By Jim Colony

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – The Steelers practiced without pads – in shells – under mostly sunny skies as morning clouds gave way.

That gave rookie RB James Conner a chance to step forward.

“Coach told me he was going to rep me a lot,” said Conner, who was the busiest RB by far, both running and catching.

The highlight came at the end of the day in the 2-minute drill with the 2nd team offense when Conner caught a Bart Houston pass in the flat heading toward the sideline. But instead of taking it out of bounds Conner cut inside S Jordan Dangerfield and ran it another 30 yards into the end zone as the fans cheered then got louder when Antonio Brown raced into the end to celebrate with Conner.

But, fittingly, Conner took an analytical approach after practice.

“In those 2 minutes situations there’s times where you need to get out of bounds,” Conner explained, “so I’ll have to look and see if I made the right decision or not and critique it.”

Josh Dobbs directed the first team offense in their portion of the drill and moved the team haltingly until a 4th down play which was intercepted by Will Gay who weaved 80 yards for a TD, then proceeded to gyrate a la AB with the help of Cam Heyward and others.

S Sean Davis, LB Anthony Chickillo and RT Marcus Gilbert returned while LB Ryan Shazier and S Mike Mitchell remain out. Usually James Harrison works with the rehabbing players but was not with them for the second straight day. Mike Tomlin says they have a “special program for veterans in their late 30s.”

The players have Tuesday off and will be back at St. Vincent College Wednesday afternoon at 2:55.