Training Camp

2018 Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day 15

The final day of practice for the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. We do plan on attending the Family Fest practice on the 19th but that isn’t technically part of camp. A much more physical session today, held at Latrobe Memorial Stadium (where Friday Night Lights is located) and filled with some injury drama. Let’s jump in.

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– A staffer said the reason why the practice moved was because the grass fields at SVC were too beat up to use. With the Steelers playing on a grass surface at Green Bay, they wanted to play on that instead of the turf field they’d otherwise use at the college. Hence the change of venue.

– Injury report. Lot going on here. Those who sat out in full today: Vance McDonald (foot), T.J. Watt (left hamstring), Sean Davis (groin), Stevan Ridley (unknown), Marcus Allen (unknown), Xaver Grimble (right thumb), and Ramon Foster (right knee).

Watt and Davis went through the stretch line and Davis did a little big of light jogging early in practice. They’re close to a return though I was bummed Watt couldn’t get suited back up for one practice after getting hurt. Grimble, despite the thumb injury, ran sprints across the length of the field.

Good news that Bud Dupree came back in full today and Mike Tomlin confirmed he would play Thursday. Antonio Brown and James Conner were full after missing yesterday (Brown limited to only individual work post Limp-Gate). Anthony Chickillo was in pads but I’m pretty sure he didn’t work in team or was a partial participant there. Jersey was off the latter half of practice. Stephon Tuitt came back full after missing Monday due to illness. JuJu Smith-Schuster returned and played in full. So in a pretty good spot to wrap camp up.

Of course, the biggest news of the day was Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. Happened on the 4th – generally his final – play of 7 shots. Didn’t get a clear look of what happened. He was falling away on a throw and apparently fell and hit his head. Was down for around a minute before getting to his feet and sitting on a water cooler, attended to by head trainer John Norwig. He left a short time later and reportedly is in concussion protocol.

– Someone in the secondary brought a speaker and the DBs had a little dance party after getting to practice and putting their equipment on. Team was in pads today for the first time in awhile.

Later on, as I’ve mentioned before, the DBs go through a handshake line, each guy with his own handshake for another. Here’s a clip.

– Despite not practicing, DB coach Tom Bradley wants to get Sean Davis involved. He looked/read off the card Bradley held up and then communicated the play to the rest of the defense as that group warmed up. Getting used to hearing Davis’ voice since he’ll be the one making calls and checks on gameday. Bradley also spent a lot of time, alongside ILB coach Jerry Olsavsky, with the ILBs in early walkthroughs.

– Caught a glance of the 6’8, 353 pound Zach Banner walk past WR Justin Thomas, 5’9, 196. Sight to behold.

– Special teams session to kick practice off after the initial walkthrough/warmup. “All rookie punt” Danny Smith barked out and that group did some punt block/rush work for a few minutes. Rookies working only.

– Former Steelers QB Bruce Gradkowski was on hand today. The first man Tomlin greeted walking onto the field after the buses dropped him off. Gradkowski spent plenty of time chatting up Randy Fichtner and Landry Jones.

– I had a lot to say about Roethlisberger today…before he got hurt. So I don’t know if anyone cares about this now but it’s an example of how players are treated fairly but differently. Stretch line. Every other player on the ground getting loose. Except Ben. Instead, he gets his arm loose. Begins by playing catch with a coach, standing 10 yards apart, with a larger than NFL sized, white football. Roethlisberger throws them underhand with his right arm. Couple tosses of those and then they discard that ball for a regular sized football. Overhand throws 10 yards apart and then from 25 yards out. Then Roethlisberger does a couple standing stretches. That’s the best way to get him warmed up, even if it’s different than pretty much anyone else.

– Field was a little slick today. I don’t know if that contributed to Roethlisberger’s fall or not. Pharoah McKever slipped on an “on air” (no defense) drill and then kicked the divet he made. Footing wasn’t great throughout the day.

– “Goooooood competition day today!” Tomlin told the DBs before practice really got going. So I have a decent amount of 1 on 1 info today.

WR/DB

1. Again, situational football, down around the goal line. Tony Toe Tap by Antonio Brown, on an out route against Joe Haden.

2. Double-move run by JuJu Smith-Schuster, an out ‘n up, against Artie Burns. Pass too high, incomplete.

3. Darrius Heyward-Bey crosses Brian Allen’s face, Allen slipping, for the score on a slant. QB almost didn’t even throw the ball but tossed it late.

4. Malik Reaves blanketed to James Washington’s inside hip down the right sideline. But like he’s done so many times before, leaps over Reaves and makes the grab, pulling it outside his frame and into his chest before tapping his feet.

5. Trey Griffey runs a slant. TD.

6. Right corner fade for Justin Hunter, reaching up to make the grab against Cam Sutton.

7. Touchdown, fade for JuJu Smith-Schuster. Joe Haden fell down.

8. Antonio Brown bursts away from Artie Burns along the right side, the play Dave Bryan wrote about earlier, and makes a toe tapping catch.

9. Justin Thomas catch on a dig over the middle against Coty Sensabaugh.

10. Good rep by Mike Hilton, playing up through the hands to break up slot fade for DHB.

11. Sensabaugh breaks up underneath throw for Quadree Henderson on a curl.

12. Haden jams and pins JuJu along the right sideline. Smith-Schuster leaps over him but the pass through his hands. Wouldn’t have been the easiest catch to make.

13. Even crazier catch by AB on Burns than the one in the video. Clean release to beat Burns off the line. Fade right side, Burns throwing his arm into AB’s chest. Brown, somehow, made the catch, securing the ball around Burns’ arm that is still lodged in his chest, and the two stumbled out of bounds. AB doing AB things.

14. Falling fade by Damoun Patterson against Malik Reaves for a score.

15. CB Jamar Summers falls trying to jam Trey Griffey. Griffey scores on a slant.

16. James Washington stems inside and then tries to pivot out. Stumbles a bit but creates space on Burns and makes the grab shy of the goal line.

– The return of OL/DL after a long time away.

OL/DL

1. Alejandro Villanueva handles Bud Dupree’s bull rush.

2. Nifty spin to the outside by Cam Heyward to beat Matt Feiler.

3. Heavy hands and punch square into B.J. Finney’s chest, bull rushing and walking him back before discarding him and tapping up the “QB” (an offensive linemen).

4. David DeCastro seals Stephon Tuitt upfield.

5. Keion Adams tries to long-arm Marcus Gilbert but can’t do anything off of that. Gilbert wins.

6. Nice little hump move by Casey Sayles against Jake Rodgers, beating him inside.

7. Daniel McCullers runs through R.J. Prince. Lot of weight in that matchup.

8. Patrick Morris struggles in his anchor, weight falling forward, base getting wider, hanging on for car life as Josh Frazier runs him back.

9. Tyson Alualu dips under and past Feiler.

10. Hard for me to tell but I think Ola Adeniyi beat Chukwuma Okorafor.

11. Farrington Huguenin tries to win the edge against Zach Banner but can’t get around the edge, Banner is a house, and falls trying to dip.

12. They go again. This time, he sets Banner up for an outside/inside move, finding more success and winning inside.

13. Parker Cothren’s spin against Oni Omoile doesn’t work.

14. They go again. Cothren tries a rip to inside spin but it really isn’t effective either.

15. Greg Gilmore flashes a little bit, walking Larson Graham backwards.

16. Vince Williams can’t rip under OG Chris Schleuger.

17. Nice bull rush by Kendal Vickers on Joseph Cheek, who hangs on, but barely.

18. Cheek mirrors Vickers spin move to the inside after being unable to win the edge.

19. Vince Williams makes quick work of Schleuger with a swim move to the guard’s left, outside shoulder.

20. Gilmore does all he can to shed Graham’s block but can’t do so. Lot of energy, not much success.

21. Omoile with another win on Cothren.

22. Huguenin tries to win the edge on Banner again but like before, can’t do so and slips.

23. They go one last time. Banner gets his hands on the OLB and ends up taking him to the ground.

– Let’s talk team sessions.

First Team Session (1 v 1)

1. 7 shots. James Conner at RB. Feiler LG. Roethlisberger throws to JuJu running an angle route on Mike Hilton. Touchdown.

2. AB comes in motion left to right and Roethlisberger throws a swing to him. Crosses the goal line inside the front pylon, TD.

3. Jaylen Samuels split wide left, AB slot left. Keion Adams, running 1st team LOLB today, jumps offsides. Roethlisberger looks for JuJu right side but it’s incomplete.

4. Adams/Dupree the OLB pairing. Roethlisberger falling away throws left side for Smith-Schuster, throwing him open and the score on Hilton. Play where Roethlisberger got hurt.

5. Landry Jones in at QB. Slant over the middle hitting TE Pharoah McKever for a score.

6. Jones wants Washington on the right side. But Coty Sensabaugh tips it, incomplete.

7. Jones looks for McKever over the middle. Jordan Dangerfield full extension dive to bat it away. Offense still wins the day, 4-3.

Second Team Session

1. Now Finney at center. Run session. Conner over right guard. Nothing doing.

2. Slightly bigger hole for Conner this time, carrying right side.

3. Cam Heyward/Stephon Tuitt the nickel DL, Tuitt on the right side this time (sent over there by Heyward). Jones playaction. Wobbly throw right side for Justin Hunter is incomplete. Haden covering.

4. Bad snap by the center, think this was on Patrick Morris. Low and to the left. Jones grabs hold of it and runs up the middle to save face on this busted play.

5. Jaylen Samuels cuts left side. Vince Williams meets him and greets the rookie back with a hard shove, sending Samuels sprawling down onto his stomach.

6. Fitz Toussaint has a crease right side, perhaps opened up by Marcus Tucker motioning away and into a twin set to the left. Joe Haden bumps him out of bounds after maybe a 10 yard gain.

7. It’s Jarvion Franklin with the carry left side. Ola Adeniyi first man through to force Franklin to bounce it wide. Jon Bostic bumps into him and sends the back to the ground. Not a full tackle session, I guess. More “thud” tackles, though I think they were letting Franklin and James Summers get hit more than say, James Conner.

8. Summers up the middle. One of the hardest hits of practice, Tyler Matakevich and then Adeniyi pin-balling him right and left. Short gain.

9. Summers again on the carry, running into a wall held up by RDE Lavon Hooks. Bounces the run to the lane to his right but seemed late to find the hole.

10. Banner and Omoile at RT and RG. Franklin carries it behind them. Fort sheds Omoile’s block and meets the back for a minimal gain.

11. Josh Dobbs boot right. Hits Christian Scotland-Williamson in the right flat. Nat Berhe, at about half power, throws his right shoulder into the TE. Stumbles but keeps his balance.

12. Vickers and Gilmore the nickel DL. Samuels tote left side. Gilmore and several others hold the POA and the run goes nowhere. Samuels picks a lane to his left before accelerating up the gut.

Third Team Session

1. Jones complete to Jesse James quick out to the right.

2. Conner carry left guard. Short gainer.

3. Jones with a nice throw down the right seam finding Justin Hunter for a sizable gain. Bostic trailing behind and Morgan Burnett covering over the top.

4. Jones playaction. Wants to launch it deep but it’s covered so he smartly checks it down to Toussaint, complete, Matakevich chasing. “Good speed turn Joe” someone yelled out to Haden. May have forced the checkdown.

5. Throw by Jones for Antonio Brown on a dig, Burns all over him. Pass is behind, maybe intentionally, and Brown adjusts, catching it with Burns unable to find the ball. Nice catch that gets a roar out of the crowd.

6. Adeniyi rushing in free from his LOLB spot. Screen right to Samuels. Has some space and charges downfield. Alualu chasing from behind before Dangerfield flies in from the front to tag him.

7. Good ball by Mason Rudolph complete to James Washington right side, breaking off his route in front of Sensabaugh along the sideline.

8. Franklin lined up at FB. Rudolph playaction. Comeback for Damoun Patterson right side. Makes the catch, Sensabaugh seemingly not making an attempt to play the pocket for some reason.

9. Sutton coming in free on a nickel blitz. Samuels too late finding him. Rudolph complete to Tucker left side, Malik Golden covering.

10. Dobbs comes in. Playaction, Matthew Thomas applying pressure. Throw for Justin Thomas is too high and incomplete.

11. Bomb right sideline from Dobbs for Thomas. Good coverage by Dashaun Phillips. Ball clanks off Thomas’ right hand and spins to the ground.

12. Swing/smoke to Tevin Jones. Berhe grabs him from behind. Tucker threw a good block in front.

Fourth Team Session

1. 3rd down series. This play is 3rd and short. David DeCastro pulls right to left, carving a path for Conner to run off his inside hip. Good blocks up front. Berhe, the defense in its 2-2-7 dollar, touches him up.

2. Pocket collapses at Jones’ feet. Fires a curl left side to AB, making the grab and boxing out Burns.

3. Quick out left side to Jones and finding Smith-Schuster. Hilton covering.

4. Funny moment. Too many men on the field. Dashaun Phillips is supposed to be the nickel corner but Mike Hilton is still on the field.

“Mike! Mike! Get out, get him out!” Tomlin calls for Hilton to get off the field. Hilton peering back, trying to wave him off before realizing he’s not supposed to be in this play.

Jones goes after Phillips, finding Tucker left side working away from Phillips.

5. Curl right side by JuJu. Jones looks for him but Haden reads and jumps the route. Nearly picks it off.

6. Jones complete short left to Smith-Schuster, fitting the ball between Phillips and Terrell Edmunds.

7. Okorafor-Graham-Morris-Prince-Rodgers the 2nd team OL. Sayles-McCullers-Hooks the DL. Nice blitz pickup by Samuels on Bostic. Dobbs fires for Trey Griffey right side. Dangerfield flies in to knock it out and nearly picks it off. Drops an F bomb in frustration on missing out on the turnover.

8. “Nickel, nickel, nickel!” the sideline calls as Sayles gets the message and trots off the field. Jake Rodgers false starts, taking a step back with his right foot at the beginning of his kickslide. Can’t have that. Dobbs nice touch throw over Sutton’s head and complete to Griffey.

9. 3rd and 2. Franklin catches the pass from Dobbs in the left flat. Brian Allen immediately greets him and then lets him go. Matakevich bumps him too.

10. Rudolph throw right side. Not sure who the intended receiver was. Sensabaugh picks it off and weaves in and out of traffic cutting to the middle of the field.

11. Vickers somehow got free up the middle. Maybe miscommunication by the OL. Rudolph throw too far in front for Tevin Jones along the right sideline. Keith Kelsey in the area but didn’t have an impact on the result.

Fifth Team Session

1. Two minute drill. Tomlin puts 1:45 on the clock, offense has 1 timeout, ball on their own 48. Rudolph jumps in with the 1’s (no Antonio Brown this session). JuJu in the slot, Patterson and Washington the WRs on the outside. Rudolph quick completion to Smith-Schuster right side, Hilton covering.

2. Those two connect again. 10 yard gain.

3. Heyward whoops Feiler to get pressure up the middle. Rudolph checkdown left side complete to Conner. Burnett covering.

4. Rudolph connects again with Smith-Schuster over the middle. He tries to scamper out of bounds before hitting the sideline. Runs out of bounds but confusion if he got out in time or not.

Tomlin calls over to the assistants if he got out or not. They say he didn’t.

“Ok…no timeouts then,” Tomlin says, his voice trailing off at the end. Ball at the 25 yard line.

5. Nice pass pro by Samuels. Rudolph complete over the middle to Justin Hunter, reaching up and pulling the ball away from Edmunds, who trips the receiver up as they both tumble to the ground.

6. Ball at the 10. Crosser to Patterson working over Burns and he gets away from the CB, who falls down trying to break it up. Tapped up at the 5.

7. Rudolph spikes the ball. 2nd down. 15 seconds remaining, no timeouts.

8. Pass tipped at the LOS, skipping in front of the goal line. 10 seconds to go.

9. 3rd down. Samuels square and picks up Morgan Burnett’s blitz. Touchdown over the middle to Smith-Schuster against Burnett. Touchdown a a very poised drive led by the rookie Rudolph.


1. Now Dobbs comes in. Same scenario. First throw is off his back foot down the right side. Intended for Bucky Hodges but incomplete. Fort covering.

2. Griffey the Z, Tevin Jones in the slot. Adeniyi whipped Banner around the edge, beating him without the tackle laying a finger on him. Pressure forces the ball out quick and it lands at Jones’ feet. Incomplete. 3rd down.

3. Redemption here. Nice throw to Griffey downfield and along the left side to the 30. Dangerfield wraps up. Phillips was picked up on his nickel blitz. Dobbs calls for a timeout.

4. Complete right side to Justin Thomas before Brian Allen pushes him from behind. Five yard gain. 1:07 on the clock. Samuels had some issues in pass pro, Matthew Thomas ripping through him.

5. Curl finds Thomas again, making a leaping grab against Allen.

6. Dobbs spikes the ball. 49 seconds remaining.

7. Fire over the middle finding Griffey at the 3 before he’s hit right after the catch. Berhe and Allen on him.

8. Throw left side for Tevin Jones. Phillips tips it away.

9. 2nd down. 24 ticks to go. Speed out hits Jones this time crossing the front right pylon for the score. Touchdown and that’s the final play of camp.

Odds And Ends

– DBs go through and make one-handed catches during one session of individual work. Brian Allen the most natural at it, no surprise given his WR background.

– Henderson, Thomas, Sutton the PRs. I don’t get why Sutton gets all this work if he won’t do it in a game.

– Danny Smith praised Mike Hilton for doing something right during a punt coverage, ST session. “Hitlon! Hilton! Nice job.”

Marcel Pastoor, assistant S&C coach, has a laser. He “punts” (throws) the ball on punts where the punter doesn’t actually boot it. Should be in the mix for the QB battle…

– Give Jerald Hawkins a lot of credit. Easy to sulk after suffering another season-ending injury. Dude was on the field every practice, smiling, engaged, not drifting away from the team. Shame he’s done for the year.

– Joe Haden had a pick in 7v7.

Final Thoughts

– When Jaylen Samuels finds the blitz, he generally does a nice job picking it up. Several examples of that in the 2 minute drills (and he got a ton of playing time there too). Issue for him is being consistent in being able to identify where it’s coming from.

– I’m not sure Christian Scotland-Williamson caught a pass more than 10 yards downfield this entire camp and he practiced each day. Maybe one. Maybe.

– Credit to the RBs. Collectively, I think only 3 missed practices total, and all of that came on the final two days (Conner and Ridley). Those guys take a beating but were up and at ’em each day.

– Zach Banner’s size can make it tough to get around him wide. Problem is, easy to beat him inside if you set him up wide initially.

– Impressive 2 minute drives for Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, though Rudolph was more efficient.

– Jordan Dangerfield a good day. Two breakups in coverage, solid run defense like always.

– Sensabaugh’s INT gives the defense T-W-E-N-T-Y for this camp. Outstanding figure.

– Thanks to everyone who read this on a daily basis. I’ll have a “winners/losers”from camp article in the morning before we get ready for Green Bay. You guys are the best.

St. Vincent Snapshot

DBs early in practice, including the injured Marcus Allen (#27). Wish I knew was his issue was.

Random Steelers Trivia

Art Rooney bought the Pittsburgh Steelers, then called the Pirates, on July 8th, 1933 for $2500 dollars. That’s the same as $47,000 today (and during the Depression, no less).

Dwight Schrute Quote Of The Day

“Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.”

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