On Saturday night at Heinz Field, the Steelers squared off against Mother Nature and came up on the short end. Today, they decided discretion was the better part of valor.
"We practiced at (the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex) indoor facility today," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We got dumped on this morning with some rain, and we also had some other potential lightning on the radar. We didn't want to combat that. We lost a part of a day recently because of that so we exercised the precaution. But it also gave us the opportunity to move this group and change locations and still adhere to the COVID-19 protocols that come with transportation, the buses and so forth. So that was a good rep for us."
The Steelers practiced in helmets and shells, and Tomlin said the workout focused "on a lot of no-huddle-like situational things. A good day."
• Inside linebacker Robert Spillane practiced again Wednesday with a splint/wrap on his right hand.
• Ben Roethlisberger rolled to his right, evaded the rush of Stephon Tuitt, and found Chase Claypool on a crossing route through the middle of the defense.
• Inside linebacker Ulysses Gilbert and running back Anthony McFarland faced off in four separate reps of the RB-vs.-LB drills. McFarland got the best of Gilbert in three of the four reps, including one deep pass down the sideline. But Gilbert did swallow up McFarland on another wheel route on the other sideline.
• Paxton Lynch connected with tight end Zach Gentry in a 1-on-1 competition Spillane. Lynch threw a perfect, back-shoulder pass that allowed the 6-for-8 tight end to haul it in despite tight coverage from Spillane.
• Claypool made a diving catch on a throw from Roethlisberger despite coverage by Joe Haden in the DB/WRs competition period. This also was the period in which Ryan Switzer appeared to injure his right foot.
• Mason Rudolph connected with wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud on a deep crossing route. Rudolph executed the play-action fake perfectly and spotted McCloud running away from safety Jordan Dangerfield.
• Cornerback James Pierre almost had another interception, but he only was able to tip the pass away from wide receiver Deon Cain.
• McFarland and Claypool each had a dropped pass. Rudolph rebounded following McFarland's drop on the next play with a perfect throw to McCloud on a deep post route.
MAYBE CAM CAN
The Steelers are in search of depth at safety, and there is no such thing as an NFL team with enough good cornerbacks, and maybe the answer to both issues can be found in one player.
"(Cam Sutton's) best position might just be versatility," said Tomlin. "I know that from a role standpoint he has embraced that with us. Cam [Sutton] is a guy who is outside corner capable, nickel capable, dime capable, safety capable and, really, he displays that just about daily and within the same drills. His versatility has been an asset to us. He really has earned his way into the rotation in terms of being a core component of our base defense inside and in the sub-packages. But that is just the means on which he got on the bus. I don't want to put him in that box. He has a well-rounded skill-set and continues to prove to us that he is very versatile."
RECOGNIZING BILL NUNN
Tomlin opened his post-practice remarks by congratulating the Nunn Family on Bill Nunn being selected as the Contributor Finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021. "First let me say how excited we are as an organization that Bill Nunn took a significant step toward Hall of Fame recognition as a contributor. We were just all so honored to be associated with him, and we're just tickled that he's going to get the recognition he deserves and we share in that joy with his family. Just an exciting day for us."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"We had a few minor injuries, or injuries to be evaluated. I'll have information at a later date on Ryan Switzer, who had a foot; Kerrith Whyte, who had a groin; and Alex Myres, who had a groin. We still had a number of guys being out with what could continue to be described with day-to-day like issues. Some of the guys who have been working their way back and continue to do so, guys like David DeCastro."
INJURIES/DID NOT PRACTICE
• Guard Kevin Dotson (knee), safety Terrell Edmunds (day off), offensive lineman Jarron Jones (new), wide receiver Anthony Johnson (leg, crutches), wide receiver Diontae Johnson (calf), tight end Vance McDonald (veteran day), tackle Chuks Okorafor (groin), running back Wendell Smallwood (shoulder), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (day off), and defensive lineman Chris Wormley (shoulder) did not participate. Ben Roethlisberger returned after being given a day off on Monday, as did Maurkice Pouncey, who had an excused absence from Tomlin for personal reasons.