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Off and running

LATROBE - The competition has commenced at Saint Vincent College.

The Steelers' first practice of training camp opened with "Seven Shots," the two-point conversion/short-yardage drill that has become the team's jump-starting procedure in recent seasons.

It didn't disappoint.

Among the offensive highlights:

-Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hitting running back James Conner for a score on the first snap.

-Roethlisberger executing a pump-fake and then finding wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the back of the end zone.

-And quarterback Landry Jones drilling a pass to wide receiver James Washington on the final rep. Washington's combat catch against cornerback Coty Sensabaugh at the goal line finished the drill at 4-3 in favor of the offense.

CAN'T CATCH THIS: Drops were noticeable throughout. Running back Jaylen Samuels, Washington, fullback Roosevelt Nix, wide receiver Justin Thomas and even wide receiver Antonio Brown all had chances to catch passes but didn't finish.

Head coach Mike Tomlin kept harping on the details, particularly during a 7-on-7 passing segment.

"Hands catches in the white (on offense), ball awareness in the gold (on defense)," Tomlin barked.

Following a hands catch by Thomas over the middle, the coaching emphasis was to "get vertical."

HUMBLE BEGINNING: Quarterback Mason Rudolph's first passing attempt of camp ended in disaster. Rudolph tried to execute a play-action bootleg to his right but instead fumbled on his delivery, a gaffe that unintentionally re-created Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian's legendary misplay in the Super Bowl against the Redskins.

Rudolph, who only threw a handful of balls on the afternoon, bounced back from the fumble and hit wide receiver Damoun Patterson for a significant gain down the middle.

TWO-FOR-ONE: Inside linebackers Tyler Matakevich and Jon Bostic shared time lining up next to Vince Williams, with Matakevich playing in the base defense and Bostic taking over in the five-defensive backs "nickel" alignment

AT IT AGAIN: Cornerback Artie Burns and Brown didn't work exclusively against one another but they had their share of battles and both had their moments. Burns fell down and Brown wound up catching a long pass from Roethlisberger in 7-on-7. Burns rallied, broke hard on a sideline route and undercut Brown for an interception in 11-on-11 play. Roethlisberger's prolonged "noooo" in response was audible as soon as he released the ball.

WELCOME TO CAMP: Sideline visitors included Penn State head coach James Franklin, who spent some time chatting with General Manager Kevin Colbert and later Colbert and Tomlin.

AS ADVERTISED: Washington's play of the day was a climb-the-ladder combat catch on a deep ball from quarterback Joshua Dobbs at Sensabaugh's expense.

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