Practice Report: Under the lights

LATROBE, Pa. - A breakdown of Practice No. 7 at Memorial Stadium:


The Steelers traveled to Latrobe Memorial stadium for the annual Friday Night Lights practice.

BACKS-ON-'BACKERS:** The second installment of the one-on-one, pass rush/pass protection drill was more deliberate, more orchestrated and, given the "Friday Night Lights" setting, even more entertaining.

"We aren't in a hurry tonight," head coach Mike Tomlin announced. "We're competing."

The format was altered slightly toward that end.

Rather than force the tight ends and running backs in protection to identify one of two potential rushers at the snap, Tomlin had the linebackers that were designated to rush raise their hands prior to each rep.

"We aren't tricking anyone," Tomlin said. "Tell 'em who's coming."

Tomlin also called for rematch reps or hand-picked combatants for specific match-ups throughout the exercise.

Among the highlights:
-LB Anthony Chickillo went 1-1 against TE Xavier Grimble, 3-0 against TE Jesse James and 1-0 against FB Roosevelt Nix. At that juncture, Tomlin wondered allowed, "Can anybody block Chickillo?" TE David Johnson stepped in and blocked Chickillo, and Tomlin approved.

-LB Tyler Matakevich (who has been christened "Dirty Red") went 6-0 in the drill, besting RB Cameron Stingily and RB Daryl Richardson twice each and then handling TE Paul Lange and Nix in succession.

-The defense registered back-to-back pancakes (LB L.J. Fort in a rematch rep against RB Fitz Toussaint and then LB Vince Williams against Johnson).

-LB Ryan Shazier treated RB Le'Veon Bell like a blocking sled, engaging Bell's head-on shot and then pushing Bell across the grass to the "dummy" quarterback. Bell never lost his feet but he lost a lot of ground.

SEVEN SHOTS: QB Ben Roethlisberger had the night off so QB Landry Jones directed the first-team offense. Jones hit Grimble for a conversion and hit WR Antonio Brown near the pylon, but Brown was unable to get the ball over the goal line before going out of bounds.

The two hooked up again on the next snap and this time it was in the end zone.

Nix powered in up the middle for a conversion, but QB Bruce Gradkowski was unable to connect with James, WR Demarcus Ayers and TE Paul Lang in succession and the defense won the night, 4-3.

CB Al-Hajj Shabazz jumped the route on the pass to Ayers and was in position to register a pick-six but couldn't make the catch and had to settle for a pass defensed.

"Finish that, 44," DE Cam Heyward yelled from the sideline.

MEDICAL FILE: In addition to Roethlisberger, WR Markus Wheaton, CB Artie Burns, LB Travis Feeney and LB Bud Dupree didn't practice. LB Ryan Shazier and Timmons were limited. Jones got stepped on and missed some time but returned for the final 7-on-7 session before sitting out the final team period.

Tomlin characterized Jones' injury as "low ankle, doesn't appear to be significant."

FULL HOUSE: Announced attendance was 12,100.

AUDIBLES: "All right, 49, welcome to Pittsburgh." - Tomlin to just-signed TE Michael Cooper after Cooper had gotten the job done against LB Arthur Moats in "Backs-on-'Backers

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