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Practice Report: Coates the 'Special Cat'

LATROBE, Pa. - A breakdown of Practice No. 2 at Saint Vincent College:

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SPECIAL CAT:** WR Sammie Coates didn't let a little rain prevent him from repeatedly making big plays.

Coates showed up in a drill called "Special Cat," which is short for special category, which in this instance meant trying to convert/defend a series of third-down scenarios.

Coates went across the middle and extended to make an impressive, two-handed grab on a high, hard ball delivered by QB Landry Jones in front of CB Stephon Tuitt.

Coates then hauled in a deep pass from QB Bruce Gradkowski with an over-the-shoulder catch made while navigating the sideline and the pylon for a long touchdown.

Another big play got away in 7-on-7 work when Coates was unable to fight off the coverage of CB Montell Garner and come down with a deep ball from QB Ben Roethlisberger down the right sideline. But on the next snap Coates got free down the left sideline and made a full-extension, diving catch that delighted the fans on campus.  

GETTING HIS KICKS: K Chris Boswell completed a place-kicking drill with a 43-yard field goal. Boswell made six of eight attempts from varying distances overall, beginning with a PAT and ending with the 43-yard effort.

YOUR TURN: Ryan Harris replaced Alejandro Villanueva at LT with the first-team offense one day after Villanueva had been running with the No. 1s. WR Eli Rogers rotated into the slot, which meant fewer reps for WR Markus Wheaton as the first-team slot receiver.

"Like all rotations, I wouldn't read too much into who's running with what group at this juncture," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "We're just trying to get looks at people."

More rotational work included DE L.T. Walton, NT Javon Hargrave and DE Ricardo Matthews working with the first-team defense at the outset of the 11-on-11 "Team" period. NT Vince Williams and Walton worked as the linemen with the first-team "nickel" package.

SEVEN SHOTS: The standard two-point drill was run from the 12-yard line instead of the 2 this time, with the 10-yard line representing the goal line and the goal line the back of the end zone because of the wet conditions. The offense prevailed, 4-3.

After missing WR Antonio Brown from an empty set, Roethlisberger hit RB Le'Veon Bell, Brown and Brown again in the "end zone."

Jones took over at QB and found WR Levi Norwood for the offense's fourth conversion in five attempts.

Jones missed Norwood and WR Issac Blakeney on the final two snaps.

MEDICAL FILE: S Robert Golden (sick) did not practice. TE Xavier Grimble, who left Friday's practice early (cramps), returned.

AUDIBLES: "Actually enjoyed the circumstances today. It's good to have to adjust and have to be able to take a group through it. We dealt with weather circumstances today. It affected our morning in terms of the walk-through. It affected our practice out here. I thought the guys did a nice job of not letting those outside things affect the play. They had high energy and it was good work." _ Tomlin on dealing with less-than-favorable conditions at Saint Vincent.

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