By Alex Kozora
Now that I’m dried out, my observations from the third day of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp.
– It rained early and it rained often at St. Vincent. The skies opened up just as the players walked down to the practice field, through the first portion of practice, and is still pouring as I write this now. The team moved to the far side turf field field to warmup and conduct positional drills. Because of that, I didn’t gain much information from that portion. Did race down there from the bleachers and in exchange for pointing out who the star players were to take pictures of, received shelter from a kind older couple with an umbrella.
I did not have one because I am a very stupid college kid and clearly not prepared to become an actual adult.
– Was standing about 15 feet away from the offensive line during this portion. Mike Munchak had the line work on their power steps. It’s a pass set designed to take away rush lanes. Useful for slide protection.
– Quick injury roundup. C.J. Goodwin sat out with his shoulder injury. Le’Veon Bell sat out because of his tight hamstring. Martavis Bryant returned to practice after missing just the one day. Mike Tomlin announced Jordan Zumwalt suffered a, what else is new, groin injury.
– The team made its way back over to the field in front of the bleachers for team drills. Before getting into 11 on 11, the WRs and DBs squared off in one-on-one. I do believe the running backs were in the backs on ‘backers drill but it took place in the far right corner of the field with a large huddle of players surrounding them. Meaning, I couldn’t see anything that took place.
Instead, some quick hitters from the WR vs DB matchup.
Dri Archer worked with this group, not with the running backs.
Again, Justin Brown was on the same side as Markus Wheaton, Antonio Brown, and Lance Moore. The rest of the group, including Derek Moye and Martavis Bryant were working with the rest of the camp bodies.
Justin Brown had a diving catch on a comeback working against Devin Smith. Another strong practice from him.
Cortez Allen and Ike Taylor had breakups against Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown, respectively. Taylor and Brown are the stars of the show, as you’d expect, and Brown redeemed himself later by catching a nine route for a touchdown against Ike Taylor.
Brice McCain had a nice breakup on a deep ball against Bryant.
Jordan Dangerfield thrives on his physicality. Gave Archer a blow off the line once, knocking him back. Archer recovered though and still ended up making the catch on a curl. Archer also beat Shaquille Richardson on a fly route down the right sideline.
Lance Moore turned Isaiah Green inside out on a jerk route. Just what you want a savvy veteran to do to a young corner.
Wheaton caught a fade working against Smith.
And to end the drill, AB was pitted again against Ike. Sold deep, chopped his feet and broke down, and got major separation. Going to the ground, he grabbed the low throw.
– Chris Hubbard again ran as the first team left guard with Ramon Foster still absent. Just speculation but I would anticipate Foster to return for Wednesday’s practice. With Bell out, LeGarrette Blount obviously became the #1RB. Will Allen again ran as the first team free safety.
– Isaiah Green and Antwon Blake were the second team cornerbacks.
– Nice moment as St. Vincent announced Ed Bouchette as this year’s winner of the Dick McCann Award for his life-long contributions. Drew a nice applause from the crowd as Bouchette tipped his cap to the audience. Joey Porter would come over and shake his hand a few moments later.
– Today’s return men in drills: Archer, Wheaton, Lance Moore, and Jordan Hall.
– Numerous players saw time at gunner today. From my notes, I have 13 listed so including them all is relatively useless. Couple notable names though: Richardson, Shamarko Thomas, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Derek Moye, and Isaiah Green. If anyone would like to know the rest, let me know in the comments and I’ll list them.
– No punts from Brad Wing in the special team’s period today so I don’t have hang times for you.
– Second-team offensive line: Mike Adams, Wesley Johnson, Cody Wallace, Will Simmons, Guy Whimper. The third team: Wesley Johnson, Chris Elkins, Wallace, Bryant Browning, and Emmanuel McCray.
– Before going into the 11 on 11, one other major area I watched. Defensive lineman/outside linebackers versus the offensive line. A play by play of the majority of the snaps followed up some of my thoughts.
Jarvis Jones with a good punch and showed bend to get around Kelvin Beachum.
Marcus Gilbert styming Jason Worilds.
David DeCastro anchors well against rookie Stephon Tuitt. The coaches wanted Tuitt to try and redeem himself and despite false starting twice, pushed DeCastro aside with a good initial punch.
Daniel McCullers then blows Cody Wallace back a good five yards. His 36 plus inch arms versus the T-Rex like Wallace gives the advantage to the nose tackle.
Will Simmons did get the best of McCullers the next snap, however. Lot of weight in that matchup. 345 pound Simmons against the 352 McCullers.
Jarvis back at it against Beachum. Inside move beats the left tackle easily. Coaches want to see it again and Jones flashes a strong punch, knocking 68 off his base, and again wins the battle. If you’re keeping score, that’s 3-0 on the day for the second year outside linebacker. Have to praise him for that.
As you’d predict, Jason Worilds wins against Bryant Browning in an obvious mismatch.
Chris Elkins anchors against Hebron Fangupo. Was really well done by the rookie UDFA.
Josh Mauro rips past Wesley Johnson.
Chris Carter attempts to spin to the inside against Mike Adams but the left tackle mirrored well enough and stayed square.
Arthur Moats bull rushes Guy Whimper into the “pocket.” No actual QB in this drill, obviously.
Browning responds by holding off Nick Williams.
Good battle between Al Lapuaho and Elkins. Lapuaho finally sheds him but it took time. In an in-game situation, the ball is already out by that point.
Brian Arnfelt walks Johnson back.
Adams against Carter, part two. Big left tackle puts Carter in the ground as he tries to dip the edge. Carter may have lost his footing too in the wet grass. The two square off again and Adams again drives the outside linebacker into the ground as Carter tries to speed rush around.
Another mismatch: Moats swims over Emmanuel McCray without much issue.
A Roy Philon sighting. He tries – and fails – to dip against Simmons.
Couldn’t see who the defender was but Wesley Johnson anchored well.
At this point, I did miss a few snaps. Have play-by-play for three more.
Elkins mirrors well against Josh Mauro.
Terence Garvin beats Johnson around the edge.
Howard Jones is too high off the edge to dip, but does respond by spinning to the inside and getting past Johnson.
– Final thoughts on the drill. As I tweeted, the winners were Jarvis Jones and Chris Elkins. Jones had his way with Kelvin Beachum. Big improvement I see with him is the power in his first punch. Allows him to add to his arsenal and rush inside. Elkins had a good showing, especially against Fangupo. Giving up a lot of size and he held his own. Mike Adams also did a nice job, even if it was against Carter.
What I’ll do through the rest of this article, and what practice was dedicated to, 11 on 11. Have play-by-play for each snaps as well as offensive personnel groupings for the first installment. Afterwards, I’ll recap some of who looked good and who didn’t.
13 personnel. Dive to Blount. Goes for a small gain. Will Johnson lined up as an in-line blocker.
12. Looked like an inside zone to Blount. Went for a loss.
21. Outside run to Archer. Also went for a short loss.
12. Tauren Poole gets the handoff. Chris Carter makes the tackle.
12. The first pass coming off playaction. Michael Palmer hauls in the pass but gets absolutely destroyed by Jordan Dangerfield. Biggest hit of the day.
21. Power O with Bryant Browning pulling right to left. Poole gets the hand off and jukes Shamarko Thomas in order to get to the edge.
12. Same thing, Power O with Browning. This time, Miguel Maysonet receives the handoff and picks up a medium gain.
11. Give to Maysonet. Short pickup this time.
12. Playaction. Matt Spaeth makes the catch for a nice chunk of yards, probably about 20. Runs over Ross Ventrone as he’s taken to the ground by a couple bodies.
22. Jordan Hall gets his first carry. An unblocked Jarvis Jones sweeps in from the backside to make the stop in the backfield.
11. A draw to Poole for a nondescript gain.
13. Hall totes the rock. I was watching Ryan Shazier this play and saw him the whole way. Stacked the lineman, shed, and made the tackle for a loss. Was the third team offense but still a nice play from the first rounder. Again, Darrius Heyward-Bey was on the field the same time as these guys. Landry Jones, Bryce Davis, you get the idea.
12. Dive to Maysonet for a short gain.
12. Tauren Poole gets the ball again. Spins away from one defender in the backfield but can’t get past Steve McClendon, who drops him for a loss.
11. Final play of this installment. Another Jordan Hall run that goes for a loss as a host of players bring him down.
Will Johnson makes the catch from Ben Roethlisberger.
Markus Wheaton picks up about 10 yards on a curl from Big Ben.
Checkdown from Ben to Poole.
Dig route complete to Antonio Brown. Wasn’t tackled but the whistle still blew. Brown paid it no mind, finishing the play and running another 50 yards into the end zone.
For the first time in camp, Dri Archer is lined outside the numbers. Landry Jones tries to hit him on a fly route but the ball is underthrown and broken up by Antwon Blake.
Jones throw away. Coverage caused it.
Jones hits Eric Waters on a curl. Body catch but he hauls it in.
Pass thrown incomplete to Maysonet on an out route. Was watching Daniel McCullers and he blew through either Guy Whimper or Browning. You can see the strength.
Miscommunication between Antonio Brown and Roethlisberger. Ben throws the comeback, Brown runs a fly. Pass incomplete. Richardson was covering AB.
Lot to take in on the next play. Fire X between Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons. Dri Archer is sent on a wheel route – something I said he could be used on in my offensive concept preview post before camp – but the pass is picked off by Jason Worilds. The first one of camp. Brag away, 93.
Bruce Gradkowski throws incomplete to Michael Palmer down the seam. Timmons with good coverage.
Gradkowski hits Archer in the flat.
A Gradkowski fade to Lanear Sampson falls incomplete. Blake with the coverage.
Brendon Kay batted down at the line by Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt had his hand up pre-snap. I think all eleven defenders did.
Kay completes a slant to Kashif Moore to end the second installment. Blake with the tackle. Have it in my notes Dri Archer was lined up in the slot on this play.
Ben tries to hit Blount in the flats but the running back drops the pass.
Another drop, this time from Antonio Brown. Had to stretch a little for it but definitely catchable. Tuitt loops over Cam Thomas on a stunt.
Some sort of quick, half toss to Archer out of the backfield. Believe he was tackled for a short loss, though.
Defense bringing the house on the next play. Safety blitz with Sean Spence rushing. Ben tries to hit Lance Moore on a deep crosser but it falls incomplete with good coverage from Brice McCain.
Justin Brown makes a short catch along the right sideline.
Saw Spence rush off the edge on the next play. Back shoulder fade to Derek Moye bounces off his hand. Isaiah Green with the coverage.
Shaquille Richardson records the defense’s second interception of the day in the right flat, stepping in front of a pass.
Gradkowski’s throw is too high even for the tall Martavis Bryant. Pass incomplete. Richardson applying the coverage.
Big Ben hits Antonio Brown on a slant. Was paying attention to the line on this one. Beachum with a good first punch against the weaker Howard Jones, knocking him off rush.
Pass from Ben is a little high for Heath Miller – running a curl – to handle and it goes through his hands. Timmons on the coverage.
The first “sack” though of course, no touching the QB allowed. Did focus in on Jarvis Jones against Beachum this play. Didn’t see good bend here and Beachum mirrored with ease.
Jordan Hall on a run. Medium-sized gain.
Consecutive runs, with this time Tauren Poole getting the handoff. Looked up just in time to see Mike Adams drive Nick Williams five yards off the ball. Was in complete control.
Aggressive look from the defense. “A” gaps sugared and the Steelers bring Shamarko Thomas on a blitz off the right side. Landry Jones forced to scramble.
A coverage scramble from Jones again to end the third installment. Saw Daniel McCullers leap into the air to try and bat down a potential pass. As far as I’m aware, the Earth did not shake.
This one was not full contact. Could consider it “half hit” where defenders would wrap up but not take anyone to the ground. “Grind hard!” Tomlin exclaimed, encouraging his group of guys to finish things strong.
To kick things off, an inside dive to Archer.
Blount with a tough run to the left, picking up a nice again. Good hole opened up by the line.
Poole with a run off right tackle. High-stepped over a diving Lawrence Timmons.
Smoke screen to Antonio Brown on the right sideline.
Jones checks down to Michael Palmer.
Jones throws high to Derek Moye, but the receiver’s tall frame allows him to leap, high point the ball, and make the grab.
Another completion to Jones, this time hitting Justin Brown on a post. Shaq Richardson with the coverage.
Handoff to Dri Archer off right tackle. Knocked out of bounds.
Gradkowski throws incomplete to the left side. No one really in the area.
Timmons makes the tackle on Jordan Hall.
Tauren Poole with the carry off the left side. Side note: Nick Williams lined up at left end. First time I saw him there all camp.
Danny Coale makes a reception on an out route near the right sideline.
Jordan Hall runs for a short gain.
Wrinkle: End around from left to right to Dri Archer for a decent, though not spectacular, gain.
To end it, a draw given to Hall.
– Stephon Tuitt looked nice. Had the bat down and they’re using him on stunts. He was again getting reps with the first team nickel, lining up at right end. It was a good outing for the rookie.
– Tauren Poole had a few nice runs in a day that was dominated by run defense. Has some elusiveness, can make players miss. Each day, I grow a tiny more excited about him.
– Didn’t see anything in the receiving game but Rob Blanchflower is getting work as a blocker. Can see he is already showing well there. Asked to in-line block a ton at UMass.
– In flashes, you can see Daniel McCullers’ strength. But he was a guy, as other reports have mentioned, who can wear down throughout practice. Noticeably slower off the ball.
– Ryan Shazier looked good. Played with the speed you’d expect and got off blocks.
– Despite that one play where he couldn’t bend against Beachum, Jarvis Jones had a quality outing. Received praise from coaches on at least one occasion.
– Shaq Richardson showed why he should be getting more snaps with his interception and incompletions in his direction today.
– His chance of making the practice squad is unclear, but I can tell you this much about him: Jordan Dangerfield is a missile who loves to hit.
– Jordan Hall has nothing special to his game. No trait of note. Danny Coale is in the same boat. Slow out of his breaks again today.
– The fact we saw the team run Power O to the left twice today after seeing it once yesterday tells me you’re going to see it sprinkled in throughout the regular season. Not a ton but with DeCastro’s athleticism, it’s worth exploring.
– Markus Wheaton has had a fine camp. No bad practices three days in. Feeling a little more comfortable with him as the #2 receiver.
– If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three days, three positions for Wesley Johnson. Has now played at left guard, center, and left tackle. Good news for his chances of making the roster. More hats you can wear, better your odds of earning a helmet.
– Your daily McDonalds’ Syfy movie: Malibu Shark Attack.
– Calories of McChicken’s consumed during camp: 1440. Number of pages with today’s notes: 6. Number of umbrellas I’ll be bringing to camp from now on: 1.
Editor Note: Feel free to ask Alex a few questions in the comments below and he will try to answer them tonight. We will have a mini podcast up later tonight as well.