LATROBE, Pa. -- The Steelers practice annually at Latrobe Memorial Stadium, and always under the lights on a Friday. This means, also annually, that there will be a collection of photos from training camp with a slightly different look than 2:55 p.m. at Saint Vincent College gives you.
For starters, shooting at "night" on a high school field is a challenge in its own right, but let's ignore that aspect of this event. The main attraction here when the sun is receding is the post-storm — also seemingly an annual event on this day — vibrance of the sky as football is played beneath it. Oh, and backs-on-backers -- the camp-favorite drill, if you haven't heard.
If this Sunday's Best was just about the event itself, the pretty skies, the fans who show up to support their team ... well, I'd probably lead with a shot like these of silhouetted Steelers fans watching from the top of the bleachers as the clouds and setting sun paint their backdrop:
That would be pretty easy to do, honestly. Collect photos of autographs and fans and throwback jerseys and food and sunsets and call it a day. That would be much easier than defending Devin Bush in the backs-on-backers drill, and that's what I want to show here.
As our Dale Lolley wrote aboutearlier in the week, Bush and Benny Snell have been getting the matchup against each other so far, and it's not an accident. With Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Colbert, Keith Butler and every other linebacker and running back on the camp roster standing guard, it was those two going head-to-head again to steal the show.
Correction. It was Bush doing most of the show stealing. Take the pair's first matchup as an example ... this is what Bush did to Snell when he went right at him:
Each time didn't go like that, exactly. It was much more even. But, when Snell looked to be doing a better job as the drill went on, I also caught him grasping a little too much jersey to call it a win for the running back:
Hey ... probably wouldn't get called anyway, right? Every play, or however that old holding adage goes. There was one spin to the inside that Bush pulled out of his bag, though, that not even a hold could stop. Seriously, this was as unfair as being able to run the guy over:
Nasty, nasty stuff. By no means is any of this action a knock on Snell, though. He's done a solid-enough job against the prized first-rounder. Bush just looked really impressive. Snell's also taken a bit of a welcome-to-the-NFL pounding by veterans, like this shot by Jordan Dangerfield after whistles were already blowing. Snell took the hit, got up and went back to the line -- just as he did with Bush:
As fun as the rookie vs. rookie matchup was to monitor, the more playful fun didn't involve either of the two -- when tight ends were asked to step up and guard edge rushers from the line of scrimmage instead of from a deeper position. Ola Adeniyi was asked to line up to rush from the edge and Xavier Grimble lined up to take him on. To his left, Kevin Rader lined up for perspective.
Well, Adeniyi beat Grimble to the inside a little too easily, and then was blasted by Rader ... who really wasn't supposed to be helping. Camp darling Adeniyi pinballed, but stayed on his feet and ultimately beat both:
That drew some laughs from all involved, but there was a prize-winning reaction from Ryan Shazier who thought it was a questionable action ... at best. Roethlisberger loved it, however, and loved the blocking by big No. 87 in general during the drill. He held his own where others were victimized against the likes of Adeniyi and Anthony Chickillo, and big No. 7 took notice each time.
Up at the top of this piece is a collection of additional favorites from backs-on-backers, as well as additional protection drills, fan interactions and a couple shots from 11-on-11 play. As always, see you guys and gals in the comments!