Training Camp

Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Seven

Still a good practice out at Latrobe Memorial High School tonight but it was dampened, literally, by some severe weather. Lightning drove fans out of the stadium for about 15 minutes, with many evidently deciding not to return and just go home. Truth be told, I missed seven shots and the beginning of one-on-one work while I was making my way back to the field. So that, well, that sucked pretty hard. Steelers.com should have the recap of 7 shots.

Read all about it at the link here.

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. Whew, lot of guys missing today. Some rest, some injury. The usual suspects: Mike Mitchell (maybe something with his thigh, was wrapping it up at the end of practice), Cam Sutton (lower body), James Conner (AC Sprain), Senquez Golson (Goodell suspending his left hamstring for “conduct detrimental to the league”), Greg Ducre (unknown), Justin Hunter (unknown), Ben Roethlisberger (rest), Marcus Gilbert (rest?), Maurkice Pouncey (possibly rest, did have a small wrap around his lower left leg), James Harrison (old), Ryan Shazier (hamstring), Landry Jones (abdominal strain), Bud Dupree (unknown).

Artie Burns left practice on the first play of the second team session and did not return. Looked like a left leg injury of some kind. Mike Tomlin deemed it minor. Also unreported but Sean Davis wasn’t in with the 1’s for most, if not all, of practice. Keep an eye on that tomorrow.

Total ’em up and there’s 15 guys – not even counting Martavis Bryant or Sammie Coates – who were a no-go today. Nearly 17% of the roster.

Coates, speaking of him, didn’t do any cutting, only one field available so not much space, but ran his most aggressive in a straight line that I’ve seen from him. Certainly making progress.

Cam Heyward was back today after two excused absences to be with his wife and new baby girl.

– With the injuries at QB, the Steelers had just two arms available. Josh Dobbs with the first team, Bart Houston with the second and third.

– First team offensive line worth talking about: Villanueva-Foster-Finney-DeCastro-Hubbard

Second team: Mihalik-Milton-Matthews-Feiler-Hawkins

Third Team: Mihalik-Friend-Matthews-Cooper-Rodgers

– Sportscenter was on hand today, though they don’t offer much in the way of camp coverage. Spotted Tomlin taking a photo with Ryan Clark and another person and then said hello to Scott Van Pelt before walking back to the team.

– Caught the back half of backs on ‘backers, the highlight of the day.

Backs On ‘Backers

1. Farrington Huguenin with an impressive rep, running over Knile Davis and pushing him into the offensive teammates standing behind. Good speed to power.

2. T.J. Watt swims over Phazahn Odom.

3. Keith Kelsey does similar, swimming over Terrell Watson.

4. Two go at it again and Watson does well to mirror Kelsey’s inside spin move. Win for the back.

5. Keion Adams beats Odom.

6. Tiny Trey Williams, all 5’7 195 of him, absolutely stops Matt Galambos’ bull rush in its tracks. Good pad level and power. He was pumped up.

7. Two go at it again and Galambos does get him on a swim move.

8. David Johnson makes quick work of Vince Williams. Easy win.

9. Back at it and Johnson does similar, staying square and showing strength to anchor against VW.

10. Roosevelt Nix uncoils on L.J. Fort’s bull rush, coming at him full speed, and burying Fort into the ground.

11. Knile Davis gets a win over Fort.

12. T.J. Watt slips by Grimble.

13. Poor Brandon Brown-Dukes. Gets absolutely truck sticked by Anthony Chickillo, ending up on his back.

14. BBD braces for impact again but Chickillo beats him on a swim move.

15. Adams wins against Jake McGee.

16. Steven Johnson with a nice spin move on Watson.

17. Watt gets under Odom’s pad level and forklifts him. Odom barely hanging on, hands outside Watt’s frame.

18. Watt wins again vs Odom.

– One other random note. Saw the last rep of WR/DB. Malik Golden high pointed a ball and broke it up along the sideline. Good rep. Antonio Brown beat Burns deep downfield on a post.

– Offensive line vs DL/OLB notes.

OL/DL -LB

1. Cam Heyward flashes dominance. Push/pull, rip past Villanueva. Take notes, Watt.

2. Ramon Foster handles Johnny Maxey, burying him into the ground by the end of the rep.

3. Javon Hargrave shows power on his bull rush, creating space with his length and running B.J. Finney back.

4. DeCastro wins vs L.T. Walton.

5. Hubbard with a good rep, sealing Tuitt’s inside rip move and pushing him upfield.

6. Watt losing his balance at the top of the arc, nearly slipping vs Villanueva. Villanueva punches/shoves him in the head to knock him to the ground. Ouch.

7. Stalemate between Foster/Heyward this time.

8. Better battle for Finney vs Hargrave. Would also consider this a tie. Hargrave gets initial movement, Finney able to reanchor late.

9. DeCastro anchors versus Tuitt but Tuitt swims over him.

10. Hubbard begins to seal Chickillo upfield but slips when Chick counters inside.

11. Mihalik beat by Keion Adams around the edge, grabbing Adams’ left shoulder and holding on for dear life. Clearly a flag and a win for the rookie.

12. Milton mirrors Francis Kallon’s outside spin move.

13. McCullers shows some intensity, taking Mike Matthews’ soul. Straight bull rushes and runs over/through Matthews, leaving him to pick dirt out of his helmet. That’s more like it, Big Dan.

14. Not 100% sure who the OL is, Keavon Milton maybe, but he is forced to hold onto Alualu. Win for the defense.

15. Hawkins nice job to mirror Moats’ inside counter spin move.

16. Happened in a stunt, where it’s 2v2 (don’t usually chart those) but Feiler pancaked Huguenin.

 

Seven Shots

– Again, Steelers.com has it covered at the link here. Offense won the day 4-3.

Second Session

1. Josh Dobbs opens up on playaction. Slips rolling to his left, field wet after some rain that chased the players and a storm which rolled through early in the afternoon. But a heady play to immediately get back up, college rules no longer apply here, and tosses to Jesse James in the left flat. Vince Williams closes the gap but misses an ankle tackle. James steps out of bounds and the refs blow the play dead.

Burns hurt on this play, involved away from it, and limps off the field. Trainers quickly took his pads away and Burns sat on a cooler next to head trainer John Norwig.

2. Confusion over David Johnson’s pre-snap motion. David DeCastro gets out of his stance, maybe a little frustrated and Mike Tomlin decides to reset things, yelling out “Hold up!”

Gets back to the line. DeCastro pulling to his left, Knile Davis following behind. Jordan Dangerfield and Tyler Matakevich make the tackle at the LOS.

3. Davis carry off left side. Javon Hargrave with a one-arm stab into B.J. Finney, running him backwards and forcing Davis to stay wide. Coty Sensabaugh with a really nice open field tackle, cutting the back down for a loss of several yards.

4. Toss right to Fitzgerald Toussaint. T.J. Watt greets him with a loud helmet-to-helmet collision. Matakevich getting in there too, running first team opposite Williams.

5. Dobbs playaction. Play of the day. Throws down the right seam for JuJu Smith-Schuster. Robert Golden, playing underneath, tipping the pass up into the air. Smith-Schuster is able to track it, contort his body backwards, and plucks the ball out of midair. Crowd, what was left of it, at least, went nuts. As they should.

6. Bart Houston enters the game. Terrell Watson the carry up the middle. Terrish Webb, running 2nd team now opposite Hagen (no Mitchell or Davis), with a nice, loud stop. Fort getting in there, too.

7. Brown-Dukes carry off the left side. Tyson Alualu gets under Keavon Milton’s pads, knocking him off balance. He and Keion Adams in on the tackle near the LOS.

8. Alualu on a run stop again, I believe working through Odom. Short gain for Watson.

9. Trey Williams receives his first carry. Slips as he tries to make his cut, falling onto his back. Brandon Dixon tags him up.

10. Houston playaction. Johnny Maxey comes in free off the offense’s left side. Jake McGee running down the right seam but Houston can’t connect with him.

11. Grimble misses a block, frustrated with himself after the play. Maxey the TFL on Williams for a loss of about one.

Third Session

1. Coty Sensabaugh running first team RCB opposite Cockrell with Burns done. Golden/Dangerfield first team safety. Dobbs quick hitter to Smith-Schuster on a curl, Sensabaugh playing off.

2. Two look to hook up again but JuJu makes his first clear mistake of camp, dropping a wide open pass over the middle.

3. Hubbard manages to seal Watt up the arc. Barely but he did it. Good job by Cobi Hamilton to work back to the ball on a comeback and haul in the pass from Dobbs.

4. Tuitt tries – but fails – to spin away from Villanueva to the inside. Dobbs’ pass tipped at the line by Watt.

5. DHB and Cobi the two receivers. Houston fires on an over (deep crosser) route to Xavier Grimble but it’s incomplete, Grimble tumbling to the ground for it. Steven Johnson provided solid coverage.

6. McGee false starts. Alualu pushes past Milton like a turnstile. Houston with a great, money throw deep downfield along the right sideline but Heyward-Bey drops it. Drink.

7. Miscommunication between Houston and Canaan Severin. Houston throws to the corner, Severin keeps going deep. Second time that happened during camp. Dixon in “coverage,” but he didn’t have to do much.

8. Brian Allen at left corner, Dixon at right. Huguenin LOLB/Adams right. Galambos/Kelsey ILB. Defensive line: Hooks-McCullers-Philon. Looked like a tight end screen to David Johnson but Galambos reads it and steps in front of Bart Houston’s pass, picking it off. Good read.

McCullers had some pressure, too.

Fourth Session

1. Toussaint outside zone to the right. Good flow by Hargrave down the line. Grabs Toussaint and tosses him down as the whistle blows during this non-contact period.

2. Bad snap, Dobbs forced to take a second to gain control it. Watt swallows up Davis at the LOS, the back spinning off to his left. JuJu/AB the receivers.

3. Watt lines up off the ball. Dobbs hits Eli Rogers over the middle, scoring on the play. Hubbard got beat by Chickillo and was forced to grab a fistful of jersey, resulting in a flag.

4. Not in the rep but JuJu spent a lot of time by Hines Ward’s side. Dobbs complete to Davis in the left flat. Watt didn’t get enough width to disrupt it. Progression read by Dobbs.

5. Alualu busts through the first team line but credit to Nix, who gets square and stands him up three yards deep into the backfield. Toussaint cuts to his left, Brian Allen wrapping him up and tossing him down across the goal line. Probably want to throw him the other way, rook.

6. Dobbs looks for Rogers on a quick out to the left side. Allen does a great job to get his head around and stick his hand in the catch point, knocking it away. Bill Hillgrove, over the PA system, announces “Shamarko Thomas” with the breakup. Had to issue an awkward correction.

7. Arthur Moats blows through the left side of the line. Houston connects with Severin down the right seam for a touchdown.

8. Houston fires incomplete to the left corner of the end zone. Someone tugged Marcus Tucker’s jersey down, the intended receiver. Don’t know who.

Fifth Session

1. Cam Heyward shows power and runs Ramon Foster back into Toussaint, who bounces off and cuts upfield.

2. Pressure from seemingly the entire front seven. Dobbs hurriedly throws the ball into the mud five yards in front of him.

3. Davis carry off the left side. Smith-Schuster being used like Ward, cutting off the backside with a block on Chickillo. Had to hold on for dear life but he did it. Looked like Finney managed to pancake Watt, sending him slipping and sliding down into the grass.

4. Good recognition from Hawkins, picking up Chickillo, who aligned in the slot before blitzing the edge. Quick hitter from Dobbs to DHB, complete.

5. Brown-Dukes up the middle. Fort first man there.

6. Rain starting to come down heavy to end practice. Severin nice diving catch in the right corner of the end zone, working over Brian Allen.

7. Houston flips it to Watson in the right flat. Galambos first man there with Huguenin giving chase.

8. Davis finds a hole up the middle. Hagen drags him down as the skies open up, pouring down on the players as they huddle up to end the day.

Final Thoughts

– It is good for Dobbs to get all of these reps. And he’s responding reasonably well.

– JuJu Smith-Schuster’s ability to find the football and body control is really unique. Makes tough catches look easy, whether that’s in space or along the sideline. Always able to put his body in its best position at the catch point. Not getting one-hand on the ball, making it look “cool.” Just gets the job done.

– Still don’t think Grimble has a single reception more than 10 air yards downfield. That’s disappointing.

– Two years ago, Roosevelt Nix shined in backs on ‘backers. Today, he didn’t disappoint either. Fun dude to watch. Crazy play strength.

– Matt Feiler is a tough guy to dump. Could, should be on the practice squad. Big upper body and the strength to match. All work at guard this year but has a tackle background too, which is helpful when you need to plug a guy in during practice over the course of the year.

It’s not like Brian Mihalik or Ethan Cooper are blowing anyone away either. And the Steelers are likely to keep two on the practice squad, especially if they carry only 8 on the 53.

– Said yesterday Tyson Alualu could dominate the second team OL after facing the one’s for the past few days. And he did. Keavon Milton is not going to want to watch that film in the morning. Lucky for him Mike Munchak wasn’t at today’s practice.

– Some positive news on the McCullers front. Badly needed. But also needs to continue.

– Think Jeremy Fowler had a line from James Harrison getting after T.J. Watt in one-on-ones. Needing to play with more power, less finesse. Agreed. Getting around Villanueva is so tough to do. Dude is just so big, so long. Best way is to go through him, like Heyward did.

– If you made me choose today, and we are obviously a ways away, I would take Matt Galambos over Keith Kelsey for the practice squad.

– Brian Allen had some bad but some good today, too. A work in progress. But as long as there’s progress, you can’t complain.

– Terrish Webb showed up positively for the first time in my notes today. Ditto with Malik Golden. They need to make some plays. Thought they did just that this evening.

 


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History Through A Lens

Ernie Stautner, #70, the most well-known player in the pre-Chuck Noll era. Ignore that facemask.

St. Vincent Snapshot

Latrobe tradition. Players dropped off by six yellow school buses.

Ron Swanson Quote Of The Day

Ron: You mean I’ve had a toy on my desk all this time?
Leslie: You mean you thought you had a REAL landmine on your desk??

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