Training Camp

Steelers 2015 Training Camp Diary: Day Four

Day four is in the books. Fourteen to go. Another exciting day of practice at St. Vincent. As always, a lot to go over so let’s jump right in.

– As usual, Cameron Stingily was the first Pittsburgh Steeler down the stairs around 2:30. James Daniel fed footballs through the jugs machine to him prior to practice.

Dri Archer and Brad Wing walked down together. The saga continues.

– Like yesterday, Michael Egnew and Sammie Coates spent time before practice on the jugs machine.

– As you probably know by now, newly signed defensive back – who played corner – Jordan Sullen is wearing Jordan Dangerfield‘s old number, 42.

– Injury roundup: James Harrison, Will Allen, Cortez Allen, Mike Mitchell out today. B.J. Finney dressed but did not participate in much of any work today.

Tajh Boyd and Reese Dismukes worked on their snaps before the opening horn. To their credit, the snaps were better today.

– With Finney out, Miles Dieffenbach replaced Finney at second-team right guard. Chris Hubbard also got snaps as third-team center, a definitely noteworthy addition.

– Return line: Dri Archer, Eli Rogers, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton. For those curious about the type of players in the “upback” line, it’s a real mix. Everyone from Sammie Coates to Cameron Stingily to Matt Conrath.

Greg Warren, Ian Wild, and Matt Spaeth long-snapped. Dismukes may have gotten a snap or two in before jogging over to the offensive lineman grouping.

– Basically note-keeping at this point and I won’t indicate it any further unless there’s a change. Tyler Murphy is still at QB, Devin Gardner at WR.

– Sled drill for the TE. Michael Egnew is so technically unsound. Gets way too upright on contact and loses all power. Barely got a push in that drill again. Cameron Clear was a little better but had an issue of getting slightly overextended.

– Wide receivers worked on run blocking in positionals.

– Dri Archer didn’t participate in backs on ‘backers yesterday but was involved in the running backs’ brief pass protection drill today, though it involved sealing a rusher upfield, rather than squaring to a blocker.

– Brief observation on Kelvin Palmer in OL individuals. Much more upright than the other tackles. Lacking knee bend. I don’t think his play overall has been terrible, though.

– Eli Rogers again with the first group of wide receivers. Big advantage is catching passes from a franchise QB like Ben, as opposed to a backup/fringe guy like Tajh Boyd. That’s underrated but valuable experience.

– As Jon Ledyard and I have noted, Cameron Clear is stiff, causing him to be slow after the catch.

– Offensive line working on combination zone blocks in drills. Inside/outside zone blocks and their assignments based on defensive alignment. Blocking differs when there is a DE outside shade vs a LB or when they’re in a stack alignment.

– Lot of special teams work today. Emphasis on kick coverage simulation. Inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky was very involved with this group. Anthony Chickillo has been impressive but struggled with his aiming point as a tackler. Olsavsky got at him first for leading with his head and then Danny Smith scolded him on Chickillo’s next rep, with additional coaching from Olsavsky.

– Hubbard took snaps after practice.

– Lots of guys stayed after, working hard. ILBs were still hitting the tackling dummy well after the final horn sounded. Love that work ethic. I think Terence Garvin was the last to leave.

– Team went into OL/DL run blocking, RB/LB in coverage, and WR/DB all at once. So it was predictably impossible to watch it all. Paid very little attention to the OL/DL though I did watch Marcus Gilbert pancake Stephon Tuitt once. Like to see some nasty from #77.

– Mainly paid attention to the running backs and we’ll go through each rep I have noted.

1. Le’Veon Bell stutters outside before breaking inside. Lawrence Timmons grab him and I think drew a flag from the refs, who were on hand today.

2. Archer shakes Ryan Shazier to the inside, creating separation, but drops the throw.

3. Vince Williams stays at home inside vs DeAngelo Williams, who calmly breaks outside and makes the catch.

4. Josh Harris drops the ball running a wheel against Sean Spence.

5. Cameron Stingily struggles to get separation versus Jordan Zumwalt, who breaks up the pass. Bad news if you’re less athletic than Zumwalt.

6. Roosevelt Nix makes the catch against VW, but the linebacker doesn’t seem to take kindly to it, knocking the converted FB out of bounds. I think Vince Williams would tackle somebody in a conga line.

7. Ross Scheuerman cuts under Terence Garvin and makes the grab.

8. Bell shakes Timmons but the throw to the left sideline is out in front and incomplete.

9. Spence provides tight coverage vs Williams. Don’t have it noted if there was a catch or not, I don’t believe there was, but good coverage regardless.

10. Shazier jams Archer initially but the back makes the catch. Shazier does a nice job to stay with it and wrap up.

11. Josh Harris makes the grab on an out route vs Vince Williams.

12. Scheuerman does the same against Garvin.

13. Le’Veon Bell runs a crsip route, extended his arms to snag a pass with Lawrence Timmons in tow.

14. Archer runs a pivot route – starting inside before reversing course and breaking away from Shazier. Good coverage from the linebacker, love seeing two ultra-athletic dudes go at it, but Archer holds onto the ball despite Shazier’s best efforts to rip it out.

15. Nix stumbles after getting bumped by Garvin but regains control and makes the catch.

16. Josh Harris runs a crisp route and makes the grab versus Sean Spence.

17. Jordan Zumwalt misses his punch against Williams, whiffing while the back scoots free for perhaps the easiest catch of the day.

18. Dri Archer separates away from Shazier, making a grab.

19. Cameron Stingily is slow and stiff-hipped. Vince Williams pops him good.

20. Nix, showing a little bit of athleticism, makes a catch on a quick out against Garvin.

21. Garvin breaks up a pass intended for Stingily.

22. Jordan Zumwalt has a good punch on Nix but takes the worst of it, getting knocked off balance as Nix makes the grab.

23. Scheuerman uses his hands well to knock away Garvin, making the grab on an out.

24. Stingily does make one catch against Williams.

25. Scheuerman gets a step on Garvin and extends away from his body to make the reception.

– Overall, Ross Scheuerman showed some wiggle. He’s pegged as a versatile kid and I saw some athleticism today.

– Boy, Bell and Timmons sure had some great battles. Bell won most of them, it’s obviously an offensive-friendly drill, but Timmons made him earn it the way most linebackers would fail to do.

– I said it before camp and I’ll say it again. Cameron Stingily is not athletic enough to exist in the NFL. He’s a hard worker, getting onto the field early and working on his punt return grabs on the machine after practice, but the talent just doesn’t translate.

– A few notes from the couple plays I noted of WR vs DB.

1. Antonio Brown went vertical against Antwon Blake. CB had good coverage but AB found the ball, Blake didn’t, and the superstar receiver made the catch.

2. Alden Darby stepped in front of Devin Gardner to pick off a curl.

3. Markus Wheaton gains a step on rookie Doran Grant. Pass has a little bit of air underneath, allowing Grant to close the gap, but can’t quite poke the football away. Wheaton hauls the pass in.

4. Gerod Holliman doesn’t bite on a Shakim Phillips double-move, providing solid coverage.

5. B.W. Webb is physical with Antonio Brown off the line but AB still gets separation at the top of his route and makes the reception on a comeback route.

6. You’d expect it given the matchup but Martavis Bryant scorches Ian Wild on a straight nine route.

7.  Darby is way too grabbing on C.J. Goodwin’s jersey nearly the entire time.

– Before we get into the 11 on 11 breakdowns, here’s the OL/DL results.

1. Shayon Green leads things off and is stoned by Kelvin Beachum.

2. Cameron Heyward is able to dip under Ramon Foster.

3. Cody Wallace anchors well against Steve McLendon.

4. David DeCastro absorbs Tuitt’s bull rush.

5. Bud Dupree tries to dip the edge but loses his balance, falling to the ground. Don’t have the tackle, probably Mitchell Van Dyk.

6. Mike Thornton shows the good upper body strength we know he has, anchoring against Chickillo’s bull rush, the linebacker ending up on the ground.

7. DeCastro keeps his hands inside and sticks to Tuitt, winning in convincing fashion.

8. McLendon gets some revenge, walking Wallace back into the pocket.

9. Heyward swims over Foster for a clean win.

10. The two go at it again and Heyward betters the veteran guard, bull rushing him and putting Foster on skates.

11. Shayon Green tries to get a running start in an attempted bull rush of Kelvin Beachum but it still is not enough and the tackle absorbs it.

12. Clifton Geathers, using that monstrous frame of his, is able to move Chris Hubbard backwards.

13. Dismukes does a good enough job against Daniel McCullers bull rush.

14. Think it was Mike Tomlin who yelled out a “Let’s go Big Dan” as the two line up again. McCullers, showing some craftiness, swims over Dismukes. The rookie center is expecting another bull rush and whiffs terribly as McCullers slips – if there is such a thing – on by. Received a “Thatta boy” from someone down there.

15. Miles Dieffenbach loses his feet against Cam Thomas, the oft-scrutinized DE winning fairly easily.

16. Dupree tries to fake inside and then rush up the edge but can’t quite get low enough and Kelvin Palmer seals him.

17. Chickillo does the opposite, outside initially before planting and exploding inside, beating Palmer, who holds on for dear life.

18. Dieffenbach represents himself much better, showing a better base and hand use to push L.T. Walton way upfield.

19. Mike Thornton false starts, a coach yelling out “Watch the ball!” Resets and Dismukes anchors him. Thornton tries his hardest but has trouble getting off blocks. Best when shooting a gap .

11. Geathers again shows his length and power, running through Hubbard.

12. Jarvis Jones initially dips Kelvin Beachum but the left tackle keeps his base, moves laterally, then knocks the OLB down.

13. They reset and Jones is able to get leverage under Beachum, uprighting him. Beach is somehow able to stay on his feet and the two lock up for several seconds. Better showing for Jones though not a clear win.

14. Collin Rahrig barely seals Joe Kruger.

15. Thornton start with a bull and then swims over Dismukes to win.

16. Dieffenbach keeps his feet moving and thwarts Matt Conrath’s rush.

17. Chickillo has a good first step and wins the edge against a tackle I don’t have listed. Someone yelled out, “Good speed, Chic!”

18. Alejandro Villanueva stones Howard Jones. Former Army kid made it look easy.

19. Kevin Whimpey surprises, sealing Chickillo. “Good job, Kev,” someone calls out. But also worth nothing Chickillo is now rushing from a simulated ROLB spot in addition to his usual LOLB role.

20. Ethan Hemer dips under Rahrig, the rookie guard unable to show the foot speed to move laterally.

21. Hubbard anchors well against Thornton.

22. Niko Davis gets himself overextended versus Van Dyk.

23. Palmer had a particularly nice play, sliding inside to mirror an Arthur Moats inside spin, a counter to his initial edge rush.

24.  Palmer wins again versus Moats.

25. Jarvis Jones gets under Beachum, who loses his footing in the process. But Jones showed some impressive strength.

26. Two go at it again and Beachum is able to seal JJ this time.

27. Someone yells out to Jarvis, “Now we gotta get you another one.” For the third time, the OLB/LT go at it. Would say Beachum won the tiebreaker. Love how he’s able to keep his base the whole time. Really remarkable and it was a lot of fun watching those two compete.

First 11 on 11

Team starting on the two, as usual.

1. 11 personnel from under center. Power O, David DeCastro pulling to lead the charge as Le’Veon Bell follows behind. Dives over the goal line and the ref signals touchdown.

2. Slant/flat combination against a blitz. Ben Roethlisberger looks for Will Johnson in the right corner, the fullback diving out for it, but it’s off his hands. Arthur Moats was on the coverage but apparently was grabby, the ref throwing a flag.

3. Shazier comes storming in to tackle DeAngelo Williams in the backfield.

4. Landry Jones comes in and tries to hit a receiver in the middle of the field just inside the goal line. But B.W. Webb knocks it away.

5. Nearly positive Landry Jones missed an open Rob Blanchflower in the right flat, choosing to throw to Sammie Coates in the right corner instead with two defenders giving chase. Rookie receiver leaps up and tries to make a spectacular one-handed grab but can’t hang on.

6. For whatever reason, Palmer comes in to replace Van Dyk at RT. Dri Archer is split out in the left slot, running an out. Jones’ throw is a bit behind but the back adjusts to it and catches it for a touchdown.

7. Josh Harris on a draw and he scores as well.

– That’s three touchdowns in seven plays for the offense.

Second 11 on 11

1. DeAngelo Williams gets the carry to start things off. Shamarko Thomas, getting to hit – his favorite thing – fills the alley with a relatively big hit.

2. Jesse James couldn’t hold his block as Williams is tackled in the backfield.

3. Robert Golden was first-team safety with Mike Mitchell out. End around to Coates with Will Johnson coming across the formation as a lead blocker. Jarvis Jones works through that block to get to Coates first while Shazier joins him moments later. Great run defense.

4. Marcus Gilbert and David DeCastro open up a nice lane for Williams. About an eight yard gain.

5. Alden Darby and Isaiah Lewis are the second-team safeties. Moats flies in off the edge to drop Harris for a loss.

6. Kevin Fogg at LCB, Doran Grant at RCB, and Webb in the slot here. Harris with a decent run, got a high five from Tomlin walking back, but also like seeing Walton give chase to bring him down.

7. Howard Jones and another player, not sure who, converge near the line of scrimmage to bring down Stingily.

8. Defensive line grouping, basically the third team right now. Cam Thomas, Thornton, Hemer. Jordan Sullen checks in at RCB and wound up playing on both sides. Thomas gets off his block to swallow up Stingily.

9. Couldn’t see the carry but Dieffenbach knocked down Niko Davis.

10. Landry Jones is in. Playaction. Good coverage and Jones’ desperate attempt to hit Devin Gardner along the right sideline misses well out of bounds.

11. Ian Wild is sent on a blitz and drops Scheuerman.

12. Chickillo, like he did yesterday, comes in from the backside to bring Scheuerman down for a loss.

13. Bad snap between Dismukes and Boyd. The only wasted play of the day, luckilly.

14.  Conrath and Kruger the ends. Chickillo is scot free and again drops Scheuerman.

15. Pistol with Tyler Murphy. High snap. Draw to Stingily. Looked like Darby was the first guy in and then seemingly all other 10 yellow jerseys joined the party.

Third 11 on 11

1. Landry Jones getting first team reps. Webb the nickel back with William Gay and Antwon Blake. Curl complete to Wheaton. Blake comes in low on the tackle.

2. Pocket collapses on Jones and his throw is short and low.

3. Empty again. Jones hits Heath Miller over the middle. HEEEEEEEEATH, the crowd roars.

4. Landry airs it out vertically for Bryant. Pass is a little short and B.W. Webb comes within a step from picking it off. Incomplete. ILB blitz on this play and there was good blitz pickup from Williams.

5. Jones hits Coates on a curl. Thud tackle from Kevin Fogg.

6. Dupree’s spin on Van Dyk works pretty well. Jones hits Goodwin on a drag, who shakes Doran Grant before diving head-first into the ground.

7. Pressure off the edge. Jones climbs the pocket. Blake closes quickly on Darrius Heyward-Bey‘s drag route so the QB is forced to throw over the middle to Miller.

8. Cody Wallace got put on his butt by someone on this pass. Bryant makes a terrific catch, full extension behind him from Jones. Able to hang on despite Blake swiping through the pocket to try and knock it out.

9. Nickel blitz from Gay. Zumalt rushes from his ILB spot. Jones throws woefully high over DHB’s head.

10. Sullen at LCB. Fogg in the nickel and Grant at right. Wild/Holliman third team safety. Jones complete to Gardner on an out to the left side. Grant can’t quite close in time.

11. Jones finds Gardner again on a curl. Chickillo dropped from his LOLB spot and gives great chase, bringing Gardner to the ground in this thud-tackling drill.

12. New nickel pairing. This year, at least. McCullers and Tuitt as the down linemen. Chickillo has his hand in the dirt as well. Jones gets the ball out quick in the left flat complete to Stingily.

13. Tyler Murphy enters. Zips it over the middle to Goodwin who is quick to the tuck, and shakes a DB, who claps his hands in a hint of frustrating after missing.

14. Steelers blitz Webb and Lewis off the left side. Lots of nickel/safety overload blitzes, always from the defense’s left. Murphy smartly recognizes it and gets the ball out quickly to Eli Rogers running a drag.

15. Whimpey appears to false start. They reset and it goes from bad to worse for the rookie LT. Howard Jones bull rushes him and reaches Murphy, knocking the ball out of his hand as the QB goes to release the football.

Fourth 11 on 11

1. Landry Jones playaction. DHB runs a straight nine while Jones apparently thinks the receiver is going to break his route off. Pass falls incomplete with no one 10 yards near the ball. But I’d be more inclined to put the blame on DHB, not Jones.

2. Moats beats Gilbert off the edge. Jones is forced to scramble.

3. Draw to Bell. Heyward/Moats/Shazier all give chase along the right sideline. Late flag came in.

4. Murphy heaves a deep ball down the left sideline to Bryant, Webb in coverage. Bryant gives great effort, leaping for the football, but can’t quite hold onto it on the way down. Villanueva put Howard Jones into the ground on the play. Simple shove was all it took. Jones needs to develop some counters. Speed rushes are predictable.

5. Murphy tries to hit Coates on a curl but Fogg has good coverage and breaks it up.

6. This time, Murphy finds Coates on that curl. Webb was late to get there.

7. McCullers acts as the space-eater he is, stuffing Williams up the middle. This was against the first-team OL, too.

8. Shazier lines up to the left side near Chickillo, but off the ball, and drops into coverage. Jones smartly hits Williams in the right flat. Quick close from #50.

9. Beautiful throw from Landry. Puts it right over the outstretched arm of Shazier and finds Miller over the middle.

10. Jones checkdown to Scheuerman. Jarvis Jones is put into the ground by Villanueva but the left tackle needs to stick with the play. Slows down and Jones gets immediately to his feet and pressures Jones. Would’ve been a sack in a real game.

11. Moats, quietly having a nice camp, blows by Van Dyk off the snap and takes Archer down in the backfield.

12. Kevin Fogg reads Jones’ eyes well and though the pass complete to Scheuerman in the left flat, there is no chance for YAC.

13. Playaction. Jesse James runs a wheel down the left side out of the backfield. Some pressure and Murphy pops it to Stingily, who is cleaned up by a pretty big hit via Sean Spence.

14. Fire X blitz. Vince Williams swims over and pressures Murphy. Rookie throws a drag to Goodwin.

15. Draw to Archer.

Fifth 11 on 11

1. Inside zone to Bell.

2. D-Will off left tackle. Goes to the ground but love the professionalism. After rising to his feet, he jogs 10-15 yards to finish the run. It’s the little things. LeGarrette Blount would have never done that.

3. Jones pump fakes and with interior pressure in his face, hits Miller, who finds a small window next to Shazier.

4. Power O. Egnew and DeCastro pull. Egnew actually gets a big pop on whoever the EMOL was.

5. PA with Hubbard pulling as a false key. Dupree wins inside vs Hubbard. Murphy fires down the seam to Cameron Clear, who makes a really nice catch in traffic. By far, his best play and a guy who really needed one.

6. Dupree’s spin doesn’t work against the RT. Appeared to be miscommunication on the play. Murphy threw a comeback, receiver ran a curl. It happens. What camp is for.

7. Hard to tell from my angle but looked like a fold block between DeCastro and Wallace. Short pull from the guard with the center down blocking to the puller’s side. Opens up a big lane for Josh Harris.

8. Pistol with…Landry Jones. You better believe it. Draw/half pitch to Bell. Knifes through, gets into the 2nd level, and shakes Blake. Love the effort from DHB, racing downfield to try to throw an additional block. Very similar to what AB did against Cleveland in Week 1.

9. Jones climbs the pocket with pressure off the edge. Hits Wheaton coming across the middle.

10. McLendon swims Dismukes, leaving the rookie center to eat a face full of grass. Murphy does complete the pass, however.

11. Playaction with Hubbard again pulling. Murphy finds Phillips as the rookie receiver drops to the ground with Fogg toppling over top of him. This was on 3rd and 7.

12. Fire X. Screen to the left and the pass gets to Archer at the last second. He races down the left side. Not a full tackling drill.

13. Sullen the LCB. Pull the BSG and BST, maybe a pin and pull scheme? Stingily had the carry.

14. Thornton showed a nice first step to get penetration. Appeared to be a split zone with Scheuerman getting the carry. Thomas, for the second time today, works off a block and wraps the rookie back up.

15. Stunt on the defense’s left side. Dieffenbach and Palmer pick it up well, someone calling out “Nice job Miles” for the recognition. Boyd completes the pass to Jesse James.

Final Thoughts

– Team got long looks at Landry Jones and Tyler Murphy today. Very little of Tajh Boyd. We’ll see if Boyd gets a lot of reps tomorrow.

– Martavis Bryant had a nice day. Catch radius is just nuts.

– Schematically, the team got really creative with its power game. Guards pulling in every manner/situation.

– Beachum does a great job in these one-on-one situations. Rarely looks bad.

– Dieffenbach had an overall nice practice. Bit of a slow start but finished strong.

– Cam Heyward was well…Cam Heyward. Nice practice from him.

– Cam Thomas was, dare I say, pretty good today. Props to him.

– Anthony Chickillo is still working on his fair share of mistakes but the kid just looks natural and comfortable out there. I want to see someone boot off of him though, see if he can react to it or gets caught assuming run.

– Probably have some more “winners/losers,” but my brain is pretty fried. The smoothie machine from inside McDonalds is like Chinese water torture.

Your Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day 

“I played golf. I never got a hole-in-one. But I did hit a guy. And that was way more satisfying.”

Let’s Talk About…

Battle Bots. One of my favorite shows growing up. ABC brought it back this year but it just isn’t the same. It’s a beautiful looking show, don’t get me wrong, with some amazing designs. But it wasn’t the show I grew up with. It was gritty, low-res video and people in their garages building the best weapon they could. There was intelligent discussion and a focus on the battle, not the backstory or, at its worst as we’ve seen with the most recent edition, constant cutaways to clichéd, why-are-they-there announcers.

The MIT team creating the most powerful robot is cool, but I love robot wars beginnings. When it was new, inventive, and sometimes a little strange.  Hands down, my favorite battle of all-time came without either side landing a blow.

In 1997, Orb of Doom took on SPS2. The former was a ball with an RC car driving inside of it, the latter three helium balloons tied to a rope cage.

I don’t care if those are the two least effective robots to ever enter a battle. I love the genuine craziness of someone saying, “Let’s try this.” That’s the best.

Fan Question Of The Day

@Juan23LetsGo asks…

“is Conrath out there? Haven’t heard much.”

You’re right, we haven’t heard much. Because his snaps seem so limited. And what he has gotten hasn’t been very impressive. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed.

SVC Is Beautiful Picture Of The Day 

SVC5

 

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