Bush vs Snell Highlights Steelers Night Practice

Rookies battle in backs-on-backers while fans revel through rain

Josh Rowntree
August 02, 2019 - 11:11 pm

Periods of rain did little to drive away passionate Steelers fans, who traveled from all around to get a glimpse of their favorite team at Pittsburgh’s annual training camp night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.

The evening began with a ride on school busses from Saint Vincent College and autograph session for the thousands of fans that packed the high school stadium. Once that was over, the pads went on, and a pair of rookies stole the show. 

As part of the “backs on backers” drill, which pits a running back or tight end, trying to pass protect, against a linebacker, trying to attack the quarterback.

On seven occasions Mike Tomlin selected rookies Devin Bush and Benny Snell to face one another. While literal fireworks filled the Latrobe sky later in the evening, there was an instant explosion on the first battle, as Bush bull rushed Snell, knocking him off his feet and onto his back.

The crowd let out a thunderous ovation. What followed was a battle, fueled by Tomlin, that went six more rounds. Snell fell victim to a spin move by Bush on one occasion, but generally rebounded to hold his own throughout.

“They’re young guys in the same stage of their careers,” Tomlin said. “They’re tremendously competitive. We expect those guys to be contributors. They lack in experience, so it’s a fair matchup.”

Bush’s nice night was not limited to backs on backers. At the goal line during the seven shots drill he intercepted a tipped pass, thrown by Josh Dobbs. 

Dobbs did throw for a touchdown to James Conner and ran for another, but was sacked, as well. Mason Rudolph completed two attempts for touchdowns, one to Ralph Webb and another to Ryan Switzer. A third completion was negated due to a penalty. Ben Roethlisberger got the night off.

But, besides the on-field performances, the night was more about community involvement, as proceeds from the event benefit the Latrobe High School athletic boosters. 

“A really awesome atmosphere here tonight. The bus ride was fun, just listening to the guys think back to their high school days.”

“It means a lot,” rookie Tuzar Skipper said while signing autographs. “It really shows that there’s a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans out there. To come out here and see all this, it’s a dream come true. It sets a tone for the season.”

The team also honored former linebacker Arthur Moats, who played four seasons in Pittsburgh and recently retired from the NFL, choosing to do so as a Steeler.

“You can overlook the fans here,” Moats said. “Steeler nation is literally the best ever. You go anywhere in the country, out of the country, you’re running into the fan base. It’s just an awesome feeling that they always know who you are. So it just felt like the right thing to do.”

On a more negative side, there were some new injury concerns. Rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson left with a hip injury that will need evaluation, according to Tomlin. Linebackers Vince Williams and Anthony Chickillo each experienced hamstring issues.

The Steelers will resume training camp Saturday, with practice at 2:55 p.m. and will finish out the weekend with a Fan Fest practice Sunday night at Heinz Field.

Hear more from Mike Tomlin below.