Inside the ropes: Newcomers handle QB duties under Friday night practice lights
One day after he left practice early when he was hit in his ankle, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not suit up for the Steelers’ annual night practice Friday at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.
With Roethlisberger and backup Landry Jones (abdominal strain) wearing street clothes, the quarterback duties were left to fourth-round draft pick Joshua Dobbs and undrafted free agent Bart Houston.
Roethlisberger was hardly the only starter to sit Friday night, making the practice resemble a team’s fourth preseason game. Also not participating were veteran tackle Marcus Gilbert, center Maurkice Pouncey, linebackers Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree, safety Mike Mitchell and wide receiver Justin Hunter. Pouncey and Gilbert did not have previously disclosed injuries.
Cornerback Artie Burns left early during the team portion and did not return.
• B.J. Finney took first-team repetitions at center, and Chris Hubbard worked at right tackle. Anthony Chickillo started at outside linebacker in place of Dupree.
• Wide receiver Martavis Bryant brought his pads to Memorial Stadium apparently thinking he had received clearance to begin practicing with his teammates. But after he got off the bus, Bryant was pulled aside by general manager Kevin Colbert. After a conversation, Bryant’s pads were taken away, and he did not practice. The NFL still not has fully reinstated Bryant from his year-long suspension.
• The practice was suspended for about 30 minutes because of lightning, heavy winds and rain. Players headed to the locker room while fans in the capacity crowd of 10,635 were ordered to leave Memorial Stadium. The Steelers had completed stretching and were in the midst of individual workouts when practice was suspended.
• Before practice, the Steelers honored the family of fallen Pennsylvania state trooper Michael Stewart. The family was presented with a glass-encased Steelers jersey. Stewart, 26, was killed July 14 in an accident when his patrol car collided with a garbage truck.
• Houston completed all three of his attempts during the “Seven Shots” drill from the 2-yard line. He had completions to tight end Phazahn Odom, Cobi Hamilton and Marcus Tucker. The first-team offense didn’t run as smoothly with Dobbs under center. The Steelers didn’t find the end zone on any of their four attempts, including a trick play when Antonio Brown took a pitch and threw incomplete into the end zone.
• Inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich was one of the stars of the one-on-one, backs-on-backers drill. Matakevich had his way with 5-foot-8 running back Brandon Brown-Dukes, who later was bowled over trying to block Chickillo.
• Inside linebacker Vince Williams, who missed the initial back-on-backers drill Sunday, had an easy time of Odom, the undrafted tight end from Fordham. Arthur Moats threw aside running back Terrell Watson in his pursuit of the quarterback.
• First-round draft pick T.J. Watt showed his frustration against Xavier Grimble by shoving the tight end after one of their matchups.
One back who held his own was fullback Roosevelt Nix, who staved off held a bull rush by linebacker L.J. Fort.
• The special teams worked on kickoff returns, with Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint working as the deep return men on the first unit.