Day two! Fifteen left to go. Today was the last day the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without pads, returning on Wednesday with hopefully an exciting, full-contact practice.
Still, there were a lot of great moments on Day Two. Without wasting more time, let’s jump into the notes.
– Rookie running back Cameron Stingily was the first player to walk onto the field, coming out at 2:23 for the 2:55 practice. He was working on adjusting to passes, going through ones that were to the left, right, high, and low. He didn’t see a lot of targets at Northern Illinois so the more reps, the better for him.
– Injury report. James Harrison and Will Allen were again held out. Matt Spaeth was also a no-go, though he still wore his uniform. Ross Ventrone suffered a right leg/ankle injury in practice when Eli Rogers slammed into him on a diving grab. Came in 7 on 7’s too. What a shame and I hope he’s ok. Cameron Clear didn’t finish practice due to heat. You’d think a guy who spent time in Tennessee, Arizona, and Texas A&M would be used to the heat.
Sorry to anyone who thought Ben Roethlisberger was going to be out today. Really looked like it. Didn’t warmup with the team initially and barely did anything in the stretch line. Seemed like good indicators he was going to get a day of rest.
– Defensive line coach John Mitchell was working with rookies Mike Thornton and L.T. Walton on their stance, getting their weight shifted correctly, and their initial punch.
– Dri Archer didn’t walk out with Brad Wing. The punter joined Greg Warren down to the field. I hope #13 and #9 can patch things up.
– Mike Tomlin went away from the all-black clothing to a white long-sleeved shirt and grey sweatpants today.
– Offensive line groupings were no different today than yesterday.
First Team: Beachum-Foster-Wallace-DeCastro-Gilbert
Second Team: Villanueva-Hubbard-Dismukes-Finney-Van Dyk
Third Team: Whimpey-Rahrig-Finney-Dieffenbach-Palmer
– Tyler Murphy remained the #4 QB today. Devin Gardner was exclusive to the WRs.
– Return order: Archer, Rogers, Gardner, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton. Of note here is a lack of Sammie Coates, who was put in the other return drill – I guess you could call it the “upback” drill – with all the big uglies. Remember Coates struggled there yesterday.
– Overall, the players did well there today though Gardner let one into his chest that bounced into the air. Was forced to re-do the drill and caught it cleanly. Still, he needs to do a better job of getting underneath the ball as opposed to catching it over his shoulder.
– No Antonio Brown in the return line the last two days. Good sign they’re trying to take him off of the punt return unit this year.
– Funny moment. Vince Williams came flying off the sidelines to try and scare/distract Coates during one of his catches in the return line. To the rookies’ credit, he still caught the ball.
– Wide receiver order in individuals: Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, C.J. Goodwin, Sammie Coates, Devin Gardner, Eli Rogers, Shakim Phillips.
After Rogers ran ahead of Coates yesterday, the Steelers placed Goodwin in front today. Message to the rookie that he has to earn his snaps. The team is making it clear to Coates he won’t be given anything. Tough love.
– Offensive line ran a “ricochet drill” to being today. Two defenders – who are just other o-lineman- holding pads, come at the offensive lineman. The player involved has to slide, punch the one pad, and then slide to the other and punch again several times. Nice drill to make sure a player is getting fully extended and moving laterally while maintaining a sound base.
– Watching the tight ends run under the chutes to hit the sled. Michael Egnew just doesn’t have much power. Barely moves the sled.
– Speaking of Egnew, on routes, he looks fluid and like he belongs in the NFL. They were running seam routes with a hard outside stem. Sold it well, as Ben yelled out “Nice sell,” but wound up dropping the pass. Those are the kinds of things that are keeping him for excelling.
– Pretty apparent Cameron Clear is slow out of his three-point stance. Very upright. He’s raw.
– Jesse James got some constructive criticism from Ben. Ran a square out when he was supposed to start working back downhill out of his break.
– Eli Rogers ran in the “top group” of receivers with AB, Wheaton, Bryant, and DHB in QB/WR drills.
– In that group, I thought Shakim Phillips showed impressive body control. Did it yesterday too on one or two catches.
– Bruce Gradkowski, still on the PUP, was jogging on the side.
– The special teams periods were in between 11 on 11 sessions but we’ll cover it now.
– Jon and I did the best we could for hangtimes. Here’s what we have. I know we missed one for Wing so that explains why he only has two.
Brad Wing: 4.4, 4.54
Jordan Berry: 4.8, 4.65, 5.00, 3.85
Wing arguably showed the better leg while at least one of Berry’s didn’t travel very far. Should note Berry’s last one, the 3.85, seemed like an Aussie-style punt that isn’t meant to generate a long of hangtime.
– Players fielding those as return men: Archer, Rogers, Bryant, Wheaton.
– Tomlin with some good coaching as he watched the returners.
“Get there, get square.”
To Bryant: “Don’t drift to it.”
To Eli Rogers: “That was good but you sort of caught it on the hip.”
– Danny Smith was fiery, as always, as he worked on his coverage unit attacking the return man from each hash. One of those little things you have to think about when you coach. Have to put the ball at different hashes. Not everything is going to happen smack-dab in the middle of the field.
– Robert Golden and Ian Wild served as upbacks. Golden was the starter, of course.
– Shaun Suisham had seven or eight field goals today, though all from fairly close range, and I’m pretty positive he made them all.
– Team had fun with the holders. Heath Miller held on. Ben Roethlisberger had another and produced the line of the day from Danny Smith.
*walking backward, ready to start the play*
*looks at Ben*
“What the hell do we got here?”
– For what it’s worth, when Smith sent in the first unit, Ethan Hemer and Rob Blanchflower were apart of it. Though for Blanchflower’s case at least, keep in mind Spaeth was out today, the usual player on the right wing of field goals.
– Seven on seven notes
– Antwon Blake didn’t get out of his pedal early enough and Bryant burned him deep down the field for a 60 yard “touchdown.”
– Big Ben had a money throw to Brown. Corner route with Doran Grant sinking underneath like a Cover 2 corner and Alden Darby closing over the top. Stuck it in there and AB caught it.
– Brown followed it up with a sweet one-handed catch. At the end of practice, he was the first guy to get on the jugs machine.
– Think Wheaton once ran the wrong route. Was in the slot next to Miller and the two pretty much wound up in the same spot.
– You’ve probably already seen the footage of Ross Ventrone’s injury, Eli Rogers diving out for the pass but crashing into the safety’s lower right leg. Ventrone was carted off. Darby replaced him.
– After practice, Alejandro Villanueva and Josh Harris got some work with Danny Smith on their first step and punch for the punt coverage unit. Smith has been in Harris’ ear a lot, going over technique, the last two days. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that there’s a lot of good coaching going on from Smith.
– Like they did yesterday, Tyler Murphy and Shakim Phillips worked together, getting some extra reps in.
– All the tight ends, minus Clear, ran sprints after the final horn.
– In the far end zone, guys like Cam Thomas and several others (they had their pads off, one was Steve McLendon) were working on their punch against the field goal post. Working on being powerful and getting their arms fully extended.
First 11 on 11
– As was the case on Sunday, the offense started on the two.
1. 11 personnel while the defense countered with Antwon Blake at LCB, Cortez Allen at RCB, and William Gay in the slot. Handoff to Le’Veon Bell. Defense held the POA while Arthur Moats came in free on the “tackle.”
2. Shotgun, 11 personnel. Will Johnson picks up Moats in pass protection before releasing, immediately turning and showing his numbers to Ben, catching the pass, and running into the end zone.
3. Shotgun, 11. Cortez Allen with a really nice play, basically taking the ball away from Martavis Bryant. Roethlisberger threw it. Tomlin gave “Tez” appropriate praise.
4. Speed out from Landry Jones to Darrius Heyward-Bey on the front left pylon for a touchdown, I think similar to DHB’s TD from Ben yesterday. Someone yelled out, “Good route Hey-Bey!”
5. Empty set. Dri Archer split slot left. Second-team is in, including Ventrone and Golden at safety. Landry Jones threw it high and out of the end zone to someone. Might have been Egnew. Not sure.
6. Kevin Fogg at RCB, Doran Grant at LCB. Ian Wild and Gerod Holliman rotating in at safety. Doran Grant steps in front of a Landry Jones pass at the front right pylon and picks it off. Heady play to run it out, finish it.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s 4 INTs by the defense on the goal line in two practices. Three by Jones.
7. Anthony Chickillo gets his hands up, batting down a Jones pass as the QB tried to throw the slant to the backside.
For the first two days, the offense scored four times while the defense has stopped them ten, including those 4 INTs. Advantage, defense.
Second 11 on 11
1. Just for note-keeping, Moats and Jarvis Jones ran with the 1’s at OLB. Roethlisberger found Heath Miller on a screen. Cam Heyward nearly got his hands on it.
2. Playaction. Good coverage. Ben tries to float a deep crosser to the right side for Will Johnson but it’s off target and incomplete. Solid coverage from Moats, too.
3. Wheaton drops a pass fron Ben. Kelvin Beachum did a really nice job shoving Jarvis upfield.
4. Dupree second-team LOLB with Howard Jones opposite. Antwon Blake LCB with a new grouping, Kevin Fogg in the slot and B.W. Webb on the outside. Yesterday, Webb was in the slot with Fogg outside. Versatility a plus for both of them. Ventrone/Golden safety. Tajh Boyd quick out to DeAngelo Williams.
5. Boyd complete to DHB along the right sideline. Antwon Blake played the pocket well, tried to knock the ball out, but DHB showed strong hands (insert DHB drop joke here).
6. Boyd finds Jesse James on a quick out. Reese Dismukes snap seemed low and that wasn’t the first time it happened on the day.
7. Shamarko Thomas rolls up to Wheaton in the slot and winds up blitzing off the edge. No one open for Roethlisberger and he tries to heave it deep to Will Johnson, who tries but loses the ball on the way to the ground.
8. Ben checks down to Bell. Ryan Shazier fakes blitzing and dropped to cover. Don’t know if he was gassed or what, maybe the heat getting to him as Tomlin alluded to, but had his hands on his hips and knees after the play.
9. Comeback route downfield complete from Ben to AB, in front of Webb. Beachum again got the best of Jarvis Jones on the play. Though like I said, edge rushers are very limited, especially these first two days.
10. Some third team defensive notes. Matt Conrath at LE, Joe Kruger RE. Chickillo LOLB. Doran Grant LCB, B.W. Webb and Kevin Fogg back to the slot and RCB, respectively. Isaiah Lewis and Alden Darby at safety. Steelers blitz with Jordan Zumwalt coming free. Landry Jones’ pass to Dri Archer is dropped by the back.
11. C.J. Goodwin makes the catch down the left sideline from Jones.
12. Landry Jones, taking advantage of blown coverage, airs it out deep to Shakim Phillips for a “touchdown.” 60 yard completion.
13. Slip screen to Jesse James from Tyler Murphy. Dupree destroyed Kelvin Palmer off the edge.
14. Murphy checks down to Harris. Dupree tries to punch Palmer this time, to no avail.
15. Pocket collapses on Murphy. Threw it to someone, I think Coates, to end the session. Was watching Dupree and he dropped into coverage, fluidly turning to take a crossing route.
Third 11 on 11
1. Jones with the first team for Big Ben. Handoff to Le’Veon Bell.
2. Jarvis Jones, lined up in the “B” gap and Lawrence Timmons twist over center. Jones smartly wants to hit Will Johnson in the flat but overshoots him and the pass falls incomplete.
3. Jones complete to Wheaton.
4. Boyd subs in. On what was announced as 3rd and 10, not a fan of him checking down to Harris. Jones, like he did once yesterday, easily dips Villanueva around the edge. Forced Boyd to climb though credit to the interior line for keeping a clean pocket.
5. Cam Thomas at LE. Ethan Hemer at RE. Zone read look, though not sure if there was an actual “read” or not, handoff to Williams.
6. 3rd and 6. Fogg back in the slot with Webb at RCB, Grant at left. Pistol with Boyd at QB. Draw to Harris.
7. Third-team OLB. Chickillo and Shayon Green. Jones checks down to Bell. Beachum, not that you’d expect anything else, manhandles Green. Heard someone call out, “I see you Beachum!”
8. Jones checks to Archer. Beachum again destroys Green, shoving him five yards upfield and into the ground.
9. Daniel McCullers second-team NT. Carry was originally for Williams to the left side but Shazier knifed in and the back responded by quickly cutting back to the right.
10. Third-team defensive line from left to right. Conrath, Mike Thornton, Niko Davis. Murphy checks to James in the flat. Jon and I are dying to see a throw more than 5 yards downfield.
11. Steelers pull Chris Hubbard from left to right, run a draw with Harris behind. Safety pairing was Wild and Holliman.
12. Great catch by Eli Rogers, full extension to catch Murphy’s pass on a 10-15 yard out.
13. Miles Dieffenbach pulls from right to left but either got overextended or stumbled. Ross Scheuerman on the tote.
14. Defensive line, presumably the second-team. L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers, Clifton Geathers. Dupree shows a strong first step, forcing Boyd to scramble, a jump-throw of some sort to Cameron Stingily that is low, away, and incomplete.
15. Boyd finds Ross Scheuerman in the left flat. Was a Trips look to the other side.
Fourth 11 on 11
1. Lead dive with Will Johnson blocking for Bell.
2. DeAngelo Williams comes in and gets a carry.
3. Draw to Williams. Runs when the defense can’t hit back is tough for even me to get excited about. Will say the team ran a lot more power concepts than they did Sunday.
4. B.J. Finney did a really nice job to anchor and redirect Vince Williams, who came flying in over the middle. Howard Jones bats the ball down in coverage but it should’ve been a pick.
Tomlin chirps out, “This ain’t volleyball.”
5. Playaction. Boyd has nothing there and takes off. Quick whistle.
6. Boyd on a nine route, jump ball to Goodwin down the left sideline, who high points it over Fogg. 18 really showing off that crazy vertical he has.
7. Again, 2nd team DL consisting of Walton, McCullers, and Geathers. Jarvis did a great job to set the edge, especially when you factor in he was lined up off the ball pre-snap. Something I’ve seen more under Keith Butler than Dick LeBeau. Set up outside, keep that outside shoulder free, and spill the runner to your help. Bell had the carry, by the way.
8. Ramon Foster pulls. Handoff to Williams out of the gun.
9. Jones completes a deep throw down the right side to DHB. Tomlin yells out to the receiver for doing a nice job staying with the ball.
10. I’m not really sure how but I think Joe Kruger busted through the line and somehow, Stingily wound up on his back and his feet in the air. Murphy is forced to scramble to his left, throws it incomplete out of bounds.
11. Fakes the raw. Boyd’s throw to Devin Gardner is low and the receiver can’t get under it.
12. Stingily with the carry. Pretty sure Terence Garvin knocked him down. Roosevelt Nix was the FB. He got a snap!
13. Ross Scheuerman with the carry and finishes the run, sprinting to the end zone. I like that about him. Rob Blanchflower pulled on the play.
14. Williams again comes flying in and this time, blows up the attempted run by Scheuerman. Got an “oh wow” from somebody on the field.
Your Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day
“I don’t have a girlfriend. I just know a girl who would get really mad if she heard me say that.”
Let’s Talk About…
…email. There are two kinds of people in this world. People that have zero emails or all the emails. My old Yahoo inbox has over 22,000. Which one are you?
Twitter Fan Question
In my response to tweeting the offense/defense “wins” on the goal line, @adamill asks, “makes you feel better about the O or D?”
If I had to choose, the defense. I like seeing this group opportunistic. Making big plays in the end zone when it’s tough for the defense to win. And these INTs are coming mostly off Jones, not Big Ben.
Thanks for the question, Adam!
Your SVC Is Beautiful Photo Of The Day
Another one from yesterday.