Day Thirteen! A short week of practices and the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t hit Chuck Noll Field until Sunday. Getting near the end of this adventure, unfortunately. Though there was no tackling today, it was an energetic practice with some great plays on both sides of the ball. Let’s dive in.
– Injury roundup: Lawrence Timmons, Cortez Allen, Jordan Zumwalt, Jesse James, Vince Williams, Ross Ventrone, Robert Golden, and Daniel McCullers were all out today. I could have missed them but I didn’t even see Zumwalt or James on the field, standing around with the other injured players.
Mike Mitchell was in pads but like yesterday, did not participate in team drills.
Markus Wheaton was the big returner of the day, practicing in full and had a great day. C.J. Goodwin also jumped back into team drills, a good sign for him. Matt Spaeth and Heath Miller practiced today, the first time that’s happened since the team has been in pads.
– Sammie Coates and Tajh Boyd were the first players down the steps at 5:05. Dri Archer and Brad Wing followed them shortly after.
– Kenzel Doe and Brandon Boykin were the first Steelers in the return line. Wheaton and Martavis Bryant jumped in late to shag a few balls.
– Ryan Shazier came down wearing his 50 jersey but for whatever reason, threw on Vince Williams’ #98 pads and practiced in that. Funny sight but no idea what the reason is. Some inside joke, probably.
– Second-team offensive line the same as usual. No depth chart changes following the first game. Villanueva-Hubbard-Wallace-Finney-Van Dyk
– Bruce Gradkowski and Daniel McCullers jogged next to each other on the far field. Nice to see McCullers graduating to some light running and also a funny sight to see the QB next to Shade Tree.
I know it’s a shoulder injury but Gradkowski was doing some more aggressive running and cutting today. Maybe getting his conditioning up for when he’s ready to practice, which is hopefully soon.
– For house-keeping, David Nelson wore #15. He came down mid-way through practice. Braylon Heard wore #40 and got team reps. He’s a rookie back out of Kentucky that I vaguely remember liking in my draft notes.
– Tyler Murphy went through individual drills with the receivers and lined up there most of the time today.
– Dri Archer worked with the running backs as they went through some light pass protection drills. Working on squaring up to defenders.
– More zone blocking work for the OL in drills. Two-man pods, blocking and right left, versus different alignments.
– As I wrote yesterday, Shaun Sarrett and Mike Munchak break up the OL into two groups. Today, Sarrett had the tackles and Munchak all the interior guys.
– Mike Tomlin promised we’d see some field goals today and he kept it. Garrett Hartley got a ton of work. I tried to track it as well as I could. Keep in mind the angle we’re at makes it tough to see if the kick is good sometimes.
27 yards – Good
32 yards – Good
32 yards – Good
37 yards – Good
40 yards – Good
32 yards – Good
43 yards – Good
43 yards – Good
56 yards – Miss (short, right)
56 yards – Miss (left)
47 yards – Good
The two 56 yarders were pretty off the mark. Everything else was solid.
– Carnell Lake joined in with Le’Veon Bell and Mike Mitchell to run a few sprints. Antonio Brown and Will Allen ran in another pair while James Harrison, the quiet leader he is, ran by himself, during the special teams period.
– As expected, Sammie Coates served as the upback for Archer. Roosevelt Nix and Ray Hamilton were the wedge.
– In another pairing, Josh Harris was the kick returner while C.J. Goodwin was the upback.
1. James Harrison with a strong rip move, dipping under Kelvin Beachum and winning forcefully yet with ease.
2. Ramon Foster seals Cameron Heyward.
3. Cam Thomas runs through Cody Wallace.
4. David DeCastro anchors Stephon Tuitt.
5. Marcus Gilbert sticks but Arthur Moats with a powerful speed bull rush.
6. They go again and Moats loses his footing coming around the edge.
7. DeCastro wins against Tuitt again, absorbing the defensive end’s punch. Nice day for DeCastro, who took both of his matches against Tuitt.
8. Wallace gets under and manages to anchor Thomas.
9. Heyward puts Foster on skates, walking him back.
10. Harrison with a strong punch to beat Beachum again.
11. Jarvis Jones counters inside and dips past Alejandro Villanueva.
12. Jones shows quick hands and a good punch, beating Villanueva again, this time to the outside.
13. Villanueva takes one of three, winning this one with a good anchor against JJ.
14. Ethan Hemer shows nice hand use, ripping past Chris Hubbard.
15. B.J. Finney sticks to Niko Davis, who disengages but very late in the rep.
16. Hard to tell for sure but appeared Mitchell Van Dyk sealed Anthony Chickillo up the edge. Chickillo might have won late on an inside counter.
17. Van Dyk definitely seals Bud Dupree upfield this time.
18. Finney sticks to Matt Conrath and rides him upfield, spilling into the group of lineman standing behind them.
19. Mike Thornton slips by Reese Dismukes. Happens once every day. Like Novocaine.
20. Hubbard anchors Joe Kruger.
21. Howard Jones beats Villanueva around the edge.
22. Howard Jones tries to bull rush Villanueva but it predictably fails. Villanueva so strong, derives power from his inside leg and no one is going to get him to open the gate.
First 11 on 11
1. Seven shots. Antwon Blake at LCB, Brandon Boykin at RCB, William Gay in the nickel. 11 personnel. Ben Roethlisberger pump fakes to the left and comes back to Heath Miller down the seam, throwing the pas over Shazier’s hand. TD.
2. Steelers running one of their two-point conversion plays, putting Antonio Brown in motion behind the line before releasing him into the right flat. Blake provides good coverage initially, causing Ben to try to look back for any other option – AB is really the only target – and there’s predictably nothing there with either Heyward or Tuitt closing in. Ben keeps to his right and hits Brown as he pivots back inside, boxing out Blake for the score.
3. Motion Martavis Bryant into a nasty split. Josh Harris on a quick angle route and Roethlisberger finds him in the end zone. TD.
4. Arthur Moats jumps in as the second-team inside linebacker with Timmons, Williams, and Zumwalt out. Josh Harris gets the draw off the left side. Big pile but several players throw their arms in their air signaling touchdown, so we’ll give it to them.
5. Empty set. Tyler Murphy slot left. Landry Jones hits him on an out route, easy pitch and catch. TD. Ian Wild came in a blitz.
6. Flood pattern to the right. Good coverage. Jones throws it where he should, high where only his receiver has a chance. Pass is still over Matt Spaeth’s head.
7. Again good coverage. Jones scrambles to his right and tries to squeeze a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, a window that doesn’t exist. Jordan Dangerfield had the breakup.
Second 11 on 11
1. Le’Veon Bell gets the handoff in this non-tackling drill.
Vince Williams Ryan Shazier and Will Allen meet him in the hole. Bell, like he always does, finishes the run, jogging the next ten yards downfield.
2. Bobbled snap under center between Maurkice Pouncey and Landry Jones. Looked like it was Jones’ fault. Has to be at least 15 botched snaps in camp.
3. Shamarko Thomas fills the lane on this inside zone run with DeAngelo Williams.
4. Outside zone to D-Will. Shark comes storming in to attack the edge, producing a loud pop on Roosevelt Nix. Williams shows good vision to bend the run back, finding a crease and popping out the other side.
5. Power run. Looks like Heath Miller missed his down block on Stephon Tuitt, ending up on the ground. Tuitt and Dupree wrap up Williams.
6. Pistol. Draw to D-Will. Defense wins the line of scrimmage, Tuitt and Sean Spence leading the charge.
7. Second-team defensive line the norm. L.T. Walton/Cam Thomas/Ethan Hemer. Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green at OLB, third teamers. Ian Wild and Gerod Holliman at safety and Kevin Fogg/Brandon Boykin at corner. Wild darts in and tackles Josh Harris, tripping the back up. As Jon Ledyard said after practice, every drill for Ian Wild is a tackling drill.
8. Outside run with Harris. Back slips trying to make his cut.
9. Goodwin jumps into team drills. Draw to Jawon Chisholm. Alden Darby makes the tackle.
10. Third-team DL. Matt Conrath/Mike Thornton/Joe Kruger. Defense holds the POA well again and Chisholm has no lane.
11. Heard’s first time in. Mike Tomlin calls out to him, “Alright 40, let’s get it done.” I’m still under the impression it may be Josh Bell, really wishing Tomlin would have called his name. No dice. Turns out it was Heard. Split zone, Matt Spaeth coming across the formation. Moats and Kruger in on the tackle, wrapping up Heard.
12. Tyler Murphy in at QB. Pistol and draw to Archer. Terence Garvin and Matt Conarth hold him up. Bud Dupree jumps on top for good measure.
Third 11 on 11
1. Empty set. But AB and Wheaton are the only two receivers with Will Johnson and Le’Veon Bell split out. Steelers blitz Spence and rotate Shazier over to that side to replace him. Roethlisberger hits Bell along the left side.
2. Boykin blitz. Nothing available for Ben. Thought Bryant should have run away from the defender in this scramble drill, originally running a curl underneath. Could have floated to his right and gotten open. Ben chucks it to the sideline, throwing it away and near the group of reporters and fans in front of the bleachers.
3. Spence blitzes again but Bell picks him up. Roethlisberger complete to Wheaton on an out right near the right sideline.
4. Landry Jones comes in. The team breaks the huddle but he must have seen something he didn’t like, every defender had their hand up to create some confusion, and Jones regroups the huddle. Happened three times Wednesday and was pretty bizarre. This isn’t the first day of camp – we’re on day 13 and a game in. I don’t get it. On the play, the pass is complete to DHB against Kevin Fogg.
5. Harrison and Heyward stunt but it’s picked up well. Jones checks down to Ray Hamilton, who makes his first catch in drills.
6. Jones re-huddles again. Defense brings a corner blitz. Jones makes his best throw, a gorgeous deep out along the left side to Shakim Phillips, who gets both feet inbounds. James Harrison couldn’t drop fast enough and was unable to break it up.
7. Roethlisberger follows it up with his best throw. A rope deep down the right sideline to Markus Wheaton. Gerod Holliman, and I don’t blame the rookie here, can’t close. 66 yard touchdown. Ball was in the air for probably about 46 of them.
8. Big Ben complete to AB on a curl.
9. Keith Butler getting fancy, dropping Ethan Hemer into practice. Shayon Green, also to that side, drops. I think there was at least one DB coming from the other side. Archer lined up slot left and Ben hits him, Green shoving the back out of bounds.
10. Tajh Boyd comes in and fires down the seam to Hamilton. Pass is incomplete.
11. Boyd complete to Spaeth. Garvin can’t knock the ball loose. Villanueva had good stunt pickup.
12. Boyd throws low to Phillips, who can’t get under the ball and it’s incomplete. Not an easy catch but I’d classify it as a drop. Sean Spence getting some serious depth on the play.
Fourth 11 on 11
1. Playaction. Roethlisberger fires a comeback to Antonio Brown, who leaps and makes the grab. William Gay knocks him out of bounds.
2. Shark comes in on a blitz. Ben rolls to his right, throwing to Wheaton as receiver runs parallel to quarterback. Nice diving snag by Wheaton, catching the ball away from his body, and completing the grab as he falls hard on his left shoulder. He had an awfully nice first day back. Didn’t miss a beat and ran in 2 WR sets over Bryant.
3. Playaction. These receivers are making plays. Heath Miller reels in a circus one-handed grab down the right seam.
4. Outside zone to Williams. Tuitt and Dupree do a nice job defending it, Dupree not getting overaggressive but closing quickly once the cutback option is gone, and they combine on the wrap up.
5. Roethlisberger hard count gets Tuitt to jump offsides. Ben thinks about taking a shot deep but thinks against it, hitting Bell in the right flat.
6. Pass complete from 7 to 84 on a curl. Brown gets upfield immediately. True desire for the end zone, jogging the last 50 yards by himself and crossing the goal line.
7. Sammie Coates leaps and nice a makes adjustment from this Landry Jones throw on a skinny post. Catch in traffic in front of Anthony Chickillo, who is just a tick late. Coates came down awkwardly and limped back to the huddle, saying something to Mike Tomlin, but didn’t mess a rep. Managed to walk it off and he should be no worse for wear.
8. Harris spins away from Cam Thomas at the line, turning a loss into a short gain.
9. Moats comes in up the middle. Must have been tired of not getting to touch the QB in practice, tugging and Jones’ shoulder pad. Pass is complete though I failed to log the receiver. My bad.
10. Outside zone to the right to Heard. Shazier fights through the trash, making the tackle.
11. Villanueva good push in the run game on Kruger. Maybe a slight hold but eh, we’ll let it slide. Chisholm on the carry and cutbacks. Finishes the run at the end.
12. Harris on the carry. Shazier doing his best Vince Williams impressing, taking on the Nix lead block and working off of it, wrapping Harris up.
Fifth 11 on 11
1. Team prepping for the game. Two minute drill with the first team offense. Shazier blitzes and Moats drops. Nothing there again for Ben, who is forced to throw this pass away. Butler’s aggressive defense putting in some good work.
2. Roethlisberger intended for Bell on the left side. Bell has a rare drop.
3. Ben complete over the middle to Heath Miller. William Gay can’t rip the ball away.
4. Cam Heyward, don’t know if he beat someone or if there was a protection breakdown, runs in free. Ben ducks under him and doesn’t even try to keep the play alive, knowing he’s been had. Burns the only timeout he has.
5. Fire X blitz is picked up well. Roethlisberger complete to Brown on an out route. Blake in coverage but he had no chance to defend the throw.
6. Doran Grant in at LCB. Bryant motioned to a nasty split and a quick one step throw to Bryant. Complee for a short gain.
7. Ben spikes the ball.
8. Priceless moment. There’s confusion over what down it is, 3rd or 4th. Defenders yelling at Tomlin, standing on the sideline nearest the fans, looking for confirmation. This is how the conversation goes between Shazier and Coach T.
“What down is it?”
*Tomlin holding up three fingers* Third!”
“What?!? *Shazier throws his hands over his face in exaggerated disbelief*
But third down it is. Slant/flat combination with the pass going to AB on a slant. Grant wraps but the route is too quick for him to make a play on the ball. First down.
10. Ben to Brown complete on a curl. Catch is at the one.
11. Ben, like he did in an earlier practice, fakes the spike. He and Brown aren’t on the same page and Brown doesn’t move, Roethlisberger’s fade falling harmlessly incomplete.
12. Ben’s pass to Miller might be a little in front but off the tight end’s hands int he end zone. Drops by Bell and Heath on the same drive – rare.
13. Another slant to Brown. Spence can’t break it up and it’s a touchdown.
Sixth 11 on 11
1. Second team’s opportunity. Dupree beats Johnson off the edge. Jones complete to Sammie Coates.
2. The team hurries back to the line but for whatever reason, Jones burns his timeout. I don’t know if he had two, like usual, or if Tomlin only gave him one.
3. Harrison drops into the middle of the field. Sitting, waiting, reading the QB. Jones inexplicably never sees him and tries to fire it over the middle. Harrison gets his right hand on the ball but it’s incomplete. Apparently if Harrison hadn’t touched it, Dupree would’ve had an easy pick. Bad read for Jones.
4. Jones does follow it up with good ball placement to the outside shoulder complete to Tyler Murphy. Harrison ripped under Villanueva.
5. Jones spikes the ball.
6. Hamilton may have been confused because per Jon, never moved off the snap. Dupree scot free and “sacks” Jones.
7. B.W. Webb squashes the offense’s threat with a pick on a curl route. Ouch. Jones wound up on the ground. Deebo apparently hit him. Double ouch.
Landry Jones has now thrown 7 INTs in camp.
Mitch Hedberg Joke Of The Day
“I think Pringles initial intention was to make tennis balls. But on the day the rubber was supposed to show up, a big truckload of potatoes arrived.”
Let’s Talk About
…Sheetz’s that don’t have a kitchen. These places exist and it makes me mad. Went to one after practice and bam, no kitchen. It’s basically just another gas station. Who allows this to take place? Get your act together, Sheetz. This isn’t the America I signed up for.
Twitter Fan Question
@use_your_logic replies to my tweet about Butler’s blitz packages…
“a lot different than Lebeaus?”
Blitz concepts are so hard to right about. I’m not intelligent enough to really describe it in proper football vernacular (I’m working on that part). And with all the pre-snap movement, it’s tough to tell exactly what’s going on. That’s kind of the point.
I will say, as I’ve written about before, Butler is bringing DBs more than Dick LeBeau ever did. Either just one DB or some overloads. In that regard, it’s different.
In general, we are seeing his own stamp. The depth the MIKE backers are getting. And some different defensive line shifts that are brand new. Hope to do a post on that soon.
SVC Is Beautiful Picture
Steelers defensive backs in a prayer circle after practice.