Everything about the Pittsburgh Steelers tenth training camp practice was dreary, from the weather to the energy on the field. It wasn’t necessarily a negative thing, just the reality of the situation with so many players injured, banged up, or being held out of practice for maintenance days.
Thankfully none of the injuries seem significant at this time, but the amount of players out or limited were so numerous, I’ll let Alex detail those names for you in his report.
If you didn’t catch the news, TE Rob Blanchflower was waived/injured and the team claimed tight end Ray Hamilton off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys to replace him. I really thought Blanchflower was having a solid camp, but injuries have haunted him throughout his college and NFL career.
Your daily stock report…
1. DE Stephon Tuitt
Tuitt is quickly becoming an absolute force from his defensive end position, making David DeCastro look silly twice in one-on-ones. His combination of speed and power are gonna make him a nightmare to block this season. Alex is on to something saying Tuitt could break out, when he’s healthy and in shape, he can be an absolute terror.
2. QB Landry Jones
Dare I say it, but Jones is actually becoming a below-average quarterback in the NFL, which is still a step up from where he formerly was. He showed nice touch and location on a fade route to Devin Gardner in goal line drills, after zipping a pass down the seam to Jesse James despite Ian Wild’s tight coverage. Then during the no-huddle session, which Jones struggled mightily in yesterday, he capped off a solid drive with a fantastic throw to hit Gardener right out of his break on a corner route for the touchdown.
3. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
It has been an atrocious week of practice for Heyward-Bey, but with a host of receivers missing practice due to injury, the veteran finally stepped up. There were still a few double-catches from DHB today, but no drops that I saw, and he burned Jordan Sullen deep on a nine route for a score.
1. CB Jordan Sullen
It was a rough day for the aforementioned Sullen, who was not only beaten badly by DHB, but also lost Gardner on a post route for a long touchdown early in the third team’s no-huddle session. He simply is too stiff in the hips to stick with more athletic receivers, and doesn’t have the long speed to mirror receivers deep. His chances of making the team were already minimal, but today exposed his extensive limitations.
2. WR Sammie Coates
Coates simply doesn’t look confident right now, as it seems everything is just coming along slowly for the rookie. He had a drop early in practice on a catch he really should have made, but the big wideout still just doesn’t look comfortable catching the ball outside his frame. Coates also failed to sell a vertical route that would have stressed the safety despite the fact that he wasn’t the primary read. Have to run every route full speed, regardless of what option you are.
I really didn’t think anyone else had a poor practice, and with so few players participating, the atmosphere was a little more relaxed than earlier in the week. I’ll skip the Stock-in-Limbo category for the same reason.
-This is a massive opportunity for Cameron Clear to make the practice squad, thanks to the departures of Blanchflower and Michael Egnew. He’s made some strides, but had a few drops and a couple missed blocks the past few days. Sunday will be a big stage for Clear to show the Steelers what he is capable of in live action.
-Thought it was a strong practice from Jesse James, who made a great full extension grab for a touchdown during goal line work. He’s progressing in his routes, and looks firmly entrenched as the team’s #3 tight end.
–Antwon Blake has had a good camp, but he is still struggling to get his head around and find the football on vertical routes. He ended up face-guarding and getting grabby with DHB on a nine route early during the team session, which certainly would have drawn a pass interference flag in a game.
-The stage is set for Gardner and/or C.J. Goodwin to earn a spot on the practice squad, but Goodwin had a relatively quiet day, and the normally sure-handed Gardner dropped two passes during 11v11. Mike Tomlin even yelled out, “Come on 1-5!” at one point.
-Still impressed with Jawon Chisholm. Really think he can make the practice squad at least. Nice wiggle in the hole to slip a Niko Davis tackle during the team session, than some bounce to get outside. Can deal with contact, can catch the ball, and is a willing special teamer with decent athleticism.
-Wild continues to make smart, heady plays and show off solid movement skills. Definitely a name to watch on Sunday. Want to see if he can make plays on special teams as well as defensively. Should get plenty of run with Robert Golden out, and Mike Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas questionable to play.
–Arthur Moats had another strong day, whipping Marcus Gilbert in one-on-ones. His hands are so powerful at the point-of-attack, getting great pop into the opponent’s pads with his punch. Has some real bend around the edge as well.
–Mitchell Van Dyk mirrored a Bud Dupree spin move brilliantly during 11v11. Took all the second team reps at right tackle after Kelvin Palmer received a few yesterday.
-Clear did put in some extra work after practice with Tajh Boyd (who again lost third team reps to Tyler Murphy). Much-needed for both players.
-Love how Markus Wheaton has stayed active, catching on jugs machine during special teams, again after practice, and running sprints and agility drills at the beginning of practice. No doubting that guy’s work ethic.