Running back James Conner hasn’t done much 11-on-11 work in training camp.
He didn’t have to in order to find the end zone at Heinz Field.
Conner got the first carry in the live “Goal Line” line drill that concluded the Steelers’ “Family Fest” practice.
It ended in a touchdown, cue the extra point team.
“Just running behind the guys,” Conner assessed. “I expected to get in there. We have the best O-line in the world.”
He hasn’t been getting tackled with the ball under his arm at Saint Vincent College.
The carries in live tackling drills at training camp have been distributed elsewhere.
“Everybody is going to get an opportunity to sharpen their sword and show what they’re capable of doing,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re more interested in getting to know some of these other young guys right now. There’s going to be plenty of opportunities for James to sharpen his sword.
“We broke him out tonight in ‘Short Yardage’ and ‘Goal Line.’ There will be other opportunities as we move forward.”
Added Conner regarding his relatively light work load in the early going: “We have a lot of guys who need reps. There’s great competition in that (running backs) room.
“I’m ready to go whenever they need me. Preseason we get tuned up, so we’ll see what happens.”
MEDICAL FILE: Tomlin said third-round wide receiver Diontae Johnson (groin), center Maurkice Pouncey (“minor injury of some kind”), first-year center J.C. Hassenauer (knee) and cornerback Artie Burns (groin) didn’t finish practice.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Sean Davis, first-year tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson, outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, guard David DeCastro, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and inside linebacker Vince Williams were among those who either didn’t practice or didn’t participate in 11-on-11 drills due to either injury or a coach’s decision.
Roethlisberger was back in uniform after not dressing on Friday and Saturday and threw passes in position drills and wide receivers-defensive backs work.
Watt was activated from the Active/PUP List (hamstring) and participated in position drills, his first work in training camp.
Pouncey spent some time on the field with head athletic trainer John Norwig before retiring to the locker room with an apparent back issue.
GOAL LINE: The offense scored four TDs in seven snaps. Running back Jaylen Samuels, fourth-round running back Benny Snell Jr. and third-year running back Trey Edmunds crossed the goal line in addition to Conner. Samuels and Snell were also stopped by the defense, and a play-action pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph to tight end Vance McDonald fell incomplete.
QB OR NOT QB: Josh Dobbs offered his interpretation of how the quarterbacks are being rotated following Saturday’s practice: “They don’t want us to get the same looks we had in OTAs, so every day you’re going to have something different to make sure you’re getting different plays, so you’re understanding the entire offense.
“A lot of times they don’t tell us, because in a game you don’t know when you’re going in or which play you have. They like you to go in and just read, react and play football. We don’t know until we get out here, and they go ‘No. 2’s up (Rudolph), No. 5’s up (Dobbs), No. 7’s up’ (Roethlisberger). No. 7, of course, when he’s practicing he’s going with the No. 1s (the first-team offense). But when he’s not, it’s kind of like, OK, you don’t know when you’re going to go. You just have to be ready to jump in and execute.”
EXTRA POINTS: “Seven Shots,” the Steelers’ practice-opening, short-yardage/two-point conversion drill, was won by the defense, 4-3 … Field goals were kicked into the closed end and the open end at Heinz. Kicker Chris Boswell hit from 33, 37 and 39 yards and missed from 41 in the closed end. Rookie kicker Matthew Wright was good from 33 and 39 and missed from 37 and 41 in the closed end. Both hit from 33, 41, 42 and 54 yards into the closed end, including “Mayday” kicks from 42, with members of the place-kicking team running onto the field and special teams coordinator Danny Smith counting down a ticking clock out loud … Special teams work also included cornerback Cam Sutton tipping a bouncing ball out of the end zone back to cornerback Brian Allen while remaining in the field of play. Allen downed it at the 3-yard line … Extra points were kicked after the first two TDs in “Goal Line.” Boswell and Wright were both successful.
Fans enjoyed an evening of family fun at the Steelers Family Fest at Heinz Field