Training Camp

2019 Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Four

Very hot one out at St. Vincent College this Monday afternoon. Much deserved off day coming for these guys tomorrow before returning to the practice field on Thursday for five straight practices, including the fan favorite Friday Night Lights and the Family Fest day at Heinz Field on Sunday.

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– Let’s start with the injury report. WR Donte Moncrief suffered a finger injury in the latter half of today’s practice, getting it jammed reaching up for a pass tipped by Artie Burns. He did not participate in the final team session. Sitting out today were: WR Johnny Holton (left hamstring), CB Alexander Myres (unknown), OG Ramon Foster (rest), and S Sean Davis (left ring finger). ILB Mark Barron, QB Ben Roethlisberger, and C Maurkice Pouncey all returned after being given Sunday off. CB Joe Haden was in pads but had a relatively light day, substituted out of team drills early in order to give Artie Burns more reps.

– Center/guard Patrick Morris the first one down at 2:36.

Vance McDonald on the JUGs machine early along with his fellow tight end teammates.

– WR Diontae Spencer walked down with STs coach Danny Smith. Good guy to be tight with.

– Nice gesture from James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Signed autographs for fans a few minutes before practice began. And the fans sure love those two guys.

– Interesting first team o-line combination with Foster getting the day. Villanueva-Feiler-Pouncey-DeCastro-Okorafor. So Feiler, not BJ Finney, jumps to left guard, and Okorafor gets elevated to first team.

Here’s the 2nd team: Hawkins-Morris-Finney-Johnson-Banner

– Return line: Eli Rogers, Spencer, Diontae Johnson, Cam Sutton, and Eli Rogers. Rogers last again but like yesterday, he takes awhile to get himself ready. Get his helmet on, jog around after a rep, sorta mosey around the field. He’s still obviously in the mix to be the punt returner and should get opportunities, though I’m sure the team wants extended looks at new faces like Johnson and Spencer.

– Johnson had some issues in the punt return line. Should be easy, clean catches. But he dropped one (did ten push-ups as self-punishment) and then bobbled the next. Dave Bryan noted some of his returns weren’t caught cleanly at Toledo and you’re seeing him still work at it now.

– Punt return challenge, the goal to catch as many balls as you can. Johnson had three, Switzer four (though one squirted out of his arm right before attempting the fourth) and Diontae Spencer had just one, dropping the second one that came at him.

Darryl Drake brought receivers right next to the bleachers to open up drills. Run under the chute, cut next to a pad, drive downhill like you’re running a curl, catch the ball.

“Move, move, move” he called out, wanting the receivers to play fast and come downhill hard, not slow up out of their cut.

“See the ball,” he said when Johnson dropped one.

Mike Tomlin hanging out by the blocking sled, where he often takes up residence early in practice. “Let’s go Big Blue” he yelled out to rookie tight end Zach Gentry.

“Good lick, good lick” he praised Xavier Grimble after one time through.

“Wow!” Tomlin said to Christian Scotland-Williamson after one good pop on the sleds, giving him a high five as CSW got back in line. Tomlin then praised his progression after practice and it’s evident.

– New OL coach Shaun Sarrett wears the same thing each practice. Plain black t-shirt and shorts.

– Sarrett putting the linemen through zone blocking drills. Working as the backside linemen to double the down-linemen. “Pressure, pressure, pressure!” he yelled out to make sure they were punching with solid contact.

– If you’re wondering, when they break into position groups, Trevor Wood is with the tight ends, not the specialists. While he has long snapped before, and hiked a few the other day, he’s said himself he’s primarily a tight end.

– Some highlights from the WR/CB stalk block drill. Simulated toss plays. Darryl Drake coached up the receivers, as you’d expect, and for the defensive side of the football, Teryl Austin ran the drill. Tom Bradley gave a couple coaching tips on the side, working on hand placement with Kameron Kelly, but Austin felt in charge. I know he’s listed as just the “assistant” but it feels like he’s the one who runs the show.

– Nice effort by Diontae Johnson throughout the drill. Like his tenacity even if he’s not a big guy.

Trey Griffey struggled with his hand placement, too far outside, and let Marcus Allen and Dravon Askew-Henry shed him.

– “There ya go, Herb” Austin called out after one nice rep by the young CB Herb Waters.

– JuJu Smith-Schuster shoving around some of the young guys. Walked back Kelly (Bradley pulled him aside after), and then drove Justin Layne back a good 10 yards, plowing him into the ground. Layne got up like he was mad but JuJu seemed to diffuse the moment, jokingly putting up his fists looking for a fight. The two hugged it out.

– Drake working on getting Spencer to have both hands inside the DB after Askew-Henry won one rep.

– Elsewhere, happened to catch one rep of Benny Snell and the rest of the running backs on air on their hands. Made a nice turning snag over his head. Dude has good hands. Just didn’t get to show it much at Kentucky.

– After practice, some of the ILBs, Matakevich and Robert Spillane in particular, working with ILBs coach Jerry Olsavsky on their punch. Approach a blocking sled and punch, repeatedly and rapidly, for 10-15 seconds.

– Let’s talk OL/DL.

OL/DL

1. Bud Dupree had good leverage here on Alejandro Villanueva but the big tackle is just too tough to move. Able to anchor and hold his ground.

2. Cam Heyward doesn’t get to spar with Ramon Foster here. Power and then tried to swim Matt Feiler but it didn’t work.

3. Nice anchor by BJ Finney against Javon Hargrave. Hargrave usually gives him fits.

4. Good chop by Chukwuma Okorafor to knock Anthony Chickillo’s hands down and to the ground.

5. Tuzar Skipper flashes power and knocks back Jerald Hawkins.

6. Heyward got under Feiler late but his initial spin failed against him.

7. Hargrave initial win on this rep on Finney but Finney is able to re-punch and anchor. Another win for #67.

8. Not sure who the defender was, may have been Tyson Alualu, but Fred Johnson used his strength to shove him off his feet and upfield.

9;. Okorafor steers Chickillo up the arc. Chick dipped under him late but I think Okorafor won.

10. Winston Craig good punch allows him to rip through Hawkins.

11. Isaiah Buggs can’t swim over Patrick Morris.

12. JC Hassenauer hanging in there, kinda literally, against Daniel McCullers’ bull rush.

13. Tyson Alualu swims over Fred Johnson.

14. Sutton Smith tries to go outside-inside and dips Zach Banner but the big tackle gives a hard shove and sends Smith to the ground and to a knee.

15. Nice club/bend by Skipper to beat Hawkins.

16. Buggs swims over and by Morris.

17. McCullers slowly walks back Hassenauer but not a bad rep for the center/guard.

18. Banner again able to use his length and strength to shove and seal Smith to the inside as he tries to cross his face.

19. They go again and Smith tries the outside with more success. Dips under and past Banner. Good rep for the rookie.

20. Damian Prince runs Conor Sheehy all the way up the arc and into the gaggle of teammates behind them in the drill.

21. Nice punch by Casey Sayles on rookie Garrett Brumfield, forcing Brumfield to give ground and reset.

22. Good bust by Sayles as they go again, dipping under and past Brumfield.

23. One more time for these too. Short set by Brumfield, chopping Sayles down to save a little face and win this battle.

24. Hassenauer wins on Greg Gilmore’s bull rush.

25. Henry Mondeaux tries to spin inside on Derwin Gray but can’t. Gray, like Foster, is just too big to get around.

26. Winston Craig tries to spin to the inside of Banner but loses his balance and goes to the ground.

27. Nice job by Prince to hold up on Skipper’s power attempt.

28. Sheehy swims over Brumfield, the rookie guard dropping to a knee as he can’t move with him.

29. Gilmore with a late swim over Hassenauer. Would probably still call it a draw.

30. Banner runs Smith upfield.

31. Smith tries the inside this time but Banner is able to slide and mirror. Nice day for him here.

32. Initial punch by Buggs is strong and stuns Gray but he’s able to slide (feet before hands) and stay square, winning the rep and staying in front of Buggs.

– Let’s talk about the team sessions.

First Team Session (Seven Shots)

1. Ball at the two. Like always. Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt the nickel DL. Chickillo/Dupree the OLBs with Terrell Edmunds and Kelly the SS/FS. Roethlisberger’s hard count gets the defense to jump. Touchdown to Moncrief working on Mike Hilton.

2. Xavier Grimble split out wide. 12 personnel. Slant/flat combination, Moncrief working under Smith-Schuster to run the slant and it’s another touchdown against Steven Nelson.

3. Quick slant from Roethlisberger to JuJu is incomplete. Hilton covering but the throw was just a little low and Smith-Schuster couldn’t come down with it.

4. Artie Burns in at LCB. Tunnel screen the Steelers ran near the goal line last year, left side intended for JuJu. Play jumped and pass tipped by Hilton and falls incomplete, the ball bouncing and rolling out of bounds.

5. Mason Rudolph checks in at QB. Throw on a crosser complete to Johnson along the goal line, crossing into the end zone before Waters can stick him.

6. Two RB set. Samuels split out with Trey Edmunds in the backfield. JT Jones and Lavon Hooks applying pressure. Extended play, Rudolph running around before finding James Washington in the right corner for a score.

7. Rudolph quickly fires left seam to an open Trevor Wood, beating LB Tegray Scales and makes a nice snag over his head and tapping both feet inbounds.

Offense wins today, 5-2. Here’s the camp tally.

Offense: 15
Defense: 13

Second Team Session 

1. Haden in at LCB. Mark Barron and Vince Williams at ILB. Ball on the offense’s own 42. Ben again with the hard count. Either DeCastro or Tuitt jumped. Weird read option play or just a busted one? Roethlisberger pulled the ball out of Samuels’ belly and then took off behind him after a brief delay. Don’t know what was going on.

2. Toss to the right. Terrell Edmunds knifes in and joins Tuitt for a tackle at the line of scrimmage.

3. Devin Bush/Mark Barron at ILB. Barron slides over to LOLB off the edge. Pretty throw by Roethlisberger is on target to Smith-Schuster, a 38 yard pickup perfectly between Burns and Kelly. JuJu took a shot from Kelly and fell to the ground but hung on.

4. Nice run by Benny Snell. Stepped out of an ankle tackle of Javon Hargrave and outran Vince Williams down the left side. Shoved out by Steven Nelson. Gain of 13.

5. Ralph Webb carry left side. Brian Allen one of many defenders on the tackle. Short run of three.

6. Tyler Matakevich and Robert Spillane 2nd team at ILB. After a good day yesterday, Spillane seems to be elevated over Tegray Scales. Trey Edmunds with the carry. Nice job by Tyler Matakevich to shed Banner’s block and stuff Edmunds. Jordan Dangerfield leaps on top of the pile for good measure. Loss of one.

7. Webb carry left side. Adeniyi shedded someone’s block and first man in on the tackle. Cam Sutton in there as well. No gain.

8. Josh Dobbs playaction. Short completion to Washington left side, Brian Allen riding him out. Four yard completion.

9. Bush and Williams the ILB pairing. Burns and Nelson at CB, Edmunds and Kelly at safety. Benny Snell bounces the run right side. Chickillo appeared to get held and couldn’t hold the edge. Edmunds read, react, drives for the tackle along with Burns. Two yard run for the rook.

10. Snell has a little more daylight up the middle. But Hargrave got off Maurkice Pouncey’s block to stop Snell before he got too far. Run of four or five.

11. Snell with his third carry in a row. Off left tackle. Nelson first man there to grab Snell around the ankles. Snell sorta stays on his feet but VW spins Snell around and to the ground.

12. Malik Williams toting the rock. Scales has him in the hole but a nice juke by the back to get away from him. Ulysees Gilbert III making an impact, showing his speed to fly in from the backside to make the tackle. Nice job from him. Gain of five or six.

13. Scales and Gilbert III the ILB pairing. Trap run, Travon McMillan taking the handoff. Herb Waters comes in from his CB spot for a nice run fill while Gilbert again is around the ball. Gain of five.

14. Devlin Hodges in at QB. Fakes the handoff. Immediately throws left to someone, not sure who the target was, but Marcus Allen jumped it and picked it off. Ran across the field right to left and spun away from Diontae Spencer before celebrating out of bounds.

15. McMillan carry right side. Bumped into Hodges on the exchange, stumbling slightly but recovering. Scales came in for a big hit but McMillan shoved him off and kept going. Winston Craig had to chase and threw him down from behind.

Third Team Session

1. Ball at the offense’s own 19. Haden in at LCB. Tuitt/Heyward at DT. Texas/angle route from Ben to JuJu but a rare drop from him. Maybe heard Vince Williams’ footsteps.

2. Pretty touch throw from Roethlisberger to Moncrief down the right seam. Floated it over Cam Sutton and Moncrief made a sliding catch to the 40 for 21 yards.

3. Playaction. Stephon Tuitt applying pressure on Roethlisberger. Pass intended for McDonald sails over his head incomplete.

4. Sutton out there in dime, Devin Bush the only ILB. Hargrave/Alualu the DTs. Ryan Switzer in the backfield and gets the carry right side. Hargrave chases him, Bush wraps him up, and attempts to rip the ball out. Gain of five.

5. Quick stick route attempted by Dobbs for Kevin Rader but PJ Locke shows up in a positive way for the first time, driving on the route and knocking the ball away incomplete. Nice stunt pickup by Jerald Hawkins along the o-line.

6. Screen right from Dobbs complete to Samuels, Adeniyi coming free and getting pressure. Matakevich reads the play and makes an immediate stop for a loss of four.

7. Diontae Johnson has a step on Herb Waters down the right side but Dobbs’ deep throw is in front and too far to the right, out of bounds and incomplete.

8. Sayles-Gilmore-Buggs the backup linemen in here. Not sure who this throw was to. Maybe Grimble, maybe Johnson. Either way, Dobbs’ attempt is incomplete.

9. Pass from Roethlisberger to McDonald a little out in front and incomplete along the left side. 10-ish yard out route. Edmunds had good coverage.

10. Mike Hilton taking the bird’s eye view, walking 30 yards back with Teryl Austin t watch the play unfold. Roethlisberger heaves it deep down the right side but excellent, blanket coverage by Artie Burns on JuJu Smith-Schuster. Pass incomplete.

11. Dig from Ben is complete to Washington working on Steven Nelson. Gain of 19.

12. Sayles-Mondeaux-Buggs along the d-line. Quick strike from Rudolph to Johnson, who cuts left, makes Justin Layne look silly and grabbing at air, and bolts upfield.

13. Rudolph half roll to the left. Short throw but on target to Tevin Jones. Justin Layne pushes him out for a six yard completion.

14. Nothing there for Rudolph. Just tucks and runs with Lavon Hooks offering chase.

15. Hooks and Craig the backup nickel linemen with Sutton Smith/Tuzar Skipper the OLBs. Short throw is complete from Rudolph to Edmunds. Marcelis Branch on the stop. Just a gain of one.

Fourth Session

1. Haden/Nelson at CB. Roethlisberger standing alone in empty. Quick fire left side jumped – but dropped – by Cam Sutton. Defense was in dime, Bush (again) working as the lone ILB.

2. Haden/Nelson/Hilton in the slot. Roethlisberger flushed to his right. Throws James Conner open, nice snag by him, adjusting back and out for the ball against Vince Williams. Gain of nine.

3. Mesh beats man coverage, Eli Rogers getting away from the man covering him and finding himself alone over the middle. Nice YAC after the reception before Edmunds chases him from behind and gives Rogers a hard shove to the ground, sliding out of bounds into reporters. Have it down for a 19 yard play.

4. Roethlisberger looks right then throws screen left to Samuels. Complete for four. Edmunds having a nice day and is there for a gain of 4-5.

5. Big Dan and Hooks the d-tackles. Washington has two steps on Burns deep downfield but Rudolph misses him a little far in front. Oklahoma State connection a tad rusty. Hooks had some pressure.

6. Nice bullet throw from Rudolph complete to Diontae Spencer in a tight window. Between three defenders, including Cam Sutton. Complete for 13.

7. Adeniyi slips around the edge. Deep over route from Rudolph for Johnson is incomplete near the left sideline. Herb Waters in Johnson’s hip pocket.

8. Screen left complete from Rudolph to Webb. BJ Finney leading the way. Nice run, 14 yard pickup.

9. Roethlisberger’s deep ball to Moncrief is a little underthrown, don’t know if that’s intentional or not, and Burns is able to tip it away as both men go up for it. Kelly rallies over and picks it off. Play where Moncrief hurt a finger on his left hand.

10. Nice throw from Ben to Washington on a skinny-ish post right side. Separates away from Burns for the catch of 34.

11. Samuels carry up the middle. Cam Heyward chases and full tackles him to the ground. Run of nine.

12. Trevor Wood gets wide open immediately down the right side. Marcelis Branch first man there but Wood is going all-out, running over Marcus Allen, who turtles on his back. Gain of 15.

13. Short throw from Hodges to Edmunds left side. Layne wrap up tackle for three.

14. Prince-Brumfield-Hassenauer-Gray-Banner the third team o-line. Screen left from Hodges to Rader but Rader dropped it. A little low but catachable.

15. Quick hitter from Hodges to Johnson. Spins Kelly around and jets upfield. Gain of 10.

Fifth Team Session

1. With Moncrief held out, Diontae Johnson working opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster. Roethlisberger playaction, scrambling to the right. Complete to McDonald working on Vince Williams. Gain of six. Didn’t see what happened but coach called out “Nice, Chuks” of course referring to Okorafor during the play.

2. Conner carry left side. Nice block by Rader on Williams. Goes for seven.

3. Empty set. JuJu hauls in this pass from Ben for 11.

4. Burns in at LCB. Barron/Williams at ILB. Conner off left side. Alualu makes the tackle for six with Nelson arriving a moment after.

5. 4 WRs on the field. Griffey used as a wing to the left side. Samuels carry right side. Hooks plowed through Morris, sending him tot he ground, and helping in on the stop. Just a run of a yard.

6. Dangerfield/Locke the safety pairing with Scales/Matakevich. Rudolph playaction. Nice snag by Grimble running an over/crossing route, reaching out for the ball and plucking it off Dirty Red’s shoulder. Gain of 16.

7. Nice play for Tevin Jones, running a dig and catching this throw from Rudolph in front of Waters. Goes for 18. Banner buries JT Jones in their rusher/blocker battle.

8. Twin set to the right. Johnson out wide, Washington in the slot. Snell carry left side. Several defenders pile in, not sure who, did see Henry Mondeaux in the area, and it’s a loss of three or four.

9. Dobbs playaction. Hits Scotland-Williamson in the right flat. Mark Barron takes aim, maybe a little defensive revenge for Wood trucking Allen earlier, and absolutely plants CSW on the ground to the defense’s jubilation. Completion of six.

10. Dobbs again playfake. Kelly buzzes to the flat and forces a high throw to Jones on a curl route. Over his head and incomplete. Nice play by Kelly.

11. Switzer/Johnson on the outside with JuJu in the slot. Switzer motions to stack with JuJu. Dobbs flushed out to the left and hits Johnson. Goes for six.

12. Low, a little short, throw left side from Hodges intended for Washington. Between Waters and Marcus Allen.

13. Malik Williams carry left side. Spillane and Conor Sheehy converge on the tackle for a pickup of two.

14. Hodges floats a checkdown for McMillan but it clangs off the back’s hands and incomplete. A definite drop.

15. Branch/Askew-Henry the safeties. Snell carry right side. Nice job by Tevin Jones to crack the safety to help open up the lane. Waters knocks Snell out after a run of 11. “Way to knock down the stiff arm,” I believe Tomlin called out to Waters.

Final Thoughts

– Still liking what I’m seeing from Snell. Showing a bit of everything. Burst, ability to break tackle, pass protection, hands, and very importantly, ball security. Off to a nice first four days.

– Good time to mention it for the whole group. Not one fumble by any of the running backs, and I don’t think by anyone, so far. Underrated but nice to see.

– Definitely seeing some of the improvement in Christian Scotland-Williamson that Tomlin talked about. Defense likes to hit him when he does catch the ball. Big target they want to bring down and frankly, the dude needs to get hit. Still new to football and hasn’t caught many passes in practices/games last year. He’s a rugby player so he’s fine.

– UDFA rookie Trevor Wood with a good day too catching the ball. A little separation from him and say, Kevin Rader, who has struggled to catch the ball.

– Want to see Diontae Johnson catch the ball cleaner and more consistently but the dude can make plays. Watch out for him in the open field. Plays a lot faster than he tested. A lot faster.

– Cam Sutton, despite the INT he dropped today, has been all around the ball in coverage. Terrell Edmunds has shown great read and react skills and has the speed to drive on the ball and disrupt screens and short passes to the flat.

– Nice day for Tyler Matakevich today. Liked his work in the run game, hand use to work off blocks and finding the ball while not getting out of his run fit.

– Long ways to go but don’t discount Ulysees Gilbert III for a roster spot. Easy mover who seems around the ball a lot in run sessions.

– Defense did better today in run session than they did yesterday.

– Tuzar Skipper flashed in OL/DL. Steelers have a lot of interesting pass rushers worth checking out this preseason.


St. Vincent Snapshot

Team working in 11 v 11.

Twitter Camp Question

It was ok today. I don’t want to kill the guy every day. But I do want to see improvement and for him to really get going in games. Dobbs is capable of making the splash play and he can throw on the run, better than Rudolph, but he’s too scattershot right now.

Steelers Highlight (You Probably Don’t Remember)

Ziggy Hood sacking Jimmy Clausen in this 2010 win over the Carolina Panthers. Hood and Clausen…two Top 50 picks. Credit to Hood though. Still hanging around the league.

Bob Belcher Quote Of The Day

“Hey, sometimes good things come from boredom. Like Gene.”

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