Day 15! Another hot one but as Mike Tomlin coins it, a “spirited” one. Let’s get into the notes.
– Not practicing today: Josh Harris (foot), Ross Ventrone (ankle), Lawrence Timmons (toe), Vince Williams (hamstring), Stephon Tuitt (unknown), Cameron Clear (knee), Cortez Allen (unknown), Steve McLendon (unknown), David Nelson (shoulder), and Jordan Zumwalt (groin).
Daniel McCullers returned to team drills while Robert Golden and Mike Mitchell continued to participate on those units. Ditto with Bruce Gradkowski and while he threw in individuals and 7 on 7’s, again did not throw in team drills.
Ventrone did the same running and cutting he did yesterday while Vince Williams continues to do some light running.
– Dri Archer and Brad Wing walked down together! The biggest story of camp, obviously.
– Jesse James hit the jugs machine before practice, catching passes as a stationary and moving target.
– Even though today was as hot as yesterday, Tomlin donned his typical all-black outfit. Long sleeves and long pants.
– James Harrison wore his leg pads but had a pair of shorts on overtop. Practiced in them. Cody Wallace sometimes does the same thing. I wonder why.
– No changes in the return line: Kenzel Doe, Archer, Brandon Boykin, and Markus Wheaton.
– Like Jon Ledyard and I wrote yesterday, Ramon Foster is the vocal leader in the stretch line. Called out to Cam Heyward today and the defensive end replied with an overzealous, “Let’s go, brother!” while hopping up and down.
– Second-team line nearly the same as yesterday. B.J. Finney and Cody Wallace flipped, giving Wallace his first chance to play right guard in camp. Palmer-Finney-Hubbard-Wallace-Villanueva. Third teamers for the second straight day weren’t in team drills. Weeding guys like Collin Rahrig, Reese Dismukes, and Kevin Whimpey out. Mitchell Van Dyk cycled in with Palmer at LT.
– For a few minutes, the linebackers and defensive backed worked together in individuals, dropping into coverage.
– Offensive lineman went through ricochet drills. One lineman faces two defenders, other offensive lineman holding pads. Slide, punch the first, slide, punch the other. All about being able to keep your base and generating a good punch at the same time.
– Tomlin bounced around groups but spent a lot of time coaching up the DBs while passively watching the other groups. Cornerbacks working on defending slants on the goal line. Tomlin praising the corners for “squeezing” the throw. Then they worked on two man combinations, passing off underneath routes – those are typically under calls – to pick up the flat. Carnell Lake acted as the flat defender.
– In individuals, Sammie Coates and Tyler Murphy had a drop.
– First sessions were OL/DL run blocking, TE/LB run blocking, WR/DB coverage on the goal line. Didn’t do the play-by-play for any of these, just watched and took a couple notes.
– Ethan Hemer has effective hand use. It’s not the most violent punch, he doesn’t have the quickest hands, but he uses them well and is a good technician, able to work off of blocks well. Miles Dieffenbach needs to keep his feet moving laterally. Once, he didn’t move quick enough laterally against Daniel McCullers, failing to reach the defender’s midpoint, and the nose tackle beat him.
Joe Okafor showed his first sign of anything since he signed, decent hand use and a good punch.
– Punter hangtimes! We got ’em.
Brad Wing: 4.32, 4.45, 4.93, 4.64, 4.22 (this one was shanked, the ball landed in the middle field), 4.25, 4.33
Jordan Berry: 5.08, 4.67, 4.50, 4.25, 3.70, 4.50, 5.09
Another nice day for Berry. He’s closing that gap that Wing had over him early in camp. Still give Wing the edge but Berry is doing well.
– Robert Golden jumped in as the starting upback. Ian Wild was the backup, bumping Alden Darby out of his spot.
– Some gunner pairings. Antwon Blake/Shamarko Thomas, Darrius Heyward-Bey/B.W. Webb, Brandon Boykin/Jordan Sullen.
– Danny Smith quote of the day. “Spence, square up on that backside!”
– Dri Archer had a muff in one of the drills. Blah.
– OL/DL drills.
1. Howard Jones’ initial punch doesn’t work, unable to knock away Kelvin Palmer’s hands down. But he counters inside and wins.
2. Chris Hubbard anchors Cam Thomas.
3. Thomas gets his revenge, walking Hubbard back.
4. Matt Conrath tries his favorite – his only – move, ripping Cody Wallace, but it fails.
5. Alejandro Villanueva anchors Bud Dupree’s speed bull rush.
6. Dupree tries to win the edge this time with a speed rush but loses his balance, and Villanueva shoves him into the ground.
7. L.T. Walton and Wallace get locked up. Walton, as is the norm, swims over him late in the drill.
8. Villy absorbs Dupree.
9. Joe Kruger rips under Dieffenbach.
10. Hubbard anchors Mike Thornton.
11. B.J. Finney lunges and doubles over. Ethan Hemer wins easily.
12. Don’t have the tackle, I think it was Palmer, but Anthony Chickillo wins with an inside counter.
13. Niko Davis with a nice get off, swimming over and dipping under – while keeping his balance – to beat Rahrig.
14. Daniel McCullers and Reese Dismukes line up. McCullers blows the door open, getting right past the tiny center.
15. They go at it again and McCullers slips past, pushing and knocking Dismukes down.
16. Dieffenbach mirrors Okafor.
17. Whimpey lunges and Shayon Green whoops him inside.
18. Whimpey gets the better of him this time, anchoring against the outside linebacker.
19. Thornton with a dip/rip to get past Dismukes.
20. Davis with a nice day in this session, winning again, dipping past Finney.
21. Hemer tries to rip Rahrig but the rookie guard/center seals him.
22. Chickillo with a lot of explosion, a speed bull rush to run through Palmer.
23. Arthur Moats jumps in at the end and tries to speed bull Villanueva, who uses his strength to absorb it.
First 11 on 11
1. Walton first team LDE with Tuitt out. Empty set. Clean pocket afforded to him. Maybe some miscommunication or Wheaton doing what he does best – shaking defenders and finding soft spots in the coverage – and that’s what happens. Wide open on the left side in the back of the end zone and Ben Roethlisberger hits him.
2. Steelers most obvious two-point conversion play. Motion AB to behind center, pumping his legs, and then firing into the right flat on the snap. Pitch and catch from Ben to AB for six. TD.
3. Wheaton makes a diving catch on an out route to the right side. William Gay on the coverage but nothing he could do. TD.
4. No one open so Roethlisberger throws it away.
5. Tyler Murphy lined up in the slot. Landry Jones tries to hit Jesse James under the goal posts but Will Allen bats it away.
6. Daniel McCullers makes his first appearance. Matt Conrath at LE, Ethan Hemer at RE. Terence Garvin and Ian Wild at ILB. Ray Hamilton makes a catch falling to the ground in the back of the end zone. Touchdown and Hamilton’s best play in camp.
7. Garvin up the middle and swims over a lineman. Conrath bats Jones’ pass down.
Second 11 on 11
1. As the sides get ready, Jerry Olsavsky and Arthur Moats greet each other with a loud, “Wooh!” Antwon Blake, not Brandon Boykin, the LCB in the Steelers’ base opposite William Gay with Cortez out. Inside zone off the left side to Le’Veon Bell. Shamarko Thomas fills the lane.
2. Bruce Gradkowski in at QB. Defense holds the POA. Bell steps on Kelvin Beachum’s heel. Beachum was a little slow getting up but fine the rest of the way.
3. Inside zone to DeAngelo Williams. I didn’t see it but someone praised out to Jarvis Jones. “Good Jarvis, that’s what we want!”
4. James Harrison blitzes up the A gap. Bell carry off the right side.
5. Williams gets the carry and the defense holds well at the POA. Quick whistle. Cam Thomas held his ground well.
6. Nickel. Blake at LCB, Boykin at RCB, Gay in the slot. Inside zone to the left for D-Will. He showed nice burst to jet away from Garvin though it’s not like the players can tackle out there.
7. Jordan Dangerfield and Alden Darby at safety. Garvin/Wild at ILB. Villanueva seals Conrath, helping to open up a big lane for Jawon Chisholm.
8. Outside zone to the left with Braylon Heard. Jon said Harrison swam over Will Johnson. But it was Ian Wild, flying in to pop Heard.
9. B.W. Webb with a nice ankle tackle on Chisholm up the middle.
10. Holliman jumps in at safety. Jordan Sullen and Doran Grant at CB. Third-team offensive line of Joe Kruger, flipping and playing on the left side now, Mike Thornton, and Niko Davis. Joe Okafor the odd man out. Power O with Wallae pulling right to left. Sean Spence and Webb combine to tackle Heard.
11. Dieffenbach asks to pull. Looked slow and high out of his stance. Host of players gang up on Chisholm but Ian Wild seemed to be the lead dog.
12. Tajh Boyd running out of the pistol. Draw to Archer. Wild, again, on the tackle.
Third 11 on 11
1. Roethlisberger throws a bubble to Martavis Bryant along the right side. Heath Miller had a nice block.
2. Ben Roethlisberger boots to his left, completing the pass to Markus Wheaton.
3. Shamarko Thomas flies in on a safety blitz. Roethlisberger hooks up with Miller on a curl.
4. Grant at LCB, Kevin Fogg at RCB, Webb at safety. Ben checkdown to Le’Veon Bell.
5. Another safety blitz, Robert Golden coming in this time. #7 complete to Brown on a post in front of Doran Grant.
6. Walton and Cam Heyward first team nickel. Deebo and Dupree at OLB, lined up to the same side, aligned on the defense’s left. As we’ve seen at least one other time in camp, Harrison drops, Dupree rushes, and Golden/Webb blitz off the other side. Trying to create that slide protection to the right for the OLBs, have the RB responsible for anything away, then put him in conflict by sending two DBs.
Ben fires deep down the right sideline but overthrows AB.
7. Landry Jones climbs the pocket, Wild pressuring him. Pass complete to Archer as the back leaked out of the backfield. Matt Conrath gave good chase.
8. Jones complete to Archer in the right flat.
9. Shayon Green dips Palmer off the edge. Jones with a nice touch pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, the receiver dropping to his knees and getting his hands under the ball. Pass over Wild’s hand.
10. Davis and Kruger in as the nickel ends. Jones with good zip, hitting DHB on a slant.
11. Wild just misses breaking up the pass from Jones to Hamilton. The slow-footed tight end makes the catch and immediately gets knocked to the ground by Garvin.
12. Wild blitz. Jones complete to Coates on a curl.
Fourth 11 on 11
1. Ball on the 20. Will Johnson in at fullback. Gilbert shoves his man, I think JJ, up the arc. AB runs a corner and gets open, William Gay stumbled, but the pass is overthrown and incomplete.
2. Outside zone to the left. Kelvin Beachum got a nice push on Heyward.
3. Ben one-step fade to AB, who makes the over the shoulder catch at the right, front pylon, over Blake. Poor Blake. Touchdown.
4. Ryan Shazier on a run blitz. Meets Williams in the hole but can’t tackle him. The veteran back jump cuts to the left.
5. Beachum seals Harrison as the 37 year old tried to rip him. Ben to Wheaton in the end zone, touchdown.
6. Maurkice Pouncey put Walton on the ground. Shotgun, draw to Bell.
7. Shayon Green counters inside to beat Kelvin Palmer, who had a rough day. Grabs Landry Jones’ shoulder for the sack.
8. Conrath/McCullers/Hemer the second-team defensive line. Sammie Coates in the slot. Heyward-Bey and Murphy aligned on the outside. Archer then motioned out wide, leaving only Roosevelt Nix as sidecar next to Landry. Quick throw from 3 to Murphy. Wild knocks him down.
9. Draw to Heard. Non-contact but Dangerfield showed good effort to chase him downfield.
10. Joe Okafor finally jumps in at LE, in nickel opposite Davis. Okafor yelled at coaches to get on the ball and he slides down a gap. Then shows no burst off the snap. Jones complete to Heard on an out route to the left. Holliman just missed getting a piece of it. Back-to-back days with near INTs for Holliman. I bet he gets one before camp ends.
11. Dive to Chisholm. Wallace seals Okafor.
12. Jones complete to Doe on a slant in the end zone. Sullen is technically sound but lacks a strong punch to knock the ball out. Shouldn’t be a difficult task against the tiny Doe. Touchdown.
Fifth 11 on 11
1. Miller from Ben down the seam, a soft spot with the safeties getting a lot of depth in their Cover 2. Walton looked to get overextended on his pass rush.
2. Moats holds the POA very well against Johnson, forcing Bell to reverse course and jump inside.
3. Good coverage, Steelers in single high with Thomas playing the Robber. Ben complete to Miller.
4. Smoke screen from Ben to Wheaton. Throw low and away from the receiver, incomplete. Ben is mad, claps his hands in frustration.
5. David DeCastro pulls, sealing his man to open up a hole for Bell.
6. Rainbow down the seam to Matt Spaeth, who – and I hope you’re sitting down – makes an acrobatic, diving catch over Spence. Spaeth was shaken up, falling hard on his shoulder, but jogged back and when I looked at him moments later, he wasn’t getting looked at. Should be fine though I bet that shoulder will be sore in the morning. Glad it’s an off day.
7. Palmer false starts. Jones in pistol with Archer. Finney pulls, kickout block on Wild. Fogg fills the lane.
8. DHB/Coates/Murphy in the slot. Draw to Archer. Nice job by Hubbard to reach the second level and seal Garvin.
9. Boyd attempts a pass down the seam to Murphy. Throw is high and Murphy has to play DB, getting a hand to knock the pass up and over Fogg’s head.
10. Heard rushes up the middle. Mike Mitchell with the hit of the day, laying his right shoulder into the rookie back, stopping the full-speed Heard dead in his tracks and knocking the ball out. Wow.
11. Boyd to Shakim Phillps complete on an out. Boykin pushes him out of bounds.
Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day
“People think jumping off the stage and stagediving is dangerous. But not me. Humans are made out of 95% water. So the audience is 5% away from being a pool.”
Let’s Talk About…
…the Food Network. It’s one of my favorite channels. And last night concluded one of my favorite shows, Food Network Star. I won’t spoil who won, I know the Food Network/Steeler fan demographic is one of our biggest groups, but the person who I was rooting for one. So life is good.
But I still probably won’t watch his show. I don’t watch Food Network to learn. I watch to be entertained. I don’t care how to make a good quiche…unless you only have 30 minutes and a heat gun as your only heat source. Then I’m all in.
I’m what’s wrong with America.
Twitter Fan Question
“chances of Holliman getting cut?”
If you went into stacking your roster blind and didn’t know who was drafted where, Holliman wouldn’t even be a passing thought to make the roster. Not just for the lack of plays but for where he’s running. Behind all the other safeties. He gets rotated in now that the team is getting healthy again, making playing time scant.
I still throw his name out there, in part as a show of good faith for all the criticism I lopped on him before camp. But if we’re talking about who the best players are at safety, and who has shown the most, Wild and Darby are clearly miles ahead. Holliman has gotten a little better, and I did write I think he’s going to finally jump and snag one of these throws before camp is done but too little, too late.
Team as they broke their final huddle of practice.