LATROBE _ The defense is shooting straight so far in "Seven Shots."
The gold jerseys prevailed in the Steelers' practice-opening, two-point conversion/short-yardage drill for the fourth consecutive day this afternoon at Saint Vincent College. The defense won by a 4-3 count for the second consecutive day, and took four of the first six reps for a second consecutive afternoon before a cosmetic score on the seventh snap.
Linebacker Tyler Matakevich, cornerback Artie Burns, and cornerback Cameron Sutton were noticeable in their coverage efforts, although Burns was also beaten on a fade from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The defense leads, 20-15, through five practices.
THOSE TWO AGAIN: Burns and Brown continue to battle, as they had in the previous two training camps.
A one-on-one drill today was as representative as any of what's been taking place.
Burns made a full-extension dive to break up a pass to Brown in the end zone.
Brown came back and beat Burns for a touchdown over the middle on a subsequent rep but Burns never stopped trying to pry the ball away from Brown's grasp. Brown eventually broke away and then responded with a pat on the helmet and a high five for Burns.
It had been even more combative in "Seven Shots." Brown converted at the end of a route that had included a lot of pushing and grabbing both ways before the ball arrived. A few words were exchanged before Brown spun the ball at Burns' feet and shouted "that's six."
THE MEDICAL FILE: Outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (undisclosed), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (undisclosed), safety Sean Davis (groin), outside linebacker T.J. Watt (hamstring) and tight end Vance McDonald (foot) were among those who didn't practice.
Burns left early but remained on the sideline ("One of those day-to-day type things," head coach Mike Tomlin said).
Safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring) did individual work but didn't practice in team sessions for the fourth consecutive day.
PLAY OF THE DAY: The offense hadn't found much running room in the early stages of camp but that changed in the 11-on-11 "Team Run" live-tackling period. Running back James Conner found a hole up the middle, made safety Nat Berhe miss in open space, got to the outside and was gone on a 55-yard touchdown run.
Conner was back in the huddle for the next rep, breathing hard but nonetheless ready for more. The next play turned out to be a handoff to Conner, a toss back to Roethlisberger and then a deep completion to Brown.
NEXT MAN UP: With both Davis and Burns unavailable, No. 1 pick Terrell Edmunds and Berhe opened at the safety positions with the first-team defense.
NOT HAPPY: Roethlisberger let the receivers know he didn't approve of what had been taking place after consecutive incompletions in an 11-on-11 no-huddle drill.
On the first, Roethlisberger threw a deep corner, Brown ran a post and Edmunds wound up with his second interception in as many days.
"I'm tired of it," was audible on the sideline at the conclusion of Roethlisberger's barking at the receivers.
EXTRA POINTS: Brown joined wide receivers Quadree Henderson and Justin Thomas for a little work catching punts … Sideline visitors included Pitt basketball coach Jeff Capel and Pitt Chancellor Dr. Patrick D. Gallagher. Former Steelers assistant coach Tom Moore was also on hand for the second consecutive day … Safety Marcus Allen dropped an interception.