Training Camp

Training Camp Diary: Day Eleven

Welcome to Day Eleven. Last day of practice before the team’s Hall of Fame game. As I tweeted, and maybe mentioned in yesterday’s report, we’re to the point where you learn less about the players in practice. It’s really just about seeing guys compete. You know their overall skillset. Game will obviously present a slew of new challenges and information. So I’m really excited.

– Injury report: Lot of guys back in pads today. Only ones not wearing a uniform were Heath Miller getting his usual day off, Mike Mitchell (who wore football pants), Daniel McCullers, Vince Williams (hamstring), Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Isaiah Lewis and Ross Ventrone. Ventrone jogged the length of the field compared to the width of it the last few days. So that’s a positive step for him to get some extra running in. Not a good sign for Lewis to be missing the last three practices.

Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison are apparently in Canton already.

Several players in pads who didn’t participate in team drills: Ramon Foster, Josh Harris, DeAngelo Williams, Jarvis Jones, Cortez Allen, and Shamarko Thomas.

Think the team got through this generally non-contact drill injury free. Mitchell Van Dyk missed the last half hour. He told me he’s been fighting a stomach bug and will be just fine. Trainer held him out as a precaution.

– Newly signed DE Joe Okafor, taking the place of the waived/injured Clifton Geathers, wore #61. He played left end. Tight end Ray Hamilton donned #80. Pre-draft numbers were abysmal but he has some good size, fills out his pads well.

Brandon Boykin and Kenzel Doe were the two Steelers in the return line.

– Saw Mike Adams milling around the field. First time I have spotted him since the Friday Night Lights practice.

– First play in warmups was an end around to Antonio Brown, a play they would run in the first 11 on 11.

– Tight ends always start off the day working on their blocking in individual but they mixed things up a little bit, repping how to block outside shaded defenders.

– Always take a peek at the receiver order in individuals, even if I don’t always write about it. Sammie Coates was very last today, even behind the nearly brand-new Doe. Really making this rookie receiver earn his keep, which I don’t mind one bit.

– Hamilton looked awful on the sleds his first time through, popping straight up on contact. James Daniel had him go three straight times. Must be tough for a guy to get in one practice and then play in a game.

– Steelers have a photo of it on Instagram and probably Twitter. Jesse James with a nice one-handed snag in “on air” work, though I think he needs to do a better job of running through to the ball.

Cameron Clear with another drop in individual.

– Hamilton tracked the ball well over his shoulder along the sideline during the same period.

– Special teams drills. Ian Wild served as the starting upback with Robert Golden out. Alden Darby was the second-teamer.

– Sammie Coates opened things up as a gunner with Devin Gardner jamming him. Doran Grant, Kevin Fogg, and C.J. Goodwin also played there throughout the drill.

Danny Smith had the team go through an onside kick drill. Members of the hands team, for what it’s worth. Roosevelt Nix, Shakim Phillips, Cameron Clear, C.J. Goodwin, Gerod Holliman, Ian Wild, Alden Darby, Sammie Coates, Jesse James.

– During this time, Landry Jones and DeAngelo Williams chatted on the field nearest the bleachers, catching and throwing a couple routes in the end zone.

Shamarko Thomas ran on the side throughout the day.

– Rookie offensive lineman were forced to carry the veteran’s pads today. B.J. Finney carried David DeCastro’s and Kevin Whimpey Kelvin Beachum’s.

– OL/DL results.

1. Bud Dupree shows a good punch on Kelvin Palmer but the tackle keeps a nice base.

2. Matt Conrath dips B.J. Finney.

3. Cam Thomas walks Reese Dismukes back.

4. Ethan Hemer with a nice swim over Miles Dieffenbach.

5. Alejandro Villanueva uses that crazy strength of his to anchor Howard Jones.

6. Jones does a nice job to chop down Villanueva’s hands but doesn’t seem to have a plan and isn’t able to get past.

7. Hemer again shows power, getting a good punch on Dieffenbach.

8. L.T. Walton bull rushes Finney. Finney anchors it well most of the way though Walton rips under him real late.

9. Palmer shows good lateral movement to seal Anthony Chickillo.

10. Shayon Green quick off the ball and counters inside to get past Whimpey.

11. Collin Rahrig doubles over initially versus Joe Kruger but is able to reset himself and does a pretty good job to slide and mirror inside.

12. Finney anchors Mike Thornton.

13. Dieffenbach oversets to the outside versus Niko Davis, who plants his left foot and cuts inside, dipping past.

14. Arthur Moats comes in and dips Kelvin Palmer.

15. Chickillo rushes with his hand down. Palmer doubles over pretty egregiously.

16. Whimpey does a nice job to sit in his stance and let Howard Jones come to him off the edge. Jones comes at him but the left tackle anchors with little issue.

17. Rahrig holds on – barely – against Hemer.

18. Finney slides to his right, sealing Thornton.

19. Dieffenbach responds with a good base, tossing Okafor down.

20. Bud Dupree gets skinny around the edge against Palmer,  though Jon Ledyard said Moats went pretty far up the arc. Tough to tell when there isn’t a true QB or pocket.

21. Niko Davis tries to dip his right shoulder inside of Rahrig but loses his balance and falls on all fours. Rahrig with a heady play to give him the extra shove to the ground, finishing the play.

First 11 on 11

Seven shots.

1. Landry Jones running with the one’s with Ben not around. Le’Veon Bell releases to the left and gets upfield, Jones finding him. Moats can’t close in time. Touchdown.

2. Alden Darby and Will Allen the first team safeties. Chris Hubbard at LG for Foster. Antwon Blake LCB, Brandon Boykin RCB, William Gay in the slot. End around, the one they ran in warmups, to Antonio Brown. Darby comes in free and makes the would-be tackle on him, though it’s not a tackling drill.

3. Bell split out to the left. Jones throws it to the left side with two receivers in the area – including Bell – but to no one in particular. Incomplete.

4. This is one of the Steelers’ two-point conversion plays they’ve run in the past. Antonio Brown in motion, pumping his legs behind center or guard. Snap comes and Brown releases into the right flat, catching the pass from Jones before Blake can close on him.

5. Dieffenbach at LG. Tajh Boyd comes in as the #2 QB and hits Devin Gardner on a slant. Gay sticks him and stops him short of the goalline.

6. Sean Spence and Terence Garvin the second-team inside linebackers. Ian WIld and Gerod Holliman at safety. Howard Jones comes in unblocked from his ROLB spot, swatting Boyd’s pass back in his face.

7. Jesse James lined up wide left with Dri Archer in the left slot. Boyd fade to James with Webb offering good coverage considering the size difference. Good throw, where only James can get it, and the tight end leaps for it, but the pass is off his hands and incomplete.

– Offense scored just twice in seven chances.

Second 11 on 11

1. Draw to Bell. Roosevelt Nix sticks to Ryan Shazier in the hole. Cam Heyward runs hard and chases after Bell downfield.

Ian Wild ran as the first team safety for this series because Will Allen ran to the far field…to use the bathroom. Gotta get your reps however you can. Sure Wild will take it.

2. Can’t tackle here but still thought Bell had a nice run. Off right guard, Arthur Moats closes in, but Bell bounces outside and gains the edge.

3. Another carry for Bell. Steve McLendon deftly sheds Cody Wallace. Heyward again chasing him far downfield. Love 97’s hustle.

4. Stephon Tuitt and McLendon the nickel pairing. Landry complete to AB on a curl. Ian Wild gets the first hand on the receiver.

5. Power O and it works well. David DeCastro and Will Johnson pulling with the left side clear. Timmons knocks Bell down with a harder than expected, probably a no-no. Bell is precious cargo.

6. Split zone run. Jesse James seemed slow off the snap, unable to cross the back’s face before the handoff. Roosevelt Nix  on the tote. Big fullback shows some quick feet in the hole. Pops through the other side and lowers the right shoulder into Antwon Blake at the end.

7. Dive to Cameron Stingily. Full speed ahead as he puts his head down into the pile.

8. Grant at LCB, Fogg at RCB, Webb over slot. Jawon Chisholm receives his first carry. Ian Wild gets his nose dirty, filling the lane and wrapping him up.

9. Second-team line, something I was looking for with Geathers gone. Walton/Thomas/Kruger. Boyd complete to Gardner on an out route to the right.

10. Third-team defensive line. Okafor/Thornton/Davis. Okafor over Matt Conrath, who would get reps with the third team later. But man, still stings. Hamilton is in at tight end but the coaches yell his way, “Zero, zero!” as Hamilton leaps across the line to get himself in the right spot. Davis does a nice job to shed Dieffenbach and tackle Stingily.

11. Tyler Murphy checks in at QB. Pistol with Archer at running back. Chickillo gives good chase and effort from the backside, Archer getting the carry to the left side. Holliman puts a decent enough lick though it came after the whistle.

12. Shayon Green, like he did earlier this week, with a good pop and leverage on James, getting under him and spilling the run inside. Chisholm cuts up and Garvin makes the tackle.

Third 11 on 11

1. Jones hits Darrius Heyward-Bey on a curl to the right side. Antwon Blake can’t break it up but closes quickly to wrap him up and not allow any YAC.

2. Again, nickel pairing with Cortez out is Blake at LCB, Boykin RCB, Gay in the slot. Will Allen and Darby back at safety. Landry with a quick throw to Matt Spaeth on a curl.

3. Jones underneath to Bell, who makes a quick move to slide past Ryan Shazier. Allen wraps the back up.

4. Second-team offensive line: Villanueva-Dieffenbach-Wallace-Finney-Van Duk. Dupree and HoJo the OLBs. First team DL in. They make Tyler Murphy well aware of that fact, getting a lot of pressure. Play is dead, no throw.

5. Murphy screen to Archer. Sammie Coates with a bad stalk block on Fogg, who slips past. Ian Wild blitzed.

6. Shayon Green sent up the middle, blowing through Archer. Murphy to his college teammate Shakim Phillips on the left side.

7. Jones underneath to Spaeth in the right flat. Jordan Zumwalt ends the play by lowering his shoulder into the tight end, sending him sprawling to the ground.

8. Landry again to Bell on the right side. Jon said Chickillo nearly batted it down. Spence with a good close though you could see Jordan Sullen struggle to transition to get downhill from playing bail technique, backpedaling with his hips open to the field. Guy is stiff and really should be playing safety.

9. Antonio Brown with a slick double-move to create a cushion against Fogg. Jones’ underthrows the nine route and the ball hangs but AB has enough separation to still make the grab.

10. Murphy fires it deep down the left sideline to Sammie Coates, who adjusts to the ball. Doran Grant on the coverage.

11. Will Johnson in the right slot. Fullback has an inside stem and Boyd hits him. Holliman wraps up.

12. Boy with a good hard count, exposing Ian Wild’s blitz. Comes anyway and a big pop between him and Stingily is produced, though kudos to the back for picking it up as well as you can expect. Nothing there and Boyd holds the ball until the coaches finally relent, blowing the whistle.

Fourth 11 on 11

1. Run off the left side. Matt Spaeth takes Shayon Green out of the frame, nearly into the gaggle of players waiting their turn. Ryan Shazier with a big lick on Bell.

I’m not going to even attempt to draw it but one of the “Cover 2” looks. William Gay, in the slot, bails to the deep half as the other safety rotates to cover the right half. Will Allen rolls down to be the flat defender. Definitely need to refresh myself on some of these concepts. I’d bet we see more “Cloud” schemes than any true Cover 2.

2. Jones with a heave down the right sideline. Blake way too grabby, pulling off his jersey to expose one of the receiver’s shoulder pads. Incomplete but definitely pass interference.

3. Timmons and Shazier come on a Fire X blitz. Shazier picked up, Timmons free. Apparent screen that never develops and Jones smartly chucks it into the ground.

4. 3rd and 10. Boyd with a screen to the left for Stingily. Successful this time but Boykin and Gay close quickly.

5. For notekeeping, Blake and Gay are the base corners on this play. No Boykin. Boyd fires down the right seam to Johnson, who never gets his head around. Not a good decision though. Dupree drops from his LOLB spot and nearly had the interception. Boyd staring down his target.

6. Archer lined up in the slot to the left on 3rd and 6. Pistol with Archer behind the QB. Tuitt makes quick work of Reese Dismukes, swallowing up the back.

7. Jones checkdown to Bell. Ethan Hemer swims over Chris Hubbard, the guard doubling over.

8. Screen to the left from Jones to Doe. Phillips with a solid stalk block on Fogg. Jordan Zumwalt gives good effort to come across the field and push the pint-sized receiver out of bounds.

9. Conrath and Kruger the nickel ends. Marcus Gilbert seals Conrath on this run to Stingily. Zumwalt another tackle. Active day for #56, who will play a ton in the HOF game.

10. Murphy at QB. Pocket breaks down really bad, fail across the board. Drag complete to Devin Gardner.

11. Murphy sees the potential overload blitz pre-snap. Adjusts the slide protection and the defense is forced to check out. Heady play. Pass complete to C.J. Goodwin. Stingily with a nice chip before leaking out into the left flat.

12. Murphy fires underneath to Archer. Shazier sticks out an arm to draw the horn, ending the period.

Fifth 11 on 11

1. Ball on the 20. Jones playaction. Nothing available downfield so the quarterback hits Bell releasing underneath.

2. Jones’ throw to Gardner on a drag is a little behind but the receiver makes the grab without losing too much speed. Howard Jones got run all the way up the arc against Beachum.

3. 3rd and 3. Jones throw down the seam and into the end zone is tipped by Will Allen. Another forced throw. Jones struggles in the red zone when those windows tighten up.

4. Counter play with big ‘ol Nix getting the run.

5. Jones tries to throw an out route in the right corner of the end zone to Goodwin. Blake again too grabby. Pass is incomplete but another likely pass interference in game.

6. Jones goes to his second read, throwing to Goodwin. Passes misses bad in the end zone though I’m thinking Jones though, correctly, that Goodwin was going to run away from his defender instead of settling down. Don’t want to be quick and pin everything on Landry. That isn’t fair.

7. Second-team offensive line. Villanuvea-Rahrig-Finney-Dieffenbach-Palmer. Murphy at QB. Draw to Stingily. Walton works off a block to make the tackle.

8. Murphy in the end zone to Clear. Wild and Holliman offered the coverage and though they didn’t get a hand on the ball, made it a tight window, and the pass fell incomplete. Villanueva put Shayon Green on the ground, a common sight for edge rushers against the mammoth tackle.

9. Counter OF with Chisholm getting the carry. Nix leading the way but is unable to stick to Zumwalt. He and Garvin are in on the stop.

10. Stingily gets the carry up the middle. Holliman with a pretty good hit, sending Stingily on his butt.

11. Murphy ends things with a fade to the right side to Phillips. Receiver leaps and makes the grab over Grant but it sounds like, based on Grant’s and nearby coaches’ reactions, the receiver didn’t get his feet inbounds.

Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day 

“I think Pizza Hut is the cockiest pizza chain on the planet. Because Pizza Hut will accept all other competitor’s coupons. Which makes me wish I had my own pizza place. Mitch’s Pizzeria: this week’s coupon, unlimited free pizza!”

Let’s Talk About…

…stop signs. Pretty simple, right? Big red octagon, full stop, proceed. I’m good with that. But there’s one on Route 981 North that is confusing the heck out of me.

Before you try to revoke my license, let me explain. Coming back from camp yesterday, I’m driving along with no one in front and a couple cars behind. Almost positive there was no sign to warn one was coming but I see a stop sign up ahead. It notes, “Stop, except right turn.”

I found the picture on Google Maps, thankfully, because my explaining it would’ve been infinitely worse. So here’s the situation.



You can’t see it but there’s also a road right behind here to, letting you turn to the right.

Obviously, there’s no “turn” here. It’s just a bear to the right, barely. I can go through this stop sign, right? If you’re turning, and that’s really just bearing, left I know you have to stop. But this right “bear” is what is considered the turn, yeah?

I just find it a little confusing. And the stop sign comes up quick, so it freaked me out.The cars that were following me didn’t reappear in my rear view mirror either, so then I got really worried they stopped because you’re supposed to.

Someone chime in and tell me what to do because I’m an idiot. For the record, Mama Kozora says it should be just fine to keep driving without stopping.

Side note: Totally unrelated. But if you’re on a two lane road with the right lane closing, and signs that tell you that for a mile, don’t think you can hang out in the right lane until the last second and expect me to let you in. You’re a jerk and I’m glad you were forced to stop.

Twitter Fan Question

@punkrock4life writes…

“looks like the 49ers need a LB. Can we speculate on a trade possibility with ?”

Well, they really need an outside linebacker following Aldon Smith’s release. And the Steelers don’t have anyone to really give. I get some questions about trade of bigger name FA pickups a couple times a day. Generally, teams want to pick from what they have. The guys they know. The ones they’ve been with the whole spring. Evaluate them for the whole preseason and then, if it isn’t good enough, make a move near the start of the regular season. So don’t expect a trade. And man, I’d hate to part with one of the Steelers’ inside linebackers. The value is never that great anyway to justify it.

SVC Is Beautiful 

From where Jon and I sat today.



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