LATROBE, Pa. - The defense held the lead and sealed the deal, twice.
In both two-minute scenarios the Steelers staged this afternoon at Saint Vincent College, the defense bent but didn’t break and prevented the offense from driving 62 yards for a touchdown with 1:47 on the clock and one timeout at its disposal.
The first drive, quarterbacked by Mason Rudolph, ended when safety Kameron Kelly batted down a pass intended for wide receiver Eli Rogers at the goal line as time expired on third-and-10 from the 25-yard line. Rudolph went 3-for-8 for 26 yards and also scrambled for 11 yards and a first down against a five-defensive backs “nickel” defense that included Kelly and Terrell Edmunds at safety, Steve Nelson, Joe Haden and Mike Hilton at cornerback, Mark Barron and Devin Bush at inside linebacker, and Ola Adeniyi and Anthony Chickillo at outside linebacker.
Quarterback Devlin Hodges got the ball to the 6-yard line but also ran out of time. He went 8-for-8 for 56 yards against backup defenders. His last pass was a 4-yard completion to wide receiver Diontae Spencer on second-and-8 from the 10. Spencer was touchdown down short of the goal line as the final seconds ticked away.
MEDICAL FILE: Wide receiver Donte Moncrief, wide receiver Diontae Johnson, cornerback Artie Burns, running back James Conner, cornerback Justin Layne, running back Ralph Webb, outside linebacker Sutton Smith, fullback Roosevelt Nix, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, center Maurkice Pouncey, guard Ramon Foster,offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, tight end Trevor Wood, outside linebacker T.J. Watt, defensive end Cam Heyward, and outside linebacker Vince Williams were among those who didn’t practice, didn’t participate or didn’t complete practice due to injury or a coach’s decision.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time in four practices.
Watt took his first 11-on-11 reps of training camp, beginning with the first snap of “Seven Shots,” the Steelers’ practice-opening, short-yardage/two-point conversion drill.
LINE SHUFFLING: The Steelers were already without Pouncey and Foster when Villanueva exited. The offensive line they cobbled together minus those three starters was comprised by Jerald Hawkins at left tackle, Matt Feiler at left guard, B.J. Finney at center, David DeCastro at right guard and Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle.
“It’s no different than a game day for us,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Most of the time we have seven or eight offensive linemen suited in a regular in-season game, so those two or three backups gotta have some versatility.
“Such is life in the National Football League, and opportunities like this, it really highlights that versatility.”
HANDS ON THE BALL: Kelly’s play in the first two-minute drill was as representative of any during the 10th practice of training camp. It started when defensive back Cam Sutton came up with a pass defensed on the sixth snap of “Seven Shots.” Cornerback Jermaine Ponder, Sutton again, safety Jordan Dangerfield, cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Tyler Matakevich also batted passes away. Dangerfield (on a pass that deflected off tight end Kevin Rader) and Ponder (off the Matakevich PDF) registered interceptions.
EXTRA POINTS: The offense won “Seven Shots,” 5-2. Roethlisberger’s four reps included scoring/conversion passes to Rogers, tight end Xavier Grimble and wide receiver Ryan Switzer, and a hard count that drew the defense offside (a regular occurrence throughout camp) … Running back Trey Edmunds said prior to practice that he’d definitely been on the field at the same time as his brother Terrell on occasion but wasn’t sure if the two had run into one another. They have now. One of the highlights of “Team Run” was a nice gain by Trey Edmunds that ended with a thud on a loud tackle by Terrell Edmunds … Special teams work included snaps, protection, rushes and coverage on punts.