Steelers get back to routine as they prep for 3rd preseason game | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Steelers get back to routine as they prep for 3rd preseason game

Joe Rutter
1559970_web1_gtr-steelers09-082019
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden throws to defensive backs during practice Monday, Aug. 19, 2019 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
1559970_web1_gtr-steelers01-082019
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Offensive lineman David DeCastro (left) and Maurkice Pouncey likely will see their first and only preseason action when the Steelers play Sunday night at Tennessee.
1559970_web1_gtr-steelers02-082019
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws during practice Monday.

Training camp at Saint Vincent gave way Monday to the Pittsburgh Steelers returning to their practice facility at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.

The transition coincides with preparation for the third preseason game, otherwise known as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular-season opener.

It’s the game in which veterans such as Ben Roethlisberger, David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey will make their first — and likely only — appearance before the real thing in September.

Coach Mike Tomlin referred to it as “simulation week,” with players watching film Monday before practice. Players will get their customary day off Tuesday before returning for three days of practice in advance of the game Sunday night at the Tennessee Titans.

It’s the same routine the players enjoy in the regular season.

“It’s a good exercise for all of us — coaches and players,” Tomlin said.

It’s an exercise some veterans covet, but others believe isn’t mandatory in order to properly prepare for the regular season.

Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward played 12 snaps Saturday in the second preseason game against Kansas City and is looking forward to getting some work against the Titans.

“I need it,” Heyward said. “I feel clumsy without it. That’s just me. I’ve got to be out there. I feel like it helps me.”

Cornerback Joe Haden is entering his 10th season and is dealing with an ankle contusion that has kept him out of practice for more than a week. Haden offered no timetable for his return and was unfazed about potentially missing a third preseason game.

“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I’ve gone through a lot of preseasons. As long as I’m ready for New England, I think I’ll be good to go.”

The offensive line, a group that relies on cohesion and repetition, has been without Pouncey (back) and DeCastro (unspecified injury) for chunks of training camp. The starting five — Pouncey, guards Ramon Foster and DeCastro, and tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler — worked as a unit Monday.

“Practice always makes you better,” Pouncey said. “You’ve always got to go out there and work hard every single day. I know some of us get days off and some of us are a little bit more advanced, but it’s always nicer when you are playing football together.”

Foster and Villanueva made their preseason debuts Saturday. Feiler has played in both games, but took most of his snaps at guard in place of DeCastro. Feiler was back at right tackle Monday.

“It’s important so you can get familiar with everybody again and hear the calls being made and kind of know how everybody plays next to you,” Feiler said.

For a group with four starters entering their fifth season together and another in Feiler who started 10 games last season, the game at Tennessee will represent their only chance to play as a unit in the preseason.

“If you like playing football, you look forward to every week,” Pouncey said. “It’s a chance to get better. I know it’s the preseason, and I know it sounds weird saying it, but it’s an opportunity. There are only 15-20 snaps to go out there and play your hardest.”

Pouncey would be forgiven if, like Haden, he didn’t mind skipping the preseason entirely. It was four years ago, while playing in the second preseason game (after also playing in the first) that Pouncey broke his fibula, an injury that ultimately cost him the entire season.

Pouncey has played in only four of a possible 14 preseason games since.

“Guys get hurt in the offseason. Injuries are going to happen, you can never predict them,” Pouncey said. “If I knew I was going to get injured, I wouldn’t go in there that play. But it doesn’t work like that.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.