Latrobe, Pennsylvania – Mother Nature probably didn’t want to see the red zone anymore.
The Steelers are back on the pads Thursday, and things seem to be going well in place. Prior to the team’s arrival on the field, it was announced that Deontay Johnson had signed a three-year contract. He will be in the field and will be fully involved in field exercises for the first time this summer. Once the team walked onto the field, it also became clear that Minkah Fitzpatrick had been revitalized from the NFL roster – he was placed when the players were notified on July 26 – and was also going to train for the first time at that training camp.
The weather system formed in the early afternoon and threw a raft of rain over the Latrobe, but as soon as it was time to start the day, the sky cleared, the sun went down, and work seemed to be all as usual.
But as the team was about to move into their spot at the end of the day – the red zone session – the sky darkened, and some of the fans in attendance began to pack their belongings and prepare to escape to their parking lot. The red zone session began, but when a bolt of lightning was seen above the Curry Center here on campus, the horn exploded, and the practice immediately ended.
“He made another good day, but we had to cut it in there for lightning, and that’s the only weather we don’t play in,” said coach Mike Tomlin. “We respect that, and so we lost about 11 or so plays, but in the big picture, it was a very good day. Just continuing the competition element and really giving the players a chance to highlight individual skill sets in some of our competition periods. One for one loves football to know Who can win the singles matches. That was really an important topic for the day.”
After the offense won Wednesday’s 7-shot batch, the defense responded. Midfielder Mitch Trubesky was Kendrick Green on the left guard when training began.
In the first moment, Trubisky completed a quick throw for George Pickens to land. Offense, 1-0.
It seemed clear that there would be an early effort to get Johnson into the flow of his first full practice, and it happened in the second moment. But Trubisky knocked out Johnson in the finish zone. Draw 1-1.
On the third play, the offense attempted to run a play, with Trubisky hitting the ball to Benny Snell. But with the NFL officials once again having to work at the practice, one of them threw a flag to carry him, and so he went to defense. Defense, 2-1.
Next, Trubisky attempted a swing pass to Anthony MacFarland Jr, and Cam Sutton broke the ball and almost made the objection that he could have come back down if he had been able to hold on. Defense, 3-1.
Mason Rudolph came in in the middle, and his fading passes for Miles Boykin were a long way off. Defense, 4-1.
On Rudolph’s next shot, the Steelers ran a nice combination pattern where the wide receiver ran a short mile inland and the tight end, Jace Sternberger ran a path behind him toward the back of the end zone. Rudolph completed the pass to land. Defense, 4-2.
Kenny Pickett came in for the final shot, completing a fade into the corner of the end zone to Cody White for the touchdown. Defense, 4-3.
• In the first one-to-one pass play following 7-Shots, Diontae Johnson fired from the line of scrimmage, passed Ahkello Witherspoon and made a perfect rainbow from Trubisky about 40 yards down the field.
• Sternberger spent his moments during this training camp, and appeared in some plays on Thursday afternoon. In the same period, he gets a minor breakup with Robert Spillane, then has to go back towards the line of melee and go up in the air to hunt.
• It wasn’t all about attacking, because in a later play Zach Gentry made a way out only to cut cornerback Karlins Plattel under him to get his hands on the ball. It would have been a pick of 6 if Platel had been able to complete the hunt.
• Attempting a Jet Sweep for Stephen Sims, OLB broke through Delontae Scott to disrupt the flow of play and then Ulysees Gilbert III came in from the quarterback to clean up and do the intervening with no gain.
• Anthony MacFarland Jr. ran a path where Miles Jack was blocking him in tight coverage down the middle. MacFarland had to flip his body and climb into the air to grab the soccer ball and then secured the catch as both players fell to the ground with Jack trying to shoot the ball free the entire time.
• James Pierre put in a great display overall to break a pass for Anthony Miller.
• Then it was Sternberger again. This time he ran Banana Road down the field and a nice catch of the Trubisky Pass about 40 yards from the line of scrimmage. Then McFarland again, this time stepping on Devin Bush down the field and diving catch from Mason Rudolph Pass for about 30 yards.
• Another McFarland highlight. On a pass to the right in a later run, he used his speed to separate two oncoming defenders to make the tackle, then put his foot into the ground letting Chris Steele catch the air before running speed and going into the end zone.
Friday night lights
The Steelers won’t be on the field on Friday morning, but things will come to a head when the team boards school buses in the evening and makes the short trip to La Trobe Stadium for another bit of Friday night lights. It was initially created by coach Bill Quirr in his inaugural season as he worked to accustom players to getting ready to play football at different times of the day – because that’s what happens during the regular season with kick-off times – the event has grown into a major event that happens that leads to Raising significant funds for athletic programs at La Trobe High School, as well as benefiting other community projects.
said coach Mike Tomlin, who embraced and expanded on the tradition when he replaced Queer in 2007.
“I love it, because it’s a yellow bus ride,” Tomlin added. “It’s a great way to keep in touch with the local fans, and the proximity of the fans (at the high school stadium) makes it a great and unique experience. It’s great. If you’re a football fan, you love Friday Night Lights.”
Gates are set to open at 5pm, with the team arriving for a signing session starting at 7pm