LATROBE _ Pending further review, the high school guys got it right.
The play-action fade from quarterback Landry Jones dropped out of the sky and into tight end Xavier Grimble's waiting grasp in the back corner of the end zone despite persistent coverage from inside linebacker Vince Williams. Grimble and Williams hit the deck, with Grimble still in possession. Both players slid across the wet turf and out of bounds and eventually the ball squirted free.
Two of the four P.I.A.A. officials working practice this afternoon quickly conferred prior to making their call.
The defense went crazy in protest, cornerback Mike Hilton in particular.
And Hilton wasn't even participating in the drill.
"How much they payin' you?" Hilton hollered at the black-and-white striped shirts.
Things have indeed changed for Steelers' tight ends in such situations.
"I don't know that those officials are NFL officials," head coach Mike Tomlin cautioned. "For the purposes of unique and good discussions, let's say it was a catch under the guise of the new rule."
The new catch rule had been explained in detail last week by NFL back judge Tony Steratore, who had been part of a contingent visiting campus to update players, coaches and media on such things.
"They are shortening the process back to where a receiver is not a receiver as long as he was in the previous year," Steratore said. "He can qualify himself as a runner faster. Possession, two feet down and an act that is common to the game."
Tomlin wanted another look at the play, just to be certain.
"I'll have an opinion after I look at it on video," he said. "I'd be happy to discuss it relative to the new rule, because I just think the more we all get familiar with that, the better.
"They ruled it a catch, though, on the field. I'll accept that until I get a chance to review it."
MEDICAL FILE: Wide receiver Marcus Tucker (ankle), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (undisclosed), cornerback Joe Haden (undisclosed), cornerback Brian Allen (undisclosed), outside linebacker Bud Dupree (concussion), guard David DeCastro (day off), offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (day off), wide receiver Antonio Brown (quad), tight end Vance McDonald (foot), outside linebacker T.J. Watt (hamstring) and outside linebacker Keion Adams (undisclosed) were among those who didn't do any 11-on-11 work.
Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey returned to practice.
GOAL LINE: The Jones-to-Grimble TD was part of the first live goal line drill of training camp. The defense kept the offense out of the end zone on four of the six reps. Running back James Conner scored on one of his two carries. Running backs Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley were dropped in the backfield on their attempts and running back Jarvion Franklin was likewise denied.
EXTRA POINTS: Practice was delayed and shortened due to lightning in the area … "Seven Shots" lasted just five reps, with the offense scoring/converting in the practice-opening, two-point conversion/short-yardage drill three times in five tries. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found Conner (over Williams) and wide receiver Justin Hunter in the end zone on the first two reps, both from an empty set … A third-and-1 drill preceded the work at the goal line. The offense converted four times in five tries. Highlights included wide receiver Tevin Jones hanging onto a pass over the middle from Landry Jones despite absorbing a big hit from free safety Sean Davis, and tight end Jesse James making an over-the-shoulder catch on a play-action throw by quarterback Mason Rudolph in spite of tight coverage from safety Nat Berhe and inside linebacker Matthew Thomas.