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Practice Report: July 28

LATROBE, Pa. – It was all just a little bit more. A little bit more time on the field. A little bit more situational football. And a little bit more misery created by the heat and humidity.

The Steelers conducted their second practice of this 2023 training camp at Saint Vincent College on Friday, and they completed a session just slightly longer than Thursday's mandated 90 minutes in conditions that based on the air temperature of 88 degrees and 62 percent humidity worked out to a heat index of 96 degrees.

"A really good day today, love the heat, and I mean it," said Coach Mike Tomlin when it was over. "It's uncomfortable, but it aids in development both individually and collectively. Guys got an opportunity to develop and display conditioning. The atmosphere is challenging from an assignment standpoint in terms of staying wired-in through fatigue and being able to execute, whether it's assignments or fine motor skills. It's just a really good environment for us to get to know them, for them to be able to get to know themselves and in a really challenging way."

Friday's session also served as the debut of "seven shots," a drill that pits the offense vs. the defense for 7 plays from the 2-yard line. After not being staged during Thursday's first workout of camp, the drill returned to its normal slot early in the practice session, and it ended with a 5-2 win for the offense.

Take a look at the Steelers training and preparing for the 2023 season at Saint Vincent College

The first play was an incomplete pass from Kenny Pickett to a dead area between George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth, but Pickett came back on the next play to complete a touchdown pass to Allen Robinson along the back line of the end zone to even the score, 1-1. The third play would have been a sack by Cole Holcomb, but that kind of contact is not permitted, and then on the following play the offense forged a 2-2 tie when Pickett found Anthony McFarland wide open after he came out of the backfield and flared off to the left.

On came Mitch Trubisky, and the first play with him at quarterback turned into a do-over mandated by Coach Mike Tomlin because of an errant shotgun snap. Trubisky gave the offense a 3-2 lead when he scrambled through a gaping hole in the middle of the defense's pass rush. Trubisky completed the drill and sewed up the competition for the offense by completing a pass in the end zone to Gunner Olszewski and then to Dez Fitzpatrick on the next two snaps to account for the 5-2 final score.

"We possibly had a pre-snap penalty, and there was some debate," said Tomlin about the do-over. "We don't have the officials out here yet, and I wanted to get a clear winner or loser from the drill, and so we just re-played the down. This is football-like, it's not football, and sometimes I'm going to do some things for clarity and competition."

Other 11-on-11 competitive periods included 12 plays of "pass under pressure," 12 plays of "third down," and 12 plays of "first and second down."

The 12 plays in each of those periods were divided equally among Pickett, Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph.

On his four snaps of "pass under pressure," Pickett had his throw batted down at the line of scrimmage; threw incomplete to Pickens; completed a quick pass toward the sideline to Najee Harris with Elandon Roberts flashing by to get into position to make a "tackle" for no gain; and then he would have been sacked by Alex Highsmith on his final snap if the play had been live.

Trubisky's first pass was out of the reach of McFarland; his next attempt was for Cody White, but Joey Porter Jr. reached around the receiver and broke up the pass; the third play had Olszewski made a nice catch along the sideline for about a 15-yard gain; and the final play would have been a sack by Mark Robinson and/or Chapelle Russell.

Rudolph came on and completed a slant pass to Miles Boykin; then completed a pass to a wide-open Connor Heyward over the middle; rolled to his right and threw a shot pass to Ja'Marcus Bradley; and finished off with a short completion to Hakeem Butler.

During the "third down" period, Pickett threw incomplete for Pickens, then would have been sacked by Highsmith, then completed a pass over the middle where Robinson made a diving catch; and then a rush up the middle by interior defensive lineman Armon Watts won that repetition for the defense.

Trubisky drove the ball over the middle for a completion to Darnell Washington; completed a pass to Olszewski to the left side of the formation for about an 8-yard gain; had a pass batted at the line of scrimmage by Nick Herbig; and threw incomplete for Dez Fitzpatrick with Cory Trice Jr. in coverage.

Rudolph completed a pass to Zach Gentry over the middle in a dead spot in the coverage; threw incomplete in the face of another good rush by Watts; scrambled away from pressure but then threw incomplete on a play where he and the receiver were not on the same page; and then Madre Harper broke up a pass for Fitzpatrick.

"The first opportunity to hit some situational ball today, some third-down things and short field things," said Tomlin. "This is just a component of it. We can't wait really long before we start talking about situations and how it changes the unwritten rules of the game and the things that they need to display in those moments in an effort to win. So there'll be a lot of that as we continue. It's just good to be back out here."

"The flipside of (the benefits of the heat) is we've got to really be professional. Take care of our bodies, hydrate, keep this group up, because availability is also a really big component of improving. We had a couple of guys who weren't able to finish because of heat related things, and it's probably routine this time of year. (DeMarvin) Leal missed a block of time, but I think he was able to come back. Also, Diontae (Johnson), Connor (Heyward), so we'll just keep an eye on those guys, and hopefully we get another hot day out here tomorrow and continue this developmental process."