LATROBE – Forget Saturday night being all right for fighting, the Pittsburgh Steelers got their action in Friday night in front of a packed Latrobe Memorial Stadium.
A fight broke out between the running backs and linebackers during a backs-on-backers drill at the annual off-campus practice at training camp.
Le’Veon Bell, back after sitting out all week with a sore hamstring, returned to practice last night and got into a scuffle with linebacker Vince Williams during the drill in which a running back attempts to protect a quarterback from a blitzing linebacker.
In this case, the “quarterback” was assistant linebackers coach Joey Porter, and the linebackers were leaping high into the air to bump chests with Porter anytime they beat a running back to the quarterback.
Tempers flared when Williams, who was handled by Bell the first time, lined up against him again. Williams drove Bell to the ground and stayed on top of him, shoving his facemask into Bell’s.
Fellow running back LeGarrette Blount, who was sitting out practice and was dressed in shorts and a hoodie, ran in and dove onto Williams, knocking him off Bell. A mele ensued, with several other players joining in.
At one point, Porter pulled Blount out of the pile and the coach and running back went nose-to-nose before they were separated.
“It’s the ebb and flow of team development,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “The tight ends kicked the linebackers’ butt the other day. The linebackers came back today with a vengeance. It’s what team development is about. I would imagine that the backs and tight ends will come back out here (today) with a get-back attitude.”
While Tomlin did appreciate the intensity, he didn’t necessarily condone the ensuing fight.
“It’s an emotional game and they do lose that element of it sometimes, but those things are growth opportunities and opportunities for us to teach,” Tomlin said. “At times, you’re going to feel like you’re wronged, but at the same time, you’ve got to keep your wits about you because we step into stadiums with one goal in mind, to win. Obviously, 15-yard penalties and things of that nature don’t help with that cause. When do you get an opportunity to talk about that, except in training-camp-like settings when tempers run a little hot?”
It’s not the first time Blount’s temper has gotten the best of him. He was suspended for his final season at Oregon for punching a Boise State player and also got into fights during his rookie season in 2010 with Tennessee, which eventually released him.
Steelers sign Suisham
The Steelers made sure they would keep placekicker Suisham around at least four more years, signing him to an extension through the 2018 season. Terms of the contract were not released.
Suisham had been entering the final year of a contract that paid him $1.424 million in base salary. He counted $1.762 million against the team’s salary cap.
General manager Kevin Colbert had mentioned working out an extension with Suisham as one of the four priorities the Steelers had earlier this week. The other players mentioned were linebacker Jason Worilds, cornerback Cortez Allen and offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert.
Suisham said his deal came together in the past three days as the Steelers looked to use some of their remaining $6 million in salary cap room to extend some of those veterans.
“Different deals can take longer to develop,” Suisham said. “I’m just happy I was part of that group and I’m pleased with the deal.”
Suisham, originally in camp with the Steelers in 2005, spent time with Washington and Dallas before returning to Pittsburgh in 2010 when he replaced Jeff Reed during the season.
He’s made 95 of his 109 field goal attempts with the Steelers and ranks first in team history with an 87.2 percent success rate and fifth all-time in made field goals.
“I think some of that just has to do with the fact there’s been a lot of consistency with kickers lately as a whole,” said Steelers long snapper Greg Warren. “They’ve all gotten better. People start taking it for granted a little bit. They have a very tough job. I’m glad to see he got rewarded for it.”
Over the last two seasons, in particular, Suisham has been amazingly accurate. He’s made 40-for-40 field goal attempts in Pittsburgh victories and 18 of 23 attempts in losses.
Odds and end zones
Linebacker Jarvis Jones (groin), wide receiver Justin Brown (broken nose) and running back Dri Archer (hamstring) were among those who sat out Friday night. … Cornerback Shaq Richardson left with a groin injury. … In addition to Bell, former California University of Pa. wide receiver C.J. Goodwin, who had been out since last Sunday with a shoulder injury, returned to practice. … The Steelers will practice at 3 p.m. today. The session is open to the public.