Training Camp

Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Eight

An intense but shorter practice today for the Pittsburgh Steelers out at St. Vincent College. Wrapped up at 5:03, 10-15 minutes earlier than usual, but there was a good bit of hitting going on today.

Quick aside: want to thank our training camp sponsor, Touring Plans, who is supporting the meals throughout camp. Late dinner tonight but when it’s Friday Night Lights, it’s well worth it. Thanks again to them, who you should check out if you’re ever planning a trip to Disney, the second most magical place on Earth (SVC being the first, of course). You can hit up their website here.

Injury roundup. Some good, some bad news. After days of rest, Ben Roethlisberger, Marcus Gilbert, and Maurkice Pouncey all returned to the lineup. Sean Davis also practiced after missing most of yesterday with a reported shoulder injury. Justin Hunter was also a welcome sight, though he tweaked his left shoulder early in team. Did finish out the day so that’s good news.

Those who did not practice. Buckle up: Mike Mitchell (leg), Cam Sutton (hamstring), Greg Ducre (had pads on but didn’t do anything, unknown), Artie Burns (left leg/groin), Senquez Golson (refused to defend every blade of grass), James Conner (AC sprain), Landry Jones (abdominal strain), Bud Dupree (unknown), Ryan Shazier (hamstring), Mike Matthews (unknown – right leg?), Keion Adams (left shoulder?), and Ramon Foster (rest).

Conner did go through at pretty much full speed with the other RBs in positional work, running routes and catching passes. Made a one-handed snag on a corner route. So he’s gotta be close. Elsewhere, Sammie Coates did aggressive, ten yard sprints, cut on the middle field, and then ran routes at near full speed later on in practice. Think he’ll be back relatively soon.

Bud Dupree joined the injured DBs in tracing the field, normally the first step in the road to on-field rehab. That would suggest a lower body injury of some sort.

During practice, a goal line pile fell on top of Farrington Huguenin, who was very slow to get up. Looked at by trainers, then was on the side talking to William Gay, but wound up walking up the hill and headed to the locker room. Could be a concussion. Thin at OLB, could see a roster move tomorrow.

– As usual, Terrell Watson the first man out at 2:28 PM, though he just sat underneath the media tent. Coates always gets dropped off by a golf cart to catch on the JUGS machine.

Bart Houston the second guy out nine minutes later.

– Newly signed cornerback JaCorey Shepherd will wear #33. He was involved in team drill, getting work at RCB. Nelson Adams, who had run LDE, was released. Christian Brown and Francis Kallon spared.

– 1st team offensive line: Alejandro Villanueva-B.J. Finney-Maurkice Pouncey-David DeCastro-Marcus Gilbert

– 2nd team OL: Chris Hubbard-Keavon Milton-Kyle Friend-Matt Feiler-Jerald Hawkins

– I did see Ethan Cooper take a center snap in warmups but don’t believe it happened in team session. More he can do, the better.

– Credit to Phazahn Odom. He has been better on the blocking sled. Doing a good job of staying low out of his stance, uncoiling his hips, and driving his feet through contact. Usually how these things go.

Brandon Brown-Dukes had two drops running routes in positional groups. His camp has been disappointing, especially for a guy who has a year under his belt.

– It’s no surprise, especially to the general fan base now, but Justin Hunter is a top notch athlete. Was just on air but ran a corner route to the end zone. Adjusted backwards for it, leaping off the ground, then turned his body and got both feet in before falling out of the end zone. You can see why Roethlisberger likes throwing to him.

– New drill today. Linebackers working on pursuit angles on running backs. Chickillo finished one rep and knocked loose the ball from Brown-Dukes.

Mike Tomlin called out to Roosevelt Nix. “Rosie, get your rep!” Nix obliged and carried off the left side. Vince Williams, in a generally non-contact drill, greeted him – in a way to say, you’re going to feel this rep – with a thump that bounced Nix to the sideline. Tomlin was doubled over laughing.

– Williams and Tyler Matakevich were praised for their technique. Playing inside out, as any defender should. “Good job, Red,” Tomlin barked out after one.

– Final rep. Tomlin chooses his guys. “Give me 35 and 90.” That’s Trey Williams and T.J. Watt. So clearly, Tomlin wanted to see something in each of those guys. Watt doesn’t fall for Williams’ juke and closes the gap along the sideline. Tomlin was pleased with his rookie linebacker.

– No OL/DL one-on-one today (working on stunts, which I don’t normally chart) or much else one-on-one. Watched seven and seven and jotted down some highlights.

Robert Golden with end zone breakup on Jesse James. Didn’t play the ball, didn’t need to, watched James’ eyes/hands and swatted it away as James went up for it.

– Nice job by Eli Rogers to settle between two defenders a yard deep in the end zone, falling to the ground catching a pass.

Brandon Dixon got his head around and found the football, picking off a pass for Cobi Hamilton in the right corner.

– T.J. Watt gave up too much space on a throw to the flat that hit Brown-Dukes. Couple coaches getting after him. “You gotta get closer!” “Play your man!”

– Some special teams nuggets for you.

Kick return lines still the same. Starting five on the KR unit. Matakevich-Galambos-Johnson-Chickillo-Moats

Second team front five: Dangerfield-Kelsey-Huguenin-Watt-Fort

Third team: Hagen-Severin-Dixon-Watson-JuJu.

Danny Smith was having them adjust to opening kickoff shifts if a team ever decides to try an onside kick. Yells out for the kicking team to shirt. Then turns to the return grup.

“What are we going to do? How are we going to react? How are we going to play it?”

The return team shifts and then Smith resets them to their normal alignments, reminding them all not to take their eye off the ball.

Smith was happy with Huguenin’s technique and effort on a block. “There ya go, there ya go!” Then he did something wrong the next rep and Smith – quietly, I should add – coached him up.

Smith also happy with Hamilton’s KR. “Nice job, Cobi getting it outside the numbers!”

First Session

1. Seven shots. Matakevich/VW the ILBs. Golden/Sean Davis first team safety. Empty slot, Antonio Brown in the slot. Watt caught jumping offsides. Roethlisberger looks for AB on a speed out to the right but Ross Cockrell plays it the whole way and knocks it out at the catch point.

2. Playaction to Toussaint. Roethilsberger aiming for Hunter on a backshoulder throw to the right but Hunter falls down as he cuts for it. Ref threw a flag on Coty Sensabaugh, the LCB, for apparently grabbing him and causing the fall.

3. Empty set out of the huddle but Ben motions Davis side car left. Roethlisberger complete to James, who boxes out Sensabaugh. Touchdown.

4. Toussaint motioned to empty. Vince Williams blitz up the middle. Roethlisberger fires on a speed out to JuJu Smith-Schuster, working in the slot, who gets his head around just in time to find and catch the ball versus William Gay.

5. Playaction. Screen to Knile Davis from Josh Dobbs. Steps out of an L.T. Walton ankle tackle and into the end zone.

6. Hamilton and DHB on the outside, Demarcus Ayers in the slot. Dobbs surveys the entire field and found a receiver, not sure who, open on the right side. But he got bumped into by the line and the ball fluttered to the ground. Jerald Hawkins sealed his man upfield. Incomplete.

7. Dobbs’ throw to Ayers over the middle is high and in traffic. But Ayers has an impressive catch radius and solid pair of mitts, reaching full extension over his head to haul in and tuck away the pass in the end zone before being mobbed by three defenders. Touchdown, the offense winning seven shots 4-3.

Second Session

1. James and David Johnson the two TEs. Roosevelt Nix in at fullback. B.J. Finney pulling left to right. Sensabaugh with an aggressive play, going low and cutting Finney down while Cam Heyward knifes into the backfield to blow back Nix. No gainer for Toussaint.

2. Chickillo dips under Finney and he and Golden tackle Toussaint for minimal gain.

3. Good crash and flow by the line, Toussaint running into the teeth of the defense for very little gain.

4. Heyward bullying Finney, pushing him into the backfield and forcing Davis wide. Sensabaugh the open field tackle out on the edge.

5. Davis carry off the right side. Chickillo and Matakevich there for the stop.

6. Brown-Dukes gets the carry off right guard. Crosses the goal line and Matakevich dives up, tackling him, but BBD scores. Golden also just misses getting in there to try and stop him.

7. Playaction by Dobbs. Fires down the right seam and Jake McGee makes a tough catch with blanket coverage by Steven Johnson.

8. Trey Williams on the draw to the left. Walton crashes down and is one of many on the tackle.

9. Tyson Alualu makes mince meat of left guard Keavon Milton, ripping under him and tackling Terrell Watson in the backfield. Corner Brandon Dixon came off the edge, too.

10. Lavon Hooks gets under Jake Rodgers’ pads and fellow DE Roy Philon makes the tackle on Watson. Ugly run, line didn’t get a push and Watson seemed unclear of where to go.

11. Brown-Dukes swallowed up. Again it’s Hooks, and Huguenin in there.

12. Playaction by Bart Houston. Complete to Ayers in the right flat but Mike Hilton makes an impressive open field tackle short of the goal line.

Third Session

1. Pistol. Pressure by Heyward and Watt on Ben. Roethlisberger fires deep downfield on a post for Hunter. Little too much air under it, Hunter has to slow up, and Sensabaugh does well to play the pocket and break the pass up.

2. Chickillo dips under Johnson around the edge. Ben hits a wide open Antonio Brown on a dig route over the middle.

3. Roethlisberger fires deep down the right sideline for Heyward-Bey. Gay comes from his slot spot over the top, tracks the ball, and drags both feet in before falling out of bounds. Ref mulls it over and then rules it an interception. Gay does the Bobble Walk, this dance, as the crowd cheers. First time all camp Ben’s been picked off.

4. Gilbert seals Gay upfield on a corner blitz. Roethlisberger complete over the middle for Rogers, running away from Watt, dropping into coverage.

5. Cover 2. Beautifully placed corner route from Ben complete AB, between Golden and Cockrell.

6. Finney seals Tuitt’s rush upfield. Roethlisberger playaction. Complete to Smith-Schuster on the right sideline.

7. Second team, JuJu running in the slot. Hamilton and DHB the outside receivers. Dobbs complete to Cobi on a curl. Didn’t like the angle Dixon took to rally to the ball, allowing Hamilton to cut inside.

8. Huguenin and Moats the third team OLBs, Moats in there with the 3’s (second team too, like usual), because Adams was out. Walton and Alualu in the nickel. Thunder Fire Zone, Mike Hilton and Jordan Dangerfield coming on a blitz. Hawkins slipped trying to wash Dangerfield. Dobbs complete to Ayers over the middle.

9. L.J. Fort and Keith Kelsey the ILB pairing. Dobbs looks for Odom on a quick out. Pass hits him in the stomach and dropped. Ugh.

10. Shepherd in at RCB. Dixon LCB, Hilton slot. Houston quick throw to Ayers in the right flat, who turns upfield and to the inside of Hilton.

11. Ayers and Severin on the outside, JuJu in the slot. Low snap by center Kyle Friend. Houston back shoulder throw to Severin, Houston did well to recover after the snap, but Severin never turns around for the ball. Those two have had issues getting on the same page.

12. Hilton blankets Ayers along the left sideline, Houston’s pass high, away, incomplete.

Fourth Session

1. Empty. Matakevich blanketing Davis underneath. Roethlisberger fires down the seam to Rogers on the goal line but Gay swipes down, plays the pocket, and bats it away. Good rep.

2. Hunter in the slot. David DeCastro pushes Stephon Tuitt upfield. Roethlisberger climbs the pocket and finds Antonio Brown, cutting right to left, in the very back of the end zone, making a twisting catch to get both feet in versus Ross Cockrell.

3. Roethlisberger quick to AB on a bubble. Cockrell blows through James’ failed block and tags him up.

4. Hunter/AB on the outside and Rogers in the slot. Davis square in pass pro. Checkdown from Ben to Rogers. Watt wraps him up.

5. Grimble lined up to the left. 12 personnel. Roethlisberger to Hunter in the right corner of the end zone. Cockrell breaks it up, shoving Hunter down, falling on his back, and then somehow immediately popping back up. Incomplete.

6. Out ‘n up route by Antonio Brown to the back left pylon. Cockrell covers it well and Roethlisberger’s pass falls out of the end zone.

7. Dobbs moves to his second read, finding Smith-Schuster on the left side. But there’s Hilton again, breaking the pass up.

8. Brown-Dukes outside zone to the right. Kelsey first man in, tagging him up.

9. Inside zone to Watson up the middle.

10. Marcus Tucker and Canaan Severin on the outside with Smith-Schuster in the slot. Jake Rodgers sticks to Daniel McCullers on the outside. Dobbs flushed to the right, hitting Tucker, who came across the field. Tucker takes a couple steps into the end zone.

11. Williams carry off the right side. Good force defense by Brian Allen, kicking the run back in.

12. Brown-Dukes up the gut. Francis Kallon shows up here for one of the first times, diving on top of him from the backside as BBD appears to cross the goal line. Play where Huguenin got hurt. Field goal team practically lined up over top of him to start the next session. Harsh reality of camp. Nothing stops for you.

Fifth Session

1. Screen right to Davis from Ben.

2. Split zone. Finney with a good block on Tuitt. Toussaint carry up the middle.

3. Empty set. Hunter in the slot, Rogers as the outside, “Z” receiver. Ben complete to Hunter on a slant, Chickillo dropping but unable to get there in time.

4. Davis up the middle. Nix absolutely buries Chickillo.

5. Ben to the right corner. Jesse James slipped getting ready to jump for it but Smith-Schuster is behind him, hauling in the pass versus Golden. Touchdown.

6. On the goal line. AB crosses Cockrell’s face on a slant, scoring. Good throw from Ben.

7. Draw to BBD. Again, good force play by Brian Allen.

8. Williams inside zone. Javon Hargrave on the tackle.

9. Dobbs complete to DHB. Good pickup by Matt Feiler and Hawkins, picking up Moats and Jacob Hagen, respectively. Fire zone, Hargrave dropping into coverage.

10. Bad snap by Friend. McCullers and Allen stop up Watson after a short gain up the middle.

11. Watt with a good stack/shed of Brian Mihalik, reaching out his left, inside hand and grabs Brown-Dukes at the LOS.

12. Houston complete to Smith-Schuster. Matt Galambos first man there.

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History Through A Lens

Back when the game l was essentially played in a park. No big contracts, TV crews, glitz or glamor. Just football.

John Henry Johnson, the Steelers first 1000 yard rusher, center stage in this photo circa 1960. Center Ed Beatty stands sidecar (#57).

Football: Pittsburgh Steelers John Henry Johnson (35) on sidelines with teammates during game vs Philadelphia Eagles at Forbes Field. Snow, weather.
Pittsburgh, PA 12/11/1960
CREDIT: Neil Leifer (Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: D81812 C4 F11 )

St. Vincent Snapshot

Didn’t tweet this out. Saving it for you guys. One special teams session was weird. Here’s Chris Boswell in shotgun, Jordan Berry sidecar.

Ron Swanson Quote Of The Day

“History began July 4th, 1776. Anything before that was a mistake.”

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