The Steelers dedicated a portion of Thursday afternoon's practice to the two-minute drill, working on it for the first time in training camp with a small crew of replacement officials on hand.
"The focus of the day was two-minute installation on offense and defense," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "It was a good start for us in that regard. We need to continue to grow but I like the work. I like the effort. I like the spirited group."
On the first series the offense came up a yard short when they ran out of time, after Ben Roethlisberger completed a pass to Antonio Brown.
"I didn't see the operation of it," said Tomlin. "Obviously they ran out of time. We're looking for ways to improve. I didn't see what Antonio Brown did with the ball at the end of the play. Did he give the ball to the official? We were working with a skeleton crew, so it made it difficult to simulate that particular instance. Usually there is a definitive official there that you can hand the ball to or toss the ball to. There was not. There were only four officials here, so it made it somewhat difficult. But we'll take a look at it and analyze and grow from it."
Tomlin went on to say that some of the sloppy play during the team drill is something that does happen in camp, but also needs to be corrected.
"It's all part of the growing process," said Tomlin. "We won't accept it. We just acknowledge that it's capable of happening. We better make those things disappear rather quickly."
On the next series the offense came up big when Roethlisberger connected with Brown for a long touchdown.
"The first one we didn't quite capitalize on," said Brown. "The second one we came out and finished really good. We got things corrected. On the first one I have to look at some of it on film. On my behalf finishing the last catch at the end I think I have to make a better judgment on the ball to make a play."
Brown knows there are definitely kinks to still work out, but is confident that repetition will help that.
"We have to take a lot of repetitions," said Brown. "Today was great, getting the guys in condition to start the two-minute. That is when the battles begin in training camp, in two minute drill where guys get in condition and get in shape. You don't have too many breaks. It's rapid fire."
Brown, who is the team's number one receiver with Mike Wallace still not signing his one-year tender, continues to form a rapport with Roethlisberger on the field.
"We are getting better," said Brown. "We are getting instinctive with each other. It's a time to build a foundation. I am learning what he is thinking, he is learning my reaction and we can be on the same page and come crunch time and we can be ready to deliver."
Tomlin on injuries: "From an injury standpoint, all of the previously mentioned ones are status quo. Brandon Hicks is a new one. He has a lower abdominal injury. Hopefully that won't be significant. We should start getting some guys back. LaMarr Woodley will practice tomorrow. John Clay may be close to coming back."
Linebacker James Harrison said on Thursday he is still day-to-day, on the PUP list since the start of training camp.
Harrison, who is on the list with a knee injury, said he can't wait for the regular season to start not because of the disappointing end last year in the playoffs in Denver, but just because it's the season.
"There is an anxiousness to get out there every season because the goal is to win the championship," said Harrison. "The way we lost or won previous Super Bowls, I had the same anxiousness."
The Steelers will take practice on the road on Friday, August 3, holding their annual "Friday Night Lights" practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Gates open at 5:30, there will be a brief autograph session at 6:45 and practice begins at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 and proceeds benefit Greater Latrobe High School. A fireworks show will bring the evening to a close.
Those attending the game and the Latrobe Steelers Fest that will be taking place throughout the day are encouraged to bring donations for the Westmoreland County Food Bank. Tents will be set up at the Latrobe Steelers Fest along Memorial Drive near the stadium and at both stadium gates for non-perishable food donations.
Directions to Latrobe Memorial Stadium:
From Route 30 - Proceed on Route 30 East to Route 981 North (Arnold Palmer Regional Airport on right). (CONSTRUCTION ZONE – be in the far left lane) Follow Route 981N through 2 traffic lights, about 2 miles, to city of Latrobe. As you cross the bridge over the Loyalhanna Creek traffic becomes one-way; proceed to the far right (turning) lane. At the next traffic light, make a right onto Jefferson Street. Go straight through one stop sign and at the second stop sign make a right onto Chestnut Street. Latrobe Memorial Stadium will be ahead on your left.
From Route 22 - Take the Route 981 South exit from Route 22 East. Follow Route 981S approximately 8 miles until you come to the traffic light (just after underpass). Make a right onto Latrobe/Derry Road (Route 981S). Proceed straight through 2 traffic lights. At the third traffic light be in the far left lane to make a left onto Jefferson Street. Proceed straight through one traffic light and one stop sign. At the next stop sign, make a right onto Chestnut Street. Latrobe Memorial Stadium is ahead on the left.