Back it for Day #10. Just one more open practice – tomorrow’s – before the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let’s get after it.
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– Injury report: As Dave Bryan wrote, pretty lengthy one today. Check out all the names Mike Tomlin listed here. Not practicing today were: WR Diontae Johnson (groin), CB Artie Burns (groin), C Maurkice Pouncey (back), ILB Vince Williams (hamstring), OG Ramon Foster (unknown), FB Roosevelt Nix (unknown) DE Cam Heyward (birth of child), and RB James Conner (unknown). Didn’t even see Pouncey on the field today. Wonder if he’s getting further evaluation. Conner was doing pushups as the RBs went through drills so I’m sure he’s fine.
Returning in full today were: WR Donte Moncrief, OLB TJ Watt, OLB Anthony Chickillo, TE Christian Scotland-Williamson, QB Ben Roethlisberger, and OG David DeCastro. Obviously really good to get Moncrief and Watt back in team. FS Sean Davis suited up the pads today but was limited to just individual drills. Had his jersey off by the team the second team session began. But good sign for him. OG/C JC Hassenauer sported a brace on his right knee but practiced in full though it felt like that brace was hindering his mobility.
Several injuries during practice. RB Ralph Webb walked up with the trainer about halfway through practice. Couldn’t tell the nature or severity. Alejandro Villanueva had his right shoulder iced up, though he discarded the large wrap by the end of practice and *seemed* to be ok. Last year, he talked about recurring shoulder soreness during camp as he gets his body ready. I think he should get more off days but he’ll be alright. And LT Damian Prince suffered a lower body injury very late in practice. Seemed ok by the time the final horn sounded but we’ll see how he feels in the morning.
– CB Derrek Thomas was waived/injured today. CB Jermaine Ponder, also wearing #33, is another tall but slightly more muscly corner. He worked in individual and 7v7 today.
– Teryl Austin the first Steeler on the field today. Got down very early, probably around 2:15, to get the JUGs machine set up for the DBs to work before practice. Hung out on the cooler until the first player, safety Marcelis Branch, strolled his way over around 2:40.
– Mike Tomlin’s nick name for Zach Gentry? “Big Blue,” a nod to his Michigan status. Heard him call Gentry “Zach” on the blocking sleds though. Maybe a sign of improving? Play well enough and coach will remember your name?
– Josh Dobbs and Kevin Rader the first players to make their way down the steps at 2:36.
– Cart full of coaches came onto the field shortly after. WRs coach Darryl Drake, DL coach Karl Dunbar, and TEs coach James Daniel. Lots of combined coaching experience.
– Trevor Wood first man on the JUGs machine for the tight ends.
– First team o-line with the injuries today: Villanueva-Feiler-Finney-DeCastro-Okorafor. Jerald Hawkins would replace Villanueva at LT after he went down.
Second team o-line: Hawkins-Morris-Hassenauer-Johnson-Banner
– James Conner is seriously ripped. Got a good look at him today. No pads with him sitting out, sporting a cutoff shirt with his white #30 jersey dangling over his chest. Dude is seriously rocked up. Offseason work paying off in a big way. Good luck tackling him, defenses.
– Return line are the usual suspects: Ryan Switzer, Diontae Spencer, Cam Sutton, and Eli Rogers.
– Ryan Switzer knows how to strategize the punt return “challenge.” Kept putting each catch into his left arm or along his left side, catching with a free right hand and using his chest to secure the ball. But eventually had to place one football between his legs and thought he caught the 6th ball, another one squirted free. Would’ve tied the team record. Cam Sutton nearly caught six too but ended with a similar fate. He wanted to give it one more try but as he went to pick up the ball he dropped, the rest all fell out of his hand. He threw the one football he was still holding into the ground, knowing he’d been beat.
– Don’t know if this is related to the injury Tomlin referred to today or not but Sutton Smith, his jersey rolled halfway up in the stretch line, had a big bandage/gauze over his left hip. Might have gotten a cut or something.
– Assistant S&C coach Marcel Pastoor throws to the wideouts as the groups go through their individual drills since the QBs are at another area of the field. He’s got a live arm.
– Drake had the receivers work on beating press coverage. Wideouts would couple up, one punching the other in the chest while the other knocking their hands down. Switch, rinse, repeat.
– Tomlin made his way over to the blocking sleds today, as he often does. Watched Scotland-Williamson with a good rep, offered a thoughtful nod and called out “Good lick.”
Moment later. “Good hit 87,” referring to Kevin Rader.
– Running backs had to be on their toes today. Working on their hands. Run through cones, come out of your break, and get your head around – quick – because the ball was fired out quick. Led to a lot of drops by Travon McMillan, Benny Snell, Ralph Webb, and Malik Williams, but they were through a lot of reps and it’s a good learning experience. RBs coach Eddie Faulkner made guys who dropped the ball repeat it until they made the catch.
– One note from WR vs DB. Marcelis Branch ripped the ball away from Tevin Jones on one end zone throw.
– Special team notes. RB Trey Edmunds spent much of the time as the team’s PP (personal protector). “Right, six up! six up!” he would call out to identify the blocking scheme and how many rushers there are. Dravon Askew-Henry also took reps there.
– Some punting data today. Here are punts from the opposite 45, working on placement inside the five.
Jordan Berry: 3.89 (lands at six), 4.70 (lands at five, bounces to one, downed by Kameron Kelly).
Ian Berryman: 3.91 (lands at seven), 4.02 (lands at ten)
Now the ball is at the offense’s one. Here are those numbers and distances.
Berry: 3.18 (50 yards), 3.61 (43 yards)
Berryman: 4.48 (54 yards)
Wrapped it up with more open field punts at their own 21.
Berry: 3.59 (45 yards), 5.18 (47 yards), 4.97 (50 yards)
Berryman: 4.56 (50 yards), 4.09 (49 yards), 4.57 (57 yards)
Berry flashed some super impressive hangtime but definitely felt more inconsistent than Berryman, who I think has the better leg. But we know this team really values hangtime and placement over all else.
– Ponder, Kelly, Reilly, and Sutton were one of several players working as gunners today.
– Danny Smith preaching “inside leverage,” I believe directed to the gunners, throughout the drill. He seemed pretty pleased with the group though had a brief chat with Ulysees Gilbert III at the end of one rep. Going over some sort of coaching point.
– Notes from RB/TE vs LB coverage drill.
RB/TE vs LB
1. Good coverage by Mark Barron on Vance McDonald. Throw missed and incomplete.
2. Tyler Matakevich pretty grabby on Jaylen Samuels. Samuels gets away but the throw gets too close to his helmet and bounces off his hands.
3. Pivot route by Kevin Rader, making the grab.
4. Ralph Webb has a step on Ulysees Gilbert III on this wheel route but looked back too early, slowing up, and the pass falls incomplete way out in front.
5. Ola Adeniyi trails Zach Gentry as he runs a post route. Nice job by Gentry to feel the defender, knock down Adeniyi’s hands, and make the grab downfield.
6. Robert Spillane undercuts out route intended for McMillan.
7. Trevor Wood has space on this post against Tuzar Skipper but overthrown incomplete.
8. Tegray Scales bumps Malik Williams as he tries to make his break then finishes with a diving breakup. Good play.
9. Sutton Smith matches McDonald on a curl route. Incomplete.
10. Backshoulder attempt to Williams is broken up by Gilbert III.
11. Gentry beats JT Jones for the catch.
12. Snell beats Bush’s jam and runs a corner route. Throw over his head. Snell’s angle may have been too shallow, hard to say.
13. Gentry boxes Adeniyi out on this curl.
14. Barron playing Charmin soft coverage, five yards of space, allowing Samuels to make an easy reception on a pivot route.
15. Nice pluck by Wood over his head running an out versus Spillane. Throw it high so Spillane can’t knock it away like he’s been good at doing in these drills.
16. Out route by McMillan. Either through his hands but I think Gilbert III got his hand in there. Or at least disrupted everything.
17. Deep dig complete to Kevin Rader. Skipper, sorta like Adeniyi but probably even moreso, looking tall and stiff moving backwards and trying to change directions.
18. Williams outraces Matakevich on this out route. Complete.
19. Hard jam by Scales on Edmunds but he works through it. Edmunds wins the route but drops the ball. Even though he had no chance for the breakup, Scales still offered a hand as the ball was thrown.
20. Nice rep from McMillan, bursting away at the top of his out route to make the grab working on Gilbert III. Got props from James Conner as he made his way back to the group.
21. Devin Bush diving breakup on Snell. Snell fell to the ground then sat on the grass for a few moments, looking slightly hobbled as he lumbered over to the team drills where 7 shots was about to begin. But he finished out the day.
– Let’s recap OL/DL. Lot of two and three man work today, repping stunt pickup, which I don’t chart, so shorter notes here.
1. TJ Watt’s first rep of camp. Swims over Zach Banner but can’t turn the corner, falling to the ground.
2. They go again. Inside spin fails, swallowed by Banner.
3. Fred Johnson absorbs Casey Sayles’ club attempt. Sayles tries to work inside but Johnson slides and shoves Sayles to the ground.
4. Tight hands create power for Daniel McCullers, walking Hassenauer back.
5. Patrick Morris anchors against Isaiah Buggs.
6. Buggs tries to rip through Morris but can’t. Morris shoves Buggs down at the end of the rep.
7. Jerald Hawkins slides and mirrors Anthony Chickillo.
8. Chukwuma Okorafor replaces Banner at the last second. Watt rips under him though Okorafor is hanging on. Watt, with his football IQ, throws his hand out to get a piece of the ball held by “QB” Garrett Brumfield.
9. Watt’s bull doesn’t work on Okorafor and he ends up on the ground.
10. Johnson gets his arms extended to create space and win on Sayles.
11. Henry Mondeaux does shed Hassenauer late in the rep but Hassenauer hung on for as long as reasonably expected, repunching his hands to stay in control for most of the rep.
12. Morris wins against Conor Sheehy. Sheehy spun late but no dice.
13. Hawkins seals Skipper upfield.
14. Fred Johnson with poor punch and placement, Sayles getting into his chest and uprighting him. Johnson has strength to anchor but gets uprighted and walked back.
15. Rare rep here for Damian Prince. JT Jones starts to turn the corner but Prince seals him up the arc.
– Let’s talk team sessions.
First Team Session (Seven Shots)
1. Bud Dupree and TJ Watt the OLBs. Devin Bush and Mark Barron at ILB. Terrell Edmunds and Kelly at safety. Roethlisberger at quarterback. Donte Moncrief in at WR. Touchdown right seam to Eli Rogers. Quick pitch and catch.
2. Nice grab by Grimble to reach in front of Devin Bush to make the reception along the goal line. TD.
3. Five receivers on the field. Switzer aligned in the backfield. Part of Roethlisberger’s secondary read, running an angle route in front of Kelly and Big Ben hits him for the conversion.
4. 12 personnel, empty set with Grimble, McDonald, and Samuels. Defense jumped offsides. Roethlisberger briefly scanned the field then threw it away, picked by a toe-tapping Kelly in the end zone. But with the penalty, throwing this play out altogether. Doesn’t count.
5. 2nd teamers in. Devlin Hodges getting a look. Well deserved. Goes through his progressions and finds Switzer streaking in the back of the end zone for the score.
6. Little worse from Hodges here, staring down a slant to Switzer left side. Sutton reads it and gets a hand in the way to break it up.
7. Chickillo/Adeniyi in at OLB. Gilbert/Spillane the ILB pairing. Hodges hits Tevin Jones for the score, Jones getting over the goal line just before Marcus Allen smacks him.
Offense wins the day 5-1 (with that one play not counting). Camp recap:
Second Team Session
1. Ball on the 20. Josh Dobbs in at QB. Samuels gets the tote up the middle. Dupree and Bush along with Mike Hilton all in on the stop. Three yard gain.
2. Tuitt-Hargrave-Alualu along the d-line. Dobbs playaction. Miscommunication between him and Smith-Schuster. Dobbs throws it deep, JuJu running a curl. Lands incomplete between Steven Nelson and Kelly. Javon Hargrave had BJ Finney hanging off of him, winning that battle up front.
3. Trey Edmunds toss right. Nice seal by Eli Rogers to open a lane but one that’s closed quickly by younger brother Terrell, who lays the smack on Trey in the alley. Hargrave got off his block and flowed over too. Gain of two.
4. Benny Snell right side. Alualu on the tackle and the high IQ football player he is, tries (but fails) to rip the ball out. Gain of one.
5. McCullers and Alualu the nickel linemen. Screen from Mason Rudolph to Tevin Jones. Chickillo and Scales in on the tackle after four.
6. Justin Layne and Brian Allen the outside corners with Cam Sutton working in the slot. Edmunds off left side, juking Brian Allen but quickly taken down by Scales and Matakevich, who drive him backwards until coaches blow the whistle. Goes for three.
7. Hooks-McCullers-Sayles the defensive linemen. Rudolph playaction. McCullers plows through Hassenauer, making quick work of him and tagging Rudolph up. Rudolph tucks and runs out of bounds.
8. PJ Locke safety blitz. Goes low to tackle Malik Williams. Adeniyi cleans it up with a big hit. No gain.
9. Line creates a big lane for Snell to run through, showing good ball security as he busts into the 2nd level. Untouched until Kelly drags him down for a 12 yard gain.
10. Kevin Rader in at FB with Nix out. Dobbs hits him on a wheel to the left, beating Dupree, who tackles him from behind. 20 yard completion.
11. Hilton nickel blitz gets Williams in the backfield for a four yard loss. Nice play by Hilton, whose run defense is consistently excellent.
12. Good reps for JT Jones and Greg Gilmore, shedding their blocks to stuff McMillan up the middle. Two yard run.
13. Sheehy-Gilmore-Buggs the defensive line. Edmunds up the middle. Spillane clogs it up and Gilbert III makes the tackle for a gain of four.
14. Edmunds stretch right. Hassenauer, limited mobility with that brace (and the injury itself, obviously), can’t reach Mondeaux, who defeats the block and makes the tackle in the backfield for a loss of two.
15. Williams carry off right guard. UG3 on another tackle. Gain of five. Sheehy-Mondeaux-Craig the defensive line trio.
Third Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s own 41. Ben back at QB. JuJu in the slot. Goes through his progressions, nothing there, and he throws it away. Incomplete.
2. Dime, Sutton the dime defender. Hilton blitzes, Roethlisberger throws hot to JuJu right side. Completion of six.
3. Ben drops back. Watt makes quick work of Grimble, swimming over him. Hits Smith-Schuster on a dig for a 19 yard play.
4. Empty set. Ben wants to hit Vance hot. And makes it clear. “VANCE!” he yells out to his tight end as he’s running down the seam. McDonald obliges and breaks his route to a curl but drops the pass. Kind of a bummer.
5. Diontae Spencer has a step or two on Brian Allen running a nine downfield. Dobbs low liner throw misses him and incomplete. Would’ve been a monster play.
6. Another iffy throw from Dobbs. High over a leaping Washington is incomplete. Brian Allen covering. Chickillo swiped past Scotland-Williamson. Easy work.
7. Spencer again beats Allen down the right sideline. This time, it’s a little underthrown, Spencer having to slow up, and Allen is able to recover and break it up. This time, Chickillo beats Gentry trying to block him.
8. Dobbs throw to Tevin Jones is a little high, skipping off his hands – going to call this a drop but not the easiest play – and falls incomplete. Marcus Allen dove but missed the ball by a foot or two.
9. Bush/Barron the ILBs. Roethlisberger complete to Smith-Schuster on a dig, Edmunds unable to punch the ball out. Nice, physical pickup by Trey Edmunds on Mike Hilton. Think Roethlisberger got his left foot stepped on, flexing his foot in the huddle the next play. Goes for nine yards.
10. Roethlisberger scrambles right, throwing slightly across his body short right to Grimble. Bush tags him up. 11 yard play.
11. Hawkins comes in as the 6th offensive linemen. Roethlisberger five step drop from under center. Straight dropback, a pretty rare sight. Touch throw floats over Bush complete to McDonald versus Sutton. 19 yard play.
12. Play of the day. Terrific diving catch by Trey Griffey down the left sideline. Think he beat the new guy, Ponder. But a good grab. Rudolph on the throw, putting it where only the receiver can get it but Griffey got the job done. 41 yard pickup.
13. Short throw underneath by Rudolph to Switzer. Four yard gain before Dangerfield tags him and grabs an ankle. Small skirmish kicked up, not sure who got heated. Possibly ILB Tegray Scales. But rookie Garrett Brumfield played peacemaker, breaking things up before they really got started.
14. Playaction. Over route to Rader on Brian Allen is off his hands and incomplete.
15. Skipper/Smith the OLBs. Gilmore/Craig the DTs. Dangerfield/Branch the safeties. Empty set. Short throw from Rudolph to Rader for three or four. Skipper beat Hawkins off the edge.
Fourth Team Session
1. Hawkins running 1st tea LT with Villanueva out. Hargrave/Alualu the DTs. Roethlisberger incomplete to Smith-Schuster. Haden covering.
2. Ball at the offense’s own 37. Edmunds breaks up throw to Eli Rogers. Incomplete. Bud Dupree absolutely barreled over Hawkins, who has continued to struggle.
3. Stick right Ben to Spencer right side with Mark Barron tagging him. Gain of five.
4. Throw down the middle from Ben to Smith-Schuster is batted away by Sutton. Defense did jump the snap.
5. Rudolph complete to Samuels on an out route left. Goes for three.
6. Okorafor-Morris-Hassenauer-Johnson-Banner the o-line. Throw from Rudolph is behind Spencer, Brian Allen covering.
7. After a couple of punts to break up the action (Berryman had a 4.71 hangtime with a monster 62 yard kick to the six) the offense jumps back in. Throw down the middle to Rader is high and off his hands, picked by Jordan Dangerfield. who returns it a few yards.
8. Probably a poor decision to throw in what’s basically double-coverage, Brian Allen and Askew-Henry in the area for Washington on this out route left. Rudolph may have realized it as he was rearing back, the ball out of bounds so it couldn’t be picked. Had it been on target, Allen jumped the route and probably would’ve had the INT.
9. Edmunds blitzing. Roethlisberger to Smith-Schuster a crosser, adjusting with Bush sitting in the middle. Pickup of four.
10. Teryl Austin talking to Mike Hilton before the snap. Throw from Ben to JuJu is behind, Haden making a nice diving swat for the INC.
11. Curl from Roethlisberger to Jones complete for 13. JT Jones destroyed Hawkins on an inside spin. Ouch.
12. Hodges checks in. Pump fake but Dangerfield reads the play, flying in to break the throw up over the middle intended for Gentry.
13. Five yard out complete to Rader. Dangerfield tags him up.
14. Hodges hits Brandon Reilly on a shallow cross moving left to right. Branch acts as his parachute, tugging the back of Reilly’s jersey before sending the receiver to the ground. Another five yard gain.
15. Hodges hits Rader over the middle, dragged down by Dangerfield. 13 yard gain. Gilbert swam over McMillan to get pressure.
Fifth Team Session
1. Two minute drill. Isaiah Buggs getting first team nickel reps opposite McCullers. Barron/Bush at iLB, Haden/Nelson at corner. Rudolph in at QB. Ball at the offense’s own 38. Complete on a crosser to Switzer with good YAC. Gain of 11.
2. Again, Rudolph finds Switzer vs Hilton. Four yards.
3. Rogers adjusts well to this backshoulder throw. 10 yard play.
4. Rudolph to Washington incomplete left side, Nelson covering. Looked like some miscommunication.
5. WR Tevin Jones has been good on backshoulder throws but this one is off Jones’ mitts, well defended by Haden. Incomplete.
6. 3rd down. Eli in the slot. Rudolph scrambles left side for the first down. Chickillo hard punch to blow Hawkins up. Feiler had to slide over and chip.
7. Rogers in the slot with Jones and Washington on the outside. Double-coverage throw at the back right pylon in the end zone. Washington reaches out with one hand but it bounces off incomplete.
8. 2nd down. Rudolph throws over Rogers’ head running an over route. Poor accuracy.
9. Rudolph scrambles right, fires to the middle, but Kelly screams in to break it up. 1st team offense is done, stalled at the 25 yard line, though this was third down. Either coaches pulled the plug or time ran out. The scoreboard is facing away from me and was broken today.
10. Hodges now comes in with the 2’s. Prince-Brumfield-Morris-Gray-Banner the offensive line. He finds Griffey out route right side for eight yards against Robert Spillane.
11. Crosser from Griffey right to left working across zone coverage. Snell helps throw a block. Gain of eight.
12. Reilly and Washington on the outside, Griffey in the slot. Stick route to Rader right side vs Spillane. Gain of six. Nice pickup by Snell on Matakevich.
13. Bullet throw over the middle between two defenders complete to Hodges. 15 yard pickup.
14. Hodges throws off his back foot complete to Rader, Allen with the hit and knocking him to the ground. One yard gain though.
15. 2nd down. 11 yard completion, a curl to Reilly right side. Play where Prince got hurt as the offense moved away without him.
16. Fred Johnson comes on to play left tackle. Hodges finds Gentry out route to the left, Marcus Allen covering. Goes for three.
17. Complete to Spencer on a cross but Scales tags him up. Five yard gain down to the five. Brumfield got blown up on this play. Hodges races up for one last stab at it but the clock runs out to end practice.
– Good to see Devlin Hodges get situational work today. Seven shots and hurry up. Thought he did well. Earned the opportunity.
– Not that it should be a surprise at this point but Diontae Spencer’s wheels are legit. He’s going to catch a 50 yard touchdown this preseason so long as the QB can give him a catchable ball.
– Active day for Kevin Rader. That’s nice to see.
– No Sutton Smith at FB even though Nix was out today. Thought you would’ve seen it. Not the case.
– Another bad day for Jerald Hawkins after a decent Sunday practice. Struggles to slide laterally and the power isn’t there. Edge rushers, all of them, were just teeing off on Hawk.
– Kameron Kelly vs Jordan Dangerfield is shaping up to be one of the top battles. Both players making play after play. This one might not be decided until the final preseason game.
– Terrell Edmunds and Ulysees Gilbert continue to stand out. As does Cam Sutton. All three guys around the ball. Gilbert, at a baseline level, has the athleticism and ball skills to play in this league. He’ll obviously still need to earn his keep on special teams.
– Defense has 14 INTs this camp. 20 last year, though we know that didn’t correlate to regular season success.
– Ian Berryman showed off a big leg. He’s capable of giving Berry a push for the starting gig. Stay tuned.
St. Vincent Snapshot
Offense/defense in 7 shots.
Twitter Camp Question
Who do you think the team would value more in the end a strong blocker like CSW or the receiver like Gentry?
— Jesse (@slmj666) August 6, 2019
Definitely the blocker. That’s the role of the #3 tight end in this offense. And what Tomlin told CSW. Block a 4-3 DE and he’ll have a job. He’s in the mix.
Steelers Highlight (You Probably Don’t Remember)
Here’s one you’d like to forget. The Steelers failed fake punt against the Bengals in Week 17 of 2014, throwing an interception on 4th and 9.
Bob Belcher Quote Of The Day
“What do we do, Lin? Bribe her to get the filling? Bribe Louise? We don’t have that kind of money.”