Coach Mike Tomlin had said the team would treat this final week of training camp at Heinz Field in the same way it would treat a week during the regular season. And so, even though today's session was the last one, the Steelers conducted it as they would had it been a Friday during the regular season.
The workout was padless, it started at 10:30 a.m. and was over just before 12:30 p.m., and it focused on situational football.
"Today has really been a wrap-up of what has been a productive training camp process for us," said Tomlin. "We did similar things today that we've done all week – focusing on a mock game week. Today was situational football, the areas of situational football being red zone, short yardage, goal line, possession downs. The rotational process of infusing special teams into the process was continued as well, making sure we had 11 on the field and understanding depth and some of those situations."
Next up on the schedule is tomorrow's roster cut-down from 80 to 53, and then on Sunday the Steelers will switch their base of daily operations back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"It has been a good process from my perspective, but you know that you measure processes based on performance, so I'll reserve judgment on this," said Tomlin as a way of putting a bow on the team's time at Heinz Field this summer. "I don't know if I'm comfortable because it's kind of a new calendar, but I find comfort in the fact it's new for all of us globally in the game of football so it's something we all have to deal with: the not knowing, the lack of in-stadium opportunities to get a sense of your group vs. others, etc. That's just part of ball for us in 2020, and I embrace that.
"I like the growth I've seen from the guys individually and collectively, but it's far from over. It needs to continue into next week and beyond as we get started with this journey."
Take a look at the Steelers preparing for the 2020 regular season at Heinz Field
• Crowd noise was played throughout with hype songs being played in between plays.
• The final 7-Shots drill of camp wasn't pretty for the offense. Ben Roethlisberger and Diontae Johnson got mixed up on first down; Minkah Fitzpatrick knocked away a pass for Eric Ebron on second down; James Washington caught a quick one over the middle for a score and Roethlisberger finished up his snaps with an inside handoff to Benny Snell for a score. Ola Adeniyi knocked down a pass from Mason Rudolph on the fifth play; pressure from Cam Sutton blew up both the sixth and seventh plays. The final pass was in the corner to Chase Claypool, but it was broken up by James Pierre.
• In a different period of practice, Roethlisberger threw an arching 31-yard touchdown pass to Washington over Pierre.
• Returning kicks were Ryan Switzer, Wendell Smallwood, DeAndre Thompkins, Kerrith Whyte and Anthony McFarland.
• On red-zone defense, Stephon Tuitt blew threw his man on consecutive snaps to get to the quarterback.
• When it was time to field punts, both Diontae Johnson and Ryan Switzer put on their shoulder pads.
• The only player who was in full shoulder pads today was fullback Derek Watt.
• The initial 11-on-11 period featured work in the red zone. Mason Rudolph threw a pass for tight end Kevin Rader in the back of the end zone that Antoine Brooks knocked away.
• Rookie punter Corliss Whitman hit a couple of left-footed rockets to outshine Jordan Berry in a punting duel.
• Bush dropped a potential interception of a Rudolph pass that was intended for Deon Cain.
TALENTED TANDEM AT CB
In Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, the Steelers will open the regular season with their best tandem of starting cornerbacks in quite some time. Tomlin appreciates that and the two players who make up the tandem.
"They're a quality veteran tandem, and not only that, they're not resting on their resumes," said Tomlin about Haden and Nelson. "They've had good training camp processes, both guys. Both guys came here in great condition. Both guys have performed at a consistent high level throughout this process. That's where I find my comfort, not necessarily in what has been done in the past or in their presence, but in the things they have done since we've begun this process."
DECISION TIME UP NEXT
With the final training camp practice in the books, next on the agenda for the Steelers is cutting their roster. All NFL teams must be down to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5.
"I feel like I have enough information to make decisions, and that's a good thing because it's time to make decisions," said Tomlin. "We'll push forward. I thought we made good use of the time and good use of the structure of the time that was provided in terms of the work allotted."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
(David DeCastro) wasn't good enough to go today. Hopefully, he'll be good enough to go in the beginning of next week. We do have a bonus day on Monday. I don't know if I want to expose him to that. We'll see what it looks like as we get into the normal rhythm of our preparation week."
• Cam Sutton (calf) returned to practice Friday.