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John Clay explains walking out of practice


One of the weirder scenes at Steelers training camp this year turned out to have quite a realtive simple explanation.

A day after undrafted rookie running back John Clay left the practice field early and was heading to the locker room before finally being talked back by a trainer, the former Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year had a perfectly logial explanation for his weird behavior.

“It was all a misunderstanding,” Clay said.

During the final team session of practice Monday, Clay was told to leave by running backs coach Kirby Wilson after making a mistake.

Clay interepreted “leave” to mean go to the locker room, not as Wilson intended it to mean, which was go to the sidelines.

“He said leave so I was thinking leave as in go to the locker room,” Clay said. “Somebody came and got me and told me that he meant to stay on the sidelines. I didn’t hear him say that.”

Clay returned to the field Monday just in time for practice to end and participated in post-practice sprints with the running backs.

So what was the mistake Clay made that had Wilson so fired up?

“I made a mistake and I turned around and looked at him instead of running all the way down with the play,” Clay said. “He told me if I do make a mistake that just do it at 100 percent and he will correct me after.”

Clay is expected to get more work Thursday during the second preseason game against the Eagles. Last week, Clay played in four snaps against the Redskins.

Clay is trying to catch on as the Steelers’ fourth running back after having a stellar career at Wisconsin.

Clay (6-1, 248) rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons at Wisconsin.

Clay left the Badgers after his junior year.
– Mark Kaboly




Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug

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