LATROBE, Pa. – It turns out, Mother Nature is a Steelers fan, too. At least that's the way things worked out on Thursday.
The area's weather forecast for the second day of practice at Saint Vincent College was ominous, and the visual of the sky in the early afternoon was worse than the forecast. The rain began to fall right around the scheduled 1:55 p.m. start time for practice, and so the Steelers adapted and moved their base of operations to the artificial turf field so as not to destroy the grass playing surface on the other three.
At 2:05 p.m., the rain picked up. It was raining hard at 2:11 p.m., and it wouldn't be a stretch to describe what started happening four minutes later as a downpour. But that was brief, and by 2:19 p.m. the worst of it was over, and then the grounds crew and some ballboys began the process of removing the tarp that was covering the grass. The rain stopped, and by 3:13 p.m. the tarp had been removed completely.
In the meantime, the Steelers continued to go about their business on the artificial turf, and one of the returning items of business for this particular session was 7-Shots. Not a part of Wednesday's practice, the familiar drill was back, and the offense won this installment, 4-3.
Breaking it down, Mitch Trubisky completed a pass to Chase Claypool for a touchdown, and it was 1-0 offense. On the next snap, Trubisky appeared to complete a pass to Zach Gentry, but it seemed as though before the ball was secured, Devin Bush flashed by and ripped it away for an interception. These kinds of disputes – whether the offense took a 2-0 lead on that play or whether the defense tied it, 1-1 – will be determined officially after evening film study. For the purposes of this deadline, it's being scored 1-1.
Trubisky completed a pass to Anthony Miller, and it's 2-1 for the offense. After a Trubisky completion to Gentry, it was 3-1 for the offense, and Mason Rudolph took over at quarterback. Rudolph threw incomplete to Steven Sims, and it was 3-2. Rudolph's next pass was for Kevin Rader but was broken up by Tre Norwood for a 3-3 tie. Rudolph then completed a pass to Tyler Vaughns to give the offense a 4-3 victory.
ROTATIONS AT WORK
Coach Mike Tomlin had Kendrick Green line up at left guard with the first-team offense, and the rest of the front was deployed as it had been on Wednesday – (from left to right) Dan Moore Jr. Green in place of Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, James Daniels, and Chuks Okorafor. Dotson slid back to left guard with the second group of offensive linemen. That process likely will continue for a while to give Green and Dotson a chance to separate from the other.
The other rotation at work was at inside linebacker, where Robert Spillane spent time with the No. 1 defense alongside Myles Jack at inside linebacker.
The Steelers opened the first 11-on-11 drill in their base 3-4, and with Tyson Alualu on PUP the nose tackle was Montravius Adams between Cam Heyward and Chris Wormley. Spillane and Jack were the inside linebackers, with T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith as the outside linebackers.
As this period progressed, Kenny Pickett took over at quarterback, and his first pass was intercepted by rookie free agent defensive back Chris Steele. On the next snap, Pickett's pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by 6-foot-5 outside linebacker Delontae Scott. But then Pickett followed those two plays with back-to-back completions in the same drill.
In 7-on-7, each of the top three quarterbacks on the depth chart – Trubisky, Rudolph, and Pickett – were 4-for-4 – with the deepest completion going from Rudolph to Gunner Olszewski down the left sideline with Norwood in coverage.
In the practice-ending team drill, the defense opened in its base 3-4, with Spillane and Jack as the inside linebackers. On the second play of the period, Spillane dropped into what appeared to be zone coverage and intercepted a Trubisky pass.
PRACTICE NOTES: After Wednesday's session, Tomlin had reported that Miles Killebrew had a pectoral injury that was to be evaluated. Killebrew didn't practice on Thursday, but he watched from the sideline wearing his jersey and a Steelers cap. Rookie linebacker T.J. Moultry, who was victimized by cramps on Wednesday, was back at practice on Thursday … Friday's session is set to begin at 1:55 p.m. and will be conducted with the players wearing helmets and shells. The first practice in full pads is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 1.