Day seven of training camp. The heat has broken, it’s been considerably cooler the last two days, and tomorrow’s practice is what stands between the team having their first off day in a week.
Let’s jump into today’s notes.
– Injury roundup: Back practicing in full today were: Gerod Holliman, Jarvis Jones, Ramon Foster, and Will Allen, the safety’s first practice of camp. Sure the lack of depth there was part of the decision to dress #20, who ran as the first team safety.
Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon were in pads but were very limited. Both looked just fine, though. Should be no worries about either of them.
Ryan Shazier, Shamarko Thomas, and Josh Harris, all who left practice early Saturday, were held out today. Based solely off their appearance and body language, all seemed fine.
James Harrison continues to work in sweats. DeAngelo Williams was out for the second straight practice while Heath Miller got a seemingly scheduled day of rest. Mike Mitchell is also still out with a hamstring injury. Ditto for Markus Wheaton, who did catch stationary passes from Ben Roethlisberger after practice.
Foster did not finish today’s practice with a shoulder injury suffered in 11 on 11. Left shoulder that was wrapped. Tajh Boyd went down on one play and got looked at but was able to finish practice.
– Senquez Golson continues to do some light running on the side.
– You’ve probably already seen the news that Ross Scheuerman was waived/injured with Jawon Chisholm signed in his place. As I tweeted out, I’ve kept in touch with Chisholm throughout the offseason. He told me Pittsburgh was the organization he wanted to come to and I’m really happy he’s gotten the chance. He practiced in full today, as did newly acquired Brandon Boykin. Boykin’s snaps were pretty limited and I didn’t learn a ton about him today. He played on the outside as a left and right corner.
– Offensive line groupings from the second and third team from what they did in warmups.
Second Team: Villanueva-Hubbard-Dismukes-Dieffenbach-Van Dyk
Third Team: Whimpey-Rahrig-Dismukes-Finney-Palmer
– Mike Tomlin paid a watchful eye to the tight ends on the sleds. Cameron Clear had a good block on it, leading the coach to respond, “Oooh, that sounds good!”
– Watched the DBs in individuals. Jordan Sullen doesn’t have the quick feet you see in guys like William Gay. Little bit slower, maybe a little stiffer player.
– Ian Wild moves a lot better than I anticipated. You wouldn’t know he was a linebacker by watching him play now.
– Kevin Fogg is a really good athlete with some quicks.
– Love watching Antwon Blake in these drills. So quick, smooth, no hint of stiffness to his game. Love the Boykin deal but a little disappointed Blake is getting shuffled as the #4 CB.
– I’m not trying to lay into Gerod Holliman for the sake of criticism, I’ve barely talked about him at all in my notes, but man, I just feel like this guy is going half-speed in drills. I hate to use this word but I don’t see the urgency with him. Watching him work in tandem with Wild in drills, you can easily tell Wild is going harder. Holliman always walks back to the sidelines, never jogs. All bad body language.
– Special teams period. We have hangtimes!
Brad Wing: 4.25, 4.73, 3.74, 4.72, 4.33, 4.29, 4.72, 4.28, 4.59, 4.13, 4.92, 3.48
Jordan Berry: 3.13, 3.01, 4.66, 4.23, 4.80, 4.84, 4.76, 3.48, 4.24, 3.98, 4.79
You can tell Wing has the better leg of the two. Ball just jumps off his foot quicker. Berry has some decent hangtimes, and his punts might be a little harder to catch because they’re not spirals, but he had some real clunkers in there, too. Never a good sign and Wing was the clear winner of the two today.
– Eli Rogers and Dri Archer were the two return men with Antonio Brown jumping in late for the final one of the drill. Rogers did have a couple mistakes. Once, he let the ball bounce in front of him and it hit him in the leg. Tomlin gave him a couple pointers.
On another, trying to catch one of Berry’s end-over-end punts, he let the ball go right through his hands. Credit to Sammie Coates, one of the gunners, for settling next to him and immediately scooping up the loose ball. That was a heads up play.
– Robert Golden was the starting upback with Ian Wild the backup. Some of the gunners I saw: Isaiah Lewis, B.W. Webb, Dorant Grant, Kevin Fogg, the aforementioned Coates, and Brandon Boykin.
– End of practice never feels like it. Still so much going on. Defense running up-downs, quarterbacks/receivers throwing to each other, guys on the jugs machine, running gassers across the width of the field, love the extra work these guys top to bottom – from Ben to any of the UDFAs – are putting in. Have to appreciate that.
– Secondary and receivers worked in combination. Three defenders over two receivers. Definitely some Cover 2 looks in the sense of the outside corner jamming, sinking, and then breaking on anything underneath. But keep in mind it’s very rare to run a strict Cover or Tampa 2. Lots of variations that tend to involve pattern reading.
You can even have something like Cover 3 Cloud with one of the corners squatting, making it look like Cover 2 to that side when it really isn’t.
– Brief notes I took during the drill.
– My lone note on Boykin. Did see him punch with the wrong hand against AB, who ended up catching the pass right over Boykin’s noggin.
– Darrius Heyward-Bey had a drop and failed to jump on another pass that was broken up by Fogg.
– Offensive lineman worked in pods on stunt pickup.
– In LB vs RB/TE coverage drills, Jarvis Jones and Terence Garvin recorded interceptions.
– They were again on the middle field but here’s what I was able to write in the OL/DL drills.
1. Kelvin Beachum continues his dominance of Shayon Green, shoving the linebacker to the ground as he tried to dip upfield.
2. Chris Hubbard anchors against the much bigger Clifton Geathers.
3. Cam Thomas leverages Cody Wallace, getting under his pad resulting in the center getting upright, but Wallace is able to hold on just enough.
4. Stephon Tuitt has a strong punch against David DeCastro but the guard keeps his hands inside and is able to slide laterally with the defensive end.
5. Arthur Moats dips and wins to the inside versus Marcus Gilbert.
6. Gilbert gets revenge, winning in part due to a strong initial punch.
7. They go at each other for the third time in a row and Gilbert wins the tiebreaker, showing a wide base and ability to anchor vs the OLB.
8. Tuitt beats DeCastro, swimming over as the guard bends at the waist.
9. Tuitt starts to walk DeCastro back but #66 holds on.
10. Wallace holds off Thomas initially but the defensive end wins with a late swim.
11. Hubbard is able to mirror Geathers, who unsuccessfully tries to rip under him. Hard to get lower against the comparatively squatty Hubbard.
12. Beachum is able to do similar to Howard Jones, who tries to win inside and rip. Beachum may have held the linebacker, however.
13. Joe Kruger gets full arm extension. Been impressed with his initial punch. Miles Dieffenbach does double over but is able to recover well enough.
14. Daniel McCullers, like he’s done all of camp, runs Reese Dismukes over. It was a KO.
15. Coaches reset them again. This time, Dismukes wins, and McCullers flails to the ground at the center’s feet. Shade Tree gets to his feet and the two get in each other’s faces before McCullers takes a right hook to Dismukes’ helmet. Like, a Deacon Jones head slap. Dismukes gives him a shove back before the coaches break it up.
16. Coaches want to see it for a third time. McCullers. Is. Pissed. Nothing fancy here. Straight bull rush who moves Dismukes straight back. And back. And back. Dismukes put on skates, had to have gone ten yards in reverse before McCullers finally relents.
17. B.J. Finney is able to win against Matt Conrath, who tries but is unable to rip past. Conrath needs to develop another move. Feels like that’s all he does.
18. Mike Thornton bull rushes Dismukes, who can’t re-anchor and has his feet go off the ground.
19. Ethan Hemer with a real nice swim over Dieffenbach.
20. Anthony Chickillo wins with an inside spin against Alejandro Villanueva.
21. Chickillo tries the same move but Villanueva engulfs him…maybe holds him too but hey, there’s no flags in this drill.
22. Couldn’t exactly see how it happened but Niko Davis whipped Collin Rahrig pretty good.
23. The two reset and Davis gets good arm extension to run through Rahrig.
24. Finney anchors versus Geathers.
25. Conrath goes back to the rip and once again, it fails, this time against Dieffenbach.
26. Bud Dupree looked a little too tall off the edge and Kelvin Palmer manages to seal him.
27. Dupree tries to rush inside and then counter with a spin to the outside. Palmer does a decent enough job to mirror it all. But love the effort and the fact Dupree has shown several counters and initial rushes. Not just running up the arc. He’s realizing the importance of variety fast and that’s nice to see.
28. Kevin Whimpey shows knee bend and is able to absorb HoJo’s rush.
29. Jones tries to swim over Whimpey this time but the left tackle seals.
30. Mixed signals as Whimpey and Rahrig block at the same time. Think it was Whimpey’s fault for thinking he was going to go again. Not even sure who the rusher was but it was a busted play.
31. Thornton schools Finney, easily swimming over him.
32. Thortnon stacks impressive plays, dipping and ripping that right shoulder underneath Finney. Made Finney look bad.
33. Third time Finney and Thornton are pitted against each other. Finney finally wins, anchoring Thornton’s bull rush.
34. Diffenbach wins versus Kruger.
35. Chickillo, who is rushing with his hand down, shows solid bend to get around Palmer.
36. Chickillo, again rushing with his hand in the dirt, can’t gain the edge this time and then unsuccessfully tries to rip under. But it was a nice attempt.
First 11 on 11
1. Seven shots, as the team always starts off. Will Allen/Robert Golden starting safeties. Defense opens up in nickel with the usual trio of Antwon Blake, Cortez Allen, and William Gay in the slot. Antonio Brown, however, is lined up in the slot with Eli Rogers split out wide to the other side. He runs a quick out route in front of Blake, catching the pass for a touchdown via Ben Roethlisberger.
2. Ben’s next throw over the middle is behind AB. Good, physical coverage from Sean Spence. Ben wanted a flag. Typical quarterback.
3. Rogers and Brown run a slant/flat combination to the right side. Well defender initially but Roethlisberger is afforded a clean pocket and simply waits for Brown to cross the underneath linebackers’ face and hits him under the goalposts.
4. Second team corners. Kevin Fogg at LCB, Doran Grant RCB, B.W. Webb in the slot. Fade to the left back pylon for Sammie Coates. Grant, who doesn’t look back to the ball, smartly watches the receivers’ eyes and puts a hand up as he sees the receiver extend for it. Breaks it up.
5. Jesse James lines up in the slot and he runs a slant/flat. Landry Jones, seeing the mismatch against Alden Darby, fires it into the right back corner. James must have thought he was running out of room because he slows up like he’s trying to stay inbounds despite having plenty of room. Causes him to pop the ball up into the air initially but he comes down with it a second time and secures the ball while going to the ground.
6. Boykin makes his first appearance, lining up at LCB, running with the third team. Terence Garvin breaks up a pass intended for Rob Blanchflower.
7. Dive to Cameron Stingily. Cam Thomas crashes through but just misses, clapping his hands after the play. Stingily busts through the right A gap and into the end zone.
Second 11 on 11
1. Ball is placed on the defense’s 20. Roosevelt Nix and Stingily in the backfield. Run Lead Strong off left tackle. Ramon Foster had a good block but Nix whiffed bad and wound up blocking no one.
2. Pistol with Landry Jones. Pitch to Archer. Jarvis Jones comes flying in to blow it up, creating the tackle for loss.
3. Heyward-Bey motioned to a “nasty” split next to the tight end or tackle, don’t remember if there was a TE to that side. Foster pulls to kick out the EMOL with Stingily carrying the rock. Foster got hurt on this play and was replaced by Hubbard.
4. Stingily does a decent enough job to plant and get upfield. Defense controls the POA well with Jones and Moats flying in to sandwich him.
5. Not sure who had the carry here. Again, the DL does a nice job at the LOS. Sean Spence had a loud tackle.
6. Finney is now the second-team RG. Jawon Chisholm gets his first carry as a Steeler and Isaiah Lewis promptly greets him with a big hit in the hole. Nice alley fill from the safety.
7. Archer on a run to the left side. Vince Williams tries to fill the lane but Archer scoots past. Looks like he’s going to score but Ian Wild, blitzing from the backside, shows tremendous hustle and better speed to chase Archer down, diving out to nip the back by the ankles. Falls down at the two for an 18 yard gain.
8. Shotgun draw to Chisholm. Ethan Hemer breaks through to tackle him for a loss.
9. Nix with a solid lead block. Hubbard seals McCullers. Villanueva doesn’t have as much success and he ends up on the ground. Archer with the carry off the left side for a short gain.
10. Dieffenbach now at right guard with the second-team. Pistol with Tyler Murphy at QB. Chisholm shows good vision to cutback and Terence Garvin is forced to make an open field, and probably touchdown saving, tackle.
11. Shayon Green gets a good push on this run. Might have come vs Blanchflower. Keeps Stingily inside.
12. Draw to Stingily. Nice jump cut in the hole, met by several defenders who bring him down.
13. Coates looks confused on where he’s supposed to line up or what his assignment is, looking back at Todd Haley. Tajh Boyd checks to Dri Archer. Lewis makes a diving ankle tackle.
14. Boykin back in at LCB. Matt Conrath makes a positive play, getting the initial penetration. Chisholm is forced to turn inside and someone else cleans it up.
15. Now Finney is at center. Slow developing play, doesn’t feel crisp, and Chickillo/Green meet in the backfield. Boyd got hit or rolled up on, something, and goes down on this play. He would be ok, thankfully.
Third 11 on 11
1. Landry Jones’ quick throw is behind Heyward-Bey. Poor throw that most quarterbacks will routinely make.
2. Pistol. Robert Golden blitzes with Moats dropping into coverage. Jones is able to hook up with DHB on a dig.
3. Cortez Allen blitzes with Archer in “pickup.” Jones looks Heyward-Bey’s way again but like the other day, DHB never breaks his route off against a blitz. Haley talks to him as the receiver jogs back to the huddle.
4. Garvin blitzes and Archer really doesn’t have much of a chance to pick him up. Tyler Murphy tucks and runs.
5. Lewis and Alden Darby are the second team safeties. Dupree got a great jump against Mitchell Van Dyk. Murphy is forced to climb the pocket and winds up finding Eli Rogers over the middle.
6. Murphy complete to Shakim Phillips on a drag. Phillips came across the field from a Trips Bunch look to the right.
7. Jones finds Spaeth. Doran Grant finishes the play in this non-tackling drill, popping the tight end pretty good with his shoulder.
8. Defensive line: Conrath/Thornton/Davis. Jones fires it in to Devin Gardner on a skinny post, who crosses Jordan Sullen’s face. Nice play from Gardner, who had been quiet leading into today.
9. Pass. Nothing open immediately as Jones starts to slide to his left. Coates breaks his route off and then sort of…stops. Needs to come back to the ball much harder and make himself a target for his QB. Another rookie mistake, a teachable moment. Pass is incomplete.
10. Heavy blitz, Keith Butler really sent the house. Knowing this, Doran Grant can play a little more aggressively and steps in front of the receiver’s curl, picking it off and taking it to the house. Boyd threw it. High IQ play from Grant, who had a great day.
11. Murphy completes a dig to Gardner. For whatever reason, Lawrence Timmons lays a big hit on Gardner at the very end.
12. Boykin now in at right corner. Cam Thomas bats down Murphy’s pass.
Fourth 11 on 11
1. Roosevelt Nix and Sean Spence with a violent collision in the hole and the fullback puts Spence on the ground. Chisholm got the carry.
2. Clifton Geathers does a wonderful job of stacking and shedding Beachum, reaching out and swallowing up Chisholm.
3. First team defensive line of Tuitt/Thomas/Geathers. Ben throws a speed out to Heyward-Bey as Timmons rushes on a blitz. Gay tackles DHB.
4. Giving the fullback some love. Nix gets the carry on a dive up the gut.
5. Robert Golden did a nice job in run support to fight through the trash and I thought tackle Stingily. They both get lost in the pile of bodies and somehow, Stingily squirts out through the group, just unable to stay on his feet to break into the open field.
Tomlin is naturally excited, hooting and hollering as Stingily walks back to the line, smacking him on the rear.
6. Third and one. Lead strong with Chisholm getting upfield and getting the first down. Nothing fancy and you have to appreciate that from Chisholm.
Fifth 11 on 11
1. Ball on the defense’s 20. Jones throws it incomplete between DHB and Will Johnson. No clue where the ball was supposed to go.
2. Outside zone to the left. Timmons comes flying in and could’ve lit up Le’Veon Bell but smartly backs off. Have to protect #26. Jesse James had a great second level block on Spence.
3. Jones forces a throw into the end zone, intended for Sammie Coates on a post that is well behind. Cortez Allen easily picks it off.
4. Jones complete on a curl to Cameron Clear. Will Allen pops him.
5. Hubbard and James pull on a Power O. Bell with the tote.
6. Hubbard is again pulling. Stingily on a draw. Slow to plant but finally gets upfield and topples over Tuitt, who brings him down.
7. Vince Williams comes flying across the field, destroying Chisholm as the back just start to gets upfield. Williams is a violent, violent man.
8. Murphy finds Archer open on a wheel route to the right side.
9. L.T. Walton either came in unblocked or fought off someone, helping to blow up this run.
10. Bad read from Murphy. Wants to hit Phillips in the left corner of the end zone but locks on. Was good coverage and Howard Jones dropped to become the overhang defender. Murphy needs to get off that read. Throws it anyway and Jones bats it down. Nearly had the pick.
11. Chisholm receives the carry. That’s all I got. Sorry.
12. Conrath, using that 6’7 frame, bats Murphy’s throw down.
Sixth 11 on 11
1. Special treat. Goal line period. Cam Thomas gets penetration. Think Bell managed to score. Hard to tell.
2. Playaction. All 11 defenders bite. Roethlisberger sold it well like the veteran he is. Matt Spaeth is wide open in the right flat as Ben floats one to him for the TD.
3. DeCastro and Johnson pull with Stingily in tow. Vince Williams stuffs the rookie back at the one.
4. Chisholm does a nice job reading the hats of the defenders, planting to get square, upfield, and scores.
5. Lead Strong. Nix was technically sound, attacking the inside shoulder of Garvin and sealing him out. Stingily runs in behind for a touchdown. Think Clear had a good block, too. Got a pat on the helmet from one of the coaches.
Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day
“If you go to the grocery store. and stare at the lunchmeat section too long, you start to get pissed off at turkeys. You see turkey ham, turkey pastrami, turkey bologna. Somebody needs to tell the turkeys, man just be yourself.”
Let’s Talk About…
…Ronda Rousey. There isn’t an athlete that is more dominant in their sport right now than her. How long would you last in the ring with her? I give myself roughly .8 seconds, entirely consisting of me screaming and crying while unsuccessfully attempting to flee the arena.
Twitter Fan Question
Today’s comes from @tawes.
#steeelers keeping a FB on practice squad? Definitely moved on from Arians.”
Nix has done well the last two days but I don’t think it’s enough. You’d like to have guys who are versatile, can wear a lot of different hats, and that’s in large part what makes Will Johnson so valuable. Remember, the practice squaders also help run your scout team and a one-dimensional blocking fullback isn’t going to need to be mimicked many times during the regular season. With guys like Jesse James and Cameron Clear being good enough blockers, and the fact all these tight ends are taught to line up in a three point stance like a fullback, there isn’t a need to keep a “true” one at the position.