Defense prevails, 4-3, in 'seven snaps'


LATROBE, Pa. – Two of the highlights of the Steelers' annual Friday Night Lights practice at Latrobe Stadium were another session of "seven snaps" and backs-on-backers, the rematch.

With Ben Roethlisberger's work load for the evening confined to individual drills and one seven-on-seven period, Landry Jones quarterbacked an offense that included Le'Veon Bell in the backfield, Matt Spaeth at tight end because Heath Miller was given the night off, and Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Martavis Bryant as the wide receivers.

Jones overthrew Brown on a fade pattern on the first play, but then he came back to throw touchdown passes on each of the next two snaps. The first went to rookie tight end Jesse James, who had replaced Spaeth, and the second came on a slant to Brown despite tight coverage from Antwon Blake.

Tyler Murphy then came in at quarterback for the final four snaps. DeAngelo Williams took a handoff from Murphy and got himself into the end zone; Murphy tried to get the ball to tight end Cameron Clear on the next snap but Sean Spence batted the ball at the line of scrimmage; Murphy's pass on the next snap was a short completion to tight end Rob Blanchflower, but safety Alden Darby made first contact and then some help arrived to keep the ball out of the end zone; and then on the final play of the drill Josh Harris ran off the left side but was stopped short of the goal line.

The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Latrobe Memorial stadium for the annual Friday Night Lights practice.

That made it a 4-3 win for the defense in this latest installment of "seven snaps."

Immediately following that period, the Steelers broke into groups for a rematch of Wednesday's backs-on-backers. And while this one lacked the fireworks of last summer on this very field when LeGarrette Blount – who wasn't even in uniform for practice – initiated a fight with Vince Williams that ended up with Joey Porter in the midst of it all, first-year fullback Roosevelt Nix and rookie outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo stood out.

Chickillo continues to build on some solid practices, and during this drill he showed burst off the line of scrimmage, some power, some moves, and a lot of relentlessness. The sixth-round pick from Miami arrived at camp in terrific shape, and he has put himself in the thick of the competition for a roster spot.

Nix is a first-year player from Kent State who played defensive line in college, and the 5-foot-11, 260-pound four-time first-team All-MAC selection is trying to make the Steelers roster as a fullback. Nix got the better of Jarvis Jones on consecutive repetitions, and he also put Sean Spence on the ground.

"Awesome atmosphere tonight," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We really appreciate the atmosphere we have with our fans here, being able to feel that, and have them inspire us and push us through. Good practice. Loved the energy and the enthusiasm and the competition. Guys are really warming up to it and getting a sense of what we're looking for in these designed drills and really meeting the challenge in terms of technique and intensity. Intensity is a big element in some of these scripted situations that we put the guys in."

STEELERS NOTES: Tomlin said Gerod Holliman was held out of practice with a lower leg injury that will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis … James Harrison and Will Allen didn't practice again … Cortez Allen was in street clothes as well.

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