Steelers Inside The Ropes: Light practice salvaged by 2-minute drill conclusion, JuJu’s TD |

Steelers Inside The Ropes: Light practice salvaged by 2-minute drill conclusion, JuJu’s TD

Chris Adamski
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster beats Steve Nelson for a touchdown Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 2019 at Saint Vincent College.

No shoulder pads. No Big Ben, nor almost half of the other offensive and defensive starters.

Half-speed drills, lots of special teams.

In short, it was largely a dud of a practice from an entertainment perspective for the big Saturday crowd on hand at Saint Vincent. Until, that is, the final drill of the session.

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s pretty catch at the goal-line pylon capped a touchdown drive that was made to look easy by the first-team offense that was given the ball near midfield with 1 minute, 39 seconds on the clock and a timeout, hypothetically down by four points (making it an all-or-nothing touchdown situation for the offense and defense).

The offense needed only a fraction of that time, scoring in three plays: Josh Dobbs making first-down connections to Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald and Smith-Schuster again.

The second-team offense led by Mason Rudolph seemed to be in a similar rhythm – connecting on first-down throws on each of its first two snaps – but a holding penalty on rookie Fred Johnson set it back. Johnson, a rookie guard from Florida, was put at left tackle for the first time this camp.

Although Rudolph hit Diontae Spencer and Zach Gentry for first downs, after spiking the clock three consecutive incompletions ended the drive and made the No. 2 defense winners.

  • Helping to make the simulation as close to real game conditions as possible were the officials on hand. Smith-Schuster’s touchdown, for example, came during some hand-fighting with cornerback Steven Nelson. Coach Mike Tomlin said, “Nice combat! Clean combat, both sides!” The side judge concurred, “Yes, good clean combat.”
  • An earlier “touchdown” during a 7-on-7 drill was not allowed when officials ruled one of James Washington’s feet did not land in bounds. Officials told an inquiring coaching assistant William Gay, though, that the catch would have counted if Washington did get both feet in. As Washington tumbled to the ground, Joe Haden ripped the ball out of his hands while they were out of bounds.
  • In a lighter moment regarding officiating, when Benny Snell was ruled out of bounds on a catch during the 2-minute drill, Tomlin turned toward a gathering on the sidelines and said, “I thought he was out, too.” Fans from father away yelled for Tomlin to challenge the call – but as he would say to media later, as being (hypothetically) inside of 2 minutes, the play was not eligible to be challenged.
  • Spencer’s catch came after he dropped an easy score during Seven Shots 2-point conversion simulation early in practice. That prompted Tomlin to say, “Eighty-two (Spencer’s number), you’re making (impressive) plays like that – and you’re dropping the other stuff? Cumon, man!”
  • The offense again won Seven Shots, 4-3, but the unit would have taken six of seven if not for drops by Spencer and a wide open Christian Scotland-Williamson when the second team was in. For the first time this camp, the second unit was directed by Devlin Hodges, who has had a good camp for a No. 4 QB. Hodges hit Washington for a score; Rudolph connected with Xavier Grimble in the deep left corner, Snell at the goal line and a diving Smith-Schuster. The latter came on the second snap after Rudolph scrambled to buy time; Smith-Schuster’s lunge was full extension, allowing him to beat good coverage by rookie Devin Bush.
  • Throughout this camp, Smith-Schuster is looking like the star he’s become. In addition to the difficult catches he made during Seven Shots and the 2-minute drill Saturday, he also at one point in a mid-practice 11-on-11 beat former Pro Bowl corner Haden to a 50/50 ball along the sideline.
  • Former Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel was a guest on the sideline, his beard unmistakable.
  • Chris Boswell and Matthew Wright kicked field goals, but with no linemen and on a far field without the illusion of fans or significant pressure.

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

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

Categories: Sports | Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.