Rainey Days and Dog Days Dwindle

Mike Prisuta on the fading yet still-salty final days of camp, when even Ben Roethlisberger admits that "You have to get frustrated and you have to let the guys know you are frustrated."

LATROBE – The Steelers have somewhat of an ill disposition as they limp to the finish at St. Vincent.

It's been too much about knees, groins, haymakers and #WallaceWatch of late, and everyone on campus is seemingly getting a little stir-crazy.

It's not the heat, it's the proximity.

Even the reporters are starting to chirp one another.

Can't we all just get along?

Even the quarterback isn't immune.

At week's outset Ben Roethlisberger let it be known he wasn't happy by spiking one ball into the ground when one play broke down, and by launching another pigskin into the stratosphere when another snap unraveled.

Those obvious displays of displeasure occurred between rounds one and two of the rematch between Ike Taylor and Antonio Brown.

"A little frustration," Roethlisberger admitted. "We had some extracurricular altercations that were happening throughout practice and I think we've had a lot this camp. You know it happens in camps but as a quarterback, as an old guy, I feel you spend too much energy to try to deal with stuff like that.

"I was just getting frustrated and I felt like because of that we missed something, a player missed something because I think his mind was elsewhere. We weren't on the same page.

"It's frustrating but that's just the way it goes. I think as an older guy and a leader you have to be able to show those frustrations. You can't just be even-keel all the time. You have to get frustrated and you have to let the guys know that you are frustrated."

Roethlisberger is also less than thrilled with the pace at which the Steelers have been putting on display all that's in their new playbook.

"I still feel like we're pretty simple," he said. "I feel like we need to do some things.

"There's gonna be some tweaking we need to do, but I think we're making some really good progress."

They've also been making it Rainey, seemingly on a daily basis.

A week ago last night there was the 57-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in Philadelphia. On Sunday, Chris Rainey made it over the goal line in the goal-line drill. On Tuesday, the Steelers used their fifth-round pick as the running back in a two-minute drill. And on Wednesday, Rainey played slot receiver in a no-huddle drill in a formation that included Heath Miller, Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Baron Batch.

Roethlisberger called all the shots in the two-minute drive.

"Todd let me do the whole thing," Roethlisberger said. "Even when we were out of bounds or in the huddle I called everything. It was nice to be able to have that option."

It was even nicer that Roethlisberger was able to call plays that called for Rainey and his 5-foot-8, 178-pound frame to block, and that Roethlisberger could emerge feeling good about having done so afterward.

"It does make you a little nervous but I'll tell you what, the kid sticks his nose in the middle of a linebacker, he's not afraid," Roethlisberger said. "You gotta give him some credit for that. It doesn't matter who it is, how big the guy is. He's going to stick his nose in there. He's going to at least get in the way. He may get run over, but he's going to slow them down, at least."

So, the Steelers have that much going for them.

A prominent entry on their training camp to-do list had been to figure out how often and how to best deploy Rainey. And they appear well on the way to having all of that sorted out.

Still unresolved as the St. Vincent portion of the preseason draws to a close is the matter of seeing what the defense looks like with a healthy James Harrison and a healthy LaMarr Woodley on the field at the same time, seeing how the re-tooled offensive line will work out, the question of who's going to carry the ball and how often, and the Mike Wallace saga.

The Steelers figure to stay a little salty until a few more answers are uncovered.


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