The Pittsburgh Steelers had a late evening practice Friday at Saint Vincent College and while there weren\’t very many reports coming out from the media during the session, there are a few noteworthy things to pass along.
The biggest news on Friday was the announcement via a statement by head coach Mike Tomlin that said cornerback Cortez Allen (knee) needed minor surgery on his knee earlier in the morning. Allen apparently injured the knee during the first practice of training camp and we can only assume his meniscus needed to be repaired. Allen is expected to be sidelined for the next few weeks, but should be ready to go by the start of the regular season being as this was taken care of so early.
With Allen down, William Gay remains the starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor and Curtis Brown comes in to play outside in the nickel as Gay slides inside to the slot. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Brown was not having a good practice and that is something to certainly be concerned about.
Starting tackles Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert flipped sides Friday evening and Tomlin referred to position flexibility as the main reason why in addition to saying he wants to find the right spot for every player within each position group. Does this mean the change will be permanent? It\’s hard to say judging by Tomlin\’s answer to that question after practice, but if this becomes a trend over the course of the next few practices, I think we will have our answer.
Rookie running back Le\’Veon Bell is continuing to have a nice camp and Tomlin said after practice that he “had some moments.”
Dale Lolley of the Washington Observer reports that Bell looked much better in the backs on backers drill this time around and that he dinged his knee on a play but returned to practice.
Lolley also reports that second-year linebacker Adrian Robinson received a chewing from Tomlin during the backs on backers drill. I won\’t post the quote, but Tomlin used a dirty word during the chewing.
Also, apparently the undrafted Mike Golic Jr. has finally been moved back inside after playing right tackle during the offseason practices. It surprised me when that happened way back in rookie camp as the Notre Dame product played both guard and center in college. The move might have also been made because the team is a body short at guard now that Nik Embernate is out for good with a torn ACL and MCL suffered Thursday in practice.
Kaboly also reports that safety Troy Polamalu “stole the show” Friday evening with two impressive plays. On one he chased down Antonio Brown in the backfield on a wide receiver screen and on another he defended a pass intended for Brown. Polamalu really trained hard during the offseason in an effort to put the calf problem behind him forever and hopefully he can stay healthy moving forward.
Rookie wide receiver Justin Brown continues to get his name in the paper as Kaboly also reports he took safety Ryan Clark to school with a nice fake after catching a ball over the middle. Brown is certainly not a deep threat, but as I have previously noted, he made a lot of plays in traffic in the middle of the field at Oklahoma.
Alan Baxter continues to have a nice camp and his name is showing up daily in these reports. Even general manager Kevin Colbert named Baxter as a player that has flashed thus far during his interview Friday on Movin\’ The Chains. I have only watched Baxter play in the game against Florida State and really wasn\’t overly impressed with what I saw. The next day off the Steelers have I intend on trying to find a few more games of his. He is a converted defensive end, but like Robinson last year, he seems to have caught the eye of the coaching staff and front office. Where there is smoke there is fire.
In addition to Allen and Embernate being out, cornerbacks DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) and Terry Hawthorne (knee) also remained sidelined. Linebacker Jason Worilds (toe) wasn\’t able to practice after injuring his great toe on Thursday and defensive end Brett Keisel and tight end Matt Spaeth also had some bumps and bruises that needed resting as well. LaMarr Woodley (calf) was able to work, however, after missing a little time on Thursday. There was no change with the four players on the PUP list.
That\’s all for day eight of training camp and we will be back at it on Saturday for day nine.