LATROBE, Pa. – "I'll look at the tape. Obviously, there's always ebb and flow. The defense appears to be warming up to the drill. The offense was dominant in the drill early in camp, but as you guys know, it's football-like (and) not necessarily football. There are aspects of the drill that we control from an administrative standpoint to get looks at certain things. And that's just the reality of practice."
That was Coach Mike Tomlin's assessment after his team concluded the on-field part of their day. Other realities of Tuesday's practice at Saint Vincent College were that the Steelers ended their afternoon with another double-session of two-minute, and again the defense was victorious in each session.
The parameters set by the coaching staff for this installment of two-minute were: ball on the offense's 48-yard line, 1:01 on the clock, one timeout, and a touchdown was needed by the offense to win.
Kenny Pickett quarterbacked the first set, and he started off with a pass to Chase Claypool for 5 yards, followed by a pass to Najee Harris for 6 yards and a first down at the defense's 41-yard line.
After an incomplete pass intended for Pat Freiermuth, Pickett threw a ball down the right sideline that George Pickens hauled in for a 27-yard gain to the 14-yard line.
But that's when and where the drive was stopped. Pickett first overthrew Pickens in the end zone, and on his final play before time expired, he overthrew Claypool in the end zone.
The next quarterback to get a shot at a defense that's on something of a winning streak was Mason Rudolph, who opened with a 5-yard pass to Steven Sims. After an incomplete pass that was intended for Gunner Olszewski, Rudolph converted the third-down situation with a 10-yard pass to Christian Blake.
On a first down from the defense's 37-yard line, Rudolph could find nobody open, and so he sailed the ball out of bounds to stop the clock. His next pass was good for a 7-yard gain to Anthony McFarland Jr., and coordinator Matt Canada used the only timeout.
From the 30-yard line, Rudolph completed a pass to Tyler Vaughns for 19 yards, and when Vaughns got out of bounds the clock stopped.
The offense then had four shots from the 11-yard line, but it couldn't get the ball into the end zone.
Rudolph overthrew Cody White in the back of the end zone on first down; his next pass was too high for Sims along the sideline; he overthrew Jace Sternberger in the end zone on third down; and the last gasp attempt was incomplete for Blake.
The offense prevailed in Tuesday's installment, 5-2, and did it by scoring on the final five plays of the drill.
After an unsuccessful quarterback draw and a pass that led Diontae Johnson just a little bit too far, Mitch Trubisky warmed up to the drill by throwing back-to-back passes to Pat Freiermuth for touchdowns that tied things at 2-2.
The next quarterback on the field, for the second straight day, was Kenny Pickett, who got the offense into the end zone on both of his reps. The first came on a pass to Anthony McFarland Jr. on a play that started out by flowing to the right before Pickett came back to the left to throw the ball to the running back. The next was a pass to Connor Heyward, who went to the ground to scoop the low throw.
Mason Rudolph came on and completed the drill with a quick pass into the end zone for Tyler Vaughns for the score.
• During the team run drill, several defensive players turned in good individual plays. CB Chris Steele attacked the backfield and dropped Master Teague for a loss … On a run to the left by Mataeo Durant, safety Donovan Stiner ran him down from the back side for no gain … Inside linebacker Mark Robinson was attacking the line of scrimmage and delivering hits on offensive linemen.
• On the same day the Steelers waived free agent punter Cameron Nizialek, Pressley Harvin III was bombing the ball. It was a special teams period, and Harvin had at least six punts of 60-or-more yards, including one from out of his end zone that traveled 70 yards.
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"A few minor injury things – Arthur Maulet appears to have a minor hamstring of some kind that can be described as day-to-day. Master Teague had a little ankle (injury) that can be described as day-to-day at this juncture, and we'll have more information as we move forward." Other players who were on the field but not dressed in full pads to take part in the session were Alex Highsmith, Montravius Adams, Derek Watt, Marcus Allen, and Calvin Austin III.
The Steelers will conclude their time at Saint Vincent College with two more practices that are open to the public. Wednesday's session is to be in helmets and shells, and Thursday's practice is scheduled to be in full pads. Both practices are set to start at 1:55 p.m.
The Steelers claimed center Ryan McCollum off waivers from Detroit and waiving center Nate Gilliam following practice.
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