Training Camp

Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Twelve

Welcome back to your training camp report. Been a few days since we’ve written one of these? So let’s not waste time and jump right in.

– Injury front. Lot of guys back working today. Shamarko Thomas, DeAngelo Williams, Ramon Foster, Martavis Bryant, Jarvis Jones, James Harrison, and Cortez Allen were all back and in pads. First day in and Harrison was a full-go. Mike Mitchell was in full uniform but did not participate in practice. Ditto with Markus Wheaton.

Still out were Daniel McCullers, Vince Williams, Ross Ventrone, Cameron Stingily. Matt Spaeth got the day and really seemed to be the only healthy scratch.

C.J. Goodwin definitely wasn’t in team drills and I don’t think he did anything in individuals. Was in full pads though.

– Kicker Garrett Hartley will wear #8. He also is wearing shoulder pads that look way too big for him. He’s a tiny guy. Looks like he won a “Steeler for a day” contest.

Brad Wing and Dri Archer walked out first together along with Tajh Boyd and Sammie Coates. As usual, Coates spent a few minutes on the jugs machine prior to the start.

– Second-team offensive line. Villanueva, Hubbard, Wallace, Finney, Van Dyk.

– Return line: Archer, Kenzel Doe, Brandon Boykin, Markus Wheaton, and Martavis Bryant.

Jon Ledyard and I always laugh about Ethan Hemer catching balls in the upback line. Such a burly dude with these bear paws for hands. Always catches with his chest, producing a loud thud. Had one or two muffs today. Just one of those things to amuse ourselves.

– Coates had another drop in the upback line, failing to get under the ball and it bounced at his feet.

– Mitchell ran with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams, and Darrius Heyward-Bey in warmups.

Bruce Gradkowski and Ventrone ran on the side. Daniel McCullers walked up and down the field. Gradkowski worked in a few throws too, tossing to Spaeth on the far field. Nothing strenuous, though.

Tyler Murphy spent individual drills with the receivers and played quite a bit there today overall with Gardner gone, Wheaton still out, and Goodwin limited.

– Wide receivers went through some new drills, including hopping on one foot over a set of pads, making a catch on the end. Working on balance and making sure these guys keep their eyes up, not looking down at their feet that will distract them from finding the football.

– In actual routes, receivers ran what is called PCP routes. Post-corner-post. Way I’ve always read it’s ran is breaking on the post on your fourth outside step, run the corner on your second inside step, and then break back again on your second outside step. Difficult route and a raw guy like Coates was exposed, using a lot of motion to get in and out of his breaks.

– Linebackers positioned to the far field worked on the sled, stacking and shedding.

– Offensive line working in pods. Lot of zone blocking technique today. All revolves around how the defense is shaded and the group repped all combinations possible. To maximize reps, Mike Munchak and assistant Shaun Sarrett broke off into two groups of lineman. Munchak with the starters, Sarrett with the backups.

– Punter hangtimes, people!

Brad Wing: 4.57, 4.23, 4.11, 4.39, 4.75

Jordan Berry: 4.66, 4.41, 4.97, 4.75, 4.36

From the practices and first preseason game, the very general thought is Berry gets better hangtimes but Wing has a better leg.

– Archer and Doe were catching the punts with Markus Wheaton mixing in on one or two.

– What I loved about Wheaton today was even though he was limited, he would get near the huddle before each play, listen to the call, and then back away, usually standing next to Todd Haley. Guy that’s working to stay engaged, even if he isn’t physically out there, and eat up those mental reps.

Doran Grant and Sammie Coates were first team gunners during one of the ST periods, as they were in Sunday’s game. Ian Wild was the starting upback. Alden Darby the backup. Jon and I agreed Darby is super vocal out there. Can here him a mile away, “8 Up! 8 Up! Green, White, Set!”

Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward ran sprints across the middle field during one of the ST periods

– You all know I love me a good Danny Smith quote. Chalk full of them today and the relatively thin crowd made it easy to hear him.

Yelling at his punt coverage team to “get to your spot.” Then applauding them for doing so, “That’s what I want!”

Motivating, not scolding, Anthony Chickillo in coverage, “Let’s go Chic! Finish, finish!”

Then heaping on praise to Howard Jones for sticking to his block at the LOS as part of the punt return unit. “We win at the line of scrimmage, we have a lot of space” as he waved his hand in a big circle.

Danny Smith is the best, you guys.

– Nearly everyone working hard after practice, as is the norm by this stage. Defense running gassers, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, and Darrius Heyward-Bey catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger. Mitchell Van Dyk, Kelvin Palmer, Kevin Whimpey, and Collin Rahrig talking, working on their punch and defending players that try to dip the edge. Alejandro Villanueva quietly running sprints across the width of the field, a fan yelling out to him to thank him for his service. Practice doesn’t end for these guys just because the final horn sounded, and you really have to appreciate that.

– Steelers had a lot going on at once, OL/DL, LB/TE, WR/DB, and LB vs RB in coverage drills. I chose to watch the RBs vs LBs in coverage and here are my notes. I wasn’t able to log every rep, unfortunately.

1. Le’Veon Bell beats Lawrence Timmons deep down the field.

2. DeAngelo Williams with the catch on an out route against Sean Spence.

3. Terence Garvin jams Bell but the back still separates on his out cut. Garvin brings his right hand over to play the pocket but to no avail.

4. Roosevelt Nix on an out against Jordan Zumwalt, who always cheats inside, and Nix makes the easy catch.

5. Bell runs an out against Timmons, the linebacker stumbling as he tries to keep up, and it’s an easy grab for #26.

6. D-Will on an out against Spence. Pass is a bit behind and incomplete.

7. Dri Archer runs a wheel down the left sideline, making a smooth over the shoulder grab against Ryan Shazier.

8. Josh Harris drops the pass on his dig route.

9. Jawon Chisholm runs a very shallow out, making an easy uncontested catch versus Zumwalt.

10. Sean Spence is physical with Nix. Tipped the pass into the air and I believe he came down with it for the interception.

11. Williams pivot route to separate versus Spence.

12. Chisholm with a shallow arrow route and another easy catch. Kind of pointless to even have the linebacker there if you’re not going to even let him make a play.

13. Shazier provides good initial coverage against Archer, I lose them as they slip behind one of the big cranes with the video guy, but Archer comes back to the ball. Gets open but the throw hits the back in the chest and he drops it.

14. Those two go at it again. Archer on a slant. Shazier tries to fly in to close but can’t, Archer making the grab, stopping, letting Shazier’s momentum get the best of him and send him careening by and to the ground, before calmly turning and getting upfield.

15. They rep it for a third time. Archer lets an easy catch slip out of his hands.

16. Harris runs an out. Garvin with a perfect angle, stepping in front and picking the pass off.

17. Sean Spence all over Chisholm. Quarterback thought about not even throwing the ball before lofting it well out of bounds in the back’s general direction along the left sideline.

18. Bell runs an out against Timmons. Timmons does everything he can to punch the ball up but Bell secures it and hangs on.

19. Nix on an out against Garvin. Linebacker can’t quite get his hand in there to knock it away.

20. Chisholm runs a wheel versus Garvin. Garvin with good positioning and gets his hands on the ball first. They start to fall to the ground and Chisholm tries to take it away but the linebacker holds on, his second INT of the day in a drill where a pick is rare.

21. Archer swims over Timmons just past the line of scrimmage but the pass is overthrown.

– Briefly watched the TE vs OLB, too. Cameron Clear really has trouble bringing his lower half and he constantly ends up on the ground. Happened in special teams drills too, trying to block, leading to some extra coaching from Danny Smith.

– OL/DL results from later on in the day.

1. Jarvis Jones can’t win the edge versus Kelvin Beachum.

2. Cam Thomas walks Cody Wallace back and tosses him aside.

3. Stephon Tuitt, as he’s good for nearly daily, with a strong punch and swim inside to beat David DeCastro.

4. Marcus Gilbert does a nice job to mirror Arthur Moats.

5. Gilbert gets a good initial punch on Moats around the edge. Moats recovers and gets a nice punch of his own too, right into Gilbert’s chest. Solid battle.

6. DeCastro, as he usually does, rebounds with a nice hand fight and ultimately a win versus Tuitt.

7. Thomas walks Wallace back to be fair, bull rushes are so tough to look good against.

8. Jarvis Jones hits Beachum with the circle button, outside spin that lets him win the edge.

9. James Harrison dips Alejandro Villanueva. Bet Ali hasn’t seen a guy do that to him before.

10. Ethan Hemer wins on an inside move while working against Chris Hubbard.

11. Reese Dismukes does a good job to anchor Mike Thornton.

12. It happens late, as it tends to do with Walton, but he wins on a swim over B.J. Finney.

13. Van Dyk good anchor against Dupree.

14. Then Chickillo whips Van Dyk around the edge.

15. Finney keeps his feet pumping and seals Matt Conrath.

16. Thornton, the quick little powder keg that he is, dips his right shoulder to get under Dismukes.

17. Niko Davis swims over Hubbard but loses his balance and Hubbard recovers to shove Davis into the ground.

18. Harrison tries to bull Villanueva but gets overextended and falls to the ground.

19. Shayon Green with a speed bull rush to walk Kevin Whimpey back.

20. Palmer seems to win against Dupree.

First 11 on 11

1. Jarvis Jones first team ROLB. Will Allen and Shamarko Thomas at safety. Roethlisberger fires a quick out to Bell, lined up in the left slot, for a touchdown.

2. End around to Antonio Brown, who pivots and comes back to his left, looking for someone to throw to. Lobs it up in the direction of Darrius Heyward-Bey but the pass is over everyone’s head and incomplete. Sure looked like a two-point conversion only play to me.

3. Roethlisberger with a perfect thrown down the right seam. Over the hand of the dropping Moats and into the arms of Heath Miller. Touchdown.

4. James Harrison second-team ROLB. Brown in the slot and he runs a fade into the right corner. Another bucket throw from Ben. Boykin, in coverage, has no chance. TD.

5. Landry Jones comes in. Wants Clear on an out but the tight end breaks inside and the pass incomplete. Ian Wild dove out for it but couldn’t haul it in.

6. Sammie Coates, in the left slot, is bumped pretty good off the line but works across the formation on a drag and Jones hits him near the goal line. Gerod Holliman couldn’t close in time, trying but failing to punch the ball out with his right hand.

7. Apparent botched snap between Cody Wallace and Jones to end things.

– Bad snap included, the offense scored four times on their seven tries.

Second 11 on 11

1. Ball in the defense’s 47, an oddly specific place but whatever. 22 personnel with Miller and Jesse James at TE while Will Johnson lined up in the backfield. Stephon Tuitt fights through his blocker, Gilbert I think, and is the first to meet Bell on the carry in this non-tackling drill (and day). Cam Heyward chases him down too.

2. David DeCastro with a nice second level block on Ryan Shazier, helping to open up a big hole for Bell as he sprints into the third level.

3. Outside zone to the left with Williams. Shazier, who I think was asked to scrape often today (OLB spikes inside, ILB scrapes over the top and becomes the edge defender) flies in to give chase.

4. Dupree at LOLB with the first team defense. Cam Heyward busts through and would have crushed D-Will if tackling had been permitted. To be fair, that looked like an awfully tough reach block for Beachum. Especially against 97.

5. Playacion. Landry Jones throws a nine right down the right side to Martavis Bryant. Will Allen is playing in his two high shell and seems to be tracking it well while Cortez Allen is to Bryant’s hip. But Will Allen didn’t really jump for it and Bryant is able to make the grab over both of them, falling into the end zone for a touchdown.

6. Outside zone to the left with Bell. James Harrison lets Heath Miller know he’s back, walking the veteran tight end backwards and forcing the runner to take a wide angle.

7. Tajh Boyd at QB, Tyler Murphy in the slot. Couldn’t tell on who it was but B.J. Finney with a solid block in space. Opens up a lane for Josh Harris, who gets tackled by Ian Wild, who loves to hit people as much as Canada loves their maple syrup.

8. Power O. Harris runs behind Hubbard who crushes Antwon Blake, the corner to his credit taking on the block.

9. Harris again on this inside zone, cutting back to his right. Again, it’s Wild who pops him really good.

10. Harris with his fourth straight carry, making up for lost reps with all those practices he missed. Jordan Dangerfield takes a poor angle and can only dive at the back’s ankles. Harris breaks free and scoots into the end zone.

11. Murphy in at QB. Run off the left side with Archer. Villanueva appears to hold Howard Jones on the edge. Archer does gain the left side before meeting several defenders, the back opting to duck to the ground.

12. Zone run to Jawon Chisholm for a gain of about ten, but again, you grade on the curve since the defense can’t hit back.

Third 11 on 11

1. Ben Roethlisberger kicks things off with a bubble screen to the right, complete to Bryant.

2. Empty set with Bell stacked under Brown in a narrow split off the offense’s left. Timmons reads it well and break on the RB’s dig, breaking the pass up with his right hand.

3. Hard count exposes the Steelers’ planned Fire X blitz with Timmons and Shazier. The defense checks out and both ILBs drop into hook zones. Ben is afforded a clean pocket and hits Brown on a curl.

4. Roethlisberger finds DHB on a corner route towards the left side, a soft spot in the coverage. Receiver makes the catch. There was a loud pop between the chipping Heath Miller and James Harrison off the edge. All is right with the world again.

5. Dupree’s first step beats Marcus Gilbert off the line. Roethlisberger quickly finds DHB underneath.

6. Keith Butler went crazy here. So much pre-snap movement. Dick LeBeau had to have sensed it somewhere. James Harrison lines up as a LOLB alongside Dupree. Ben hard counts to expose an impending Antwon Blake blitz from that side too. Looks like the defense is going to check out, like they did on play #3, with Harrison walking back to his ROLB spot before turning and lining up like a LOLB. On the snap, Harrison drops, Dupree rushes, I think Blake covered too, and the Steelers sent an overload blitz from the other side, Gay and Shamarko flying in. Woah.

I don’t even have written what actually happened on the play it was so crazy. But that was definitely the most interesting part.

7. Chickillo beats Van Dyk around the corner. Jones complete to Will Johnson underneath, Garvin bear-hugging him to wrap up.

8. Chickillo same story, beating Van Dyk. Jones goes to hit Jesse James on a curl but the tight end…drops it. Be nice, The Internet.

9. Jones complete to Shakim Phillips on a drag with Kevin Fogg wrapping up. Villanueva shoved Green up the arc, but as we’ve seen from time to time, needs to finish the play and keep moving laterally. He isn’t segmented, I think he sometimes just needs to be reminded even after he’s initially won.

10. Boyd fakes the draw to Chisholm. Holliman comes racing in on a blitz and leaps into the air to bat down a potential throw. Boyd just…fires it right into Holliman’s stomach. Remember when Adam Sandler drilled the referee in The Longest Yard. It was like that. Holliman nearly picks it off, bobbling it, and Boyd becomes the defender, and has to break up the interception as both safety and quarterback end up on their stomachs at the end of the play. It was an incompletion, for the record.

Quarterbacks becoming defenders, Gerod Holliman making plays, our pets heads are falling off! 

11. Boyd complete to Murphy. B.W. Webb can’t knock the ball out.

12. Steelers disguising their Cover 2 by the safeties getting depth at the last second. Boyd checks down to the left flat to Harris, releasing from the backfield.

Fourth 11 on 11

1. Ball on the 20. Another perfect throw by Ben, hitting AB on a corner route over the outstretched arm of William Gay.

2. Power O, DeCastro and WIll Johnson pulling. Bell on the carry. Again, it’s Ryan Shazier as the first man to reach the edge.

3. Heyward-Bey makes a clean catch from Ben. DeCastro and Gilbert appeared to pickup the stunt well to their side. Caught it out of the corner of my eye.

4. Blake blitzes from his LCB spot. With the corner and the LOLB coming, Roethlisberger smartly and calmly hits Williams releasing into the flat to the blitz side.

5. Ben fade to AB. Blake grabbing Brown’s inside arm. Brown tries to make the one-handed grab with his right arm but can’t and the pass is incomplete.

6. Tuitt getting pressure. Blake leaps to high point the ball in the corner in front of DHB but can’t come to the ground with it. Missed opportunity.

7. Harris looks a little indecisive but finds where he wants to go, the inside hip of the tackle, and explodes upfield.

8. Inside zone to 25. Wild wraps him up.

9. Coates, Phillips, and Murphy the receivers. Draw to Harris.

10. Jones does a nice job to climb the pocket against edge pressure, hitting Archer underneath. Doran Grant, at RCB, immediately makes the stop.

11. Outside zone to Chisholm. But Thornton busts through the line to get penetration.

12. Jones to Coates on an out. The pass is money but Coates can’t hold onto the ball as he goes to the ground in the end zone.

Fifth 11 on 11

1. Roethlisberger attempts to hit Heyward-Bey on a dig. Pass too far in front and it’s incomplete.

2. Ryan Shazier rushes off the edge. Bryant and Ben aren’t on the same page, Bryant never gets his head around, and the pass hits the ground.

3. 22 personnel. A pass and Ben wants to hit Williams on his checkdown. A little too high but it still clangs off the running back’s hands.

4. Split zone with Will Johnson blocking the backside EMOL. Steve McLendon crosses Maurkice Pouncey’s face, causing Williams to cut back to his left, following Johnson. Shazier gives good chase.

5. AB lined up in the slot. Good coverage from the defense. Ben tries to find James but it’s another drop, the tight end’s second of the day.

6. Roethlisberger with a perfect backshoulder throw in the end zone to AB.

7. Boykin and Webb the corners, Boykin now at left, proving he can play everywhere on this defense. Second-team DL of Walton/Thomas/Hemer. So now changes along the DL. Chickillo spikes inside and Shazier scrapes over the top on this run. Don’t have who had the carry.

8. Draw to Archer. Walton doesn’t make the tackle but offers good chase. Boykin lowers his right shoulder to bump Archer out of bounds.

9. Jones is flushed to his left and doesn’t make a throw. Chisholm had trouble squaring up to the ILB, who swam over. He told me pass protection was one area he wanted to work on this week.

10. Power O. Seems blocked well. James sealed the LB, Hubbard and Nix stick to their blocks. But Spence comes in free and fills the hole. Harris baseball slides to draw the whistle.

11. Draw to Harris.

12. Jones’ fade in the right corner to Coates is incomplete. Jordan Sullen had pretty good coverage. Pre-snap, Howard Jones had to be told by his teammates to cover James in the left slot.

Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day 

“Whenever someone hands me a flyer, it’s kinda like them saying, ‘Here you throw this away.’”

Let’s Talk About…

…sports movies. I admit I’m that guy who over-analyzes most of them. They’d be in prevent coverage on the hail mary, this movie is stupid.

Now, there are a couple I really like. Major League is a classic, even if I’d rather watch Deflategate coverage than see the two sequels again. And I have a shameless love for The Replacements, even if its ridiculousness is off the charts. Coach Jimmy McGinty and Gene Hackman are simultaneously my spirit animal, and shut up, I know that doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to. That movie is gold.

But there are some, despite their valiant attempt, that burn me up inside. I hated Draft Day within the first 30 seconds. There is so much wrong with this movie but they manage to screw things up right away. It’s the opening scene, at the draft, with Chris Berman setting the scene. I know that sentence sounds terrible to most of you. Bear with me.

“32 teams, 7 rounds, 224 young men who are about to become players in the National Football League.”

I’m going to go all Jon Taffer on you. Shut it down! SHUT IT DOWN, RIGHT NOW! 

Who came up with this? I know what they did, multiplied 32 times 7 to get 224, but are there no compensatory picks in this alternate reality? How hard is it to Google “number of selections in NFL draft”?

Hate. It. Already. The rest wasn’t much better. Come on, Hollywood.

Twitter Fan Question

Not so much a question as it is a comment but on a low-key day, there wasn’t a lot to ask.

@PBiggerstaff says…

“I think J James makes this team due to lack of competition. One bad night doesn’t change my mind. He will rebound.”

I still think the #3 TE spot is all his. There’s no one else to challenge him for it. Cameron Clear is just fighting to prove his worth on the practice squad. There are moments where you’re intrigued with him but he’s so raw and technically unsound. Far from NFL ready. Ray Hamilton isn’t a threat either.

It’s why I would like to see some semblance of competition for James. I’m not ready to cut him after one bad night, far from it, but I also don’t think a 5th round pick should be handed a roster spot. The team hasn’t been afraid to outright cut those guys, see Terry Hawthorne and Shaq Richardson, so to sit here and all but ensure James of the spot seems a little out of character. It doesn’t need to be the best tight end on the market. But a Michael Palmer type or heck, Palmer himself because he might just be the most notable FA out there. Remember the team claimed Tim Wright off of waivers, even though they weren’t awarded him. If he were in camp right now, do you think James would have near the shot to make the 53 as he does right now?

SVC Is Beautiful Photo

View walking into campus today.




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