Players ready for a change at practice

LATROBE, Pa. – Steelers' practice will take on a whole new look today at Saint Vincent College, because they won't be the only ones out on the field.

For the next two days the Steelers and Detroit Lions will hold joint practices in advance of their preseason game at Heinz Field on Friday night.

"You get to go against a different group, a different offensive coordinator," said cornerback William Gay. "It's good to get that. It puts you in that preseason, season mode. We aren't going Steelers vs. Steelers when the season starts.

"Most important it just helps getting another idea, another offense, and another defense for our offense. You are going through the different scenarios, challenges you are faced with during the season. You get to have that in practice where it doesn't count, or you can hit the reset button. I am glad we are doing it. We did it against the Bills and it was fun and it's going to be fun these two days."

Joint practices have gained popularity in the NFL over the last five years, an opportunity for teams who have already been in a camp for a few weeks to break the monotony and gain valuable practice time.

This will mark the second time the Steelers have held a joint practice under Coach Mike Tomlin. The Steelers held two joint practices against the Buffalo Bills at Saint Vincent College in 2014.

"It does get old going against your same teammates," said linebacker Ryan Shazier. "They have different players, new faces, so it's always fun when you go against other folks.

"You don't want to hit your own teammates, but we want to go out here and make ourselves better."

While Gay and Timmons have experienced joint practices, running back Le'Veon Bell will be taking part in one for the first time.

"This is 11 years I have been in the National Football League and the first year I have had a joint practice," said Williams. "I have inquired from some of the guys. They said it's no different from a regular practice. When you are in practice and surrounded with your guys, you try and take care of your guys. When you have another tam come in here do you treat it like a game type situation or what?

"I am trying to get a feel for how that is going to go. It's just another challenge we have to answer."

The Steelers will practice against the Lions on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 2:55 p.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 5:15 p.m. at Saint Vincent College. Gates and parking lots each day will open three hours before the start of each practice.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not taking part in Monday afternoon's practice. Roethlisberger has an excused absence.

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