The Buffalo Bills will be reporting to camp Wednesday, but that camp will be the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. For the first time in the Mike Tomlin era, the Bills will be making the trip South for their preseason game early to get two days of joint practice in before the preseason game Saturday night.
What might these practices look like? First, there is supposed to be no live tackling, but as Marcus Gilbert told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, you can never eliminate the physical nature of the game of football.
"You might see a fight here or there," "A lot of guys are going to want to prove a point. This is the preseason and a lot of guys are fighting for roster spots. I think this brings the best out of everybody."
That can be said on both sides of the football, but what will the practices actually entail? The majority of joint practice time will be spent working on 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills on respective fields. Steelers' defense vs. the Bills' offense, and the Bills' defense vs. the Steelers' offense with the teams coming together briefly during practice sessions.
The Steelers and Bills are among 13 of the 32 NFL teams that have chosen to practice with another team this preseason in hopes of giving their team a different look and better evaluating their teams.
The Bills provide a good test for the Steelers for several reasons. The Bills 4-3 defensive front is something the Steelers rarely see in practice, and Bill's quarterback E.J. Manuel is a mobile quarterback who can make plays with his arm and legs. You can never practice enough against a quarterback who can beat you in multiple ways.
"They're a good dance partner for us, if you will, because they do a lot of things a little bit differently than we do." Mike Tomlin said regarding the joint practices.
These joint sessions will be Wednesday at 2:55 p.m. ET and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET, with both sessions being open to the public before camp officially breaks.