A slightly damp day eight but overall, the rain held off and we’ve been very lucky avoiding it so far. Today was the first sight of any rain so hey, can’t complain.
Let’s get into the notes. Friendly reminder that the team is off tomorrow. Will be back on Wednesday.
– Injury roundup: Back for the Pittsburgh Steelers were: Maurkice Pouncey, Ryan Shazier, and Heath Miller all returned. I think Shazier was limited but at least he was back in pads. Miller is rotating days off with Matt Spaeth. Jarvis Jones and Antwon Blake left yesterday’s practice but both returned today. Jones, however, didn’t finish and walked off the field roughly halfway through.
Cam Heyward and Steve McLendon were in pads again but like yesterday, didn’t partake in team drills. Again, both seem fine to me.
DeAngelo Williams, James Harrison, Shamarko Thomas, Markus Wheaton, Mike Mitchell, and Josh Harris all remain out. Mitchell ran sprints with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, indicating his hamstring issue isn’t that bad. Ben Roethlisberger got the day off. Daniel McCullers also did not suit up today. Ramon Foster missed with an apparent stinger.
Ross Ventrone is still out but has graduated to some light running, doing so with Wheaton and Senquez Golson early in practice. That’s a good sign.
Eli Rogers didn’t even make it to the first 11 on 11. Foot sprain, according to Mike Tomlin.
– Sammie Coates, Dri Archer, and Brad Wing were the first players onto the field at around 2:38 PM. Wing and Archer played catch before practice.
– Cameron Clear got some work on the jugs machine before the initial horn.
– Eli Rogers, Archer, and Brandon Boykin participated in the return line. Boykin, of course, has a return background and it was nice to see him there. Rarely do you see the team put a defender in that drill.
– Offensive line groupings become more jumbled up but here’s how they initially lined up in warmups.
First Team: Beachum-Hubbard-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert
Second Team: Villanueva-Dieffenbach-Wallace-Finney-Van Dyk
Third Team: Whimpey-Rahrig-Dismukes-Finney-Palmer
I can’t say if it happened during team drills, but Dismukes and Finney flipped spots at least once in one of the drills.
– Quarterbacks participated in the can drill, attempting to throw a fade route into – or at least hit the top half – of a fan. With Ben and Bruce Gradkowski out, a lot of assistant coaches filled in. No one made it in though Tyler Murphy, Landry Jones, and Tajh Boyd all came close.
– Tight ends suffering drops in “on air” drills. Rob Blanchflower and Jesse James had back-to-back ones.
– Briefly watched the DBs in drills. Boykin looks really smooth in his pedal and transition. Immediately impressed me. B.W. Webb also has quick feet and is explosive planting and driving out of his pedal. For a tall guy, Cortez Allen shows nice bend and the ability to get low. Jordan Sullen plays too tall.
– DBs also worked on the goal line. Two most common routes you’re going to get there are slants and fades, which the DBs saw both of. Can’t start to pedal and give up a cushion. Need to react quickly and break on the ball. No false steps.
– Then I checked out the receivers catching passes right in front of me. Rough day for the infamously drop-prone Darrius Heyward-Bey. Had three drops in “on air” drills and another one hit him in the chest with a loud thud. Guy just never figured it out and never will. Always going to be an adventure trying to catch the ball.
– Receivers ended their individual work running post corners. Sammie Coates also had a drop on this route. Gotta finish.
– As they got into “versus” drills, I watched from group to group. Just a couple of notes.
– Mike Tomlin watched the TEs/LB run block. Jesse James was getting pointers from James Daniel but got a good push, dominating Shayon Green. Big, strong upper body.
– WRs vs DBs. Brandon Boykin tipped away a pass intended for Heyward-Bey down the left sideline.
– C.J. Goodwin leapt over Antwon Blake for another catch. Love how springy Goodwin is and how competitive he is for the ball in the air.
– Isaiah Lewis may have gotten a bit too physical but he had an interception while working against Shakim Phillips.
– Brief special teams notes. Some upback/kick returner pairings.
Coates/Archer, Phillips/Goodwin, Chisholm/Coates (Coates dropped this one, irking one of the coaches), Stingily/Phillips
– After practice, Jesse James caught passes on the jugs machine in the pouring rain. Apparently does this every day. Niko Davis ran sprints by himself before signing autographs. Linebackers hit the tackling dummies on the far field. They certainly weren’t itching to start their day off. Much respect to them and the several others who stayed after.
– OL/DL that took place in between 11 on 11 sessions.
1. Marcus Gilbert slides laterally and is able to seal Arthur Moats.
2. Moats goes against him again and tries to swim inside but Gilbert is able to stop that, too.
3. Shayon Green puts all he has into a bull rush against Kelvin Beachum but Beachum plays with tremendous leverage and absorbs him.
4. Green attempts to counter with an inside spin but loses his balance and ends up on the ground vs #68.
5. Chris Hubbard had his arms extended but doesn’t do a good job getting into Clifton Geathers’ chest, they’re too high, and the defensive end is able to get under him.
6. Cam Thomas has a relatively successful bull rush, walking Cody Wallace back.
7. David DeCastro sticks to Stephon Tuitt.
8. Bud Dupree is initially sealed by Mitchell Van Dyk. Dupree tries to counter with his go-to inside spin but Van Dyk mirrors well and Dupree loses his balance, ending up on the ground.
9. Tuitt with lightning quick hands to swim over DeCastro. Man, I am excited for #91 this year.
10. Thomas again is able to get under Wallace.
11. Hubbard sticks to Geathers, beating him this time around.
12. Alejandro Villanueva’s punch is too high, another byproduct of that 6’9 frame, and he originally misses Howard Jones. Don’t have it exactly in my notes how it happened but Jones still couldn’t wind and wound up losing his footing.
13. Villanueva’s hands are much lower this time as Jones tries to bull rush. To no avail. Villanueva wasn’t moved an inch after settling in.
14. Ethan Hemer, who always looks pretty good in these drills, swims over Miles Dieffenbach.
15. Reese Dismukes puts Mike Thornton into the ground.
16. L.T. Walton can’t separate initially but finishes with a really nice dip/rip under the left shoulder of B.J. Finney.
17. Kelvin Palmer, who certainly doesn’t look like a day-before-camp addition, mirrors Dupree well up the arc.
18. Anthony Chickillo rushes from his hand down and shows really nice bend around the edge, getting skinny vs Palmer. Palmer does a good job to move laterally but again, can’t help but come away impressed with Chickillo.
19. Matt Conrath attempts his patented rip move vs Finney. And it fails. Again.
20. Thornton gets a good push against Dismukes.
21. Niko Davis with a strong punch and rip to beat Kevin Whimpey.
22. Whimpey puts Howard Jones in the ground.
23. Collin Rahrig outleverages Hemer.
24. Hemer gets his revenge, tossing aside Rahrig and winning to the inside.
25. Chickillo again able to get skinny and beat Palmer around the arc.
26. Geathers wins with a swim move over Finney.
27. Finney anchors against the tiny Mike Thornton.
28. Rahrig gets good arm extension and is able to hold off Davis.
29. Howard Jones tries to knock away Palmer’s hands. Fails at first but he tries again as he counters inside, slipping past the tackle.
30. Jones again knocks away Palmer’s hands, this time on the first try, and counters inside. The tackle slips and falls to the ground. Rain had begun to make the field slick and that may have played a role.
First 11 on 11
Seven shots series, ball on the two.
1. With Rogers out, C.J. Goodwin gets the first look in three receiver sets, playing on the outside with Heyward-Bey opposite and Brown in the slot. Empty set. Landry Jones nearly converts a slant to Le’Veon Bell, I was certain it was caught, but Will Allen somehow knocked it away as the back went to the ground.
2. Jones tries to hit Brown on a quick out to the front left pylon but misses badly, hitting the down marker instead. Cortez Allen with the coverage.
3. Steelers nickel is the same as usual – Cortez Allen/Antwon Blake on the outside with William Gay in the slot. Dri Archer sidecar to Landry. Quarterback tries to hit a slant to Heath Miller. Pass either clanged off his hands or was tipped by the unknown DB. We couldn’t agree what happened.
4. Ethan Hemer pressures Tyler Murphy, the #2 QB, who hits an open Jesse James in the end zone for the offense’s first score.
5. Bud Dupree rushes in free from his LOLB spot. Murphy tries to throw to someone on a slant to the right side but it appeared Dupree hit the QB’s arm as he released it, causing the throw to corkscrew to the ground well short of his target.
6. Nothing there initially for Murphy. Scrambles to his right, but does a nice job to keep his eyes up as he’s rolling out, before firing it high and over Devin Gardner’s head. Didn’t force the ball though, put it somewhere where only his receiver could get it. An overall heady play, even on an incompletion.
7. Gerod Holliman makes quite literally the first notable play of his entire training camp, batting away a pass intended for Rob Blanchflower two yards deep in the middle of the end zone. Cameron Stingily completely left Terence Garvin run through him up the gut to pressure the QB.
– If you’re scoring at home, the offense was 1/7 on chances today. Kudos to the defense.
Second 11 on 11
1. First team DL continues to be the same. Tuitt/Thomas/Geathers. Shayon Green, with Jarvis out, ran with the 1’s over Howard Jones. That’s interesting. Sean Spence was at ILB for Ryan Shazier. Robert Golden getting his nose dirty, coming up to support the run and force Cameron Stingily inside, met by a number of defenders.
2. Shayon Green makes a really nice play, shedding Will Johnson’s lead block. Stingily is able to run through him before encountering a big collision with another defender.
3. Hubbard pulls from left to right. Don’t know who the defender was but Marcus Gilbert was pushed back, forcing Hubbard to take a wider angle, and the run is blown up.
4. Dive to Jawon Chisholm. Gang tackle. Antwon Blake comically jumps on top and tumbles off.
5. Playaction. Landry Jones hits a wide open Heath Miller down the seam, this play is a Todd Haley staple, who rumbles downfield for at least 40 yards. Cortez Allen sprints after him and drags him down from behind.
6. Inside zone to Dri Archer. Vince Williams comes flying in but Archer is able to make him miss before going down a moment later. Williams clapped his hands in frustration.
7. Defensive line: Walton/Thornton/Hemer. Ian Wild and Isaiah Lewis at safety. Dieffenbach offered a good block on Antwon Blake, a mismatch but still a nice block by the rookie, as Chisholm follows Roosevelt Nix on this Lead Strong play down the right sideline for a sizeable pickup.
8. Chisholm with a short pickup but planted his right foot and got upfield in a hurry.
9. Sammie Coates and Shakim Phillips on the outside with C.J. Goodwin in the slot. Doran Grant LCB, Kevin Fogg RCB, B.W. Webb in the slot. Garvin meets Stingily in the hole and strips him. The linebacker somehow recovers it, too.
10. Stingily receives the carry off the right side for a 1-2 yard gain before VW and others bring him down.
11. Lewis and Alden Darby the safety pairing. Tajh Boyd boots to his right, trying to hit Phillips on a drag, the receiver coming across from the backside. Pass was either too far in front or off the receiver’s hands. I think the latter.
12. Stingily carry off the rip of the right guard. Kelvin Palmer sealed his man well but the hole closed up quickly.
13. Chisholm gets the carry and puts his head down, meeting the defender – Doran Grant, maybe? – with a big collision. The newly signed running back gets turned, his back to the defender, and he keeps his feet pumping, earning a few additional yards. Tough run.
14. Boykin in at RCB. Makes an open field tackle on Chisholm, the back trying to cut back from right to left. Nice play by Boykin.
15. Garvin and Jordan Sullen are just two of several Steelers to gang tackle Stingily.
Third 11 on 11
1. Split back look. Bell behind QB and Archer off the outside hip of the tackle. Jones hits Archer in the right flat.
2. Jones airs it out deep down the right side to AB with Allen on coverage. Pass is too far inside and falls incomplete without either player able to contest for it.
3. Jones responds by putting nice touch on an out route to DHB (I think, going off memory, not notes for the target) in front of Blake. First team OL gave him a clean pocket to work from. Good play all around.
4. Blake blitzes off the defense’s left side. Murphy seemed late getting the ball out but finds Goodwin.
5. Murphy complete to Coates on a curl. Blake pops him good.
6. Double A gap blitz from the inside linebackers. Murphy tries to hit Gardner on a comeback to the left side but Webb gets his left arm in there to break the pass up.
7. Kevin Fogg and Ian Wild come on an overload blitz. Wild picked up by Fogg runs in free for a would be sack. Pass complete but like I said, would’ve been a sack.
8. Fogg again on a blitz. Jones smartly gets the ball out quick to Miller but Garvin immediately hits him and the ball squirms out.
9. Before the play, Joey Porter yells out, “Give me one Chic” to Chickillo. The rookie OLB drops but can’t prevent Jones from hitting DHB on a speed out to the right.
10. Lawrence Timmons comes in free on a blitz. Would be sack. Boyd quickly gets the ball away to Will Johnson in the left flat.
11. Boyd hits Cameron Clear in the right flat. Finney did a nice job anchoring against Tuitt.
12. Wallace has a poor snap to Boyd, too far to the right, which the QB has to one-hand and pull in. Senses the broken play so he takes off and runs. Bad snaps must be a prerequisite if you’re going to be second team center…
Fourth 11 on 11
1. Double A gap blitz. Le’Veon Bell did a nice job in blitz pickup. Landry with his best throw of the day, a dart on a skinny post to Goodwin between Gay and Will Allen for a 20 yard TD.
2. Jones complete to Miller on a drag. Spence greets him with a loud pop.
3. Jawon Chisholm with the cary. Shayon Green is left unblocked off the edge. Arthur Moats also meets them in the backfield and hits Chisholm’s right knee as it buckles. Looked scary but both got up fine.
4. Archer split out wide left in an empty set. Green again rushes free so Jones hits Heyward-Bey quickly on a dig.
5. Jones lops a pass down the seam to DHB. Great coverage and not a throw Landry should be making, especially in the red zone. Robert Golden knocks it away.
6. Jones throws the same ball as he did to kick things off, the one that hit the marker. This time, it’s a perfect throw and AB catches it. Cortez had really good coverage but there’s no defending a great throw/catch.
7. Howard Jones knocks Villanueva’s hands down and dips the edge. Murphy complete to Gardner.
8. Power O with Dieffenbach pulling. Stingily gets the handoff. Tackle by Garvin.
9. Stingily on a draw. L.T. Walton did a nice job to get in there and finish the play.
10. Murphy tries to hit Sammie Coates on a slant. Boykin breaks it up.
11. Stingily makes Jordan Zumwalt miss in the hole but falls just shy of the end zone.
Fifth 11 on 11
1. Jones hits Bell on a screen. Hubbard comes in with a blindside block on Shayon Green, big hit that knocks the LB down, and Green doesn’t like it. Gets up and shoves Hubbard and we have our first real fight of camp. Coaches get it broken up quickly, yelling out about upping the tempo and pace.
2. Bell nice jump cut in the hole. Moats wraps him up. Not full tackling in this last team period.
3. Jones complete to Heyward-Bey on a dig. Will Allen was draped all over him but couldn’t break it up.
4. Split zone run with Archer. Will Johnson whiffs on his lead block against Green. Archer does shake the linebacker, though.
5. Jones and AB not on the same page. Pass is incomplete down the left seam.
6. Draw to Archer. Spence knocks him down. Linebacker is playing with quite the edge.
7. Chisholm with the tote. Holliman finds himself with the first chance to make the tackle, or wrap up or anything, but just two hand touches him and lets Chisholm by. Ughhhhh.
8. Pistol with Murphy at QB. Draw to Stingily.
9. Moats comes in free off the edge. Murphy never felt the pressure, definitely his mistake. Would’ve been blasted. Throw to Goodwin is low and incomplete in the end zone. Webb had solid coverage.
10. Boykin in at RCB. Outside zone to Chisholm. Not really a hole there so the back plants and gets upfield to gain what he can.
11. Three tight end set with Clear, Blanchflower, and James. Thornton gets good penetration against Dismukes. Stingily on the carry. Chickillo in on the tackle.
12. Goodwin crosses Zumwalt’s face and Murphy finds him in the end zone as practice concludes.
– I won’t get too much more in-depth with final thoughts today. Will do a full, player-by-player breakdown either tomorrow or up Wednesday in the AM. So look out for that.
Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day
Classic Mitch one-liner today.
“I used to do drugs. I still do but I used to, too.”
Let’s Talk About…
…bad TV shows. Ever watch one you know is objectively bad but you have to keep watching? That’s me every Sunday at ten with Falling Skies on TNT. Hate myself for it. Super cool premise, alien invasion, yada yada, but man, it is terrible. Bad acting, plot points that disappear as quickly as they came in, and now they’re rushing since it’s in its (merciful) final season.
And I think that’s why I still watch. I’m committed. Watched it since the premiere and I don’t want to just stop with a few episodes left. So I will watch it. And be the happiest person when it’s over.
Any of you like that with another show?
Twitter Fan Question
one thing no one talks about this year – will jones take over #2 spot from Gradkowski?
Short answer: No. Unless Gradkowski is seriously hurt, Jones is not fighting for the #3 spot. Gradkowski is a veteran with NFL experience. Has started games and come in off the bench. That type of experience is valuable. Gradkowski knows how to prep for games, how to come in during less than ideal circumstances. Jones doesn’t. I don’t see there as any sort of battle.
SVC Is Beautiful Picture
Sort of related to the campus today. Mike Mayock was in attendance. He’s my hero. I said I loved his work. He thanked me. It was the greatest moment of my life. I was a total fanboy and regret nothing. So here he is, working with Tunch under a tent above the bleachers.