Training Camp

Steelers Training Camp Diary: Family Fest

A special edition of training camp coverage. Technically, the Pittsburgh Steelers have broken camp, reporting back to Pittsburgh to finish out the preseason. But they’re holding their Family Fest practice for the second straight year. Last season, it was part of camp. They moved it around the schedule this time, a smarter decision so the team wouldn’t have to bus back and forth from Latrobe. And as Mike Tomlin said, a good chance for guys to get familiar with Heinz Field before gameday Saturday.

Here’s what happened tonight.

– Some bonus coverage for you, including a bonus injury report. Nice to get to see where the team is out coming out of their second game and nearly a week after camp broke. Those who didn’t practice at all include: Vance McDonald (foot), Patrick Morris (unknown), Mike Hilton (unknown, lower body?), Morgan Burnett (unknown), Fitzgerald Toussaint and Stevan Ridley (unknown), Xavier Grimble (right hand) Ramon Foster (right knee), and Daniel McCullers (unknown).

Lot of unknowns there, unfortunately. Morris was injured against Green Bay and as Dave Bryan wrote about, it appears Hilton was injured covering a punt. Ridley missed the final two days of camp so this is something more than completely minor. Ideally, he can play Saturday. Looks like Grimble had the cast removed on his right hand, replaced by a big wrap that goes halfway up his elbow. According to Jeremy Fowler’s report, best case scenario is a Week One return.

Visibly, all these players looked ok. Know there was some concern about Hilton in the comments but I think it’s minor. McDonald was on the field and donned a red cap to play “defense” in the beginning walkthrough for the offense. I guess that’s progress but in the way me picking up a science book is progress to becoming an astrophysicist. Now missing 22 days as of Sunday, best you can hope for is that he can play Week One.

Antonio Brown, Marcus Allen, and Chukwuma Okorafor were all in pads but were limited to individual work. Ditto T.J. Watt, getting his first work in since being injured on the third day of training camp. Okorafor has his right shoulder wrapped near the end of practice; Tomlin said he hurt it during the Packers game. Happy to see Allen out there and the injury isn’t anything too serious. Hopefully this means he can play Saturday but I guess that’s still up in the air.

I’m pretty sure reserve center Larson Graham didn’t work in team either. He was in pads and went through individual work. Not certain what’s going on there. Not good for his outlook, of course.

One bit of complete good news. Sean Davis (groin) returned to practice in full.

– First team OL: Villanueva-Finney-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert

– Second team OL: Rodgers-Omoile-Feiler-Prince-Banner

Yup, Feiler working at center, including team drills, for the first time I’ve seen, aside from snapping a couple before a handful of practices. His transformation into the new Chris Hubbard continues.

– Players came out around 6:20. Not a lot of pre-practice activity. There was a dog show and a presentation for some of the top members of Steelers Nation Unite. Ryan Shazier walked out of the tunnel with the rest of the linebackers. Maybe I’m looking at it with black and gold colored glasses, but he was walking even better now than he did at Friday Night Lights.

– Little bit of WR/DB for you. Team was in pads but no tackling today, which I think it outlawed by the CBA since the Steelers broke camp.


1. James Washington bursts away from Artie Burns on a corner route to the back right part of the end zone. Touchdown.

2. Brian Allen plays the catch point and breaks up the throw for JuJu Smith-Schuster, incomplete.

3. Double-move by Darrius Heyward-Bey, creating some separation against Burns. But the throw is short and Burns picks it off (shown below).

4. An Allen Iverson crossover move off the line of scrimmage by Justin Hunter, causing Malik Reaves to fall to the ground. Hunter with the catch for the score.

5. Slot fade, Ben Roethlisberger putting it in the bucket for Trey Griffey against Coty Sensabaugh. Griffey tracks it over his outside, right shoulder, but it falls off his fingertips.

6. Swim move over Reaves by Hunter, swapping hips and stacking him. Easy catch.

7. As he does in every practice, nice high point and grab by Washington, leaping over Cam Sutton in the end zone.

8. Quadree Henderson runs an out ‘n up, getting a step on Sensabaugh. Spins back for the ball but it banks off his chest and into the ground, incomplete. Gotta finish the play.

9. Burns tries to undercut a slant run by JuJu but can’t bat the ball away. Smith-Schuster reaches out and plucks the pass over the middle.

10. Sick one-handed grab by…DHB (not a typo), making the catch with his right hand in the back of the end zone on Brian Allen.

11. Antonio Brown’s only action of the day. Jokingly, Roethlisberger throws a swing pass to AB in the flat, cutting back inside and Sensabaugh loses his balance trying to mirror him.

12. Very odd pacing of this drill. A good 20 seconds, even more for some, between reps. Not sure the reason here. Justin Thomas going against Jamar Summers. Thomas with a clean release off the line, Summers stumbling as he flipped his hips to turn and run. Thomas catches the ball in the end zone.

13. JuJu catches a fade on his inside shoulder against Burns.

14. Griffey breaks down on a curl to create space on Sensabaugh, making an easy grab.

– Some 11 on 11 talk.

First Team Session (11 v 11)

1. Javon Hargrave at nose tackle. Anthony Chickillo/Bud Dupree at OLB. James Washington replacing AB, working as the X with Hunter as the Z and JuJu inside. Roethlisberger hits Hunter on a slant, sliding to the ground against Haen for six.

2. Roethlisberger fires right side to I think JuJu. Pass gets tipped at the catch point, bouncing backwards and Haden is johnny on the spot, picking it off. Nice blitz pickup by James Conner.

3. Roethlisberger half roll right, faking a shovel pass to Conner. Moves a little bit more than throws it overhand over Chickillo’s head, complete to Conner for the score.

4. Hunter and JuJu on the outside. Washington in the slot. Roethlisberger empty set. Touchdown, a slant to JuJu workingover Haden.

5. Feiler in at center, Mason Rudolph at QB. Throw is tipped at the LOS, incompletion.

6. Empty set, Jaylen Samuels split out. Fade right corner for Damoun Patterson is too far in front and incomplete. Sensabaugh covering.

7. Throw down the left seam intended for Griffey. Not a great ball, clipping off his left hand and incomplete. Dashaun Phillips on the coverage. Defense storms back from a 3-1 deficit to win 7 shots, 4-3.

Second Team Session

1. Hargrave at the nose, Vince Williams and Jon Bostic the starting ILBs. Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis at safety. Bad exchange under center by Pouncey and Jones, the play going nowhere.

2. James Conner carry up the middle. Short gain, nothing going on. Again, no tackling.

3. Malik Golden swaps in to get some snaps with the first team. Team getting a longer look at him. B.J. Finney false key pull. Jones playaction, connects with Smith-Schuster on a slant against Sutton.

4. Conner carry over left guard. Tyler Matakevich works off Pouncey and throws a shoulder into Conner, sending the back stumbling to the ground.

5. Josh Dobbs comes in at QB. Another under-center bad exchange. Not 100% sure who the center was. I think Pouncey.

6. Dobbs playaction for his first throw. Pass sails over Marcus Tucker’s head, not sure whose fault it was for that being the result, and Jordan Dangerfield makes an impressive diving catch downfield. Nice play from a guy we normally associate with being a hitter.

7. Jaylen Samuels with the carry up the middle. Matthew Thomas meets him after a short gain.

8. Now it’s Jarvion Franklin right side. Farrington Huguenin and L.J. Fort knife in backside to prevent the cutback until Nat Berhe bumps the back out of bounds.

9. Second-year back James Summers with the ball left side. Dupree works off James’ block to tag him up. Jordan Dangerfield finishes things with a loud thud, knocking Summers to his right, who then proceeds to truck an unsuspecting L.J. Fort as they go to the ground. Biggest hit of the night.

10. Mason Rudolph climbs the pocket to work away from the sight Lavon Hooks pressure. Checkdown middle to Samuels. Thomas tags him before the back finishes his run down the left sideline.

11. Nice bust on his cut upfield by James Summers, the ROLB forcing him inside. Greg Gilmore chased from behind. Berhe put on the eventual tag.

12. The third poor exchange that sinks a play, this time Rudolph working under center with Feiler. So all three QBs, Jones, Dobbs, Rudolph, botching one play. That’s 25% of the session. Not good, especially this time of year.

Third Team Session

1. False start by one of the interior OL. Roethlisberger crosser left to right intended for Jesse James. Terrell Edmunds on the breakup.

2. Haden and Burns on the outside, Sutton in the slot. Sutton jumps a curl for JuJu and swats it away.

3. Roethlisberger scrambles right, evading pressure. Nearly tucks and runs but at the last second, spots Hunter coming open near the middle. Pass is low and Hunter can’t cradle his hands under it. Haden in the area but didn’t effect the result.

4. Line of scrimmage at the 10. Throw to JuJu on the far left sideline, incomplete, the WR trying to pivot back out at the last second. Burns covering. Dupree beat David DeCastro up the B gap for some pressure.

5. Fade from Ben to Washington right corner. Haden with sticky coverage. Washington throws up his left hand but has no chance to make the play, incomplete.

6. Empty set then Samuels motioned to the backfield. Nice touch throw by Roethlisberger, hitting Jesse James, who spins backward and grabs the ball over Sean Davis. Good play for the offense.

7. Landry Jones enters the lineup. Throw incomplete, broken up by Sensabaugh. Roosevelt Nix lined up in the backfield and admirably picked up the blitz.

8. Throw left side for Tucker. Boxes out the much bigger Brian Allen and shows good body control to complete the catch.

9. Fade to Patterson right side. Allen grabs a fistful of jersey then dives and swats the ball away, incomplete.

10. Another nifty grab by Tucker, plucking the ball over Brian Allen’s head. Allen couldn’t find the ball and didn’t keep his eyes on the WR. Josh Dobbs threw the pass.

11. Samuels wide left, empty set. Keion Adams rushes in free. Dobbs lobs the ball up to the middle of a mesh route but to no one in particular. Dashaun Phillips would’ve picked him had he not attempted a highlight reel one-handed play. Incomplete instead.

12. Fade left side for Tevin Jones via Dobbs. Nice breakup by Phillips, knocking it away with a well-timed jump and a left hand swat.

Fourth Team Session

1. Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave collapse the pocket, forcing Roethlisberger to his right. Throw to Jesse James is low and outside but James dives and secures the catch, landing hard on his right shoulder.

2. Conner carry right side. Dupree blitzed up the A/B gap. Cam Heyward defeated Marcus Gilbert’s block and wrapped Conner up around the helmet.

3. Roethlisberger has James open but the pass is behind him and incomplete. Burns in the area.

4. Playaction. Ben looking for Jesse again. Dangerfield knocks the ball out of the tight end’s chest. Nice rep.

5. Roethlisberger throws left seam for JuJu. Sutton may have gotten away with a shove but nonetheless, breaks up the throw. Smith-Schuster fell hard on his back in the end zone but he was fine.

6. Washington in the slot, JuJu and Hunter outside. Fire middle of the end zone for Washington, squeezed between Vince Williams and another LB, but Washington never got his head around, I presume waiting until he cleared VW, and the pass is behind and incomplete.

7. Berhe and Golden the safeties. Rudolph holds onto the ball too long and it’s broken up, intended for Patterson. I think Sensabaugh had the breakup here but don’t have it written in my notes.

8. Samuels carry off left guard. Matakevich first man there.

9. Nice touch throw down the right seam hitting Trey Griffey for a TD over Phillips. Route by #3 occupied the deep safety, opening Griffey downfield.

10. Empty set. Rudolph climbing the pocket and complete to Tucker at the two. Double-catch but he makes it though stopped short of the goal line.

11. Tucker doing the work on offense today, scoring on Phillips. Pass from Rudolph. Looked like Franklin slipped and nearly cut the LB in pass protection.

12. Rudolph wants Patterson left corner but too far in front and out of the end zone. Sensabaugh covering.

Fifth Team Session

1. Hurry up offense. Jones throws a dart over the middle for James vs Williams.

2. Screen right complete to Conner. Williams and Tuitt chase from behind.

3. Mesh concept that creates confusion on defense, not passing it off correctly, and leaves DHB open running right to left. Big gainer down to the 20 yard line before running out of bounds.

4. Dangerfield and Davis the safeties. Great one-handed snag by James in the back of the end zone, over Dangerfield and Dupree. Great throw and catch to finish things off.

Now Rudolph comes in.

1. Complete over the middle for Bucky Hodges on Tyler Matakevich.

2. Shotgun snap but a bad one by Feiler. Rolls the ball back to Rudolph. Play is dead.

3. Rudolph complete to Samuels right side.

4. False start, perhaps on the RG R.J. Prince. Heave down the right side, I believe intended for Patterson. Heavy collision between Brian Allen and Malik Golden. Golden stayed down, perhaps one of those ugly knee-to-knee hits, and attended to by trainers. I did spot Golden after practice walking around with Davis and Antonio Brown so I think he’s ok. Looked worse than it was.

5. Bomb left side for James Washington but Rudolph over throws him. Incomplete. Phillips covering but a step behind the rookie wideout.

Odds And Ends

– PA announcer called out all the players and coaches as they came out of the tunnel, all the way down to the intern strength and conditioning coach. Except for Danny Smith. Made me sad. Gets no respect.

– OL/DL did a little bit of one-on-one but I didn’t chart every rep. Like Oni Omoile’s anchor against power rushes. Zach Banner tossed Keion Adams aside after one failed spin move.

– Marcus Allen did a lot of sprinting between sessions. Like I said, hope he can be out there against Tennessee. I like his odds, even if it’s just for special teams.

– TE Pharoah McKever made a nice contested catch in the end zone against Fort in 7v7.

Chris Boswell connected from 52 (closed end) and 54 yards (open end) out. Missed one field goal from around 50 that bounced back off the left upright to the open side of the end zone.

Final Thoughts

– Defense won the day. Stormed back to win 7 shots, contested a ton of throws, and picked off two passes. Unless your name was Jesse James or Marcus Tucker, odds are you didn’t have a good day on offense.

– Jordan Dangerfield is finishing things strong. A pick, a breakup, and the biggest hit of the day during run sessions. Liking to see those plays in coverage too for someone viewed as a box SS. Don’t forget about him name when constructing a 53 man roster. He’s in the mix.

– Getting pretty sloppy with the C/QB exchanges. Granted, Feiler working there and you’re going to have some growing pains, but happened with Pouncey too. Trending wrong direction.

– Feiler, as I wrote above, is making his full Hubbard transformation. Including being center capable but also definitely a guy you should never want playing center unless the sky is falling.

St. Vincent Heinz Field Snapshot

Burns picking off the throw for DHB.

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