Training Camp

Steelers’ Training Camp Diary: Day Ten

Busy and frankly, a more intense 10th practice for the Pittsburgh Steelers than I expected. Tackling throughout. Lot to get to so let’s jump in.

Quick aside: want to thank our training camp sponsor, Touring Plans, who is supporting the meals throughout camp. Leftover chicken wrap – still pretty good. 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: still a lot going on. Those out: Artie Burns (leg/groin), Landry Jones (abdominal strain), Mike Mitchell (foot/ankle), Senquez Golson (Told Tomlin his favorite movie is Pluto Nash, now shunned by the entire team), Cam Sutton (hamstring), Demarcus Ayers (unknown), Ryan Shazier (hamstring), Keion Adams (shoulder), James Harrison (in sweats, rest), Justin Hunter (unknown), Alejandro Villanueva (concussion), and Maurkice Pouncey (probably rest).

Burns and Sutton did straight-line jogging towards the end of practice. So they’re taking another step. That’s good.

James Conner was in full pads and went through individual work but was held out of team sessions as the Steelers still tread carefully. Stephon Tuitt was back after getting Sunday’s practice off. Farrington Huguenin and Greg Ducre were dressed but not in team. Bud Dupree returned, a pleasant sign.

During practice, early on, Anthony Chickillo injured a hip. Seemed fine so don’t panic. It did leave the Steelers really thin at OLB – again – with only three available for practice: Dupree, T.J. Watt, Arthur Moats. Cornerback Brandon Dixon suffered an ankle injury in one-on-ones and was looked at for a couple minutes. Did return to the session but I don’t believe he participated in team drills.

Elsewhere, Sammie Coates was running full speed during practice. Looks really close to coming off PUP. Martavis Bryant still hung out, ran some routes by himself, waiting for the league to quit dragging their feet.

– As usual, Terrell Watson first man out at 2:20 PM. Coates got on the field at about the same time, catching off the JUGs machine.

Bart Houston the next player down. Only, like, one person clapped. Poor Bart.

Mike Matthews was waived/injured but was on the field today, his right knee still wrapped. He is likely to be released with an injury settlement. Last day we’ll see him around.

Ben Roethlisberger let Alejandro Villanueva compete with Maurkice Pouncey on the crossbar challenge.

– With Villanueva out, Chris Hubbard ran 1st team left tackle.

– Second team line with Jerald Hawkins out with an excused absence. Brian Mihalik-Keavon Milton-Kyle Friend-Matt Feiler-Jake Rodgers.

– Newly signed OL Lucas Crowley will wear Dr. Wallace’s old number, 72. He did not get work in team sessions today.

– Looked like Matt Feiler had some family in town today, a pair wearing Feiler color rush jerseys. They were pretty cool.

Mike Tomlin chatting up and joking with Canaan Severin in the stretch line. Know it doesn’t matter much but confirms what guys I’ve talked to tell me. Tomlin treats everyone the same, whether you’re the franchise or near the bottom of the roster.

– Trash can was brought out for the QBs to try to hit. Bart Houston won it, connecting twice. Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Dobbs, and Todd Haley (who always throws with them for this) nailed it once.

Roethlisberger would mock-boo Haley everytime that he missed, and laughed and pointed on one throw where Haley missed terribly. They had fun with it. Keep that in mind the next time you see someone in the national media try to write they hate each other. Couldn’t be farther from the truth.

– Special teams highlights.

Danny Smith was happy go lucky today. Pleased with his unit’s work. “That’s how that’ll look! That’s how that’ll look!” he exclaimed after one good return.

– Coached up Watson on the next rep on his technique.

– Stressed pad level and hand placement. Then called out to Hubbard. “All you gotta do is get your hands on him. All you’re doing is shielding him,” Smith called out to Hubbard, standing about 10 yards apart.

– During 7v7, Colin Holba and Kameron Canaday worked on snapping/blocking with Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry acting as the rushers.

– Couple brief notes from 7v7.

Gay had a nice breakup on Eli Rogers as he tried to run away.

Roethlisberger a laser down the right side, AB drifting away from Cockrell to make the grab.

Severin had a diving catch on a comeback.

Elsewhere, in OL/DL, all stunt work today, Ethan Cooper did well to seal McCullers upfield. Either McCullers screwed up or Watt did a poor job as the crasher.

Johnny Maxey dipped Brian Mihalik coming off the edge on one rep.

– One last thing from after practice. Group of kids called over Antonio Brown to sign and he obliged for a minute or two. Crowd rushed over there. One kid, holding an Antonio Brown jersey, got it signed, his mom beaming as they walked up the bleachers to leave. Pretty cool.

RB-TE vs LB Coverage Drills

1. Tyler Matakevich gets the breakup on Knile Davis.

2. Grimble bursts away from Vince Williams on a dig, making a nice hands catch.

3. Trey Williams dips Steven Johnson off the line but the throw is too flat and Johnson tips it away with his left hand.

4. Moats a strong jam on David Johnson. Johnson breaks upfield but Moats stays in-phase, playing the pocket and breaking it up. Good technique and rep for Moats.

5. Watson makes the catch on an out route versus Fort.

6.  Watt rides Odom downfield. Odom gets space at the top of his curl route and makes the catch.

7. Wheel for Brandon Brown-Dukes. Incomplete, Matt Galambos providing the coverage.

8. Jake McGee beats Dupree on an out route, Dupree unable to play the pocket and knock it out.

9. Toussaint runs away from Vince Williams in the right flat, hauling in the throw.

10. Moats jams Jesse James pretty good off the line, knocking him inside, but he completes the drag route and catches it.

11. Nix cuts back in against Keith Kelsey, catching the ball.

12. Near catch for Grimble, creating space on his breakdown versus Matakevich. But ends things with an ugly looking drop.

13. Davis sliding catch running a wheel against Galambos.

14. Dupree pressing David Johnson off the line. Quick double-move from Johnson, who does those pretty well, believe it or not, to get space and catch the ball.

15. Trey Williams bests Steven Johnson, shaking him on an inside/outside move. Catch.

16. Odom is able to dip under Moats, bursting to the left corner. Moats slips as he breaks with him, giving up even more space, and Odom makes the catch. Nice play.

17. Think it was Johnson who poked the ball away from Watson. Good rep.

18. Galambos break up against McGee.

19. James dips under Moats, catching the ball on the curl.

20. Matakevich breakup on a Knile Davis out cut.

21. David Johnson tracks the ball on a corner route, catching the ball with Dupree providing the coverage.

22. Nix does well to run up on Fort’s toes, creating space on his out cut. Catch.

23. Watt does a great job to jam Odom. Quarterback doesn’t even throw the ball. Second time that’s happened in Watt v Odom.

24. Wheel to Williams is incomplete. Steven Johnson on the coverage.

25. McGee wins on an out cut versus Moats.

26. Watson smoothly rips under Galambos’ jam. Pass fell incomplete.

27. Grimble out ‘n up double-move toasts Watt.

28. Brown-Dukes tough catch versus a diving Keith Kelsey.

29. Johnson crosses Dupree’s face, making the grab.

30. Watt chasing Odom but throws his hands up, getting in the way and causing an incompletion.

31. Davis shakes Matakevich and makes the catch.

32. Johnson blankets Williams. Incomplete.

33. Hard shove by Fort on Watson near the LOS, who gets pushed behind the line and makes the catch. Would consider this a win for Fort, despite the catch.

34. Johnson finds the football vs Watt but the ball hits off his fingertips.

35. Brown-Dukes burns Matakevich, creating space and making the grab.

First Session

1. Seven shots. Dupree and Watt the OLBs. Tyler Matakevich and Vince Williams inside. Robert Golden continues to replace Mike Mitchell opposite Sean Davis. JuJu Smith-Schuster opposite Antonio Brown. Empty set. JuJu brought in motion to the right and then runs a slant with a pick from the TE. Pass complete in the end zone, Matakevich unable to get there in time, despite popping JuJu pretty decent.

2. Quick out by Ben for David Johnson to the right side. Falls to the ground and makes the catch for the score, Dupree on the coverage.

3. Motion JuJu again to the right for a 3×1 look. Roethlisberger looks for Antonio Brow on a speed out to the left but the pass is short and low, skipping in front of him. Ross Cockrell had the coverage.

4. Knile Davis split wide and to the left. Eli Rogers lined up as the outside Z receiver. Heyward-Bey and AB inside. Brown running a corner route to the left out of the slot – gives him more space. Roethlisberger with a perfect throw in the back left corner for the score. Cockrell couldn’t do a thing about it.

5. Josh Dobbs enters as the QB. Empty set. Phazahn Odom thought he was part of the personnel but then got pulled out. Dobbs looks for Xavier Grimble on a slant but it’s behind and Grimble only gets a piece of it. Brandon Dixon nearly picked off the deflection.

6. Dobbs for Odom is at his feet and incomplete. Terrell Watson in at RB. May have jumped Brandon Brown-Dukes and Trey Williams for good.

7. Eli again outside. Canaan Severin to the slot. Dobbs wanted Jake McGee on a slant but it’s well-covered. Dobbs tucks and runs up the middle for the touchdown but I count QB rushes as wins for the defense. Defense was down 3-1 but come back to win the day, 4-3.

Second Session

1. B.J. Finney at center for Pouncey. Ben complete to Antonio Brown on the left side, Ross Cockrell sliding down, unable to make a play. Cam Heyward ripped under Chris Hubbard along the left edge.

2. David Johnson makes a combative catch on David Johnson, working against Tyler Matakevich.

3. Knile Davis carry off the left side. Ramon Foster with a good block. Bud Dupree and Matakevich pile in on the tackle.

4. Watt strong at the point of attack, walking back Xavier Grimble. Davis up the middle, Heyward on the tackle.

5. Roethlisberger hits Smith-Schuster hot on a screen. Steps out of a Coty Sensabaugh tackle towards the right sideline. Vince Williams looks to pop him pretty good but JuJu shakes that off too, though knocked out of bounds.

6. Watson up the gut. Sensabaugh flying in off the edge but misses nipping Watson’s ankles. Watson into the pile for a couple yards.

7. Davis up the middle. L.T. Walton on the tackle.

8. Moats runs through Davis in pass pro. Dobbs looks for Cobi Hamilton down the right side but Mike Hilton gets his head around, times his jump, and deflects it. Hamilton tried to catch it coming down off the bounce but the ball was too of course to the left. Great play by Hilton.

9. Dupree tackle on Watson for a 1-2 yard gain. Jacob Hagen did well to hold the edge and defeat his block.

10. Daniel McCullers crashes from the backside and falls on top of tiny Brandon Brown-Dukes. Jake Rodgers may have felt like he was holding Lavon Hooks, sorta letting him through, who helped on the tackle.

11. Brown-Dukes up the middle. Keith Kelsey gets penetration and dips past Roosevelt Nix. 3-4 yard gain.

12. Trey Williams with a nice shake to sidestep a linebacker behind the line – either Moats or Kelsey, not sure – but gets ganged up on at the LOS. Looked like Odom was late out of his stance on the snap.

Third Session

1. Roethlisberger timing route to Smith-Schuster on a curl. Stiff-arms Sensabaugh, though there’s no tackling here.

2. Ben playaction. Wants Nix on a wheel but Nix slows up so Ben looks for another option. Floater of a checkdown to Fitzgerald Toussaint. Matakevich pops him at the end, bear-hugging the back to wrap things up.

3. Watt dips under and past Chris Hubbard. Roethlisberger has an open Jesse James to the right corner, gaining a step on Dupree, but drops a well-thrown ball. Bummer.

4. Marcus Gilbert with a rare loss, Moats running through him and winning to the inside. Roethlisberger complete to Brown on a comeback. Sean Davis chases him 50 yards downfield to the end zone, trying to punch the ball out. Kept up with him but didn’t knock it out.

5. Tuitt is offsides, bursting through the A gap but the play continues. Roethlisberger to Jesse James on a hank concept (five yard curl over center).

6. Ben looks to DHB down the left sideline. Cockrell grabs his jersey, causing the incompletion.

7. Dobbs wants Marcus Tucker along the right sideline but Brian Allen has solid coverage. Tucker adjusts for it the best he can, throwing his left hand up, but it’s off line and incomplete.

8. Similar story. Dobbs wants Tucker but the pass isn’t perfect. Tucker tries to adjust but it goes through his hands. Kid on the sideline to Tucker: “You should’ve caught that.” BURN!

Elsewhere, Rodgers did well to anchor versus Walton on the edge.

9. Dobbs quickly hits Trey Williams in the left flat. Good stunt pickup on the right side by Jake Rodgers as Dupree twists inside with the DE looping.

10. Brian Allen and JaCorey Shepherd 2nd team corners. Shows how thin this group is with all the injuries. Terrish Webb and Malik Golden at safety, Webb in the box. Dobbs to a wide open Severin down the left side for a touchdown. Busted coverage.

11. Bart Houston’s pass for JuJu Smith-Schuster is high, even with JuJu leaving his feet, and incomplete. Rodgers sealed Lavon Hooks upfield.

12. Brian Mihalik gets walked back; not sure by who. Houston looks for Tucker along the left sideline but Shepherd with a diving play to break it up.

Fourth Session

1. Cobi and JuJu on the outside, AB in the slot. Good pass pro by Toussaint. Ben’s pass to Hamilton on a post to the left is high and incomplete.

2. Draw to Toussaint. Good hole. Davis tags him up.

3. Roethlisberger fumbles the exchange but turns and picks it up. Flushed to the right, rolling, rolling, still rolling. Dump to Knile Davis in the right flat for a touchdown but pretty much everyone had considered the play over. So don’t really count it as much of a true score, if that makes sense.

4. Tuitt swims over David DeCastro for A gap pressure. Roethlisberger hits AB on an out route to the left for a score.

5. Roethlisberger has an open Heyward-Bey in the back of the end zone. Should be a touchdown but….DHB drops it. Stays on the ground, pounds his fist into the grass.

Elsewhere, Hubbard did well to seal Moats upfield.

6. Ramon Foster pulls on a Toussaint draw.

Fifth Session

1. 1st team offense vs second team defense. Allen/Shepherd/Hilton in the slot. Gilbert seals Dupree. Roethlisberger a rainbow downfield over Johnson and in front of Jordan Dangerfield. Nice completion.

2. Walton/Alualu in nickel. Ben dropped back but not sure what the end result was.

3. Empty set. Hail Mary, situational work. DBs 30 yards deep in a Cover 3 shell, Hagen the single high safety. JuJu Smith-Schuster false starts. Gets chewed out by several, including Mike Tomlin. “Come on, JuJu!”

Hail Mary, the line not really trying to rush. Ben heaves from midfield to the back of the end zone, AB sitting underneath and hauling it in. No one really trying to stop the play. More about the situation.

4. 2nd team offense. Dobbs hits Severin in the middle of the field. Tomlin talking the defense, explaining it’s a situation where the offense doesn’t have timeouts and is trying to get the ball out of bounds.

5. But the offense is able to get out of bounds here, Dobbs hitting Grimble in the left flat for a 7-10 yard gain. Should’t have happened. Tomlin pointed to and said something to Hilton after the play.

6. Hail Mary. Again, no one really doing much but Heyward-Bey just watched the ball drop three feet away from him. Kinda weird.

Sixth Session

1. Two minute drill. 1st team in. Ben to Cobi incomplete.

2. Bubble from Ben to Cobi. James and Rogers working out in space.

3. Ben again to a wide open Cobi on the right side. Miscommunication by the defense.

4. Thunder Fire Zone, William Gay and Robert Golden blitzing. Ben misses Brown on the right sideline, upset at himself, yelling out “Shoot!” a moment later.

5. Roethlisberger redeems himself, hitting AB on a dig working on Cockrell.

6. Roethlisberger spikes the ball.

7. Cockrell/Sensabaugh on the outside, William Gay in the slot. At WR, DHB/AB on the outside, Rogers in the slot. Roethlisberger scrambles to the right, finding Xavier Grimble for about a 20 yard gain.

8. Roethlisberger’s arm gets bumped by someone – Tuitt, I think – as he releases. Incomplete.

9. Ben hits AB in the end zone between Golden and Vince Williams.

10. Second team offense/defense is in. Dobbs wants Johnson on a quick out but the pass is low, away, incomplete.

11. Even though it’s the second team defense, with the shortage of OLBs, Watt and Dupree are at OLB. Jake Rodgers seals Watt. Dobbs short throw over the middle to Smith-Schuster, with two defenders closing fast, and JuJu can’t hang on. Would consider it a drop.

12. Draw to Watson. Fort nails him with his left shoulder.

13. Dobbs drops the shotgun snaps but gets a lucky bounce, the ball spinning back up to him. Looks for Odom over the middle. Hilton dove in and may have knocked it away.

14. Brian Allen free on a blitz off the defense’s right side. Dobbs flushes to his right to find Watson.

15. Dobbs spike.

16. Shepherd free on a blitz. Dobbs hits Jake McGee on an out route. Fort tries to swipe down to knock it away with his right hand but can’t. Winds up tackling him to the ground.

17. Brown-Dukes with good effort to pick up Lavon Hooks. Lot of bad play by the OL here. Dobbs complete to Hamilton.

18. Dobbs to Tucker incomplete along the left sideline. Brian Allen with the coverage.

19. Good pocket. Dobbs checkdown to Watson. Hilton with the full-on tackle.

20. 4th down. Heave to the right corner of the end zone, a really well thrown ball by Dobbs that floats over Shepherd and into Severin’s hands. Shepherd stayed down on the field as practice ended, trying to touch his toes to work out his right hamstring. May have just been a cramp. Was able to walk off the field, I think. Team can’t keep losing corners like this.

Final Thoughts

– Not Josh Dobbs’ best day but liked the way he commanded the huddle in the hurry up drill. Even on the snap he botched, didn’t both him. Grabbed the ball, reset, made a throw.

– Terrell Watson may be the first man up of the “other” backs, running ahead of Trey Williams and Brandon Brown-Dukes. Sunday’s goal line performance may have provided some clarity there.

– JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to churn out strong performances. Opened up with the first team, opposite AB, though there were many injuries.

-Phazahn Odom really struggles with his height out of his three point stance. Too tall to rip under linebackers pressing him. Going to be a big problem in games, where the game plays even faster.

– Xavier Grimble flashing but has to put together the consistency. Always been his biggest hurdle.

– Good day for Arthur Moats.

– Bud Dupree looks better and is having a pretty good camp but he’s going to be “meh” in coverage, especially in man. When you’re allowing space to David Johnson or Jake McGee, even in one-on-one settings, you’re probably not going to excel in games.

– Like how Sensabaugh attacks the run and plays downhill.

– Still no interception by any safety the entire camp. Only had one all of last year. Probably tougher for that position to get involved with the play but hopes it’s different during the preseason.

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History Through A Lens

I bet you anything two steps after this photo, the WR was flat on his back. That’s Mel Blount for you.

St. Vincent Snapshot

Two minute drill with Dobbs in the gun.

Ron Swanson Quote Of The Day

“‘You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of bacon and eggs, but what I said was: Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.'”

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