A very warm Day 13 of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, the final weekend practice of 2018. Just Monday and Tuesday to go before they call it a year at Latrobe. Here’s what happened Sunday.
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– Injury report. Dave Bryan covered it well earlier today. Missing in full today were: Vance McDonald (foot), T.J. Watt (left hamstring), Xavier Grimble (right thumb, has a cast), Marcus Allen (unknown), Sean Davis (groin), Bud Dupree (concussion/personal), and Parker Collins (unknown).
Watt did a little more in the stretch line today than he did yesterday. Pretty much went through the whole session though nothing after that. Holding out hope you see him for a Tuesday practice. McDonald was on the field and moved around fine. But best case scenario, he’ll play in the third preseason game.
With the OL thin, only 10 guys practicing yesterday, they signed the 6’8 353 pound Zach Banner. He’ll wear #69, replacing the number of Kyle Meadows, the man waived/injured for him. Marcus Gilbert and Maurkice Pouncey returned to practice in full. B.J. Finney was in pads for this shorts session. He went through individual work but not team. Might work to that for tomorrow.
James Conner worked in individual but not in team. He had a wrap around his left knee/groin, similar to the wrap Sean Davis had. But should be ok.
– As is becoming the norm, OG Chris Schlueger, Mason Rudolph – and today – Joseph Cheek, first down the stairs at 2:40 PM.
– First team OL: Villanueva-Feiler-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert
– Second team OL: Okorafor-Graham-Morris-Prince-Rodgers. So Graham moving up a group with Finney out.
– As practice began, the offense going through its walkthrough, the defense warming up, Chris Boswell stretched out on the Gatorade cooler in the middle of the field. Life of a kicker…lot of pressure, but not so bad during camp.
– Quadree Henderson, Justin Thomas, Cam Sutton in the return line. Joe Haden jumped in late.
– Henderson was trying to do the PR juggle, catching as many as he could, but he’d drop one, pick it up, and try to keep going. That’s definite cheating. He did it one time, trying to catch a 5th ball, but CB Jamar Summers, with a laugh, ran out from behind and knocked all the other balls out of his hand. A very self-policing game.
– During the stretch line, Collins had a nice chat with Mike Munchak. Collins looked pretty dejected. Even in shorts, the way he walked down the stairs, you could immediately tell he wasn’t practicing. Hands in his pockets on the field. Not saying the injury is serious, I have no idea, but a guy who knows he needs to be out there.
– The raw, backup tight ends spending extra time on the sleds with TE coach James Daniel. No Vance or Grimble out there today. Jesse James got to leave class early, making his way to the next drill, while Pharoah McKever, Bucky Hodges, and Christian Scotland-Williamson spent a couple minutes working on their blocking.
– James Washington movin’ on up. Running with the first group in individual/”on air” drills, catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger instead of the backups.
– Focus yesterday was WR/DB 1v1. Today, looked at the TE-RB/LB.
1. Fitzgerald Toussaint runs a wheel down the left sideline, beating Vince Williams and making the grab.
2. Jesse James rips through Anthony Chickillo. Runs a corner route but the ball slips off his fingertips. Incomplete.
3. Jaylen Samuels stems to the outside before bursting up the middle and beating Jon Bostic for the catch.
4. Fighting through Farrington Huguenin’s jam attempt, Bucky Hodges runs a corner. A little underthrown.
5. Hard jam by L.J. Fort on James Conner at the LOS. Jolts him back though he makes the grab behind the LOS.
6. McKever has a step on Keion Adams down the right seam. But Adams works hard and rips the ball out as McKever tries to bring it to his hip. Incomplete.
7. Roosevelt Nix on a wheel. Backshoulder throw, saw it late, off his hands. Keith Kelsey covering.
8. Out route complete to CSW versus Ola Adeniyi.
9. Matakevich playing to Stevan Ridley’s inside hip vertical down the left sideline. Off Ridley’s left hand and incomplete. Would’ve been a tough play.
10. Jesse James nods to the outside and then gets upfield. Makes the grab on Chick.
11. Catch by Jarvion Franklin, running a short curl against Matthew Thomas.
12. Huguenin totally mugging Hodges downfield. Incomplete but about five flags worth of PI.
13. Matt Galambos badly misses his jam on James Summers, who runs an out and makes an easy grab.
14. McKever corner route incomplete vs Adams.
15. Toussaint stumbles making a short cut to his left. Knows the rep is over and circles back without there even being a throw. Vince Williams covering.
16. Fort misses the jam on Conner, who runs an angle route and secures the ball, plucking it over his head.
17. Decent jam by Adeniyi on Scotland-Williamson. Incomplete.
18. Samuels crosses Thomas’ face on an in cut.
19. James wins on a corner route against Chick.
20. Samuels and Thomas run downfield along the right sideline. Maybe the throw was bad, or an incorrect route run, but Thomas with a pretty easy INT.
21. Hodges with the grab on an out route versus Kelsey.
22. Toussaint makes the catch against Williams.
23. McKever runs an out and hauls in the pass versus Huguenin.
24. Franklin works through Matakevich’s jam, beats him down the right side.
25. Nice box out by CSW against Adeniyi for a short reception.
26. Galambos trying to basically tackle Summers at the line. Summers ends up getting away and making the grab.
27. James gets a step on Chickillo running to the sideline. Ball high and incomplete.
28. Thomas with a nice jam and then reaches his hand across to break up the in-cut throw for Samuels.
29. Hodges makes the catch despite Kelsey closing in, the LB unable to break it up. Kelsey claps his hands in frustration and dropped the F bomb.
30. Toussaint has a step on Bostic downfield but the pass seemed a little far in front. Incomplete.
31. McKever swims over Adams, running vertically. Nice hands catch to finish the rep.
32. Franklin a shallow crosser working on Matakevich. Complete.
33. They go again. Franklin makes the catch at the LOS right side after Matakevich shoves him in the back.
34. CSW runs through Adeniyi’s jam. Clean catch.
35. Looks like Fort made a toe-tapping INT along the right sideline against Summers. Good rep.
36. Quick out to Toussaint and he makes the grab vs Williams.
37. Huguenin pins Hodges to the left sideline, breaking up the throw on a wheel route.
38. Whoever the QB was (not Ben), threw a lame duck, falling three yards short and at Samuels’ feet on a quick throw to the right side. Thomas covering.
39. They go again. Samuels rips through Thomas. Beats him vertical but the pass is overthrown.
– Let’s talk 11 v 11.
First Team Session (11 v 11)
1. DL. Tuitt-McCullers-Heyward. Yes, Big Dan running 1st team today. Bostic and VW at ILB. Jesse James split right. He runs a Y nod, fake the out, get upfield. But never sees the football from Ben Roethlisberger and the pass misses. Morgan Burnett covering.
2. Roethlisberger has some heat and climbs the pocket. Short left throw to Samuels but Burnett sticks a hand out to break it up.
3. Tyler Matakevich rushes in free. Roethlisberger’s throw is front left pylon, Antonio Brown running back left pylon. Miscommunication. Artie Burns covering.
4. Samuels split out. Roethlisberger 1 step throw for JuJu Smith-Schuster on a slant. Mike Hilton breaks it up.
5. Josh Dobbs checks in with the 2nd teamers. L.T. Walton and Tyson Alualu the nickel DL. Marcus Tucker and James Washington on the outside, Damoun Patterson aligned in the slot. Option play, Dobbs pulling it out of the belly of the RB, crossing the goal line as Malik Golden tags him up.
6. Now Patterson on the outside with Tucker in the slot. Dobbs throw seems to skip between Tucker and Patterson right side. Incomplete.
7. Empty set. Samuels slot left. McKever then motioned into the backfield. Dobbs fires a fade left side to Samuels on a wheel. L.J. Fort takes him and makes an incredible one-handed INT with a right hand snag. Defense goes bonkers.
Defense kills the day, winning 6-1. 7-0 if you don’t consider the Dobbs option a score.
1. Toussaint up the middle. Vince Williams versus Roosevelt Nix, unstoppable force vs immovable object, meet in the hole. Williams wins this battle, driving Nix back and into Toussaint to end the rep. Williams is amped up, he and Nix doing a little pushing and shoving after the fact.
2. Bad exchange between Maurkice Pouncey and Mason Rudolph. Rudolph falls on it.
3. Samuels carry off right guard, cutting inside of Cam Heyward. Finds a crease.
4. Another snap issue between those two. Javon Hargrave the tilted nose in an over front. Stephon Tuitt runs in from the backside to grab Samuels by the shoulders.
5. Jarvion Franklin totes the ball right side. Heyward and others fall down and into Franklin’s ankles. Everyone was ok. “Stay on your feet!” Tomlin yells out, as he usually does when this happens in a non-tackle session.
6. Walton-Hargrave-Alualu the DL. Stevan Ridley carry left side. Vince Williams bear hugs him.
7. James Summers run right side. Matakevich tags him right side. Summers finishes the run, pulling up around the 5 before circling back to the huddle.
8. Sayles-Frazier-Hooks the 3rd team DL. Dobbs playaction, boot left. Quick throw to Bucky Hodges in the flat. Jesse James sat down in the middle left but Dobbs didn’t see him.
9. Landry Jones playaction. Quick throw on a curl to Trey Griffey, making a tough catch as Coty Sensabaugh breathes down his neck. “Way to go 1-5!” Tomlin shouts out.
10. Frazier/Hooks the nickel DL. Samuels carry left side, Hodges pulling across. Hooks grabs his jersey near the LOS.
11. Summers 3-4 yard gain up the middle. Keith Kelsey meets him.
12. Franklin up the middle. Not much doing there.
Third Team Session
1. Second team DL in. Walton-Hargrave-Alualu. Roethlisberger at QB, Toussaint at RB. Burnett/Terrell Edmunds the starting safeties. Ben fires a curl right side to AB, the ball lodging itself into his chest, but he holds on as Haden grabs him from behind, not letting go for several moments.
2. Samuels/AB stacked left. Pressure up the middle, Roethlisberger falling away and tosses it left side to Samuels. Edmunds can’t close in time to break it up.
3. Tuitt/Heyward the nickel DL. 2-2-7 dollar look. Haden/Burns the corners, Hilton nickel. Sutton and Burnett floating near the LOS, replacing the two ILBs. Edmunds and Nat Berhe the deep safeties. Sutton comes on a blitz from the offense’s left but it’s picked up. Quick out from Ben to AB on the right.
4. Roethlisberger complete to Griffey, getting some 1st team love, Joe Haden closing and throwing a shoulder into him. Pass complete.
5. Now McCullers with the 3rd team DL. Sayles-McCullers-Hooks. Matakevich/Fort at ILB. Rudolph fires over the middle for McKever, making a tough grab against Sensabaugh.
6. Checkdown underneath to Jaylen Samuels. Edmunds came free on a blitz.
7. Dollar look again. Adeniyi and Keion Adams stacked at LOLB. Overload blitz to that side, both edge rushers coming plus a DB. Franklin did a nice job picking up whoever his man was. Rudolph throws away from the blitz, left side, a little low to Marcus Tucker and incomplete. Cam Sutton covering.
8. Rudolph heaves deep down the left sideline for Damoun Patterson. One of the top plays of camp, Burns – and I still don’t know how he did it – head barely turned trying to stay with Patterson, throwing up his right hand, cradling the ball into his chest as he’s in the air, and secures it to the ground. Insane play.
9. Landry Jones flushes right side as the play turns into a scramble drill. “Keep working!” coaches yell out. Throws it right side for Summers, working short to vert, leaping and reaching out his right hand, but unable to make the grab.
10. Tevin Jones in the slot. Jones squeezes a throw to McKever between Thomas and Nat Berhe, Berhe practically jumping on the TE’s back to avoid the hit. Nice blitz pickup by Samuels.
11. Jones hits Hodges on a crosser. Thomas covering. “Good job Ola” someone yelled out for the rookie LB, though I don’t know what Adeniyi did. Joseph Cheek shoved Dashaun Phillips upfield on a nickel blitz.
12. Adams/Adeniyi at OLB. Quick slant from Jones to Henderson. Incomplete. Malik Reaves covering.
Fourth Team Session
1. Ball on the Steelers own 5. Situational football. Roethlisberger somehow floated a ball over Artie Burns, AB making a nifty snag. Nice touch throw.
2. Deep out left side from Ben to Hunter, Burns covering. Good grab by Hunter, reaching out and away from his body to pull it in as the ball crossed his face.
3. Antonio Brown false starts. He’s the X, Hunter the Z, JuJu in the slot. Roethlisberger fires a 10 yard out to JuJu. Double-catch but brings it on the way to the ground, falling in bounds. Mike Hilton covering.
4. Empty set, Toussaint split right. Roethlisberger hits Griffey on an out left side.
5. Roethlisberger wants Griffey again, this time on the right, but the pass hits him in the chest and he drops it. Bostic covering.
6. Bomb down the left side from Ben to JuJu. Burns nearly had an INT but Smith-Schuster poked it out from behind. Incomplete.
7. Rudolph in at QB. Fort/Matakevich the ILB. Washington aligned in a very reduced (nasty) split. Shotgun playaction, hits the rookie WR on an out route. Complete against Sensabaugh.
8. Rudolph hits DHB along the right sideline. One-handed grab but I don’t think he got both feet in bounds.
9. Playaction. Sutton blitz. Samuels sees him and picks it up initially but opens up his inside shoulder and Sutton gets through. Deep post middle for DHB against Brian Allen. Pass way off the mark, DHB pulls up and doesn’t even make an attempt.
10. Bullet over the middle from Rudolph to Washington on a 10 yard dig. Washington reaches over his head to pluck the football.
11. Hurry up mode. Almost missed the play. Rudolph’s throw incomplete to Patterson.
12. Pump right to the flat. Creates an opening down the right sideline, complete to Trey Griffey. DB couldn’t close in time.
Fifth Team Session
1. Tuitt-McCullers-Heyward. VW/Bostic at ILB. Run session, unusual way to end practice. Toussaint carry left side. Cuts up the middle.
2. Toussaint jumps to his right. Burnett first man there.
3. Rudolph complete to JuJu on an out route left side. Samuels picks up a blitzing Vince Williams.
4. Patterson/Washington on the right side, Tucker in the slot. Toussaint carry. Collision topples over center Patrick Morris, working 1st team with Pouncey down for the day.
5. Rudolph fires a curl to Washington. Haden races in and pops it out.
6. 2-2-7 dollar look. Draw to Samuels. Burns dives in and misses, though I feel that was intentional.
7. “Nickel, nickel!” the coaches call out as Bostic and Vince sub in. Rudolph finds DHB, shielding himself to the inside so Sensabaugh can’t play the ball at its catch point.
8. Twin set. 21 personnel. Playaction. Rudolph checkdown to Franklin. Huguenin wins off the edge.
9. Sayles-Hargrave-Hooks. Rudolph complete to Patterson on a 15 yard dig, jumping over the middle to make the grab against Sensabaugh.
10. Bostic, the most vocal man on the field, shifts the DL to his left and down a gap. Summers has a crease with some good down blocks up front. Dangerfield comes in to tag him from the side.
11. Keion Adams whoops Scotland-Williamson off the edge. Rudolph throws it away.
12. Short throw checkdown from Rudolph complete to Summers.
Odds And Ends
– During every ST session, Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs are always working. Worked on pocket movement during one session. Threw some passes to McDonald too, who didn’t run routes but was a body to throw to.
– During the final run session, Antonio Brown spent the entire time catching passes on the JUGS machine.
– Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and WRs coach Darryl Drake were hamming it up during ST session today.
– Hilton broke up a throw to Jesse James in 7v7. Ditto Artie Burns against JuJu.
– Rocky Bleier and Randy Grossman on hand today to take pictures with fans. Bleier is selling his new book.
– Again, with a lighter practice, you don’t learn as much. I liked what Pharoah McKever did as a receiver today. Tough catches over the middle. Big frame who can work away from his body. Still fighting for a practice squad spot.
– Trey Griffey getting time with the 1’s. Some of that is common rotational stuff but that’s a good sign for him. Especially with Tevin Jones having a rough stretch.
– Jesse James worked over Chickillo in 1v1 today. The only TE on this team you can trust, even if he’s pretty much at his ceiling.
– Steelers defense now has 17 INTs in camp. Buzzing around the football like crazy this year. Let’s hope it translates.
– It’s worth keeping in mind that McCullers running with the starters is part of the ebb and flow of camp, Tomlin putting guys in different situations. But, it’s rare for McCullers to get that nod and in those situations, someone is being held out (James Conner for example), not getting moved to a backup spot, the way Hargrave did today. Really interesting situation to monitor.
– I don’t get why this team hates L.J. Fort. He could start for the Steelers. Set him free, Tomlin.
St. Vincent Snapshot
James Washington finding the ball on a “ball” call (can’t look until Ben says so) in individual drills.
Random Steelers Trivia
Yesterday, we wrote about former punter Harry Newsome. In addition to leading the league in average during 1988, he also led the league in punts blocked that season, finishing with six. That’s more than any Steeler has ever had throughout their entire career.
Dwight Schrute Quote Of The Day
“All you need is love. False. The four basic human necessities are air, water, food, and shelter.”