Today more than 75 Pittsburgh Steelers got together for the first padded practice of training camp 2020 at Heinz Field. But four starting-caliber veterans missed practice, most due to injury.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said center Maurkice Pouncey was excused from practice due to undisclosed personal reasons. But fellow starting offensive lineman David DeCastro missed the practice due to injury, as did wide receiver James Washington and defensive lineman Chris Wormley.
About the injuries, Tomlin said all are “minor physical ailments that can be described as day-to-day.”
“Fully expect all three of those guys to be full participants here in a short number of days,” he said. “But we did actually kind of exercise that precaution today.”
As for Pouncey, Tomlin said: “Hopefully he’ll be back in a short period of time.”
Steelers Rookies Alex Highsmith, Anthony McFarland
Meanwhile, it was the Steelers rookies who saw the most action today. As is the case when training camp is at Saint Vincent College, Tomlin presided over a ‘backs-on-backers’ drill where rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith and rookie running back Anthony McFarland got “rematches on multiple occasions with their opponent,” according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“I just want to see them acclimate to the environment,” Tomlin said. “It’s an NFL competition period. It has that level of intensity and that level of talent. Those guys that are new to this level, it’s a period of adjustment, and that period of adjustment takes physical reps.
Tomlin said rookies like Highsmith and McFarland will continue to get reps—and be expected to show what he described as “rapid improvement.”
“It’s a lot of teaching and learning the first time through. Always a good reflection of backs-on-backers is the second time we do it. Guys have a chance to digest and learn, so I’ll be excited the next time we do it.”
After the back-on-backers session the Steelers moved on to 11-on-11 offense vs. defense, including live tackling. According to Fittipaldo, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger “did not visibly show any effects of [his elbow surgery]. He and the receivers continue to work on timing.”
Roethlisberger did have a few highlight level throws, according to Fittipaldo, including one deep ball to Vance McDonald that the veteran tight end hauled in over strong safety Terrell Edmunds.
Today’s practice lasted 83 minutes.
Steelers Try Out 4 Players, Including 2 Wide Receivers
Today the Steelers also had four players with NFL experience in for a tryout, including a former third-round draft choice of the Carolina Panthers and a pair of wide receivers, one of whom has punt and kickoff return experience.
The Steelers will have 13 more padded practices between now and the date when the roster must be trimmed to 53 players, plus a 16-man practice squad.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!