Pittsburgh Steelers back in action at St. Vincent College today. Final group of four practices. Let’s talk about what went down.
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– Let’s start with the injury report. Steelers not in bad shape coming out of a game. Sitting out entirely were: Vance McDonald (foot), T.J. Watt (left hamstring), Bud Dupree (concussion – birth of child today too), B.J. Finney (quad), Kyle Meadows (unknown), Ramon Foster (right knee), Marcus Gilbert (birth of child), and Maurkice Pouncey (unknown, possible rest), and Sean Davis (groin).
Mike Tomlin said Xavier Grimble didn’t finish with a thumb injury. Marcus Allen walked up the stairs with him. Not sure if there was an injury, obviously leaving practice before it ends is a sign of that, but he looked ok. Even snapped a photograph before heading into the locker room. We’ll check that for tomorrow.
Watt did some jogging on a separate field and briefly did some stretching in line with the rest of the team, some leg stretches and squats. He’s working his way back but not quite there yet. Hopefully he can get in a practice the last day or two. Eli Rogers also did some running but I didn’t see him change directions. He remains on PUP.
The good news. Antonio Brown returned in full, though I think he was held out in the latter half of team drills. But he looked like his normal AB self.
– The young players go through a walkthrough before the 2:55 practices. Damoun Patterson quickly has a fan base. As the offense was walking off the field, a fan behind me yelled to him “SIGN THAT MAN TO A LONG TERM CONTRACT!” Patterson threw up his right hand to acknowledge it as the players around him got a good chuckle out of it.
– Josh Dobbs, Tevin Jones, and Chris Schlueger were the first players to walk down the field at 2:37 PM.
– In the first practice after the game last year, Tomlin had them in pads and hitting. Not the case this year. Shorts, shells, and a relatively light day.
– JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ben Roethlisberger walked out as part of the same group. JuJu gets bigger cheers than Big Ben, though no one topped AB as he came out, one of the last players down onto the field. He gave a pair of gloves to one of the youth football players before jogging his way to the turf field.
– The first team OL with all the guys missing. Villanueva-Feiler-Morris-DeCastro-Okorafor
And the 2nd team: Cheek-Collins-Graham-Prince-Rodgers
Collins ran ahead of Morris early in camp but Morris has jumped him for awhile. At least, it feels that way.
– Special teams session to begin practice. No actual kicking but Matt Wile was practicing a couple. Haven’t seen him do it in camp yet until today. He’s the only other K/P on the roster besides Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry, whose jobs are very much safe.
– Quadree Henderson, Justin Thomas your usual suspects in the return line.
– Steelers did some 1v1 today. Focused on WR vs DBs.
WR vs DB
1. Ball near the goal line. Ben Roethlisberger throws fade left corner for Antonio Brown, making the grab over Artie Burns.
2. JuJu Smith-Schuster tries a triple move on Brian Allen. Fake outisde, then inside, and finally, makes his move back out. Pass fell incomplete.
3. Nice backshoulder adjustment by Darrius Heyward-Bey, running an out cut and making the grab on Cam Sutton.
4. Good rep by Terrell Edmunds, playing up through the hands and breaking up fade for Justin Hunter.
5. Marcus Tucker runs a pivot route on Mike Hilton. Ball is there as he’s getting his head around. Pass incomplete.
6. Like this play from UDFA corner Jamar Summers, breaking up a jump ball intended for James Washington. Crowd doesn’t cheer the way they do when the receiver makes the catch.
Hilton jokes to the crowd. “We make plays too!”
7. Coty Sensabaugh denies Tevin Jones from running his in-breaking route at the back of the end zone. Jones starts to settle on a deep curl and Landry Jones has good ball placement, to the away shoulder. Jones makes the catch as Sensabaugh can’t reach out to poke it away. Complete but a good rep by #24.
8. Damoun Patterson burns Malik Reaves on an out ‘n up. Created space at the back left pylon but the pass is airmailed and incomplete.
9. Mike Hilton breaks up a fade intended for Justin Thomas.
10. Antonio Brown beats Joe Haden off the line. Then he runs the out ‘n up, nearly turning Haden in circles, and makes the catch for the score.
11. JuJu makes toe-tap catch left corner against Burns.
12. Darrius Heyward-Bey runs a dig on Cam Sutton. Makes the catch but believe it was out of bounds.
13. Trey Griffey crosses Dashaun Phillips face, making the reception on a slant.
14. Nice jam by Burns on the line. Throw high and over Hunter’s head.
15. Marcus Tucker runs a dig. Sweet left-handed grab in the end zone against Hilton.
16. Washington bursts away from Phillips and makes an easy catch.
17. Sensabaugh sticky coverage on Jones, who can’t shake the corner. Pass thrown behind and incomplete.
18. Ball moved to the 15 yard line. AB on Burns to the end zone. Has a little bit of space but the pass is too far out in front.
19. Smith-Schuster runs a post corner, making the grab against Haden.
20. Hunter makes his typical leaping grab over Summers’ head.
21. Tucker tries to run an out against Hilton. Pass thrown behind but Tucker makes a great adjustment, reaching back and snagging the ball in bounds.
22. Washington runs on Sutton’s toes to get him to open up to the outside. Crosses his face and beats him on the inside running a slant but believe the pass went through his hands. Incomplete.
23. Patterson on another out ‘n up. Incomplete, Brian Allen covering.
24. Burns nearly makes a one-handed INT on a throw for DHB. Couldn’t bring it to the ground though.
25. Griffey can’t separate from Reaves. Slips at the top of his route. Makes the catch very late in the rep with Reaves practically walking off the field. Win goes to the defense.
26. Jones runs down the left seam. Adjusts back and over his head for it but it clips off his hands. Sensabaugh covering.
27. Quick curl by Quadree Henderson, making the catch on Sutton.
28. Justin Thomas catch on a quick out against Hilton.
29. Brown rips through Burns at the LOS. Makes the grab.
30. Smith-Schuster head fake outside before breaking in. Sutton doesn’t bite. Pass incomplete, off Sutton’s hands.
31. Corner route by Washington incomplete. Edmunds covering, forcing another incompletion.
32. Tucker nod route on Hilton. Incomplete, pass too far in front.
33. Tevin Jones gets a little revenge. Nice route against Sensabaugh and finishes the play.
34. Burns pins Hunter along the sideline. Incomplete.
35. Smith-Schuster creates space on Allen. Fingertip catch.
– Let’s get into what happened during team sessions. No tackling today.
First Session (11 v 11)
1. Seven shots. Jon Bostic/Vince Williams at ILB. Jesse James in the backfield, James Conner split slot left. Patrick Morris with a bad snap to Roethlisberger, who reaches by his left knee to haul it in. Fires a slant to Conner over the middle, securing it in front of Williams. “Way to go, 7!” Tomlin praised for controlling the snap and making the play.
2. 12 personnel, 3×1 formation with James split alone to the left. Edmunds/Morgan Burnett the starting safeties with Sean Davis missing. Bostic comes on an ILB blitz. Smith-Schuster breaks open over the middle, wide open, and Ben finds him at the front of the goal line. Touchdown.
3. Farrington Huguenin/Anthony Chickillo still the starting OLBs. Now Matakevich steps in alongside VW. Washington on the outside, getting first team reps, with Brown opposite and JuJu lined in the slot. Roethlisberger wanted JuJu on a slant but Javon Hargrave found the ball and swatted it at the line of scrimmage.
4. Now Justin Hunter comes in for the 1st team 11 personnel with AB and JuJu. Bostic and Matakevich the ILBs. Roethlisberger wants Brown in the left corner but threw it to the inside – the wrong – shoulder. Burns covering. “My bad!” Ben calls out to AB.
5. Mason Rudolph coming in with the 2’s here. L.T. Walton and Daniel McCullers the nickel DL. Keion Adams/Ola Adeniyi the OLBs. Rub route between Tucker and Washington. Tucker fell down but Washington was open on the right side, receiving the pass from Rudolph. Matakevich came flying in off the edge.
6. Fire X blitz. Rudolph tosses a fade right corner for Washington. Out in front and incomplete. Brian Allen covering.
7. Jaylen Samuels in at RB, Patterson at WR. Rudolph playaction. Marcus Allen blitzing. Rudolph finds a wide open Tucker. With the score, the offense wins the day, 4-3.
Second Team Session
1. Landry Jones at QB. Run session but no tackling so isn’t as exciting as other days. James Conner with the carry off right guard. Stuffed.
2. Playaction with Matt Feiler pulling left to right. Jones underneath left side complete to Jesse James, shielding himself from Edmunds closing in.
3. Christian Scotland-Williamson getting some action at TE. Mike Hilton flies into the lane to meet Conner left side at the line of scrimmage. Conner bangs his helmet into Alejandro Villanueva’s hip before the play ends.
4. Just like before, Bostic gets two reps with the 1’s, then Matkaevich comes in. Parker Collins pulling, Samuels following left side. Matakevich first one to tag him. Samuels and and Haden juke each other and then race to the end zone.
5. Stevan Ridley carry off right tackle. Matakevich again there to tag him. High snap on the play.
6. Fitzgerald Toussaint up the gut. L.T. Walton holds the POA, grabbing onto the back and holding onto him through the whistle.
7. Ridley carry right and immediately cuts left. Good block by Scotland-Williamson on Adeniyi.
8. Josh Dobbs playaction. Good throw on a crosser to Washington in front of Jordan Dangerfield.
9. Conner shows his vision and cuts to the right. Brian Allen closes and touches him up.
10. Samuels follows Bucky Hodges on a pull. Nice kickout by Hodges. Dangerfield first man there.
11. Like you saw Thursday, Casey Sayles and Lavon Hooks the nickel DL. Rudolph playaction. Full field read working right to left. A little high for Justin Thomas but I’d consider it a drop.
12. Sayles-Frazier-Hooks the 3rd team DL. Matt Galambos/Matthew Thomas the ILBs. Samuels jumps to his left and heads upfield. Hooks and Malik Golden quickly fill the lane.
13. Keith Kelsey and Galambos in at ILB. Jarvion Franklin off the right side. Another nice kickout block by Hodges and a good stalk block from Trey Griffey on Summers. Good gainer.
14. 4th team DL. Cothren-Gilmore-Vickers. James Summers in the backfield and didn’t take the right path to receive the handoff from Mason Rudolph. Very slow developing play and though Summers gets the ball, the coaches basically end things right after. Rudolph motioning with his arm the way he should’ve gone. Can’t make those mistakes this far into camp, especially for a guy in Summers’ position.
15. Rudolph playaction. Fires over the middle but a loud SMACK by Kendal Vickers, popping the ball up in the air like a volleyball player at the net. Galambos nearly picked it off.
Third Team Session
1. Roethlisberger kicks it off with playaction. AB is wide open on a curl left side. 10 yard gain.
2. Roethlisberger flushed right. Trying to get a scramble drill going, Brown coming across, another receiver running vertical, but nothing opens up. Cam Heyward chases after Big Ben and the coaches whistle things dead before the ball is thrown.
3. Big Ben dropping back again. Looks for Smith-Schuster over the middle but Bostic makes a nice play to break it up. Vince Williams rushed in free, forcing the ball out quicker than maybe what #7 wanted.
4. Hilton on a nickel blitz. Big Ben complete to Brown.
5. Good timing throw. Left side, Washington runs a curl on Sensabaugh. As soon he gets his head around, the ball is there from Big Ben. Complete.
6. Another throw from Ben. Looking for Patterson on a crosser working right to left. But the ball is behind and clanks off the rookie’s right hand. Not a great throw. Haden covering.
7. Josh Dobbs checks in. Tucker in the slot, Patterson and Washington the WRs. Adeniyi ripped inside and under Jake Rodgers to apply some heat. Checkdown right side to Samuels. Throw is a tad low and away but the back drops it.
8. Nice blitz pickup from Samuels, shoving Matakevich away as he tries and fails to swim him. Pretty throw on a crosser, great touch, by Dobbs as he connects with Hodges working over Marcus Allen.
9. Samuels late to see Matthew Thomas coming off the edge. Up and down of him in pass pro. Dobbs looks to fire it but Lavon Hooks bats the ball at the line. Springs back up and Keion Adams picks it off around a crowd of bodies.
10. Quick slant complete from Mason Rudolph to Marcus Tucker. Sutton trailing behind.
11. James Summers shotgun carry right side. Brian Allen tags him up.
12. Screen right to Rudolph complete to Samuels. Kelsey sniffs it out though.
Fourth Team Session
1. Landry Jones in at QB. Conner right side for a good gainer.
2. VW and Bostic at ILB. Roethlisberger hits JuJu on a skinny post. Cornerback outside leverage, Burnett didn’t get enough depth, and it’s a touchdown.
3. 3×1, James split out wide to the trips side. Post corner from Ben to Hunter, lined up in the slot. Plucked the ball over Haden’s head but I’m pretty sure – judging by how the defense reacted post-play – Hunter didn’t get both feet down before falling out of bounds in the back of the end zone.
4. DHB and Hunter on the outside, JuJu in the slot. Conner carry through the A gap. Cam Heyward makes quick work of Patrick Morris, getting an arm free and wrapping him up.
5. Roethlisberger playaction. Low throw to DHB left side but he adjusts and makes the grab. Burns spins him down to the ground. “Way to work Hey-Bey” Tomlin calls out.
6. Ben looks for DHB again. Slant, a little low, but I’d call this a drop from Heyward-Be. That’s the DHB we all know and love.
7. Dangerfield and Golden the safety pairing. L.J. Fort and Matakevich at ILB. Toussaint carry up the middle. Adeniyi with a decent shot at him.
8. Samuels runs right side. Dangerfield again first man there. Samuels breaks away and finishes the run to the end zone.
9. Joshua Frazier and Casey Sayles the nickel DL. Brian Allen LCB, Sensabaugh RCB, Sutton NCB. Quick throw to Tucker as he settles versus zone coverage on the right side. Five yard completion.
10. Nat Berhe hovering near the LOS. Fade from Dobbs to Washington right corner. Malik Reaves is grabbing two handfuls of jersey but Washington leaps, high points the ball, and brings it in for the score.
11. Rudolph doesn’t have anyone open and tries to fit a pass in to Phaorah McKever in the back middle of the end zone. Incomplete, Berhe tipping it away.
12. Gilmore and Vickers the DL. Thomas free off the edge. Dobbs for Tevin Jones right corner. Off his right hand and incomplete for what would’ve been a tough catch. Dashaun Phillips covering.
Fifth Team Session
1. Two minute drill work. Rudolph may have forced this one a bit but fit the throw deep left side between three defenders, hitting Smith-Schuster in stride. Consider this one a great throw, even if there was risk.
2. They hurry up to the line. Rudolph wants DHB short right side. Pass a little behind, off his hand, and Burns picks it off. Way to capitalize.
3. So that’s it for Rudolph. Dobbs steps in as the offense resets back near midfield. Adams lined off ball, looping outside on a blitz with Vince Williams. Pass complete to Tucker on a curl.
4. Patterson makes a sliding catch along the right sideline.
5. Dobbs checkdown right side to Samuels. Williams gives chase.
6. Tyson Alualu flushes Dobbs to the right. Throws the ball away. Uncatchable but Hodges/Patterson in the area.
7. Dobbs complete again to Samuels.
8. Larson Graham rolls a terrible snap to Dobbs’ feet. He picks it up and rolls right. Looks for Tucker along the right sideline. Collision between he and Phillips. Pass incomplete. That ends practice.
Odds And Ends
– Ike Taylor was at practice today. Saw him spend a couple minutes with Antonio Brown, Mike Tomlin, and Artie Burns.
– One of the special teams sessions today. Working on punching the ball out. Returner would have the ball. First man there wraps him up, the second man looks to punch and recover.
– Someone wearing their Mike Vick jersey today. Bold choice.
– During one team session, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown sat on their helmets behind the action. Just two Hall of Famers, sitting, chatting, cracking a joke. That’s the type of moment SVC allows you to see.
– As is the case with other practices, with a lighter day of work, less there is to learn. Seeing James Washington and Damoun Patterson, even with AB back, earning more reps with the first team. That’s one of the bigger depth chart “moves” from today.
– Know it’s 1v1 but Tucker had a nice session there today.
– Still hard to get a read on the QB depth chart, they mix and match so much, but clearly the team is interested in giving Rudolph a look with the 2’s. And plenty of situational football for him today (7 shots + 2 minute).
– Bucky Hodges showing a little somethin’ somethin’ as a run blocker. Though to be fair, that came him just kicking guys out, not the most difficult assignment in the world.
– You can pretty much count on James Washington making at least one tough, combative catch in practice.
– Antonio Brown may be limited going forward but the dude looks good as new.
– Feel like DL coach Karl Dunbar must have gotten on his guys to be more active at the LOS. Not sure there’s been a batted pass at the line by a DL in camp so far. Three today, one leading to an INT. Nice that two came from backup DL trying to get noticed: Hooks and Vickers.
– Adeniyi, like Washington, good for ripping through and past an OT, like he did once today.
– Again, seeing an opportunistic defense. Two INTs today, one from Burns in the 2 minute drill. Not a lot of batted balls hit the ground around this group.
St. Vincent Snapshot
Justin Hunter skying for a pass in 1v1.
Random Steelers Trivia
Only two Steelers punters have ever led the league in yards per attempt. Harry Newsome’s 45.4 mark in 1988 and Pat Brady, the only Steeler to do it twice, 1953 and 1954. In ’53, he averaged nearly 47 yards per boot.
Dwight Schrute Quote Of The Day
“It’s never the person who you most suspect. It’s also never the person you least suspect since anyone with half a brain would suspect them the most. Therefore, I know the killer to be Phyllis… The person who I most medium suspect.”