The Steelers held their first practice of training camp on Thursday afternoon, finishing up just before a massive storm came through the campus of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.
"Good start for us today," said Coach Mike Tomlin, who had to move his post-practice media availability inside because of the weather. "Thankfully the weather was cooperative and we were able to get our work in.
"I like how we started today. Our guys had a lot of energy. I'm not going to read too deeply into it. I like to fashion this group as a mentally tough group. We understand that this is just the beginning and we don't have to trick ourselves into believing it's something that it's not. Good work today, a lot more ahead of us, and just getting acclimated to our environment is a big part of it."
The team won't have their first practice in pads until Saturday afternoon, but Tomlin thinks every time they take the field it is valuable.
"I think we're going to have plenty of opportunities to evaluate them playing football," said Tomlin. "I'm not as concerned about that as you might think.
"I'm just going to take advantage of the non-padded opportunities to teach skill development, technique and some of the nuances of the game to make sure there is an understanding of the game of football. Part of the evaluation is who knows how to play, who understands the game and there will be plenty of those opportunities and there will be plenty of padded opportunities to evaluate the actual play as well."
Tomlin talked about reps the team's rookie offensive linemen, including the top two picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams, are expected to get.
"We're going to put them in obscure positions of course, some with the first group, some with the second group," said Tomlin. "More than anything, it's making sure they're ready to go from an assignment standpoint. We acknowledge they missed some time because of the universities that they went to from an academic standpoint in the spring. We're not going to allow that to be an excuse. They're not either. We'll get them acclimated and put them in some situations and get to know them. But obviously a big part of their evaluation, as is everyone's, is what happens inside these preseason stadiums. That's what's awesome about preseason football for me. I'm an advocate of preseason football."
From an injury standpoint, tight end Heath Miller left practice early with what Tomlin referred to as a "minor ankle injury."
"We'll see where he is but we don't expect it to be significant," said Tomlin.
In addition, rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu did not practice due to a foot injury.
"We evaluated that and that doesn't appear to be significant either," added Tomlin.
The Steelers hold their first open practice of training camp on Friday, July 27 at 2:55 p.m.