You could not have dialed up a more postcard perfect day for the Steelers' last open practice of their 2010 training camp at Saint Vincent College: azure skies, balmy temps, and little humidity complimenting that gorgeous bucolic small college campus setting.
Though the team doesn't technically break camp from Latrobe until after a Thursday morning practice, it was clear that the players were already feeling a little relieved. Wednesday's afternoon session had a slightly playful atmosphere -- Ryan Clark masqueraded as camp staffer "Parking Lot Larry" to direct traffic in the and check coolers before practice; Hines Ward dropped and did pushups after whiffing on a wide-open pass cracking up his teammates and the 1,500+ Steeler partisans on hand; Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Mundy engaged in an impromptu 60-yard footrace after a whistle (Mendanhall won) also to the delight of fans and teammates.
Depending on how the unresolved collective bargaining agreement shakes out -- if regular season games are added, and preseason and training camps are cut short, or worse, if there's a lockout -- the dynamic of the Steelers' summer sojourns, and those of fans, could be greatly altered.
It's hard to imagine the Steelers not spending at least part of the summer in Latrobe, even if the visit is truncated to a week or 10 days. But, again, if that dynamic does change the possible last-day-of-training-camp-as-we-presently-know-it couldn't have been nicer.
Some pics below ...
Last day. Let's get it on.
Mike Wallace hauls in a bomb with his buddy Keenan Lewis in coverage. Aaron Smith and Art Rooney II look on in the background with assistant strength coach Marcel Pastoor (far left) and media relations man Dave Lockett (second from R).
Mike Tomlin surveys the scene.
Charlie Batch takes some snaps in what is likely his last Latrobe training camp as a player ... but will he return as a coach someday?
Hines Ward drops for 20 pushups after missing on an easy would-be touchdown pass.
Dennis Dixon running the offense during a team drill. Should he start during Roethlisberger's suspension?
Nothing really happening here, just a cool shot.
Max Starks points out what a little, little man FOX Sports' Jay Glazer is ...
With just slightly less fanfare, but no less effort and determination, the Saint Vincent football team is also conducting their training camp.
Retirement has not been kind to Franco & Levon.
Who knew Metallica's lead guitarist played for the Steelers? Or perhaps its just a jersey foul of the highest order.
Who still uses a flip phone? Sooooo 2004. Smart phones pal, get with it.
"Yes. These sunglasses do make me look like Don Draper."
Bye now ...