you're not getting a good enough simulated look.
"To go against a 4-3 team is really what excited most of us the most."
The Bills found the enterprise worthwhile, as well.
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers practicing with the Buffalo Bills on the 15th day of Training Camp.
General Manager Doug Whaley, a longtime scout for the Steelers, appreciated the opportunity to expose his team to an organization noted for "toughness," Whaley said, and for accepting nothing less than a championship as the standard.
Second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel found value schematically and intangibly in the opportunity to practice against the Steelers' defense on consecutive days.
"Obviously, Coach (Dick) LeBeau is one of the best defensive coordinators in NFL history," Manuel said. "They gave us a bunch of different looks. We were chomping down on the film (Tuesday) night preparing for them."
And as it turned out LeBeau wasn't the only Steelers representative Manuel was studying.
"For me personally, to see Big Ben (Roethlisberger) in action, to watch him and see how he prepares for every practice is a huge opportunity for me," Manuel said. "I just tried to take advantage of it."