Day seven and the home stretch of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ six consecutive practice. Today was more physical and energetic than I anticipated following a night practice. Definitely not a boring day. Let’s hop to it.
– It also unfortunately wasn’t a healthy day as several players didn’t finish practice. Ryan Shazier, Gerod Holliman, Josh Harris, Shamarko Thomas, Jarvis Jones, and Ross Scheuerman all suited up but could not finish. Dave has you covered on the specifics. I would classify Scheuerman’s as the most serious. Never like to hear about an Achilles injury.
By the end of the day, the team finished with three healthy running backs and four safeties. They started with ten safeties the day before camp. Pretty crazy.
Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon didn’t practice today. McLendon was spotted with a large wrap over his right shoulder but that could just be preventative. He didn’t seem very bothered by it during practice. DeAngelo Williams had a smaller wrap over his right shoulder. Markus Wheaton was in pads but didn’t participate. I didn’t even see Martavis Bryant on the field. Ramon Foster was also held out. Matt Spaeth was out and seems to be rotating days with Heath Miller, who returned today. James Harrison and Will Allen remain out.
On the plus side, Cortez Allen returned day. Ross Ventrone was out of his boot and it didn’t look like he was wearing anything on his right leg. Senquez Golson jogged on the side with the rest of the PUP players – Bruce Gradkowski, Maurkice Pouncey, and Mike Mitchell under the watchful eye of head trainer John Norwig.
– Like clockwork, Cameron Stingily was the first Steeler down the steps just before 2:30. Before hitting the jugs machine for a few reps, he walked over to the blocking sleds, working on his first punch as a lead blocker.
– Brad Wing and Dri Archer walked down together. Life is good again. Namaste.
– Roosevelt Nix got some quality one-on-one time with running backs coach James Saxon before practice. Saxon showing the technique he wanted as a blocker, getting his arms fully extended and rising up on contact. Nix was originally failing to lock his elbows out. And it paid off – Nix had a good day.
– With two receivers down, Darrius Heyward-Bey lined up opposite of Antonio Brown in two WR sets. Eli Rogers was the first man in the slot.
– Rogers was the lone ranger in the “main” return line. Archer was shuffled over to the other, catching the end over end kicks instead of the perfect spirals. Not a huge deal, just worth noting.
– Long snappers: Greg Warren, Ian Wild, Reese Dismukes, Matt Spaeth. Holders: Wing, Jordan Berry, Tajh Boyd, Landry Jones.
– Stingily, try as he might, has poor hands and dropped another ball in the return line. To be fair, as he said in a recent Steelers.com article, he’s never returned before.
– In the stretch line, AB was having fun with the crowd, pointing to different sections to see who would be the loudest. Big smile on his face, as there always is.
– Chris Hubbard was first team guard with Foster out. Let’s go through the o-line groupings.
First Team: Beachum-Hubbard-Wallace-DeCastro-Gilbert
Second Team: Villanueva-Dieffenbach-Dismukes-Finney-Van Dyk
Third Team: Whimpey-Rahrig-Finney-Dieffenbach-Palmer
Due to injury, you’re starting to see guys get moved around to different spots.
– Some brief notes on drills in warmups. Quarterbacks spent a few minutes throwing on the move, rolling to their right on designed boots or “scrambles.”
– Running backs were worked on pivot routes, starting in before breaking outside, which as you’d expect, was used in other drills and team periods.
– James Harrison and Joey Porter were crouched together, in perfect symmetry, while watching the linebackers hit the sled on their first punch.
– At one point, Alejandro Villanueva and Collin Rahrig had to go against each other in warmups. What a site to see. Ever play with/against a JV kid on your high school varsity teams? It looked about the same here.
– Listen, we all know Cameron Clear isn’t a great athlete. He’s not going to look fluid out there the same way Matt Spaeth doesn’t. That’s ok. What I don’t like is him having to slow down during the route, looking back for the football, sapping him of what little athleticism he has. Needs work there.
– Offensive line zone blocking in individuals like they did the other day. Blocking scheme changes based on how the defense is aligned.
– Because of the lack of depth at WR, apparently Tyler Murphy even ran a route to fill in. But it was just once and he didn’t do it in team drills.
– Shakim Phillips struggled in one of the special team drills. Dropped two kick returns. Not going to earn coaches’ trust.
– During one of those drills, AB, Bell, and DHB all ran sprints the width of the field. Sammie Coates and Roosevelt Nix, ostensibly seeing those veterans go the extra miles, soon joined them.
– Villanueva and Clifton Geathers were put on the FG block unit. 6’8 and 6’9 guys with length. Chance to get their hand on a couple.
– Mike Tomlin is always high energy, even after the conclusion of practice. As the team brought it in to huddle, Tomlin yelled out, “Here we go!”
– Villanueva got a quick pointer or two from Mike Munchak after practice.
– Wide receivers coach Richard Mann got the receivers in a circle after Tomlin broke them down, his arm around Shakim Phillips and another player. Seemed like a sentimental moment. I love Coach Mann.
– Rogers, Coates, and Archer worked with Danny Smith at the end on their footwork in returns, running between a set of cones.
– Watched running backs and linebackers in coverage again. The results…
1. Le’Veon Bell kicks things off by separating away from Lawrence Timmons.
2. Dri Archer makes a swift move to jump outside and away from a Ryan Shazier jam, the linebacker whiffing. Easy catch for #13.
3. Josh Harris vs Sean Spence in coverage. Reroutes him, gets underneath, but Harris floats upfield and Spence doesn’t take a good angle to stay on his hip. Pass is incomplete, though.
4. Scheuerman is explosive and Vince Williams can’t close on the sort of wheel route the rookie back ran.
5. Terence Garvin gets underneath Cameron Stingily, running the route better than the back, and picks it off. The only time a LB has managed an interception in this drill so far.
6. Jordan Zumwalt settles inside, his hips open to Nix but the fullback smartly runs away on an out route and makes the catch.
7. Lawrence Timmons very physical with Bell at the line, offering a strong punch to stun him, but Bell is able to recover and makes the catch. Nice play by #94, though.
8. Archer with an outside stem. Then tries to work back inside but Shazier grabs him and takes him to the ground. A penalty, for sure, but it’s amazing how easy it is to take Archer down.
9. Spence is physical at the line, all over Harris. Linebacker dives for the ball but misses. Enough of a distraction for Harris, who drops the pass.
10. Vince Williams closes quickly on Scheuerman, swatting in with his right hand to bat the ball away.
11. Stingily runs vertical against Garvin but looks over the wrong shoulder, his inside shoulder, and the pass is thrown to the outside and incomplete.
12. Another out route from Nix, who makes the grab against Zumwalt.
13. Bell runs an arrow route against Timmons. Timmons watches the back’s eyes, times his jump, and swats the ball away from Bell as they run down the left sideline.
14. Archer makes the grab on an out route against Shazier, who throws out an arm post-catch and holds onto Archer’s jersey, not allowing him to go anywhere. Crowd gets a kick out of it.
15. Stingily redeems himself with one of his better plays. Gets off Williams’ jam by dipping his inside shoulder, then breaks on an out route and toe taps along the left sideline to make the catch.
16. Nix runs another out route – surprise! – which has the excitement of CSPAN3, but at least makes it notable by adjusting to the pass that’s slightly thrown behind.
17. Bell swims over Timmons and stretches out his hands to make a catch on the run. Bell is just so darn good.
18. Archer makes a back shoulder grab in the right flat. Impossible play for the LB to stop.
19. Josh Harris is granted a free release by Garvin, running an out and making the catch.
20. Scheuerman duplicates what Archer did with a back shoulder grab against Garvin.
21. Stinigily so slow at the top of his route and Vince Williams is easily able to bat the throw away.
22. At this point, the offense moves to goal line plays, lined up around the two. Archer starts things off with an over-the-shoulder grab against Shazier.
23. Harris gets separation on one of those pivots they worked on in individuals, making the catch.
24. Garvin does a nice job of finding the football and breaks up a fade intended for Scheuerman.
25. Spence jams Nix at the line. Pass is a little behind an Nix doesn’t really get his head around. Lets Spence bat it into the air and incomplete.
26. Vince Williams does a nice job playing to the inside hip with eyes on the runner to break up this corner route to the left back pylon vs Scheuerman.
27. Bell with the catch of the drill. Quick first step, swims over Timmons, runs a fade into the right corner, locates the ball, leaps to high point it, and grabs it over Timmons as they go to the ground. Bell raises his arm triumphantly at the end, football in hand.
28. Archer runs a pivot, getting himself wide open, but the pass goes right through his hands.
29. Spence plays tight coverage on Harris, breaking it up.
30. Sheuerman wins off the line versus Garvin but drops the ball.
31. Williams presses Stingily who does make the catch but it looks difficult and robotic. Not clean and away from his body.
– OL/DL+ OLB one-on-one results. Unfortunately, they did this on the middle field, making it a lot harder to see. Grr…
1. Jarvis Jones starts things off with a bang, dipping and getting under/past Kelvin Beachum.
2. Cam Thomas gets full arm extension and walks back Cody Wallace.
3. Stephon Tuitt beats David DeCastro to the inside.
4. Arthur Moats manages to get skinny and dip Marcus Gilbert.
5. Bud Dupree’s initial punch against Gilbert doesn’t work but he works the edge and Gilbert loses his balance, falling to the ground.
6. Wallace anchors against Thomas.
7. Chris Hubbard absorbs the much bigger Clifton Geathers.
8. Jarvis Jones wins with an inside swim over Beachum. Strong, violent hands from JJ.
9. Ethan Hemer rips under Miles Dieffenbach, who continues to struggle staying on his feet. To the ground he goes again.
10. Beachum gets a little bit of revenge, a strong punch that helps put Jones on the ground as the linebacker is unable to win the edge.
11. Joe Kruger flashes a violent punch that knocks Dieffenbach off balance.
12. Dismukes can’t get into McCullers pads at all, the burly nose tackle walking the rookie center back.
13. B.J. Finney seals L.T. Walton. Walton gives the lineman a little shove at the end.
14. Mitchell Van Dyk seals Chickillo. Tackle did a good job keeping his feet moving and gaining ground laterally. Didn’t lose his base either.
15. Van Dyk buries Moats into the ground.
16. Mike Thornton seems to again get overextended versus Dismukes.
17. Dieffenbach gets top heavy versus Kruger.
18. Howard Jones dips under Villanueva.
19. Niko Davis loses his feet against Rahrig, who sat in his base well to defend it.
20. Finney wins versus Matt Conrath, who needs to use his hands better.
21. Inside/out attempt from Dupree but Kelvin Palmer seals him.
22. Palmer sticks to Chickillo’s bull rush.
23. Geathers gets overextended against Dismukes and falls to the ground. Gotta keep your feet.
24. Kruger’s first punch is again lethal, knocking Rahrig backwards.
25. Shayon Green gets in there and wins inside against Kevin Whimpey.
26. Green goes again and wins again, this time with an inside spin against Whimpey.
27. Walton bulls and then rips under Rahrig, slipping past.
28. Finney anchors against Thornton.
29. Green starts with an outside rush against Palmer, then punches back inside to win that way against the tackle.
First 11 on 11
– Seven shots series. Seven plays on the two.
1. Empty set. Bell and Johnson in the slot. Left out to Bell from Ben Roethlisberger. Ryan Shazier, matched over him, has no shot. TD. Robert Golden still first team safety with Mitchell out.
2. Quick slant to AB. Little bit behind the the star receiver calmly adjusts. Another score.
3. Ben tries to Heath Miller down the seam is a little too far in front. Shamarko Thomas provided good coverage.
4. Josh Harris good blitz pickup. Landry Jones tries to hit Jesse James but the pass is too far in front for the diving tight end.
5. Jones checks down to Harris for a touchdown. Dupree dipped Van Dyk.
6. Defensive line grouping: Conrath/Thornton/Kruger. End around to Eli Rogers from left to right. Looks like it’ll be snuffed out but Rogers is quick and is able to get the corner, scooting into the corner of the end zone.
7. Out/comeback from Jones to Coates. Rookie receiver gets his head around just in time and makes a nice catch.
– Five touchdowns in seven shots for the offense.
Second 11 on 11
1. First-team DL with Heyward and McLendon out: Tuitt/Cam Thomas/Geathers. Josh Harris at running back and gets the carry. Spence comes rocketing in to lay a big hit on the back near the LOS.
2. Tuitt does a nice job shedding Gilbert, swallowing up Harris near the LOS.
3. Defense again popping pads. Timmons with a blow on Stingily.
4. Toss to the right. Spence knifes in but Archer hits the brakes and side steps him. Gets upfield and is met by several players, including running into his own lineman, and his helmet is ripped off and rolls away. He went to the ground but would get up unharmed.
5. Playaction with Hubbard pulling as a false key. Moats get pressure because of the pull. Jones fires it down the seam to Cameron Clear. The lumbering tight end can’t get a firm grasp on the football, juggling it. Shamarko Thomas goes low and hits Clear in the leg, the tight end beginning to fall to the ground. Against all odds, Clear is able to refocus and snatches the ball out of the air just before hitting the ground. Bizarre, but kind of cool, sequence. Have to catch it clean though. Clear got lucky.
6. Dive up the middle. DeCastro and Gilbert generated a good push.
7. McCullers destroys Dismukes, stacking and shedding instantaneously. Stingily on the carry but has to be rerouted by McCullers’ hulking presence.
8. Outside zone to Scheuerman. Howard Jones did a nice job to shed whoever was blocking him, gave chase around the left side. Think it was B.W. Webb on the tackle.
9. Walton and Hemer the nickel lineman. Scheuerman beats Isaiah Lewis to the right edge. Antwon Blake meets the runner and plants him out of bounds. Zilla sure is a hard hitter.
10. Off tackle to the right. Roosevelt Nix with a tremendous lead block on the corner. Jesse James sealed Dupree on a down block. Stingily follows Nix through the hole and Golden has trouble bringing the big back down. Nix got praise from somebody for the block, definitely the best play he’s made in camp.
11. Dieffenbach pulls but Chickillo does a nice job taking him on. Stingily again on the carry.
12. Draw to Josh Harris.
13. Tuitt manhandles Dismukes. I mean destroys his ego. Like, telling Pluto it isn’t a planet ego-killing. Bullies him backwards, reverse pancaking the center. Dismukes got up slowly with a leg injury but only missed a few snaps. I don’t even fully remember who had the carry. Stingily again, I think.
14. Clifton Geathers fights off his block to tackle Harris. Wallace replaced Dismukes.
15. Again, don’t have the runner. Jones made another nice play to get off a block and spill the run to inside help.
Third 11 on 11
1. Empty. Bell is stacked with AB on the offense’s left side. Simple rub route with Bell running underneath Brown on a slant. Defense can’t stop it because of the stack, they have to play off coverage, and it’s a pitch and catch.
2. Timmons and Spence at ILB with Shazier out. Clean pocket for Ben. Checkdown to Bell.
3. Jarvis blows up a Josh Harris draw.
4. Landry Jones comes in. One of the linebackers, either Dupree or Garvin, rushed in free. #3 smartly hits Archer down the seam, throwing into the blitz. Archer is wide open.
5. Alden Darby blitzes from the defense’s right. Jones quick curl to Coates who catches the ball and immediately gets upfield, making Howard Jones overrun him in the process. Quick to the tuck, which I like.
6. Vince Williams with blanket coverage down the seam, knocking the pass away from Jesse James.
7. Bell checkdown to Bell.
8. Doran Grant/Jordan Sullen at CB. Wild/Holliman safety. Walton/Hemer DL. Bell with a nice run over the left side, lowering his shoulder into Wild’s chase. Walking back to the huddle, Tomlin calls out to the back as he walks back, “The juice is loose!”
9. Ben connects with Brown on a curl, who jets away from Sullen. Anthony Chickillo gives great chase to AB.
10. Defensive line: Hemer/Thornton/Davis. Villanuvea shoves Jarvis Jones up the arc. Murphy fires to C.J. Goodwin who comes back to the ball on a comeback, going to his knees to make a nice snag.
11. Empty set. Scheuerman slot left. Murphy does a good job to climb the pocket to avoid pressure, keep his eyes up, and finds Goodwin on a drag.
12. Murphy fires too high for the springy Goodwin, who can’t come down with the pass.
13. Tajh Boyd makes an appearance. Throws sidearm vs a Double A gap. Gardner drops an easy pass on a dig. Webb with the coverage.
14. Boyd tries to complete the throw to Scheuerman underneath. RB stopped on the route when Boyd thought he was going to keep going. Webb got his right hand on the pass but couldn’t pick it. Also thought Rahrig did a good job showing active eyes to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
15. Same play to Gardner from before. This time, he makes the grab on the dig. Zone blitz with Cam Thomas, the nose tackle, dropping into coverage. Another Dick LeBeau staple.
Fourth 11 on 11
1. Timmons blitz. Ben throws high on a screen to a leaping Bell.
2. Ben throws backshoulder to AB. Cortez Allen had good coverage but didn’t have a prayer to stop this well thrown ball.
3. DHB and AB on the outside with Rogers in the slot. DeCastro and Gilbert pick up a stunt clean. Rogers catches it over the middle from Ben.
4. Darby comes in first team with Shamarko Thomas out. Playing opposite Golden. Empty set. Ben to Bell on a quick hitter.
5. Good click and close from Allen to break up a curl intended for Brown. Archer stayed in to block.
6. Ben hits DHB on a speed out in front of Blake to the right sideline.
7. Dupree dips under Van Dyk off the edge. Would’ve been a sack on Jones if he could hit. Jones complete to Will Johnson with Vince Williams draped all over him.
8. Low snap from Dismukes. Draw to Archer.
9. Jones hits Coates on a dig, who adjusts and makes the grab against Doran Grant.
10. CB grouping. Grant and Fogg at LCB/RCB with Webb in the slot. Jones throw on the money to Coates on an out route.
11. Ugly play. Jones throws to no one. Devin Gardner blocking when he should have released, maybe? Hard to say.
12. Murphy checks to Scheuerman. Palmer late with his eyes to pick up a T/E stunt.
13. Finney gets a good push against Geathers, opens up a lane for Scheuerman. Finishes the run gimpy. Tries to run on the side with John Norwig watching him. But in pain and goes to sit down to get his right lower leg taped/iced. Ross Ventrone comes over and fist bumps him. Scheuerman is carted off.
14. Murphy rolls out and hits Phillips on a comeback. Good arm strength from “Murph” as they call him.
15. Murphy’s throw is behind Clear, who gets a hand on it but sends it up in the air and into the hands of Ian Wild for a pick. Stingily had a good chip. Dupree with a sick inside spin to get around Palmer.
Fifth 11 on 11
1. End around to Archer. Miller good block in space. Gay seems to get off AB’s block to make the “tackle.”
2. Golden/Darby first team safety. Ben hits DHB on a speed out.
3. Spence/Timmons ILB. Gay blitzes. Ben tries to hit Rogers on the other side but the two aren’t on the same page. Roethlisberger yells out to the rookie receivers, “You gotta see the signals!” Haley talks to Rogers as he walks back.
4. Jones hits Goodwin on an out route.
5. Jones in pistol with Clear side car. A new look. Draw to Stingily. Clear slow out of his stance and doesn’t become a lead blocker, out in no man’s land.
6. Walton/McCullers nickel pairing. Jones fits a pass in a tight window to Coates. Finney stonewalls Walton along the o-line.
7. Draw to Archer. Makes Chickillo miss but Archer is slow to plant and get upfield, losing his balance when he finally did.
8. Bell a bit indecisive on his carry but he is the kind of back who can get away with that. Beachum had a nice drive block.
9. Empty set. DHB and Rogers stacked to the right. Fake the bubble to that side, hits Archer on the left side on a screen that way. Wallace showed good movement skills, getting into the open field and making a block.
10. Zone read with Murphy, who takes it out of the belly of the back before sliding in front of Golden’s feet.
11. Inside zone to the left. Stingily finds a crease.
12. Another zone read, Murphy keeping. Jones and Moats were stacked to the left side with a DB blitz from the right.
13. Boyd misses badly in the right flat to Archer. Threw it to the wrong shoulder. Inside when it should’ve been outside.
14. Stingily jump cut in the hole. Ian Wild meets him with a big pop.
15. Boyd ends with a side arm throw complete to Gardner.
– Sammie Coates had his best day in camp. Much improved from where he started. That’s what you’re looking for in a rookie.
– Still surprised Dismukes gets so many reps, especially with all the bad snaps. Wasted reps and it’s not like he is particularly impressive otherwise.
– Linebackers were impressive today. Sean Spence was very physical in drills and made some great plays on the ball. Vince Williams was solid while Shayon Green won several of his one-on-one matchups. Jarvis finally bested Beachum a couple of times.
– Isaiah Lewis looks slow and stiff in drills and in 11 on 11. Don’t think he has the speed or is taking good angles to the ball.
– Run defense was really good today. Defense did a nice job to hold the POA and get into the backfield.
Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day
“I was writing a letter and I was having a problem. I said Ed, how do you abbreviate Arkansas? ‘I don’t know. Just start writing it, then quit.’”
Let’s Talk About…
Let’s talk about car shopping. As a newly college graduate moving out of the small town of Clarion, a new car is a must. Not a new car, mind you. I didn’t get a car on my 16th birthday. I saved what I could and by graduation, had a $3000 budget.
Remember, I’m an idiot. 3000 dollars, that should be more than enough for a used car. When I looked at dealership websites, I realized that money could get me two things.
A car that survived a fire or a car that was currently on fire.
I went the Craigslist route and that’s how I ended up with the McLumina. A 1999 Chevy with just over 88,000 miles, a missing radio knob, and barely passable air condition. But it’s mine, fully paid and insured with my own highly-coveted blogging money. And you have to love your first car.
Twitter Fan Question
@Aaron_G09 asks…will Boykin be a starter or do you see a different role.
Still reacting/digesting to the move and don’t have my thoughts fully fleshed out. Brandon Boykin was a slot guy in Philly but he wanted to be more than that and seemed frustrated by the Eagles’ insistence that he would never be more than that. Doesn’t mean the Steelers look at him differently but he could be moved around.
Not sure if he’s going to jump over Blake, that would be a tough break for #41, or if he’s going to be really good depth. It’d be difficult to keep a guy like Boykin, who is pretty talented, off the field.
Boykin also has a return background and who knows, could be used there. Very interesting, and exciting move, that makes me feel worlds better about the team’s depth at CB.