Steelers’ Training Camp Diary: Day Nine

Today’s practice much different than yesterday. As physical a day as there’s been at St. Vincent. Off day tomorrow so ice up, everyone. Let’s get into the notes.

– Injury roundup: Travis Feeney is still out. Big ace bandage wrapped around his left thigh so I assume that’s is keeping him out. Bud Dupree was in pads but did not participate team or individual drills. Ramon Foster was back after a day off though I think his reps were limited. Landry Jones practiced in full. Ben Roethlisberger got another day off. Markus Wheaton was in shorts and didn’t do anything after being limited yesterday. And a new name, guard Cole Manhart, sat out entirely with an unspecified injury.

Ladarius Green did some light work on the turf field.

In-practice, Maurkice Pouncey got his leg rolled up on and though he briefly left the field, he was back down a few minutes later and went through a team session. He was, probably already by plan, held out of the goal line session to close things out.

– Evidently, the younger players participated in a walkthrough about 90 minutes before practice.

Levi Norwood, by himself, was the first man down. A little extra early, clocking in at 2:28 PM.

Cobi Hamilton was added to the return line. Quickly got coached up by Danny Smith for being too careless with the football.

“I want all four points of that football!” he called out.

– May be paraphrasing a little bit but Mike Tomlin to Roosevelt Nix as the players made their way through the ladder and ready to break into individual work.

“It’s a good day to do well, Rosie.”

Xavier Grimble is night and day on the blocking sleds from where he was on the first practice to now. Much lower, more explosive, generating more power. Paul Lang has improved somewhat too while Michael Cooper finished with a strong final rep.

– Wide receivers running routes around cones. Most guys looked good, it was on air, but Norwood kept cutting inside the cones, not outside like he was supposed to. Know your landmarks.

– Special team drills!

The starting front five on the punt coverage unit: Vince Williams-Arthur Moats-Greg Warren-Tyler Matakevich-Anthony Chickillo. Surprised not to see Steven Johnson on here. And good sign for Matakevich.

Jordan Berry again won the day and this time in convincing fashion versus Will Monday. Wasn’t just that Berry was that good, Monday also struggled. Here are all of their hangtimes which again, is my rough, one-time estimate.

Berry: 3.97, 4.85, 5.02, 5.04, 4.99, 4.96, 5.06
Monday: 3.98, 4.87, 4.62, 4.65, 4.11, 4.27

Hangtimes along, six of Berry’s seven punts had hangtime of 4.85+ seconds. Only once did Monday hit that mark. Berry also showed a better leg, hitting a couple 50 yarders, while Monday shanked one and another traveled only 30 yards, caught near midfield. Berry had a real nice pin too, the ball bouncing backwards at the two (Sammie Coates made a nice effort as a gunner, too).

Tomlin stood directly behind the punters, especially keeping a watchful eye on Berry, putting a little extra pressure on those two.

Matt Dooley got work as long snapper for those guys.

Smith got after some of his coverage guys for not staying square in their lane. Turning one way, creating a lane for the returner to hit.

Chris Boswell booted a couple field goals. Didn’t watch close and though it seemed like he made most, he did end by pushing a 42 yarder wide right.

– One on one results for LB/RB.

1.  Tight end Jesse James gets separation on a curl and works away from Jarvis Jones, making the catch.

2. Lawrence Timmons runs with DeAngelo Williams on a wheel and the pass is incomplete.

3. Vet tight end David Johnson complete on an out against Arthur Moats.

4. Nice cut by Fitzgerald Toussaint as he makes this catch against L.J. Fort.

5. Paul Lang lumbers on his out cut but he gets away from Mike Reilly and makes the grab.

6. Mercyhurst, Brandon Brown-Dukes runs a short out and hauls in the throw against Vince Williams.

7. Cooper runs a double-move, out and up, to dust Jordan Zumwalt.

8. The speedy Roosevelt Nix runs a corner away from Steven Johnson and actually creates space as he breaks to the sideline. But Johnson plays it well and disrupts the throw, creating an incompletion? His reward? Getting smacked in the face by Nix’s arm as the fullback flailed for the football on the way down.

9. Jarvis Jones with a nice breakup against James.

10. Timmons bumps Cameron Stingily initially, knocking him off his out cut, and then swoops underneath to pick it off.

11. Nice hard press by Fort on Toussaint but Fort did stop his feet, letting Toussaint upfield with space. Pass was incomplete.

12. Throw for Johnson is behind. Coverage by Moats.

13. Strong play by Ryan Shazier, breaking up this fade intended for Le’Veon Bell.

14. Xavier Grimble speeds away from Anthony Chickillo and makes the grab on a corner route.

15. Timmons provides close coverage but DeAngelo Williams makes the grab on a curl.

16. Lang with the catch on Reilly, who tackles the tight end after the catch.

17. Toussaint catches a fade against Johnson.

18. Running back makes the grab versus Tyler Matakevich.

19. Cooper has a step on Zumwalt but the pass is overthrown.

20. BBD with another quick out against Williams.

21. Jones with tight coverage on James. Two get tangled up and the pass hits off the tight end’s left hand.

22. Nix quick in cut against Fort.

23. Bell makes a sliding catch on an out route versus Shazier.

24. Double move from David Johnson. Moats doesn’t totally take the bait but Johnson creates some space. DJ turns his shoulders to the QB and goes up with his right hand to make the catch but the ball bounces off and incomplete.

25. Pivot route and Nix makes the reception versus Fort.

26. Matakevich with solid coverage on Stingily on an out route. Throw is incomplete.

27. Grimble gets a step on Chickillo down the seam but Chick plays it well, not looking back, letting Grimble’s eyes and hands take him to the ball and as Grimble flashes his hands too early, Chickillo throws his arms up and breaks up the pass.

28. D-Will pivots away from Timmons.

29. Pass to Lang is off his fingertips. Reilly on coverage.

30. Johnson tight coverage on Bell. Incomplete, I think.

31. Zumwalt with a nice jam on Cooper off the line but the tight end makes the catch on his out route.

32. D-Will with the grab on an out against VW.

33. Richardson this time makes the grab against Williams.

34. Simple flare route from Jesse and Jarvis gives up too much space. A simply reception.

35. Christian Powell with a nice sliding grab on a fade versus Matakevich.

36. Shazier closes quickly and aggressively on Bell’s out cut, swatting it away in the nick of time.

37. Grimble bursts away from Chickillo and makes the catch on a flag (corner) route.

38. Stingily double-move, in/out to shake Johnson.

39. Lang ends things by catching a dig against Reilly.

– OL/DL work.

1. Good battle between Chris Hubbard and Javon Hargrave. I’d give the edge to Hubbard.

2. Coaches reset them and Hubbard handles Hargrave’s swim move well.

3. Reilly tries to spin Jerald Hawkins but it fails and Hawkins puts him in the ground.

4. They go again and Reilly corners the edge, getting past and winning the rep.

5. Offensive tackle Brian Mihalik has no problem absorbing Jordan Zumwalt’s weak bull rush.

6. Zumwalt tries the bull again vs Mihalik. No dice. Again.

7. Clean win by Hawkins against Reilly. Reilly was active, tried a couple moves, all stopped.

8. The man whose name I’m still trying to learn, Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, holds his ground against Daniel McCullers, who tries to bull rush him. VUE holds on and somehow knocked McCullers helmet off, even though the nose tackle has a couple inches on him.

9. They get after it again. Ume-Ezeoke stayed on his feet but McCullers walks him right into the robot, tipping it on its side before the thing pops back up.

10. Nice kickslide by Mihalik. Zumwalt doesn’t have the burst to win the edge and loses the rep.

11. Zumwalt is better off the ball and lower, able to dip and corner, while Mihalik ends up on the ground. Much-needed win for JZ.

12. Really good rep by B.J. Finney, riding Roy Philon upfield and ending with a hard shove into his teammates, as they scatter left and right.

13. UDFA Devaunte Sigler dips under and wins inside against Matt Feiler.

14. Sigler wins again, he’s starting to impress, spinning and beating Feiler. Tackles the robot because hey, they don’t have a union.

15. Caushaud Lyons runs through Ume-Ezeoke, who tries to dive in a desperation step to stop him. It fails and the center ends with a mouthful of grass.

– Let’s get to 11 on 11.

First Session

1. Seven shots. Landry first team QB. Looks to Bell in the left flat but someone, I originally thought Sean Davis, later though maybe Shamarko Thomas, tips the pass. William Gay nearly comes away with the INT.

Shark was running as a starting safety with Mike Mitchell a bit limited (he would later participate in team) so I’m not 100% sure who had the defense.

2. Jones with a fade to the back right pylong, over Ross Cockrell’s shoulder and into Antonio Brown’s hands.

3. Jones connects with AB again, touchdown, though Nix was first open in the flat.

4. Nothing there for Bruce Gradkowski, who rolls right, and then finally hits Bell along the right sideline in the end zone, toe-tapping and completing the catch against L.J. Fort.

5. With Sean Davis coming on a blitz, Gradkowski hits Coates on an out but Kevin White appears to push him out of bounds in front of the goal line.

6. Blitz and Dustin Vaughan appropriately fires the ball out hot, hitting Williams in the right flat. Matakevich can’t work over in time.

7. Excellent coverage. Vaughan scrambles off left tackle for the touchdown.

Second Session

1. Nothing open. Landry Jones waits…looks…waits…coaches blow the whistle. Play is dead.

2. Montell Garner work in the slot. Vince Williams big pop on Fitzgerald Toussaint. Cam Heyward in the mix, too.

3. Tilted nose, that “faux 4-3” with Moats pulled off the ball. Ryan Shazier greets Toussaint in the hole.

4. Shark and Robert Golden the first team safeties. Handoff to Brown-Dukes out of the gun. He starts right, cuts left, so tiny and running so low he could cut the grass, before Jarvis Jones flies down and squeezes the play.

5. Daryl Richardson with the carry left side. Good force by Jarvis and Ross Ventrone runs from behind and wraps him up around the waist.

6. Bad snap between Maurkice Pouncey and Jones. Ball on the ground from under center. L.J. Fort recovers.

7. Davis and Ray Vinopal at safety. Big Dan and Harrison holds the point of attack. Brown-Dukes stuffed.

8. Gradkowski checkdown to Nix. Matakevich is first there, Johnson cleans him up.

9. Short pickup by Stingily. Finney had a nice block on Lyons, putting him into the ground. Carry off the right side.

10. Powell over right guard. Ricardo Mathews’ busts through, beating Ryan Harris inside, and makes the tackle near the line of scrimmage.

11. Sigler and Vince Williams makes the tackle as Powell gets the carry off the right side.

12. Hubbard pulling right to left and Toussaint has the carry off the left edge. Roy Philon shoots through the spot vacated by Hubbard, no one sealed up the B gap, and chases Toussaint from the backside. Jordan Dangerfield fills up the middle to finish things off.

13. Vaughan looks to hit Marcus Tucker on a corner. Pass is a little out in front and Jacob Hagen had decent coverage.

14. Poor snap between Ume-Ezeoke and Vaughan.

15. Nix gets nothing on the right side. McCullers/Hagen/Zumwalt all swarming around. Run totally stuffed.

16. Inside zone to the right. Mathews again gets penetration, he does well flowing down against zone runs. Brown-Dukes cuts to his left, turning a loss into a ten yard gain. Nix seals down Reilly, losing his backside responsibility, and BBD jukes Vinopal along the left sideline, before finally being taken down.

17. Draw to Stingily. Mathews and Matakevich in there. Reilly forced the ball inside, more gap sound this time.

Third Session

1. Jones to DHB on a drag. Cockrell makes the full tackle. Stephon Tuitt with a nice bull on David DeCastro to collapse the pocket.

2. Screen right from Jones to Bell. Heyward sniffs it out and Jarvis chases from the backside.

3. Jones again on a drag to AB. DeCastro with a heady blitz pickup on Shazier.

4. Mike Mitchell in team drills. Miscommunication between Jones and AB, Brown cut in, Jones threw out, and William Gay makes a leaping INT near the left sideline.

5. Gradkowski drag to Norwood, Grant shoving him at the end.

6. Quarterback and receiver link up again on a deep out to the left side. Toussaint with competent pickup on Shark from the slot.

7. Gradkowski to Coates on a curl, who jets upfield and out of bounds. Kevin White in the slot with Thomas and Davis as the safety pairing.

8. Bubble from Gradkowski to Issac Blakeney, who turns on the afterburners for a 15 yard gain. Got a lead block from Cooper and Blakeney is finally cut down low.

9. Checkdown from Landry to D-Will, who speeds away from Matakevich.

10. Bubble right but Jones’ throw is off the mark, an unacceptable miss. Rogers tries to work back and grab the ball over his head but it’s off his hands and incomplete.

11. DL of Tuitt/Hargrave/Heyward. Jones tucks and runs. Hargrave spied Bell coming out of the left flat. Like I wrote several days ago, have seen the nose drop out a lot this year.

12. Pocket collapses, Vaughan misses his attempt to Lang. Dangerfield with the coverage.

13. Chris Hubbard still getting work at center, as he is on this play. Quick dig to Coates as Vince Williams chases him upfield.

14. Vaughan in empty set. Matakevich free on a blitz. Vaughan looks to get ball out quickly but Philon tips it at the line.

15. Vaughan hits an open Demarcus Ayers along the right side. He turns upfied and Vinopal sends a hard shot though the rookie stays on his feet.

Fourth Session

1. Doran Grant first team RCB. Draw to Toussaint. But the story here was Cam Heyward, who got under Cody Wallace’s pads and lifted him up, driving him back several yards and putting him into the ground. Whew.

2. Garner coming up heavy in run support with a HUGE shot on Richardson. One of the biggest in camp and it came from a cornerback.

3. Jones checkdown to Toussaint. Many hats there, including James Harrison.

4. Dive to Stingily. Meets Fort in the hole but the linebacker is the low man, standing him up, feet pumping, as Williams/Dangerfield pile on. Super intense and physical session.

5. Power run, Stingily off left side. Scoots away from a Steven Johnson ankle tackle and he gets key lead blocks from DeCastro, Nix, and whoever the WR was. Decent gain down the left sideline.

6. Cut inside by Brown-Dukes. Johnson makes the tackle despite his helmet coming off.

7. Dangerfield and Shazier converge on Stingily along the right side. Dangerfield is amped up. Was watching Pouncey/Hargrave with my binoculars and two guys rolled up into Pouncey’s right leg. Bent it backwards at the knee, awkwardly, and similar to Pouncey’s injury last season. He got up and though a little gingerly, walked to the sideline. He would jog up the stairs and into one of the facilities though came back soon after. That could have been bad.

Fifth Session

1. Two minute drill for first team offense. Landry Jones in empty, Pouncey at center. Timmons free off the edge. Attempt to hit Rogers and he makes the catch, not allowing Garner to come in and punch the ball out. Short gain.

2. Jones hits Rogers over the middle. Heyward with a one-arm stab to push Wallace into the pocket.

3. Jones’ pass to Jesse James is high but the tight end extends to make the grab despite Chickillo being all over him.

4. Rogers in the slot, Coates/Brown on the outside. Garner working over Rogers. Deep shot to Brown but too much juice on the pass and it sails out of the end zone. D-Will had good pass protection.

5. Grimble at TE. Heyward and Chickillo filip, Heyward playing the 6 tech with his hand down and Chickillo off the tackle’s inside shoulder. Jones scrambles up the middle.

6. The ball is spiked.

7. Five seconds left. Jones complete to AB on the left side, boxing out William Gay.

Sixth Session

1. Two minute drill for the second team offense. Vaughan at QB. Maybe a broken play, bubble that didn’t work out, and Reilly dips under Ryan Harris for the pressure and “sack.”

2. Bad snap. Vaughan hurriedly fires to Toussaint but it’s incomplete.

3. David Johnson nice job picking up Kevin White’s blitz. Vaughan money to Blakeney on a dig.

4. Vaughan spikes the ball.

5. Toussaint again apt in blitz pickup, stopping Williams. Vaughan tucks and runs out of bounds to the left side.

6. Great throw by Vaughan to Levi Norwood. Deep left side over Al-Hajj Shabazz in the end zone. Norwood goes up and makes a tough catch but Shabazz knocks him out of bounds and the receiver can only get one foot down. Coaches call it incomplete.

7. Williams free off the edge and I’m pretty sure he knocked the ball out of Vaughan’s arm for the first strip sack of camp, which I didn’t even know was possible.

8. Lots of pressure, heard Shamarko Thomas was mad the coaches didn’t blow it dead, but Vaughan hits a wide open Ayers down the middle for the least impressive touchdown in NFL history.

Seventh Session

1. Goal line session to close things out. Wallace at center, Hubbard at G. Toussaint carry right side, Nix lead block and clears out Timmons. Toussaint nearly runs out of room but just gets into the end zone. It was heavily disputed.

2. Richardson carry over right guard. McCullers with a lot of penetration while Fort/Chickillo clean things up and take him down short of the end zone, McCullers lying flat on his back at the end of the play.

3. Playaction. Jones to Grimble in the right flat but Golden throws his left shoulder into the tight end and breaks the pass up. Defensive celebration ensues.

4. Mother Hubbard checks in as a 6th OL. Finney at left guard. Stingily off left side but Dangerfield keeps his outside arm free, shedding David Johnson as the back bounces and making the tackle. He goes wild. Defense needs just one more stop to win.

5. Power run, DeCastro with a skip pull. Toussaint runs behind him for a touchdown. 3-2 defense.

6. Richardson carry over right tackle. Zumwalt and Shark close in but Richardson falls over the goal line. TD. All knotted at three so the coaches give them one more rep to declare a winner.

7. Power run again with DeCastro. Big lane and Stingily runs behind for an easy score. Offense completes the comeback.

Final Thoughts

– I had never thought about it until Tomlin said it earlier in camp but the mere fact Ben wasn’t active, even though he was down there, totally takes the air out of the offense’s sail. Night and day difference. Offense was not good today.

– Brown-Dukes continues to flash as a runner. He’s a shifty, tiny dude who is hard to find and tougher to bring down. He isn’t a hard-nosed runner but slippery as heck. The greased up deaf guy from Family Guy. You’re never gunna catch meeeee.

– Jesse James has opened up with some impressive catches these last few practices.

– Chris Hubbard and B.J. Finney had strong days. Cody Wallace did not and his camp has been pretty “meh,” not that in means a ton for a veteran who has played lots of Sunday football.

– Devaunte Sigler, as I’ve noted, is popping up more and more in my reports. Keeping an eye on him.

– Jordan Dangerfield just loves to hit, man. And he’s darn good at it.

Twitter Question Of The Day

It’s a good question but hard for me to answer right now. He’s shown the same traits. Flying around against the run, taking people’s heads off, but I don’t have a good feel for coverage. He almost functions as a linebacker. I don’t think I have a rep in team drill of him even being involved in coverage. Games will obviously be important.

Coach McGuirk’s Best Quotes

“‘Cause they’re not like us here. Brendan, we’re different, we’re not studiers. We’re not the worker ants. We’re the queens! You and me are the queen bees!'”

2015 Steelers’ Highlight To Get You Amped For 2016

William Gay pick six? William Gay pick six.

St. Vincent College Photo Of The Day


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