The Pittsburgh Steelers’ annual night practice at Latrobe High School is a very sought-after event for multiple reasons. For some, it's a great chance to see their favorite football team up close and personal. For others, it might be a chance to get some autographs to enhance their growing collection.
But for the die-hard fans who are there for nothing but football, it's a chance to really see the Steelers get after each other.
There's something about the atmosphere with the lights on which makes this practice much different than the usual Saint Vincent College sessions. In fact, it's a spot where Mike Tomlin shows fans the most physical drill the team does each year.
The first time the team does this drill is when they line up in pads for the first time. The night practice is usually Round 2. After the first go-around, players like Jaylen Samuels were given a negative grade for his inability to pass-protect.
This is something James Conner knows a lot about, considering the same narrative was written about him in his rookie season. Nonetheless, it seems as if Conner has figured things out, and Samuels took a huge step forward with his second shot at the physical drill.
RB Jaylen Samuels acquitted himself much better in Steelers’ backs-on-backers drill. Steelers already like his pass-catching but need pass protection from him. James Conner’s physicality drew raves from a spectating Ben Roethlisberger.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 4, 2018
Big bounce-back performance by #Steelers rookie RB Jaylen Samuels in tonight's backs-on-backers.— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) August 4, 2018
James Conner and Jarvion Franklin continued to show well as blockers. Jaylen Samuels showed want-to. Baby steps.— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) August 4, 2018
Conner and Samuels weren’t the only two players who flashed during the drill. See what else was said by those in attendance:
Matthew Thomas shows up in backs on backers. Most impressive were his slithery moves past Stevan Ridley.— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) August 4, 2018
These drills are what makes Steelers' camp practices unique. When free agents come to Pittsburgh, they talk about how other teams aren’t nearly as physical in training camp as what they see in Pittsburgh.
Say what you want about the correlation between a physical camp and the on-field result in the Fall/Winter, but it's something most players appreciate rather than abhor.
Now it’s time to dive into some other nuggets from the Steelers’ latest training camp practice:
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger reacts after big hit by Anthony Chickillo during backs on backer drills at night practice. pic.twitter.com/GNtwLElPGq— Peter Diana (@peterdianapghpg) August 4, 2018