Day four of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers is now behind us and below is recap of the day. Here is the running updates from the day as well.
The day kicked of with a press conference to celebrate the signing of wide receiver Antonio Brown to a five-year extension that took place on Friday. Brown, his son, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert all were present. This press conference was more of a message to Mike Wallace than anything, in my opinion. Does anyone remember press conferences last year at camp for Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley or Troy Polamalu, all of whom signed extensions? Yeah, me neither. Colbert refused to answer questions about Wallace and wanted to keep the attention on Brown, which is well deserved.
As far as the injury report goes, the only new player to list is rookie linebacker Sean Spence, who apparently fell on one of his shoulders on Friday. Spence was limited today and did not take part in the backs on backers drill as a result. Tomlin would not indicate which shoulder it was that Spence dinged up. Also remaining sidelined were Heath Miller (ankle), Alameda Ta\’amu (foot) and Jeremy Kapinos (back), along with the six players on the PUP list. It is likely that we will not see Miller, Ta\’amu or Kapinos return until Tuesday, but that is just speculation.
It was a spirited practice on Saturday and the offense focused quite a bit on the running game. The same rotations continued on the offensive line with rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams rotating in with the first unit. Trai Essex and Ramon Foster are still the first teamers for now at left tackle and right guard respectively.
The blocking sled drills belonged to the fullbacks as both David Johnson and Will Johnson reportedly impressed. The running backs looked good in the drill outside of rookie Chris Rainey, who as expected, lacks a lot of power because of his size. In the backs on backers drill, there were a bunch of wins, loses and draws of course. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer reportedly fared well, while Batch, the star of the drill last year, was inconsistent. Batch is of course coming off the ACL injury, so the complete trust in the knee, from a power standpoint, might not yet be there just yet.
Mike Tomlin was not disappointed in the effort of Batch and made that clear in his post practice press conference. “I like the fact that there was no hesitation in his play,” said Tomlin. “For a guy that’s coming off a knee injury, I thought he moved with authority and trusted his knee, not only in competition periods but in individual work. You get an opportunity to see those things when they’re working with Coach (Kirby) Wilson as running backs. He’s a sharp young guy and he’s coming back nicely.”
Even though Batch was inconsistent in the backs on backers drill, he ran well between the tackles and cut well outside with good speed according to reports. He always finishes his runs in addition.
Rainey was held out of the blocking drill on purpose by Tomlin. “I’m not going to pull my boat with a Ferrari,” said Tomlin. “I took him out of the drill. If he can’t cut in that drill, then I’m not putting him in the drill. I don’t want him cutting LaMarr Woodley and others.”
As far as the linebackers go, Stevenson Sylvester might have had the best day out of all of them in the drill. Once again, lots of wins, loses and draws on both sides and Tomlin would only really say that he will take a look at the tape.
In the team portion of practice, Colon got things off to a fiery start after he put Timmons on his back after coming off of his double team block with Maurkice Pouncey. That started a little a skirmish that included Pouncey, linebacker Chris Carter and several others. When asked what Colon was so upset about today, Tomlin said, “Life.”
That was not the first confrontation of the day though, as Ryan Clark and Brown wanted to get in each others face during one-on-one coverage drills. The two needed to be separated.
Troy Polamalu, as one texter told me today, was his disruptive self and made several nice plays, of which one came on a blitz as he almost received the hand-off. He also was noted as moving very fluid around the field. While Polamalu might look a little thick, he still moves well and that certainly is good to hear.
Rainey and Marquis Maze both got some reps on kickoffs with Batch and Dwyer getting work as the up-men. Tyler Beiler reportedly had a quiet, but productive practice, while Toney Clemons was noted as having a few more drops. This is the second day in a row this was observed, so it is worth focusing in on more now.
Keenan Lewis continues to work opposite Ike Taylor, with Cortez Allen still behind him on the depth chart. Allen is building on his rookie season and his very physical when pressing on the line according to reports. As I noted prior to training camp getting started, this is going to be one of the better battles in camp. For now, it appears Lewis is still in the lead though.
Johnson versus Johnson also seems to be another great battle right now at fullback as well. Both players reportedly had a good day of practice and did well in the backs on backers drill.
Cameron Heyward is also quietly having a nice start of camp, as is Ziggy Hood. Not too much has been noted about the linebacker group with both James Harrison and Jason Worilds still sidelined, but we figure to get a good look at that depth in the first preseason game.
I will add more links below throughout the night annd you can listen to the camp report David Todd gave me this evening right here.