Training Camp

2018 Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Two

Welcome back Steelers Nation to day two of training camp at St. Vincent College. Mother Nature played a couple tricks on us, they cleared the field several times at the campus, but ultimately, the rain mostly held off and didn’t interrupt practice. Alls well that ends well. Get ready for tomorrow because the pads come on and the real fun begins. For now, here’s what happened today.

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– Because of the rain and us forced from the field for a short while, I – regrettably – don’t know for sure who the first player on the field was today. I came back a little after 2:30 and like yesterday, saw TE Christian Scotland-Williamson doing his thing on the JUGS machine. He’s definitely a guy putting in the work and trying to catch up as much as he can.

– Injury report: Morgan Burnett didn’t participate at all today due to what Mike Tomlin called hamstring tightness. We’ll see what happens tomorrow but with that the first day of pads, they might give him another day. Terrell Edmunds got his first reps with the 1’s in his place. Backup center Parker Collins, carted off yesterday, was a pleasant surprise, returning today and practicing in full.

Matt Feiler took a couple warmup snaps at center, hiking the ball to Mason Rudolph. I didn’t see him work in team drills though.

The offensive line groupings were the same.

1st Team: Villanueva-Foster-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert
2nd Team: Okorafor-Finney-Collins-Feiler-Rodgers
3rd Team: Cheek-Schleuger-Morris-Graham-Prince

Ben Roethlisberger whooped Maurkice Pouncey’s butt in the field goal toss competition, trying to hit the crossbar. A sarcastic call from Ben to the crowd at the end: “Let’s hear it for Pouncey trying!” and the crowd mock-cheered.

John Mitchell may no longer be the team’s DL coach but he’s still on the field. Saw him out there today and he floated around a couple groups, including watching the tight ends through individual.

Marcus Allen went all 1980s NBA, either hiking up or wearing these super short shorts for practice today. Kids these days.

– Punt return line: Quadree Henderson, Cam Sutton, Justin Thomas. In special teams drill, Henderson and Thomas were the two who saw work under Tomlin’s watchful eye.

Mike Munchak giving some instructions to the OL in a run blocking drill.

“Stay square! Shuffle to the side!” 

“Drive him out!”

Again, you saw the value of having essentially two OL coaches. For one session, assistant Shaun Sarrett took all the OTs to work on pass sets while Munchak worked with the interior OL on trap and down blocks.

– Seeing more new drills and areas of emphasis from WRs coach Darryl Drake. Had them run vertically on air (no DB), down the right side and make a one-handed catch with their right hand. Not something I remember Richard Mann asking them to do.

– Roethlisberger going over plenty of details with Marcus Tucker throughout the day. Looked like he either rounded one route off or wasted a step on a route to the sideline, getting to the ball late and having it hit off his hands. Later, in 7 on 7s, Tucker didn’t run his route at the correct depth, the pass falling incomplete,

– One thing you quickly notice about rookie WR James Washington. Strong hands, big catch radius. Even in individual work, he’s making every catch outside of his frame and away from his body. Reached over eye level and to his right on one throw to the sideline, getting both feet inbounds.

– More coaching from Ben in QB/WR work.

After Justin Hunter quickly found the football. “There ya go! There ya go!”

Tucker finding the ball and adjusting to it. “Nice Tuck!”

– Let’s talk about the team drills.

First Team Session (11 v 11)

1. Seven shots sticking around. Edmunds and Sean Davis your starting safety. Antonio Brown in the slot. Vance McDonald the TE. Steelers line up in an empty set. Roethlisberger throws a short, quick out route to Justin Hunter out of the slot working right to left. Hunter makes the catch but Mike Hilton quickly closes and hits him immediately, pushing him out of bounds at about the half-yard line. No TD.

2. Like yesterday, T.J. Watt at LOLB, Bud Dupree ROLB. Marcus Tucker lined up in the slot, Brown and Hunter on the outside. Angle/rub under the tight end. Complete to Hunter from Ben for a score.

3. Stevan Ridley checks in at RB. 12 personnel. Xavier Grimble with his hand down as the Y, McDonald split out wide to the bottom right, Edmunds sliding over to cover him. McDonald runs an out route five yards into the end zone and makes a tough, combative catch for the score.

4. Second-team DL left to right. L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers, Tyson Alualu. Jaylen Samuels split wide left. Roethlisberger searches for him, throwing towards the left corner, Vince Williams has serviceable coverage and the pass is over both their heads, incomplete.

5. 2nd team in. Josh Dobbs getting the nod. Alualu generates some pressure. Dobbs floats the ball right corner towards James Washington. Pass is incomplete. Coty Sensabaugh offered good coverage.

6. Third team defensive line. Casey Sayles-Joshua Frazier-Lavon Hooks. Christian Scotland-Williamson the TE. Dobbs has nothing available and scrambles to his right and jogs into the end zone.

7. Washington on return motion, starting right, coming to the center, and then returning to his original spot. Dobbs looks for him on a fade in the right corner. Washington finds the ball and sticks out his right hand but it hits off it and incomplete. Would’ve been a tough play. Incomplete,CB Brian Allen all over him.

Defense dominates 5-2. I don’t count Dobbs rushing TD as a win for the offense. If you force the QB to scramble in a drill where you can’t hit him, that’s a win in my book for the D.

Second Team Session

1. Vince Williams/Tyler Matakevich the ILBs. Watt/Dupree at OLB. One step drop from Ben Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown for a short catch.

2. Grimble and Jesse James the TEs. Dupree does a zone hook drop. Roethlisberger simply checkdown to James Conner in the right flat. Davis tags him up.

3. New wrinkle. Shotgun, splitback with Stevan Ridley on Ben’s left, Samuels on Ben’s right. Pass complete to Darrius Heyward-Bey moving right to left.

4. Playaction. Brown separates from Artie Burns on a dig and Big Ben finds him for about a 15 yard completion. Pitch and catch for two great players.

5. Matthew Thomas and L.J. Fort at ILB. Walton and McCullers as the nickel DL. Landry Jones checking in at QB. Deep throw down the right sideline. Popped in and out of Washington’s hands with Brian Allen providing tight coverage. Fell incomplete. “Come on 1-3, gotta have it” Tomlin called out to him as the rookie jogged back to the huddle.

6. Jones finds reserve TE Ryan Malleck on a shallow cross working right to left. Fort makes a nice play, swiping down with his hand to knock the football out and then picks it up. Good rep from Fort.

7. Tight end screen from Jones to Pharoah McKever. Tyson Alualu johnny on the spot, sniffs it out, and grabs McKever before he can go anywhere after the catch.

8.  Second teamers in. Keion Adams LOLB, Anthony Chickillo opposite. Nat Berhe still with the 2nd stringers while Jordan Dangerfield bumped there after running 3rd team yesterday. Chickillo zone drop, getting good depth and leaping up to knock away a corner route intended for Damoun Patterson. Jones on the throw.

9. T.J. Watt beats Marcus Gilbert off the edge for pressure. Roethlisberger hits a stumbling and falling Tucker, who makes the catch, rolls over, and gets back up. Williams and Matakevich at ILB with the Steelers in nickel.

10. Nickel blitz from Hilton. Screen to James Conner, who has a nice gain to exploit the blitz. Haden first one there to tag him.

11. Now it’s Matakevich and Bostic with the first teamers, Williams sitting out. Good pocket for Ben. Hits JuJu on a dig, working on Burns, just as AB did on the 4th rep of this series.

12. Malik Golden and Marcus Allen at safety. Cam Sutton at LCB, Jamar Summers RCB, Dashaun Phillips in nickel. Farrington Huguenin LOLB, Ola Adeniyi ROLB. Sayles-Frazier-Hooks round out your third team. Rudolph looks for Washington. Pass is low and off his fingertips, would’nt call it a drop. ILB Darnell Leslie beat the RB with a swim move to get pressure up the middle. Worked over UDFA Jarvion Franklin.

13. Mason Rudolph comes in and heaves it deep for Washington. Pass a little too far in front and Sutton dives full extension to make sure the rookie has no shot of making a play on the ball. Incomplete.

14. Third-team OL in. Looked like Rudolph was going to connect with Patterson along the right side but Sutton closed quickly and pushed Patterson from behind, knocking the ball out before Patterson could complete the catch.

15. 4th string (?) defensive line. Cothren-Gilmore-Vickers. I think it was Adeniyi beating up Scotland-Williamson on the edge, the former rugby player looking pretty bad in pass pro. Rudolph feeling the heat, tries to get rid of the ball. Batted at the LOS, don’t know by who, and Keith Kelsey walks away with the INT. He was amped up.

Third Team Session

1. AB and JuJu the two WRs. Stephon Tuitt collapses the pocket. Ben hits AB vs Burns. Rinse, repeat.

2. Jones now in at QB. McDonald false starts on a hard count. Play continues and Jones finds Hunter downfield complete. Cover 2 hole shot.

3. Tucker in the slot, Hunter and DHB on the outside. Bud Dupree wins the rep, dipping under Alejandro Villanueva. Jones forced to quickly get the ball away and check it down to Fitzgerald Toussaint.

4. Williams and Bostic the first team LBs and the Steelers in nickel. Williams swim move gets him free on the left side. Jones complete to AB on a 15 yard dig.

5. Dobbs comes in at QB. Matakevich/Bostic the ILBs. Dirty red meets Samuels in the hole at the LOS.

6. Brian Allen the RCB, Sensabaugh the LCB. Dangerfield/Berhe the safeties. Alualu-Walton-McCullers the DL with the Steelers in an “over” front, the backside end now playing three tech and the nose tackle cocked into the weakside A gap. Dobbs hits DHB along the left sideline, Heyward-Bey tapping his feet inbounds. Malik Golden couldn’t close quite in time.

7. Sensabaugh/Allen/Sutton the slot. Chickillo dips under Okorafor for the pressure. Flushes Dobbs to his right. Short throw to Washington last-second along the right sideline for a short gain.

8. Tevin Jones getting some work in the slot, Washington the Z. 3×1 formation. Dobbs hard count gets Sutton to tip his hand that he’s blitzing. Dobbs resets, climbs the pocket, and hits Jones for a medium gain, though Jones had to double-catch it as he turned upfield. Berhe on the coverage.

9. Fort and Thomas at ILB. Adams and Chick the OLBs. Jones at QB. Pass complete to DHB. Brian Allen could’ve made a play on the football but slipped and allowed the completion. Keion Adams, dropping into coverage, bumped into DHB and they both fell to the ground. Allen got up and loudly dropped an F Bomb, mad he slipped and missed the chance.

10. Jones throws a bomb down the left sideline. Antonio Brown makes maybe the eventual play of camp, a sick one-handed grab despite getting bumped by Sensabaugh and falling to the ground. 35-40 yard gain.

11. Justin Thomas getting some work on the outside. Jones looks to hit Hunter on an out route. Looked like Dashaun Phillips knocked him out of bounds before he could get his feet in.

12. Sayles/Hooks the nickel DL. Huguenin/Adeniyi the OLBs. Adeniyi makes quick work of Joseph Cheek around the edge. Rudolph checks down to McKever along the right side.

13. Sutton kicks back out to his third-team LCB spot. Jones in the slot for the offense. Rudolph heaves it deep down the right sideline. Washington accelerates away from Sutton at the top of the route for a big catch. Just like those two did at OSU.

14. Draw to Franklin. Sutton sets the edge to keep Franklin between the tackles and Dangerfield throws a shoulder into the rookie back. Amped up afterwards with teammates.

15. Rudolph playaction. Nothing there. Throws short checkdown to Christian Scotland-Williamson along the left side.

Fourth Team Session

1. Landry Jones at QB. McDonald/Grimble at TE. Jones deep throw down the left sideline. Burns blankets Brown and Davis converges over the top. Incomplete. OL gave Jones a clean pocket.

2. DHB/Hunter/Tucker in the slot. Pistol with Conner behind Jones. Conner gets the carry right side for a short gain.

3. Ridley and Nix split next to Jones, working out of the gun. Then Nix motions to the slot. Hilton nickel blitz but it’s picked up well. Jones fires incomplete to DHB. Burns on the coverage, maybe a drop from Hey-Bey.

4. Williams and Matakvich at ILB. Tuitt-Hargrave-Alualu up front. Conner carry off left guard. Stutter stop like Le’Veon Bell at the LOS. Burns first man in there. DL held the point of attack well.

5. Ridley follows Nix up the middle. Walton and several others with the stuff following a short gain.

6. Patterson/Washington on the outside, Tevin Jones in the slot. Rudolph pulls the ball out of Jaylen Samuels’ belly and quickly hits Washington on the right side. Nice snag, hands above his head, and then gets upfield with a swift spin move to the inside of Joe Haden.

7. Rudolph throws high over Patterson’s head. Berhe is forced to pull up and avoid the TKO. Toussaint had trouble sealing Fort upfield on a blitz off the edge.

8. Samuels carry up the middle. Adams shook loose and met him. Someone yelled out “There ya go Big Dan!” for Daniel McCullers.

9. Conner with the carry and finds a crease in the B gap off left guard. Medium gain. “Way to finish 3-0” Mike Tomlin chimes in the second or third time he’s praised Conner for that during these first two practices.

10. McCullers/Hooks in the nickel against the first-team OL. Playaction. Dobbs complete to Washington right side. Brian Allen can’t rip it out.

11. 3×1 formation. Grimble the X receiver to the bottom and offense’s left. Three receivers the other side. Jones, Washington in the slot, Thomas the Z. Then Samuels motions out to the left to make it a 3×2 empty set. Jones turns away from Huguenin off the right side. Dobbs finds him for the completion.

12. Ridley carry left side. Bends the run back, good vision, and runs off the outside hip of RT R.J. Prince. Good gain as Matthew Thomas changes directions with him and tags him up.

13. Dangerfield/Allen at safety. Huguenin blows through Franklin’s pass protection attempt. Nothing there, slowly works his way to the right, felt like he was just going to give up on the play, before jogging out of bounds for a short gain.

14. Cothren-Gilmore-Vickers come in along the DL. Galambos/Kelsy at ILB. Rudolph nifty throw to connect with Patterson on a skinny post. Complete, Sutton diving out but missing.

15. Franklin receives the carry and has a lane. Nice drive block by RG Larson Graham to end practice.

Odds And Ends

– Some notes from ST sessions.

– Nat Berhe, Fitz Toussaint, and Jaylen Samuels all got work as the upback/personal protector on the punt team. Looking to replace Robert Golden. Franklin and James Summers got work as the wings.

Danny Smith not happy the Steelers FG unit had only 10 guys for one kick. And let them know.

“Stop! We’re a man short. We ain’t got no timeouts!” 

Mike Tomlin, observing 20 yards behind them, called out “I’ll take the five yards.” The team got the 11th man in and Chris Boswell made the field goal.

– Xavier Grimble and Keion Adams working as the wings on field goals. Smith liked something Walton was doing on the protection team.

– 7 v 7. McDonald made a tough hands catch against Edmunds on a speed out along the right sideline.

– Rosie Nix with another drop in this session. Hands haven’t been kind to ‘ol Rosie these first two days.

– Post-practice; Franklin, Toussain, and Summers again made their way to the far field and got some extra work in.

– Not sure what the reason was, Darryl Drake has plenty of pet peeves (drops, loafing with the ball/bad ball security) and made all the receivers – yes, AB too – do 60 pushups. Conner and Samuels did 40 before being allowed to get up. They caught some passes 30 feet away. Here’s the last 20 with some very tired players out there.

– Antonio Brown caught 129 passes on the JUGS machine (I counted) after practice. The last 50 or so, he had Brian Allen hold onto one arm to force AB to make one-handed grabs. Elite talent with the work ethic of a longshot. That’s the standard.

Final Thoughts

– Again, not going to get as heavy into the evaluation until the pads come on tomorrow.

– Don’t have the numbers yet but felt like Mason Rudolph had more snaps today than yesterday. Played better too.

– James Conner continues to have a nice start to camp.

– Darnell Leslie is interesting at ILB. Pass rush background makes him an asset as a blitzer. Good athlete, flying around. Keep his name in mind.

– Offense got some revenge later in the day but defense was still the victor overall. Good days from Sutton and Brian Allen. James Washington has been targeted early and often and while all isn’t perfect, you can see the tools that got him drafted in the 2nd round. Excited to learn more.

– I’ll write up a depth chart, based on the first two days, for the morning on the site. Get you a clearer view of who is running where as of today.

St. Vincent Snapshot

Another look at Drake being the boss, making everyone do push ups.

Steelers Fact Of The Day

A new section this year. Obscure, random fact throughout the Steelers rich history.

In 1951, the Green Bay Packers jumped out to a 28-0 lead against the Steelers. Pittsburgh stormed back with 33 unanswered to go up 33-28 but lost the game 35-33. Win or lose, the 28 point comeback is still their largest in franchise history.

Dwight Schrute Quote Of The Day 

“Everyone, follow me to the shelter. We’ve got enough food for 14 days. After that, we have a difficult conversation.”

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