LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
The Steelers final practice of training camp also marked the return of rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier. The first-round pick was a full participant in practice for the first time since bruising his right knee on Aug. 3. Shazier ran with the first-team defense in the Steelers’ joint practice with the Buffalo Bills and didn't appear to be hampered by his injured knee. Shazier's return bodes well for him playing Saturday night against the Bills at Heinz Field.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not give an indication of how long the starters will play Saturday night in the team’s second preseason game. Tomlin only said that the starters will play more against the Bills than they did last Saturday in a 20-16 loss to the New York Giants. Most of the defensive starters played an entire quarter last Saturday but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played just one series and logged six snaps. Running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount played seven snaps apiece. “Really haven’t looked at a snap allocation yet,” Tomlin said on how much the starters will play, “but rest assured we’re going to get more exposure to those guys in the football game.”
Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (groin) did not practice and is unlikely to play Saturday. The injury that has nagged Jones in camp could provide a big opportunity for Chris Carter. The fourth-year veteran has been playing right outside linebacker with the first-team defense in Jones’ absence. Also not practicing were fullback Will Johnson (hamstring), linebacker Vince Williams (concussion), left guard Ramon Foster (knee), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin), safety Will Allen (hamstring) and tight end Matt Spaeth. Center Maurkice Pouncey was given the day off.
Tomlin almost spoke a day too soon when he lauded the “etiquette” that the Steelers and Bills displayed during their first joint practice on Wednesday. A fight nearly broke out between the Steelers’ offense and Bills defense, and a few fists were thrown before the referees restored order.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had a quiet camp, drew the biggest roar from the crowd when he scored an 85-yard touchdown after racing past Bill cornerback Sam Miller and catching a deep ball from Bruce Gradkowski. Markus Wheaton had a good practice with a handful of nice catches, including a beautiful over the shoulder grab in a one-on-one passing drill.
The Steelers added a long snapper when they signed Luke Ingram, who was with them in camp last year. The 6-5, 258-pound Ingram joins Bryce Davis as the Steelers’ healthy long snappers with Greg Warren out for the next months because of a meniscus tear.