Fans arrive Friday; practice in pads Saturday

The Steelers held their first open practice of training camp on Friday afternoon, with the rain from the day before replaced with sunshine and humidity – conditions Coach Mike Tomlin was happy with.

"This period of work for us today, we're just taking another step in the process on the course," said Tomlin. "We had some good conditions to work under today. It was a little bit muggy, which is good for this time of year. We need that."

For the second straight day the team practiced without pads, something that Tomlin doesn't look at as a hindrance.

"We're learning what to do from an assignment standpoint," said Tomlin. "We're coming together but we also need to get in football condition. These guys are in great shape, but the only way you get in football condition is by playing the game. We're going to continue to snap the ball and provide that opportunity for them.

"I'm really pleased with the work. I liked the effort. Obviously we're far from a finished product but that's why we're here."

Things are expected to pick up on Saturday afternoon when players will practice in pads for the first time. Before Friday's practice while players were stretching, safety Ryan Clark made everyone aware of that, basically having fun telling players if you don't like to hit, go home tonight.

"I'm always excited to get the pads on, and I'm sure the guys are also," said Tomlin.

While things should be more heated on Saturday, Tomlin looks at practice in the pads the same as every other practice, just a part of the overall process in preparing for the season.

"The reality is, we're not into making quick decisions," said Tomlin. "We're going to evaluate the full body of work. Our goal is to put them in as many situations over an extended period of time to get legitimate information in terms of decision making. You can characterize tomorrow however you want."

Much of the talk during camp has been about the team's rookie offensive linemen, David DeCastro and Mike Adams, and Tomlin feels he has been able to get a feel for them even without the pads.

"You can evaluate alignment, assignment and detail, particularly in terms of footwork and hand placement," said Tomlin. "Those things are critical in line play - your ability to work within that five man unit. You can evaluate that whether it's in pads or not. They're learning and proving that they are what we think they are to this point."

Tomlin's injury update: "Really it's status quo on the injury front. Heath Miller has a minor ankle injury and Alameda Ta'amu has a minor foot injury. I informed you guys of that yesterday. The one new injury is to Jeremy Kapinos. He's experiencing some back discomfort. We're getting that evaluated. Maybe I'll have an update for you in a day or two."

The Steelers will hold an open practice on Saturday, July 28 at 2:55 p.m. (the first practice in pads) and one on Sunday, July 29 at 2:55 p.m. There is no practice on Monday, July 30.

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