Steelers' Offense Dominates Goal Line

It was a physical day at St. Vincent College in Brandon Boykin's first practice with the team.

LATROBE -- The way the defense dominated the offense in both the red-zone and short-yardage drills, few would've predicted the overwhelming success the offense enjoyed in the goal-line drill.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense scored on five of six plays against the defense. It helped that Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback on all six snaps.

After Le'Veon Bell slithered his way into the end zone between Chris Hubbard and Cody Wallace on the first snap, Roethlisberger threw a play-action pass to a wide-open Matt Spaeth for a second score.

That may have put the defense back on its heels -- except for the "Law Dawg." Lawrence Timmons came whistling though the hole to blow up Cameron Stingily on the third snap, but the Steelers scored on the final three snaps: Stingily ran off left tackle; Jawon Chisholm cut up into the middle after flowing right; and Stingily scored again behind a pulling David DeCastro.

"Liked the energy and enthusiasm on both sides. A little ebb and flow," said Mike Tomlin. "I thought the defense performed well at the beginning of short-yardage. I thought the offense dominated the goal line."


The Steelers' coach was asked if the organization liked Boykin coming out of Georgia and how he'll fit in with the team.

"Yeah we liked Boykin coming out, not only as a corner but as a return man," Tomlin said of the 2012 draft. "He's a heck of a guy. He's a football guy. He's a guy that makes plays above the neck. He's also got some physical talent. He's just another NFL capable veteran corner to put in the mix of a very competitive situation. We don't have a lot of experience. There are some questions at the position. We don't mind the lack of experience and the questions, but we've got to have enough viable candidates. And with Senquez (Golson) being out, we thought it was important to acquire another viable option to put in the mix and let those guys sort themselves out over the course of the preseason."

The Steelers traded a conditional 2016 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles that will be a fourth-rounder if Boykin plays 60 percent of the Steelers' defensive snaps, otherwise the pick is a fifth-rounder if he plays fewer.


Tomlin was asked if the trade for Boykin was a reflection of Golson's injury status. Tomlin repeated that he had no update, and when asked how the missed time will affect Golson's development as a rookie Tomlin said, "It depends on the guy. Obviously as a young guy we don't know that much about him, so that's an element of it."

Golson is on the PUP list with a shoulder injury. Also missing Sunday's practice were Josh Harris (shoulder), Shamarko Thomas (shoulder), Ryan Shazier (sore back), Mike Mitchell (hamstring), Ross Ventrone (ankle), Markus Wheaton (hamstring), Martavis Bryant (elbow infection), Heath Miller, James Harrison, and DeAngelo Williams. Cameron Heyward only worked individual drills.

Leaving practice early were Ramon Foster (stingers), Jarvis Jones (biceps contusion) and Antwon Blake (sore knee).


To make room for Boykin on the roster, the Steelers waived tight end Michael Egnew. They also signed Chisholm to replace Ross Scheuerman, who was waived/injured (Achilles). Chisholm, out of the University of Akron, tried out for the Steelers at rookie minicamp.


* Eli Rogers ran a quick out to catch Roethlisberger's first pass in "Seven Shots," the two-point conversion drill.

* In the same drill, Landry Jones floated a perfect fade pass to tight end Jesse James, who bobbled it, turned and reeled it in before crashing to the ground.

* Dri Archer ripped off a 19-yard run to the one during red-zone work.

* Rookie cornerback Doran Grant intercepted an out from quarterback Tyler Murphy and ran approximately 50 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

* Devin Gardner, called "Big Blue" by Tomlin, took a pass over the middle and cut up past rookie CB Jordan Sullen for a touchdown. Two plays later, Gardner caught a similar pass over the middle, turned up and was rocked by Timmons.

* Rogers and Dri Archer were the punt returners as Brad Wing showed more consistency than Jordan Berry in a hang-time drill for punters.

* Boykin worked with the third-team defensive backs. On one of the few passes thrown his way, he was bodied by 6-3 rookie WR Shakim Phillips for a catch at the one.

* Sammie Coates wasn't looking during red-zone work and the pass hit him in the back of the helmet. Cortez Allen intercepted the deflection in the end zone.

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