The Pittsburgh Steelers were back under the lights at Latrobe High School for their annual night practice. As over 12,000 fans piled into the small stadium, they were treated to some fireworks, both figurative and literal. Outside of the actual firework show after practice concluded, the Steelers provided plenty on the gridiron.
There were several moments which certainly brought cheers from the crowd. Antonio Brown continued to toast any defensive back who stepped in his path, but there was another receiver, sort of, who made the biggest offensive play of the day.
Roosevelt Nix, who was thought to be nothing more than a fullback and special teams ace, continues his development as more of an H-back who can also also be used as a tight end. Nix has flashed a great set of hands this preseason, and did so on the practice field by catching a swing pass and taking it over 80-yards for a touchdown, much to the delight of the crowd.
If that wasn't enough, the second round of 'backs on 'backers' was worth the price of admission. Tyler Matakevich proved he is more than just a camp body by impressing coaches and fans with his pass rushing skills. Although Matakevich turned some heads, it was Anthony Chickillo who stole the show.
This isn't anything new for Chickillo, he did the same thing in 2015 as a rookie. However, now 20-pounds lighter in 2016, Chickillo is proving he isn't just a "high motor" player, but a player who has improved his technique to the point where he knows how to rush the passer.
The Steelers could have some serious depth at linebacker, both inside and outside, if they continue to see this type of development from their rookies and experienced players.
You can't illustrate a player's camp in one drill, but Bruce Gradkowski has been visibly struggling in training camp at times. In Friday night's practice, the offense won the daily drill by scoring on their first four attempts, with Landry Jones at quarterback. Gradkowski then took over for the final three, and the defense took care of business shutting out the offense.
Before jumping to conclusions, Gradkowski's struggles have been evident in more than just this one drill, but the drill certainly does illustrate those issues which exist.
Landry Jones sustained an ankle injury, which Mike Tomlin labeled as a "lower ankle" injury, and it is not suspected to be serious. Jones was held out of the remainder of practice for precautionary reasons.
Several players were given the day off, or limited in their work. Ben Roethlisberger and Bud Dupree did not practice, and Lawrence Timmons did minimal amounnt of work to give Tyler Matakevich more time to prove himself.
Mike Tomlin Press Coverage
Photos and Video
Complete with Antonio Brown’s helmet and gloves... pic.twitter.com/KZf2wgMT2z— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 6, 2016
Pretty cool scene, eh pic.twitter.com/xY3hzb0VAd— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) August 5, 2016
Roethlisberger speaks with SVP, Wordwide Leader pic.twitter.com/PTM1tFOwKZ— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) August 5, 2016