Really good practice today. Active, competitive day. What you want to see before heading into Friday with the highlight of camp, Friday Night Lights. New guys have no idea what they’re about to experience. Lets’ talk about Thursday’s Pittsburgh Steelers practice.
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– Injury report. More of the same. Sitting out fully were: Vance McDonald (foot), Alejandro Villanueva (right bicep/shoulder), Antonio Brown (quad), Ramon Foster (knee), and T.J. Watt (left hamstring). I did see McDonald on the field, no boot or anything, so hopefully it truly is minor.
Sean Davis (groin) and Morgan Burnett (hamstring) were in pads again but didn’t participate in one-on-ones or team drills. Practicing in full was Artie Burns and James Washington, the latter who left practice with a left foot injury yesterday. Marcus Tucker rolled a right ankle at the end of practice. Head trainer John Norwig taped him up and Tucker stayed in uniform but I don’t think he went through any drills.
As you probably saw by now, the team made a couple of roster moves, the first since camp began. TE Ryan Malleck, injured yesterday, was waived/injured, the team bringing in TE Bucky Hodges. With the team down to just 13 healthy offensive linemen, they brought in OT Kyle Meadows. To make room, ILB Darnell Leslie – who had a good start to camp but recently faded – was released. Hodges immediately got work in team drills while Meadows did not, though he ran 3rd team right tackle in warmups.
– In the past, TE coach James Daniel would ride down on the cart to the field with DL coach John Mitchell. Now that Mitchell is no longer in that role, Daniel rides down by himself. That makes me sad.
– Likes yesterday, OT Joseph Cheek was the first man out. A little later than usual for the first player, walking down the steps at 2:36.
– Fan behind me: “Steely McBeam…stupid looking cartoon character…stupid idiot.” I wholeheartedly endorse this.
– Despite it being a muggy, cloudy day, Mike Tomlin was sporting a long grey sweatshirt and long black pants. His motto is if the players are hot, so is he.
– Maurkice Pouncey nailed the crossbar from 40 yards out.
– Offensive line groupings in warmups.
First team: Okorafor-Finney-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert
Second team: Rodgers-Collins-Morris-Vickers-Feiler
Third team: Cheek-Schleuger-Graham-Collins-Meadows
– Only saw Quadree Henderson and Justin Thomas in the return line. No Cam Sutton, on the middle field for a special teams session.
– Pharoah McKever and newly signed Hodges not having a fun time on the sleds. Some of McKever’s reps looked better but he’s still too tall on contact and struggles to drive his lower half. McKever and Christian Scotland-Williamson need to keep their eyes up on contact. CSW generates movement for his sheer size. McKever and Hodges had to go through extra reps.
Hodges was the last man through the line and while the other tight ends jogged to go through receiving drills, he took one last rep on the sleds next to coach James Daniel. It wasn’t a good rep, stopping on contact and creating no power, but Daniel finally let him go.
As he began to walk away, Tomlin, who jumped in to watch the group at the end, shook his hand, ostensibly meeting him for the first time. Tomlin walked with Hodges to the location of the next drill, a reminder that though Tomlin may treat some guys differently, he treats everyone fairly and with respect. Certainly didn’t have an obligation to have an extended convo with a tight end with long odds to stick around. And a reminder of how crazy this process is for guys who join the team mid-camp. Hodges and Meadows stuck near each other in the warmup line, the only familiarity how unfamiliar they are to everything.
– McKever showed a mental mistake in drills. Crossing routes for all the tight ends, I think he was the third to go, and instead of running across, he stopped the route like he was a running a curl. Josh Dobbs said something to him, not throwing the ball and indicating he ran the wrong route, and Daniel told him to get back in line, running the crosser the next time through.
– Charted most of the WR/DB one-on-ones.
1. JuJu Smith-Schuster makes a nice diving catch versus Brian Allen.
2. DHB catches the ball versus Burns but Burns pinned him enough that the ref said he was out of bounds, running full speed and ending up under the media tent.
3. Tevin Jones runs an out route. Mike Hilton breaks with him on his cut, breaking the throw up.
4. Marcus Tucker and Cam Sutton take forever to get going. Rep finally begins. Tucker runs a PCP. Gets separation but the pass off his hands and incomplete.
5. Burns high points the football and knocks it away from Damoun Patterson.
6. James Washington whoops Dashaun Phillips off the line of scrimmage. The pass wasn’t great, thrown a little low and behind but catchable. Washington can’t haul it in.
7. Justin Hunter bursts away from Phillips and makes the catch.
8. DHB runs an out ‘n up. Burns blankets, breaks the throw up.
9. Tevin Jones swims over Coty Sensabaugh on an out cut. Makes the grab, the corner unable to rally and make a play on the ball.
10. Quadree Henderson and Mike Hilton cat-fight at the line of scrimmage. Henderson makes the grab on an out route.
11. Terrell Edmunds looks like a CB, sticking with Smith-Schuster on a post-corner. Pass incomplete.
12. Washington burns Jamar Summers, making the catch with his outstretched hand.
13. Griffey diving/falling grab against Malik Reaves.
14. Brian Allen runs under Justin Thomas and forces the incompletion.
15. Fade for Jones in the corner is incomplete. Golden covering.
16. Pretty throw by Big Ben, hitting Justin Hunter over his outside shoulder. Impossible for Burns to make a play on the deep ball.
17. Tucker runs a curl, boxing out Hilton and making the snag.
18. JuJu in an unfair matchup, swims over Reaves and burns him downfield for an easy touchdown.
19. Washington adjusts back for the ball against Phillips. Makes the grab but refs say he doesn’t get his feet inbounds.
20. Patterson fights through Sutton to the corner. Bad throw, incomplete.
21. Complete to Griffey, on a curl against Marcus Allen.
22. Justin Thomas adjusts and makes a grab. Not sure who the corner was, maybe Brian Allen.
23. Slot fade for Jones. Incomplete. Hilton covering.
24. Edmunds stride-for-stride with Washington vertical, breaking up pass at the catch point. Another solid rep from the 1st round pick.
25. Slot fade to Tucker. Couldn’t find the ball, incomplete. Sutton covering.
26. Summers with a nice breakup against Thomas.
27. Justin Hunter comes down with his usual leaping catch, this time on Sensabaugh.
28. Incompletion to a WR I don’t have noted. Burns in coverage.
29. Hilton breakup on this throw for Tevin Jones.
30. Sutton again a little heady veteran move. Press coverage but fakes the punch off the line, getting Griffey to flinch. Still, Griffey on a curl and hauls in the pass.
31. Tucker runs a crosser the whole way across the field, a route I hadn’t seen in this session. Hilton was covering but saw something he didn’t like, stopping, throwing his hand at Tucker as if to say “whatever.” Tucker was wide open but somehow didn’t make the catch and fell into one of the on-field advertisements in the back of the end zone. Weird play.
– A couple of the OL/DL reps.
1. Tyson Alualu rips under Chukwuma Okorafor.
2. Cam Heyward uses a late rip move under B.J. Finney. But wasn’t a clear, quick victory.
3. Good rep for Patrick Morris, staying square and sliding his feet against Hargrave, who can’t swim past him.
4. Stephon Tuitt and R.J. Prince, there’s a matchup, ends in a draw, getting tangled up with each other and falling to the ground.
5. Lavon Hooks attempted spin move fails against Matt Feiler.
6. Long arm rush from Farrington Huguenin, who then knocks down Okorafor’s hands, and beats him cleanly.
7. Finney hanging on for dear life but seals Heyward upfield.
8. Morris another win versus Hargravve, sliding and staying in front.
9. Kendal Vickers with an impressive rep, winning against Tuitt.
10. Keion Adams tries to spin outside and then again inside against Feiler. Both attempts fail.
11. Okorafor seals Ola Adeniyi upfield.
12. Joshua Frazier lost his balance bull rushing Morris.
13. Guard Chris Schleuger holds off Parker Cothren’s rip move.
14. Vince Williams jumps in and promptly dips under Joseph Cheek.
– Let’s get into team sessions.
First Team Session (11 v 11)
1. Seven shots. Edmunds/Nat Berhe at safety. Jon Bostic and VW at ILB. Okorafor LT, Conner RB, Roethlisberger in at QB. JuJu slot right. 12 personnel with Jesse James and Xavier Grimble the two TEs. Tuitt pressure up the middle. Roethlisberger fires over the middle for James, who makes a brief double-catch before falling across the goal line. Crowd cheered, recognizing how close it looked to the Patriots debacle last year. This time, a TD.
2. 12 personnel again. Slot fade to Grimble against Vince Williams to the back left pylon. Caught but out of bounds, according to the refs, and the pass is incomplete.
3. Checking in at RB is Fitzgerald Toussaint. Patterson slot right. Miscommunication between Edmunds and Joe Haden, both taking Grimble. Leaves DHB wide open for a TD from Ben.
4. Jaylen Samuels now the man in the backfield. 11 personnel empty set, Samuels split left against Edmunds. Edmunds breaks up throw for Samuels on an inside slant.
5. Lining up in the slot is James Washington. Pass from Landry ones to Patterson incomplete, though Sensabaugh looked preeeeeety grabby here. Flag thrown. Feiler in at RT. In hindsight, I’ll give this win to the offense.
6. Snap to Jones is off-line and to the left. Backshoulder throw for JuJu, adjusting against Sutton and hauling it in. Stevan Ridley good pickup to give his QB time.
7. TE Pharoah McKever lined up slot right. Jones fires a fade to the right for Justin Hunter but Brian Allen has the size to match and breaks it up. Defense wins seven shots for the 6th straight practice, 4-3.
1. Haden and Burns at CB. Bostic/VW at ILB. James Conner carry left side in this full tackle session. Steps out of an Artie Burns attempt and picks up a nice gain of 7-8 yards.
2. Conner seemingly flings himself into the mass at the line, running behind Roosevelt Nix’s lead block. Anthony Chickillo one of several yellow jerseys in on the tackle for a short gain.
3. With Malleck, the backup fullback, gone, RB Jarvion Franklin steps in to take FB reps. Vince Williams makes quick work of him, blowing the rookie up, and drops Toussaint at the LOS.
4. James and McKever the TEs, 13 personnel. Linebacker gets penetration, James deals him down, and Toussaint cuts off his hip. Matakavich wraps him up for a short gain.
5. Ben Roethlisberger playaction. Checkdown underneath to Franklin. Finney ended up on his butt trying to block Heyward and Dupree killed Okorafor off the left edge, both defenders forcing the ball out quick by #7.
6. Stevan Ridley carry left side. L.J. Fort misses the TFL from the backside. Huguenin and Daniel McCullers make the tackle.
7. Keion Adams blows up Hodges. Fort tackles Ridley this time for a short gainer.
8. Okorafor now at RT with a new offensive line unit checking in. McCullers runs through Feiler to apply some pressure late in the rush. Landry Jones heaves deep left for Patterson on a crosser. He’s open but like yesterday, let’s the ball slip through his hands, denying the touchdown. Jordan Dangerfield was doing his best to get over in coverage.
9. Dangerfield better against the run, flying in to be the first to tackle Samuels near the LOS. Rookie back falls forward for a gain of maybe two. Adams in the mix as well.
10. Matthew Thomas and Matakevich the ILB pairing. Flse start by someone. James Summers carry right side. LG Parker Collins pulls but Adams sheds him immediately, Collins tossed to the ground as Adams makes the tackle. Collins claps his hands in frustration as he picks himself up from the ground.
11. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Joshua Frazier at NT. Summers carry right side. Dashaun Phillips and Matt Galambos fly in backside to help make the stop.
12. Rudolph playaction. Franklin, the deep back, runs into the rookie. But Rudolph isn’t bothered by it, gathers himself, and hits an open McKever down the right seam, the rookie tight end spinning back to face the ball and reel the pass in. Mike Hilton, playing FS, makes a diving open field tackles at the ankles.
13. Ridley carry right side, throwing up a stiff arm with his left hand and burying Summers, the cornerback. Hilton again there, a sizeable hit to knock him out of bounds. “Way to run 2-2!” Tomlin calls out, impressed.
14. Good blocking from the right side of the OL, Rodgers and Collins in those spots. Samuels has daylight to the right side and hits the hole. Hilton nips at his ankles for the tackle. Nice run and good rep for the offense.
15. End around to Quadree Henderson right to left. Follows Jesse James’ lead block. Jukes Marcus Allen, shifting to his right, before Adeniyi chases him from behind to help bring him down.
Third Team Session
1. Roethlisberger great throw, hitting James on a corner route and Bostic trailing. Dupree beat Okorafor like a rented mule.
2. Empty set. Bubble to JuJu left side. Hilton bumps him out of bounds.
3. Dime alert! Haden LCB, Burns RCB, Hilton slot. Edmunds/Berhe at safety. Bostic comes off the field and Sutton becomes the dime, box linebacker next to Vince Williams. I paid so much attention to all of that I don’t have any notes on the play. But this I figure is more important.
4. Toussaint carry left side, DeCastro pulling. Okorafor with a nice drive block on Vince Williams, who can’t shed. Steelers again in dime.
5. Conner finds space along the right side. Marcus Allen charges valiantly into David DeCastro.
6. Matakevich/Bostic at ILB, back in their base 3-4. Dobbs at QB. Patterson and Washington the WRs. Collins false starts. Snap the ball, nothing there for Dobbs, who tucks and runs right side.
7. Empty set. Dobbs short underneath to Samuels, Bostic right there to wrap him.
8. Adams and Huguenin the OLBs. Dobbs complete to Washington left sideline, leaping the air and surviving the blow by Phillips to get both feet in bounds and survive the ground. Good play by the rook. Elsewhere, Adams beat Feiler.
9. Landry Jones in at QB. Steelers showing a 2-2-7, something they used for three plays in the regular season finale last year. Golden and Marcus Allen replaces both ILBs, only the OLBs are out there in addition to two down linemen. Phillips the slot corner, Brian Allen right corner, Sensabaugh left, and whoever the safeties where.
10. Bostic/Vince Williams at ILB. JuJu in the slot. Ben playaction, quick out to Hunter, but the pass is through his hands. Haden at LCB but didn’t influence the incompletion.
11. Roethlisberger hits JuJu on a crosser working on Sutton. Refs did throw a flag, some infraction on the offense.
12. Money throw by Ben to hit JuJu on an out route. NCB blitz and Edmunds rushing, each from the other side.
13. Rudolph hits the new guy Hodges in the right flat. Allen first one to greet him. Hooks and Fort had pressure.
14. Adams and Adeniyi the OLBs. Summers and Samuels in the game as a Pony backfield, split next to Rudolph before Samuels is motioned out left. Rudolph moves left, keeps his eyes downfield, and makes an accurate, albeit short throw to Justin Thomas before Marcus Allen could close on him.
15. Bunch set with Scotland-Williamson, McKever, and Griffey. Rudolph finds Griffey left side. Hilton must have been pissed or something. Full speed launch into Griffey, crumbling the receiver out of bounds.
1. Landry in at QB with Big Ben’s day done. Bostic/VW at ILB. Jones finds an open JuJu on the right corner and hits him for a TD. Beat Hilton.
2. Jones has DHB open on a skinny post but Burns gets his arm around to knock it out, incomplete. Great rep from Artie.
3. James boxes out Vince Williams on a 5 yard hank (curl) route.
4. Inside zone left, Conner on the carry. Tuitt flows backside and grabs him around the helmet, tearing him down.
5. Backshoulder throw from Jones to Hunter. Hunter finds it and gets both hands on it but Haden plays up through his hands and breaks the pass up.
6. Hunter lined up in the slot. Dupree beats Chuks…again, pressuring Landry. Throw for James is out of the end zone, incomplete. VW on the coverage.
7. Nice anchor by Collins against L.T. Walton’s bull rush. Dobbs hits Ridley underneath.
8. Franklin shows some juice, turning the corner down the right sideline. Collins got his helmet torn off…maybe by McCullers? Pre cursor to their fight.
9. Washington in the slot. Samuels split out wide, CSW sidecar to the QB in the backfield. Dobbs for Samuels falls incomplete.
10. Playaction. Dobbs quick to Washington left flat. Rookie doesn’t get his head around, didn’t seem to expect the football.
11. Dobbs for Washington on a crosser right to left into the end zone. Beats Brian Allen. Throw is behind but Washington makes a sick one-handed grab, reaching back with his right hand, and pulls it into his chest. Pretty play. TD.
12. Dobbs hits Tucker on a slant for a diving touchdown, beating Sutton. This is the play where Tucker came up gimpy with the right ankle.
13. Franklin carry right side. McKever/Schlueger pull left to right. McKever slow and late to his spot. Matt Galambos sheds the block and makes the stop.
14. Franklin and Allen with a big car crash on carry off right tackle. Neither player fearing the other.
15. Empty set. Rudolph has to get the ball out of his hand quicker. Keith Kelsey comes off the offense’s left, unblocked, and swats the ball out of his hands, though he throws both mitts up as if to say “I wasn’t trying to hit the QB.” Rodgers falls on the ball.
1. Sutton in the slot. Toussaint right side. Despite it being the end of a muggy day of practice, Cam Heyward runs full speed after him. Berhe takes a good angle to tag him.
2. DHB runs a post-corner to the left side. Turns into the DB, punching the ball away so Burns couldn’t pick it off. Jones at QB.
3. Hunter wide open over the middle. Touchdown from Landry. Pillow soft one coverage.
4. Tevin Jones in the slot. Conner carry right side. Dupree chases backside, Williams knifes through the line to tag him before falling to the ground.
5. Ridley carry up the middle. Dupree either came in free or defeated the block, flying in to tap him up near the LOS.
6. 3×1. Grimble the tight end to the weakside, hand in the ground. Sensabaugh missed his press coverage on Hunter in the slot. Recovered nicely and let the receiver take him to the football, breaking the throw up. Jones attempted the pass.
7. Dobbs wants Patterson on a slant to the left. Throw late and Dangerfield jumps it, picking it off and returning it the other way. JuJu playfully comes from the sideline to try and track him down.
8. Believe this was the fight. Not sure who had the carry. Matakevich made the tackle, Huguenin worked off Prince’s block. Collins and McCullers go out it. Love to see the fire from Big Dan. As is becoming my favorite part of actual fights are the fake fights. No video this time but Vince Williams dropped the people’s elbow on Jesse James, knocking him out for the count. Good times.
9. Dobbs throw to Justin Thomas is inaccurate. Picked, again, this time by Brian Allen, who races it back. Dobbs not happy with himself.
10. Franklin carry left side. He stiff arms Phillips and the two hold each other up for a couple yards downfield.
11. Sayles rushes in free. Dobbs throws it out of the end zone. Patterson closest receiver.
12. 2×2 formation. Dobbs for Jones right corner but Phillips tips the ball away.
13. Smauels off left guard. Larson Graham pancakes Kendal Vickers. Short gain.
14. Ridley carry off left side. Malik Golden hits him with a weak shoulder in this non-tackling period.
15. Rudolph throw to Jones backshoulder down the right seam is incomplete. Jamar Summers nearly picked it off but a nice rep to end practice.
– After what I thought was Josh Dobbs best day of practice yesterday, followed up today as his worst. Two picks in that last session were U-G-L-Y.
– Don’t think Jarvion Franklin will be a very good FB but I guess it helps his value out.
– Didn’t like seeing Damoun Patterson with another drop today. Bad day yesterday which honestly, I didn’t mind. He’s a UDFA rookie…most of those dudes have bad days. All about the response the next day. Wasn’t great Thursday. Hate seeing guys stack bad plays/bad days.
– I’m going to need to research it but Jesse James is a workhorse. Dude just doesn’t miss a rep, let alone a practice. Kudos to him.
– Defensively, more good days for Artie Burns and Terrell Edmunds. Burns felt like a shutdown corner today. Only perfect passes beat him. Edmunds is a safety who can cover like a corner.
– Not all is perfect for James Washington but you’re definitely seeing enough positive plays to know there’s talent there.
– Second straight active day around the football by Jordan Dangefield.
– Dupree has been killing Okorafor the last two days. Speed, speed, speed. Welcome to the league, rook.
– Mike Hilton rarely misses a tackle. That’s a dude who could play FS, though I don’t expect him to unless something goes wrong. Great open field tackler.
– I like B.J. Finney and he’s done well in games. But practices seem rough for him. Hargrave and Heyward have his number the last two years.
St. Vincent Snapshot
Danny Smith, grey shirt, getting the punt coverage team ready.
Random Steelers Trivia
Gary Russell is the only player in Super Bowl history to have negative rushing yards and a touchdown, carrying the ball twice for -3 yards in Super Bowl XLIII. His TD came from one yard out.
Dwight Schrute Quote Of The Day
“Through concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will.”