Some rainy weather early on but by the start of practice, it cleared and sunny skies returned. Let’s talk about what happened.
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– Injury report: T.J. Watt (left hamstring), JuJu Smith-Schuster (left knee), Sean Davis (groin), Ola Adeniyi (unknown), and Vance McDonald (foot) didn’t practice today. Mike Tomlin referred to all but Adeniyi’s injury, saying the rest were minor, which is good news for McDonald. Didn’t see him on the field, started to get a little worried. Adeniyi tweeted me at said he was “Gucci” so take that as good news. JuJu jogged onto the field and Davis ran sprints at half-speed, next to Adeniyi, so looking minor across the board.
Morgan Burnett suited up in pads for the first time but didn’t participate in team drills due to his hamstring injury suffered early in camp. But Burnett must have been excited to get down on the field, the first man out at 2:38 PM.
– B.J. Finney took some center snaps in warmups, something he ended up doing a bit of in drills. He suffered a right elbow injury early in practice but finished things out.
– Justin Thomas, Quadree Henderson, Cam Sutton in the punt return line. Joe Haden jumped in for one or two attempts, too. During the ST period, Thomas, Henderson, and Antonio Brown returned them. All offensive players, no surprise under Tomlin.
– Technology upgrades. Steelers no longer have to put a man up in the lift to film practice. All done robotically. Safer and better option. Glad to see it.
– DBs go through a handshake/hype up line with each other before breaking into individual drills. Brian Allen has the most elaborate handshakes, by far. Different one for virtually every guy.
– Players warmed up on the far, turf field because of the rain so not a ton of notes before practice began.
– Let’s get into the WR/DB battles I charted.
1. Antonio Brown burns Artie Burns. Burns grabs AB’s jersey, leading one of the coaches to toss out a flag. But Brown breaks away and makes a combative catch in the right corner of the end zone, both players falling hard to the ground.
2. Justin Hunter with a nice post-corner route to beat Dashaun Phillips. Created space breaking towards the pylon.
3. Fade for Marcus Tucker is incomplete. Mike Hilton on the coverage.
4. Darrius Heyward-Bey crosses Brian Allen’s face on a slant for an easy catch.
5. Tevin Jones separates away from Cam Sutton for the reception.
6. Nice route by Damoun Patterson, turning Jamar Summers around, though the throw is off-line and incomplete.
7. Pass thrown behind Trey Griffey. He puts up his right hand to reach back and one-hand it but it hits off and incomplete. Malik Reaves helped break it up.
8. Joe Haden blankets Brown vertically. Forces a tough throw that clangs off AB’s right hand and incomplete.
9. James Washington beats Cam Sutton off the line. Sutton recovers nicely though and the pass winds up incomplete.
10. Jones runs a comeback and makes the grab vs Brian Allen.
11. Artie Burns punches the ball out on an attempted slant towards DHB.
12. Great rep by Hilton, absolutely smothering Tucker as he bends his route towards the right sideline. Incomplete.
13. Quick in-cut by Quadree Henderson, making the grab versus Sutton. Not much for the defender to do.
14. Hunter backshoulder grab against Phillips.
15. Burns grabs AB’s arm and tries to pin him down the right sideline. Bad throw, incomplete.
16. Incomplete pass to Justin Thomas working on Brian Allen. Thomas came up a little gimpy at the end.
17. Jones bursts away from Malik Golden on a dig route.
18. Washington runs a post-corner route on Sutton. Couldn’t find the ball.
19. Hard jam by Phillips on Griffey at the LOS. Griffey recovers and separates on a dig but the throw is off-line and incomplete.
20. Haden again blankets Brown, forcing an incompletion.
21. Good coverage by Burns to pin DHB as he speeds upfield. Backshoulder throw, caught, tough luck by Burns.
22. Now they move the ball up to the 10 for more goal line oriented work. Justin Hunter juggles the pass on a slant but secures the ball and taps his feet before Phillips shoves him out.
23. Tucker doesn’t get his head around quickly enough on the slant, working versus Sensabaugh, and the pass is incomplete.
24. AB beats Burns on a slant, absorbing Burns’ shove from behind and finishes the catch.
25. Sutton good coverage against Washington on a comeback.
26. Good grab by Quadree Henderson, finding the ball on a fade and stretching out his hands to finish the play. Came against Hilton.
27. Leaping grab by Hunter, plucking it over Phillips’ head. Excellent play.
28. Powerful jam by Brian Allen on Griffey. Pass incomplete.
29. Golden breaks up throw intended for Thomas on a speed out.
30. Terrell Edmunds pushes Damoun Patterson out of bounds and it’s incomplete. Patterson did a great job of high pointing the ball and making the grab, even if it was ultimately out of bounds.
31. Burns plays through AB’s hands and the fade for him is incomplete.
32. Washington tops Hunter’s rep. Fantastic right handed, one-hand snag over Hilton’s head on a fade to the back right pylon.
33. Tucker also has a nice snag in the back of the end zone. Not sure who he was working against.
34. Hunter tried to top Washington again, full extension and reaching all the way back with his right hand on a back-shoulder throw. But Sutton is determined to finish the play and reaches around to break the throw up.
– OL/DL results.
1. Keion Adams dips under Joseph Cheek, not fully winning the edge until he rounds the corner and Cheek loses his balance on the soppy field.
2. Lavon Hooks late with a rip/dip past Parker Collins.
3. Patrick Morris sticks his inside arm into Daniel McCullers’ armpit, sealing him upfield.
4. Casey Sayles jumps early. Bull rush on Larson Graham that has a little bit of power but Graham anchors well enough.
5. Jake Rodgers steers Anthony Chickillo upfield. Chickillo has to put his hand on the ground to keep his balance.
6. Adams quick hands to swim Rodgers outside but Rodgers is able to push him upfield and win another rep.
7. McCullers goes full speed into Morris with a bull rush, dropping the rookie to a knee.
8. Hooks miserable failed club attempt on Collins’ right shoulder. Taking advantage, Collins buries him into the ground.
9. Farrington Huguenin slips past Cheek.
10. Adams can’t rip under R.J. Prince.
11. Graham wins vs Greg Gilmore.
12. Joshua Frazier seemed unusually slow off the ball and Morris anchors versus him.
13. Kendal Vickers unable to rip under Chris Schleuger.
14. Poor punch by Huguenin against Cheek, losing the battle.
– Ok, let’s hop into team sessions.
First Team Session (11 v 11)
1. Seven shots. Like yesterday, Chickillo filling in for Watt at LOLB. Nat Berhe and Terrell Edmunds your starting safeties. Jesse James in at TE with Matakevich/Vince Williams your inside linebackers. 13 personnel, James Conner split out in an empty set. Y nod for Xavier Grimble but Matakevich sticks to his inside hip and gets his hand in the way in the throw. Incomplete.
2. Tevin Jones getting some extra work with Smith-Schuster out. Lines up in the slot. Roethlisberger reads right then shifts left. Backshoulder throw to Justin Hunter is caught but out of bounds. Burns with the coverage.
3. Playaction. Roethlisberger dart over the middle, Grimble making a strong hands catch out and over the middle. Play Finney got dinged up on, walking out of the huddle and checked up by head trainer John Norwig.
4. Matt Feiler steps in at LG. Touchdown from Ben to Antonio Brown, boxing Burns out.
5. Josh Dobbs at QB. Pass incomplete, not sure who it was going for. Rookies Jaylen Samuels and Pharoah McKever the two closest in the area.
6. Tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson split wide to the bottom. Dobbs wants Tucker along the left side but Sutton breaks the pass up.
7. Offense finishes on a high note, Dobbs finding Patterson on a crosser working over Brian Allen, for a touchdown. Defense still wins seven shots, 4-3.
Second Team Session
1. Finney back in. James Conner gets the carry up the middle. Stephon Tuitt and Edmunds converge to make the tackle near the LOS. Full tackling session.
2. Conner off right guard. Marcus Gilbert throws the key block, sealing his man (Chickillo, probably but not 100% sure), and Conner runs off his hip. Tears into the 2nd level. Joe Haden dives out from his LCB spot but Conner runs through it without issue and then takes advantage of Nat Berhe’s less than stellar angle, motoring away from him and running the distance. 55 yard touchdown. One of the best plays in camp.
3. Flea flicker! Roethilsberger handoff to Conner, who pivots and pitches it back. Roethlisberger finds an open AB, who races down the right side before Haden bumps him out inside the five. About a 45 yard pickup.
4. Throw is hot to DHB with the Steelers bring Edmunds down to linebacker depth. Complete but Haden wraps him up around the waist, falling forward for a 3-4 pickup.
5. Tyler Matakevich spills the run to the outside and Edmunds clonks Conner out of bounds along the right sideline. Minimal yardage.
6. Dangerfield and Golden at safety. Adams and Huguenin OLBs. Fitzgerald Toussaint finds a crease. Adams and Jon Bostic get penetration while Dangerifled and Fort make the tackle as Toussaint presses upfield.
7. Toussaint carry again. Bostic whoops Scotland-Williamson and makes the tackle. Sensabaugh in the mix, too.
8. Sensabaugh/Allen at CB, Sutton in the slot. Dobbs strong throw to Tucker on a slant, beating Sutton. Credit to Golden for making a strong open field tackle.
9. Dobbs boot left. Quickly finds Ryan Malleck in the flat. Brian Allen chases him from behind while Fort cleans him up from the side.
10. Dangerfield knifes fast Malleck, tripping Samuels up in the backfield for a loss.
11. Samuels carry left side. Frazier might have taken a false step off the snap. Phillips and Marcus Allen double-team tackle.
12. UDFA Jarvion Franklin carry up the middle with Mason Rudolph at QB. Franklin spins forward through Keith Kelsey’s tackle, though he and Sayles combine to bring him down after a medium gain.
13. ILB Darnell Leslie flies in to drop Samuels after a short gain.
14. Rudolph off playaction. Pass down the right seam is too high, over Grimble’s head. Hilton pulled up to not knock him out.
15. Hilton getting work at safety, lined single high before rotating to the box on Jones motion, changing the strength of the formation. Rudolph had to direct Jones where and when to go. James Summers on the carry right side.
1. Roethlisberger hits Hunter working on Joe Haden.
2. Ben drops back again, waiting for Jesse James to clear Matakevich. He does and the two hook up.
3. Feiler jumps back in left guard with the 1st team. Big Ben finds a wide open Marcus Tucker.
4. Miscommunication between Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, Brown never breaking his route off. Pop fly for Edmunds, who records his 2nd INT in as many days. Roethlisberger throws his hands out after the play.
5. Conner nice blitz pickup on Matakevich. Roethlisberger heaves deep for Hunter against Brian Allen. Hunter can’t find the ball and Roethlisberger yells out to him to look and find the ball.
6. Low snap to Landry Jones by Finney, in at center. Short throw to Malleck is complete. Collins now at LG. Getting some movement along the OL now.
7. Again, Jones finds Malleck. Bostic quickly closes.
8. Empty set. Jones wants Washington on the left sideline but the throw is too far out in front, incmplete.
9. Jones looks for Washington again on the other side, hitting him in traffic, between Golden and Brian Allen. Golden pulls up to avoid a collision.
10. Sayles nearly jumps offsides. Jones to Washington for a third time but incomplete. Ball there late and Brian Allen broke it up.
11. Dobbs in at QB. Empty. Quick throw complete to CSW. Matt Galambos can’t nudge the ball out.
12. Hilton and Marcus Allen at safety. Hilton FS. Kelsey jumps offsides. Dobbs throws it vertically down the right sideline intended for Griffey. Nice vert and breakup by CB Malik Reaves.
13. Phillips in the slot at corner. Good gainer down the left sideline, Patterson speeding away from Jamar Summers.
14. Summers picks up Marcus Allen’s blitz. Vickers gets some pressure, flushing Dobbs left. Throw to the left sideline but Leslie charges hard and breaks up the pass for Jones.
15. Dobbs short throw right for Scotland-Williamson. Through his hands and then bounces off of Marcus Allen’s and incomplete. Allen, knowing he missed a chance, yells out, “Oh my goodness!”
1. Ball on the offense’s own one yard line. Finney back in at LG. Sutton at RCB. Roethlisberger “sneak.” No one is touching Ben and it wasn’t a full tackle session. Took one-step forward and that was it. But there’s your sneak.
2. Conner carry up the gut. Maurkice Pouncey throws a key block. Matakevich sheds Finney for the wrap up tackle.
3. Hilton slot corner. Conner with the carry. Dangerfield forces him to cut to his left before Bostic wraps things up.
4. Skinny post from Roethlisberger to AB. Sick one-handed grab with his left hand, diving over the middle before falling to the ground. AB type of play.
5. Samuels stuffed at the LOS. Daniel McCullers blew up Collins. Rudolph comes in at QB.
6. Bostic and Fort the ILBs. Toussaint right side. Golden first man in with Sensabaugh and Bostic finishing off the tackle, all three going to the ground. Tomlin reminds them to stay on their feet in this non-tackle session.
7. Rudolph in the gun, empty set. Looks for McKever on a slant. Matthew Thomas dove in and I don’t think he tipped the ball but may have been an obstruction. McKever drops the pass.
8. Ridley up the middle. Tyson Alualu falls on him.
9. Ridley one-cut upfield and to his right. Short gain.
10. Rudolph connects with AB over the middle, Berhe pulling up. Either mad he can’t hit or for being late to his spot, he twice jumps up and down in frustration.
11. Bostic/Vince Williams at ILB. Good ILB blitz pickup. Dobbs for Patterson falls incomplete down the left side.
12. Sayles-Hooks-Frazier in an over front, Hooks coming from his RDE spot to the strong side B gap. Toss away from the shift, pulling to the offense’s left, and Franklni has an impress carry. Jukes Summers and then darts upfield.
13. Hey Diddle Diddle, Franklin up the middle. Kelsey tries to wrestle the ball way from him on the ground but the back wouldn’t give it up.
Fifth Team Session
1. Haden and Sensabaugh 1st team corners. Conner carry right side. Chickillo seals the edge and forces him to the defense’s help.
2. Chickillo again on the tackle, bear hugging Conner.
3. Quick throw from Jones to DHB. Complete working on Vince Williams.
4. Huguenin defeats block on Conner’s carry.
5. Samuels left side. Huguenin again on the tackle. Roosevelt Nix the lead back but didn’t pick anyone up.
6. Samuels cuts to the right. Walton chases him from behind and grabs his jersey.
7. Patterson/Washington on the outside, Tevin Jones in the slot. Dobbs hits Nix underneath. McCullers strong bull rush on Graham.
8. Graham better this time on McCullers. Dobbs throw for Patterson but it’s incomplete. Brian Allen solid coverage.
9. Jones playfake. Middle screen to Jesse James. Matakevich snuffs it out and tags him at the LOS.
10. Quick screen to DHB. Medium gain.
11. Haden/Sensabaugh/Hilton in the slot. Samuels follows DeCastro through the hole on a trap block. Sayles forced him to cut it back to the right. Dupree flies through with the tackle.
12. Franklin totes the rock off the left side. Hooks sheds his block with a thud tackle.
13. Cothren and Vickers the nickel DL. Rudolph as the QB. Summers toss right. Tough run, breaking through Kelsey and Cothren’s tackles. McKever sealed the backside well.
14. Reaves comes in at RCB. Rudolph throws a curl, ball gets tipped by Summers, and Thomas capitalizes with an INT.
15. Sutton now getting a rep at free safety. Marcus Allen SS. Summers carry. Leslie flowed across for the stop.
Odds And Ends
– Stephon Tuitt ripped either his jersey or black undershirt during practice.
– TE coach James Daniel, in a rare moment, didn’t sport his usual big, straw hat.
– Special teams period. Brian Allen and Cam Sutton worked as the starting left and right gunners on the punt coverage unit. Rosie Nix and Jordan Dangerfield the wings, Toussaint the upback. Tevin Jones and Dashaun Phillips took the next reps at gunner.
– Using two tall tight ends, CSW and McKever on the punt block team. 6’9 and 6’7 respectively.
– Jordan Berry had one booming 75 yard punt.
– Quadree Henderson does a nice job of getting square to punts and getting upfield right away. No wasted movement.
– James Conner’s TD run was definitely play of the day. Showed some open field speed this run game could use.
– WR Damoun Patterson keeps making tough catches and showcasing his speed vertically.
– While the defense did allow some big plays in the live tackle session, I thought they tackled really well when they had the chance.
– Justin Hunter keeps making spectacular plays in one-on-one. But you know the rest of the story.
– Tweeted it out but Casey Sayles reminds me a little bit of Brian Arnfelt and Nick Eason. Back-to-back strong practices.
St. Vincent Snapshot
Backup offense huddling up.
Random Steelers Trivia
A new section this year. Obscure, random fact throughout the Steelers rich history. Today’s is a personal favorite of mine.
You probably know the Steelers once had Johnny Unitas before cutting him. You may know they drafted Len Dawson too. But they also drafted Sid Luckman 2nd overall in the 1939 draft and immediately traded him to George Halas’ Bears, where he became a Hall of Famer.
Dwight Schrute Quote Of The Day
“When my mother was pregnant with me, they did an ultrasound and found she was having twins. When they did another ultrasound a few weeks later, they discovered that I had adsorbed the other fetus. Do I regret this? No, I believe his tissue has made me stronger. I now have the strength of a grown man and a little baby.”