Steelers’ Training Camp Diary: Day 11

Day Two of Two, wrapping up the Pittsburgh Steelers’ joint practice with the Detroit Lions. Another solid day of practice, though a bit unspectacular, but I gotta say, I played hurt today. And I’m pretty sure I injured myself in the dumbest way possible, pulling a muscle reaching down for a pen on the bleacher below me during yesterday’s practice. Now, I feel like James Harrison pummeled me into the ground. Please proceed to make fun of me. It’s what Darwin would want.

Also, the world’s worst drivers were out today, including some dude who merged through an intersection because he was in a right turn only lane. But he was bigger than me so I didn’t do anything, I’m a pacifist because I’m small. You could burn down my house and if you’re like, 5’8, I’d probably say, you know what, I had too many things anyway. 

Anyway, enough about me. Onto today!

– Steelers’ Nation was in full force today. Got to practice later than usual and there were hardly any seats left in the bleachers. Surprised me for a late practice on a Wednesday.

– Injury roundup: lots of Steelers out. Travis Feeney and Bud Dupree still remain out and Dupree was in shorts, he was in pads yesterday, so some planned/unplanned regression there. Markus Wheaton was out entirely though he did some light running on the turf field away from us. Jerald Hawkins (shoulder), Maurkice Pouncey (unknown, probably rest), Artie Burns (quad), and Jarvis Jones (unknown) all sat out entirely. No sight of Roy Philon who suffered an ankle injury yesterday and Mike Tomlin all but ruled out today.

Ben Roethlisberger and Marcus Gilbert returned to practice in full.

Group seemed pretty healthy though David Johnson injured his right leg late in practice, falling to the ground as AB darted in and out on a pass. He didn’t take a rep after that and walked around the field gingerly though never sought medical attention. But if he sits out Friday, you’ll have a good idea why.

– Hawkins spent time before practice chatting up Alan Faneca.

– Return line. Eli Rogers, Levi Norwood, Demarcus Ayers, and Cobi Hamilton. Antonio Brown jumped in for one punt return, a full return with coverage. That’s his first of camp.

– Special teams began the day and I took note of all three of the Steelers’ punt return units.

First Team: L.J. FortAnthony ChickilloSteven JohnsonRoosevelt NixVince WilliamsRobert Golden. Shamarko Thomas/Ross Ventrone as one set of jammers, Montell Garner/Kevin White the other.

Second Team: Tyler MatakevichArthur MoatsSean DavisPaul LangFitzgerald Toussaint-David Johnson. Doran Grant/Sammie Coates one set of jammers, and again, Garner/White the other pairing.

Third Team: Cameron StingilyRay VinopalMike ReillyJacob HagenJavon HargraveJordan Zumwalt. Issac Blakeney, Marcus Tucker, and Donald Washington as jammers. Am missing one guy from this unit.

In the return duty, Tomlin yelled out from across the field for Hamilton to get under and square to a punt. On the play, he sprinted far to his left and tried to catch it sideways, letting the ball slip through his hands.

Danny Smith offered up praise to Levi Norwood at the end of one return. “That’s the way to finish!”

– For the Lions, Ziggy Ansah and Wallace Gilberry played soccer with a football to bide their time. Ansah was a big soccer guy growing up, if I’m not mistaken.

Xavier Grimble continues to improve on the blocking sleds. Had one nice rep and Tomlin, always watchful of this drill, slapped him on the helmet.

– Tomlin to Michael Cooper: “Eyes up, see what you hit.” Cooper has come a long ways since day one but still not there.

– Tomlin to Paul Lang, after the tight end generated some power. “That’s a good lick. That’s a good lick.”

– One on one notes. Today, like I said, the goal was to watch the defense. I watched the LBs take on the RBs/TEs in backs-on-backers. So Steelers’ D vs Lions’ O.

1. Ryan Shazier tosses down Theo Riddick. Clean win.

2. OLB Mike Reilly with an impressive rep, swimming over Matthew Mulligan.

3. Inside linebacker L.J. Fort swims over Stevan Ridley.

4. Veteran Arthur Moats dips under FB Michael Burton.

5. RB George Winn goes for a ride on the Vince Williams’ expressway, the linebacker getting under his pads and driving him back. Winn does stick but loses his balance and it definitely didn’t look pretty.

6. Lions get their first clean win of the drill, Cole Wick stopping Riley.

7. Dirty Red, the man, the myth, the legend, stings together two potent moves against Zach Zenner. Swims over him to the outside and when Zenner slides to defend the edge, Tyler Matakevich spins back inside and dusts him.

8. Moats wins again, knocking tight end Adam Fuehne’s hands down and then blowing past.

9. Anthony Chickillo matched up with Burton. Swims over and then dips under to beat him.

10. ILB Lawrence Timmons with a good bull rush on someone. Not sure who.

11. Tight end Charles Orson puts Reilly in the ground.

12. Fort’s bull rush fails. Again, don’t have who the Lion was.

13. Jordan Zumwalt starts outside and then shakes inside, dipping under the 6’6 Wick.

14. Riddick is square to Steven Johnson and initially absorbs the linebacker’s bull rush. But Johnson shows good hand use and sheds as Riddick goes into the ground.

15. Winn gets some revenge and seals Vince Williams.

16. Moats with a decent, but not overly powerful bull rush. I think it came against rookie tight end Ben McCord. Not 100% sure.

17. Zenner gets revenge too on Matakevich. Lot of energy and hand fighting from the 7th rounder but none of it works.

18. Fort dips under Mulligan.

19. Matakevich goes one more time and tries to spin inside and Burton sticks to him and buries him into the ground.

– One on one notes. Lions’ offensive line, Steelers’ defensive line and outside linebackers.

1. Moats kicks things off, dipping inside and past left tackle Riley Reiff.

2. Big ‘ol Larry Warford seals Stephon Tuitt.

3. Rookie sensation Javon Hargrave with a sick push/pull move on center Travis Swanson, throwing him into the ground as Hargrave scoots on past.

4. Rookie Taylor Decker handles Moats’ speed bull well.

5. Zumwalt with no chance of cornering against Michael Ola, sealed upfield at ease.

6. L.T. Walton tries his favorite move, ripping under Geoff Schwartz, but it fails. Very late in the rep, Walton makes the slowest spin move ever and Schwartz just lets him go.

7. Daniel McCullers sheds rookie Graham Glasgow late.

8. Reilly can’t corner either and Laken Tomlinson seals him up the arc.

9. I think it’s Devaunte Sigler who loses the rep, unable to get low and get upfield.

10. Again, Zumwalt tries to win the edge. And again, loses, the 6’8 Luke Marquardt pushing up the arc.

11. Sigler is in line to go again but false starts and is kicked out of his rep. Caushaud Lyons takes advantage, flashing quick hands and swimming over Chase Farris.

12. Lavon Hooks dips under Joe Dahl late after an unsuccessful bull rush.

13. UDFA Johnny Maxey’s spin move fails, working against Dahl.

14. Fellow UDFA Giorgio Newberry, very quiet in our reports, fails to rip under OT Corey Robinson.

15. Reiff handles Moats’ speed bull rush well.

16. Heyward works through Warford. Wins the rep.

17. Swanson handles Hargrave’s bull rush. If there’s a move Hargrave needs to work on, it’s that. He’s quick off the ball but struggles to sustain that power.

18. Heyward wins again, ripping under and past Tomlinson.

19. Decker with another W as Moats tries another bull rush.

– We’ll get to the full 11 on 11s shortly but here are some of my more-than-usual scribbles while observing some other team drills I wasn’t paying full attention to you. The “in the margins” section of this article because quite literally, these notes were all jotted down in the margins of my notes.

– What I am now guessing is the third team line: Villanueva-Finney-Ume-Ezeoke-Feiler-Mihalik

Mihalik also worked as 2nd team RT for parts of practice, filling in for the injured Hawkins.

Alex Carter had a nice breakup on an attempted flag route to Sammie Coates.

– In one team drill, Bruce Gradkowski launched a fade down the right side to Issac Blakeney, who made a sick one-handed grab with his right mitt, bringing the pass in down the sideline. As impressive a play as there’s been in several days. Complete over Carter.

– Eli Rogers kicked the offensive team drills off with two long gainers on crossing routes.

– Just one example, and I don’t have a great feel for how things went the entire day, but Hubbard/Mihalik had one textbook stunt pickup. I think the OL was better overall after getting beat up yesterday.

– Wide receiver Golden Tate caught a fade over William Gay in the left corner of the end zone.

– Donald Washington spent some downtime talking to Wallace Gilberry. Someone better tell Washington that’s a no-no in Pittsburgh.

– The Steelers’ 7 on 7 session was pretty sloppy. Cooper, Cameron Stingily, and Hamilton all had drops.

Christian Powell dropped an easy checkdown from Gradkowski. Powell’s hands have been an issue in camp and he’s struggled to catch the football cleanly.

– Chris Hubbard spent time late in practice at right tackle. In 11 practices, he has seen team drill work at all five spots, the only linemen to do so.

– Hamilton did make up for his earlier drop with a sweet catch in the following team drill. Keith Lewis knocked the football out but Hamilton kept his eyes on it and brought it in on the left sideline.

– Ok, onto the full 11 on 11 sessions I paid attention to. Started by watching the Lions’ offense against the Steelers’ defense.

First Session

1. Zenner gets the carry on an inside zone. James Harrison meets him in the hole a couple yards downfield.

2. Zenner with the carry again and Moats comes across to be the first man to meet him. Zenner runs through, Robert Golden and Mike Mitchell taking their turns to bop him.

3. Stephon Tuitt  is unblockable, running through the guard and fullback Burton, blowing this run to Zenner up in the backfield.

*4. Not to be outdone, Heyward gets penetration as Zenner receives another carry.

5. Ridley with a decent gainer along the right side. Bunch of bodies pile up in the middle, including Harrison.

6. Williams and Fort meet Ridley near the LOS, Fort being the one to knock him down.

7. Another carry for Ridley.

8. Montell Garner may have lost his run fill on the edge but to his credit, he defeats Jay Lee’s block, ducking under and wrapping up Ridley as the back tries to cut to his left.

9. Winn with a carry off the left side.

10. Nice job by Maxey to hold the POA and he pushes Winn down for the TFL.

11. Steven Johnson meets rookie Dwayne Washington in the hole on this carry up the middle.

12. Washington again gets the carry off the left side when it’s again Garner wrapping him up.

Second Session

– Still watching the Steelers’ defense.

1. William Gay breaks up this throw to Marvin Jones.

2. Looks like rookie Cole Wick makes a nice one-handed grab on an over route working against Ryan Shazier.

3. Lions’ fake the draw and throw a bubble to Tate as Sean Davis comes in on a blitz. Timmons is the first one over but it’s non-contact. Tate keeps running and spins away from Mike Mitchell.

4. Quarterback Dan Orlovsky hits an open Lee along the left sideline, Shamarko Thomas in the area but he had no chance to make a play.

5. Orlovsky throws incomplete to Andre Roberts. Doran Grant on the coverage.

6. Throw to Jeremy Kerley on a curl comes out with a lot of heat. Garner can’t knock the ball out but wraps the receiver down.

7. Rookie Jake Rudock throws quickly in the right flat to Adam Fuehne.

8. Quick throw to rookie Alex Chisum.

9. Cam Heyward gets pressure late and the ball is checked down to Ridley. Hargrave provides good chase after him.

10. Pass thrown incomplete on the right side. Garner again in the area.

11. Another incompletion, thrown low and away to tight end Orson Charles. Thrown by Matthew Stafford and inbetween Shazier/Timmons.

12. Lavon Hooks somehow ended up on the ground as Stafford throws incomplete, I think to Marvin Jones.

13. Stafford complete to a, according to my notes, someone who isn’t on the roster. May have been UDFA Jace Billingsley. Sean Davis can’t break the throw up but spins him around, though the receiver stays on his feet.

14. Orlovsky finds Fuehne on an over route, Ross Cockrell a step late from knocking the football out.

15. Split/dig concept from the Lions, seam/dig and Quinshad Davis is wide open on the dig.

16. Alex Chisum makes a diving catch along the right side, a really nice play, as he falls and disappears behind the lift filming practice.

Third Session

– Now watching the Steelers’ offense against the Lions’ defense.

1. Ben Roethlisberger in, empty set. Jesse James on a cross over the middle, the defender providing good coverage. So Ben adjusts the throw, tossing it behind James a tad, and the tight end makes the grab in the end zone.

2. Scramble drill. Ben redirects AB to go deep but sails the football out of the end zone and towards the fans lining the hill.

Don’t know the context but Bell got into a shoving match with someone afterwards, the first and really only skirmish of camp. Ryan Harris came sprinting in to play bouncer and stand up for his teammate.

3. Quick draw to DeAngelo Williams who dips under and past Ansah.

4. Bell split out wide, AB in the slot. Roethlisberger hits Darrius Heyward-Bey on a slant along the right side.

5. Pivot route run by Antonio Brown, in and then out, and #7 hits him working against Nevin Lawson.

6. Gilberry gets pressure. Landry Jones is in the game and Levi Norwood adjusts back for the football to make the catch.

7. Handoff to Fitzgerald Toussaint who cuts up off the inside hip of the right tackle. He’s tripped up as he scoots through the hole.

8. Daryl Richardson with the carry behind a pulling Cole Manhart. Xavier Grimble put Josh Bynes into the ground on the backside.

9. Empty set with Landry under center. Crezdon Butler breaks up this fade to Blakeney in the right corner of the end zone.

10. Finney is in at center. Hubbard right guard, Manhart left guard. Villanueva-Mihalik the bookends. Trips bunch to the right, looked like a snag concept. Coates runs the snag (curl) and Jones looks for him but safety Rafael Bush knocks it away.

11. Brandon Brown-Dukes with the carry up the middle.

12. Screen right to Brown-Dukes but the back drops the pass. Dustin Vaughan now in at QB.

13. Vaughan hits an open David Johnson over the middle who crosses the goal line and is rewarded by a pop from safety Isaiah Johnson.

14. Stingily with a dive up the middle.

15. Rookie Demarcus Ayers stems outside but breaks his route in and Vaughan hits him for the score.

Fourth Session

– Back to the Lions’ offense.

1. Stafford hits Anquan Boldin, working against Garner.

2. Ross Cockrell should’ve picked off this sideline throw to Tate but simply drops it.

3. Stafford complete to Jones on a drag.

4. Stafford climbs the pocket and finds Orson Charles down the right sideline.

5. Again, Stafford drops back and I think he’s complete to Boldin, who is working on Garner.

6. Shazier lined up at OLB and comes on a blitz off the edge. Pass incomplete to Charles and Deebo had dropped, opposite Shazier’s blitz, and provided good coverage.

7. Heyward got pressure, dipping under the left guard. Stafford complete to Fuehne uncontested along the right side.

8. Stafford uncoils a bomb down the right side to Jones but it’s overthrown, incomplete. Robert Golden had the coverage.

9. Orlovsky at QB. Chickillo with a swim move over the RT to get pressure, forcing a quick throw to Kerely. Incomplete, Kevin White was in the area.

10. Williams wins off the edge. Another checkdown to the tight end McCord.

11. Orlovsky low but complete to Kerley. Al-Hajj Shabazz had the coverage.

12. Pass for Jay Lee but it’s way short and incomplete.

13. Pretty pass from Orlovsky to Andre Roberts on a skinny post, who sprawls to the ground as he makes the grab, away from Shabazz.

14. Deep shot down the right sideline to Billingsley is off his right hand and incomplete.

15. Touchdown to Fuehne over the middle of the field. As he crosses the goal line, Jordan Dangerfield lowers his shoulder and knocks the 6’7, 264 pound tight end to the ground. Fuehne takes some offense to it and the two briefly jaw.

16. For whatever reason, Orlovsky spikes the football and ends the session.

Fifth Session

– Same units. Missed the first play because I didn’t realize they were jumping into another team drill so quickly. My fault.

1. Rudock under center. Throws to Chisum but Garner is all over him and the pass flutters incomplete.

2. Incomplete, McCord had the drop.

3. Complete to Davis. Ridley with nice pass pro on Sean Davis, blitzing from the slot.

4. Another incompletion, intended for Billingsley over the middle.

5. Lyons came in free on a stunt, rushing from the outside. Incomplete, Shabzz on the coverage.

6. Checkdown to McCord.

7. Think this pass went off Dwayne Washington’s hands, though it was a little high, but ultimately incomplete.

Final Thoughts

– Again, it is a little tough to read the defense because they work farther away and the Lions run a quicker tempo.

– Hargrave continues to flash. Like I wrote, his bull rush is the only move that needs work. He won’t have all the freedom for two-way gos like he does in one-on-ones so he needs to build up that bull rush. He’s great off the ball, so quick initially, but loses his power quickly. His bull is like a dying star. Great for a moment but burns out in a hurry.

– At points today, Tuitt and Heyward showed exactly why they’re Tuitt and Heyward.

– Jordan Zumwalt…I’m happy he’s healthy and hasn’t missed a rep and his third year in the league, he has some counters and a decent understanding of how to set tackles up. But outside linebacker he is not. Very little explosion off the edge and lacks the flexibility to corner the edge.

– If you’re scoring at home, assuming Anthony Chickillo plays on kick coverage (he did last year), the Steelers have made Chickillo into a four-phase special teamer. Kick return, punt return, punt coverage, and kick coverage.

– Man, not getting to see Bud Dupree is a big bummer. Not a lot to evaluate so far because he’s been so limited.

– Nice to write some good things about Ross Cockrell, though he did drop that INT. But he needed some positive press after dealing with tough competition all of camp.

– I don’t know if he had a particularly spectacular day but Montell Garner showed up a lot in my notes today. His run support seemed solid.

– Offensively, the backup running backs had a lot of trouble catching the football today. Stingily, Powell, Brown-Dukes, and Richardson all had drops at some point in today’s work. Not their best foot forward in that regard.

– Like I wrote, Chris Hubbard playing all over. Even right tackle, which I don’t know if we’ve ever seen him take snaps there before. Certainly not in a game, preseason or regular season.

– Antonio Brown seemed very frustrated these last two days. Just his body language, thought he was on the bad end of a lot of calls from the refs.

Twitter Question Of The Day

Ben’s fine. He’s just an old man now. And plays the part.

Coach McGuirk’s Best Quotes 

“Well, I thought it went pretty well, except for the part where my credit card was turned down, which I thought was funny, but you didn’t.”

2015 Steelers’ Highlight To Get You Amped For 2016

This is still my favorite play from last season. Keep a close eye on Roosevelt Nix towards the bottom of the screen.

St. Vincent College Is Beautiful


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