Friday Night Lights certainly a highlight of camp. Unfortunately, makes for some late practice reports. Let’s get into what happened.
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– Injury report: Not practicing today were: Ben Roethlisberger (rest), Kameron Canaday (groin), Sean Davis (left ring finger), Alejandro Villanueva (rest), Maurkice Pouncey (rest), and Sutton Smith (unknown). Canaday had his left groin wrapped near the end of practice. WR Donte Moncrief was again in pads but did not participate in team drills. I didn’t see the splint/wrap he had on his hand like he did the day after the injury so that’s a good sign. He still may not come back in full until after Monday’s off day. WR Johnny Holton also was not in team. OLB Bud Dupree also in pads but didn’t see him in team. OLB JT Jones, ILB Mark Barron, SS PJ Locke, and OG Fred Johnson all returned and practiced in full after missing yesterday.
Several veterans were in pads but were limited participants, held out of team sessions. They included: OG Ramon Foster, OG David DeCastro, and CB Joe Haden. I believe DE Cam Heyward was held out too. With this long stretch of practices, a physical day ahead, and a slick, wet field, it was a pragmatic decision.
WR Diontae Johnson injured his hip during practice, Mike Tomlin said after practice. Vince Williams and Anthony Chickillo suffered hamstring injuries.
– Though it was a rainy evening, the skies largely cleared up by the start of practice. The environment for these practices are always exciting. Live country band playing for the home crowd when you walk in. Tons of places for food, games, and the team honored OLB Arthur Moats, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
– Stadium played Renegade as the team walked onto the field, led by Mike Tomlin.
– Of course, it’s also a great chance for autographs and players signed before and active practice. JuJu Smith-Schuster signed around each corner of the field, mobbed and chased wherever he went. Jerald Hawkins, despite his tough start to camp, had a big smile on his face and was talking with fans. Took a photo with a family who I believe also were LSU alums. His positive attitude throughout his career has been admirable.
– No straw hat for TEs coach James Daniel. Rare sight.
– With Canaday still out, Trevor Wood and Vance McDonald handled long snapping duties, though they were only needed for the very beginning of practice. Special teams work today focused largely on punt rush/block and return units, which didn’t require a long snapper. Ball was shot out of the JUGs machine.
– The DB handshake line is my favorite part of practice. One clip of it for ya.
– Kevin Rader had a couple of drops early in “on air” routes. His hands have been suspect.
– Ended up having a decent enough vantage point for backs on backers so I watched that group again tonight. Here are my notes. I did miss 2-3 reps, for the record.
Backers on ‘Backers
1. Trey Edmunds washes Tyler Matakevich upfield.
2. Edmunds wins again, plowing Dirty Red into the ground.
3. Tuzar Skipper swims over Trevor Wood.
4. Good power rush by Skipper knocks ood back.
5. Nice swim by Robert Spillane over Malik Williams but the back is able to just get enough to ride him upfield.
6. Spillane power rush through Webb works effectively.
7. Williams shoves Ulysees Gilbert III upfield.
8. Gilbert gets revenge, showing power but swimming over Williams to win the rep.
9. Nice club/swim combo by Anthony Chickillo to beat Kevin Rader.
10. Now Chick uses a speed bull rush to run through Rader.
11. Tegray Scales dips past Travon McMillan.
12. Swim move by Scales works over McMillan, who hasn’t looked good in this drill either time they’ve run it.
13. Vince Williams participating today after held out the first day in pads, reminds the offense who is king. Absolutely runs over Jaylen Samuels.
14. Like the others, Williams uses a swim move to beat Samuels.
15. Zach Gentry seals JT Jones around the edge.
16. One of the best reps of the day. Devin Bush hits Benny Snell with an inside spin to toast him. Nice changeup.
17. They go again and Snell gets the better of him, shoving Bush upfield.
18. Reverse pancake by Xavier Grimble, who flashes his strength and ability to punch back, putting Spillane down on his butt.
19. Matakevich wins on Edmunds.
20. Rader just barely hangs on to prevent Skipper from turning the corner.
21. Rader is again flailing and doubling-over but it’s effective enough, I guess, on Skipper.
22. Williams seals UG3 upfield.
23. Williams sits on power and Gilbert hits him with another swim move. Nice hand use for the rook.
24. Christian Scotland-Williamson seals JT Jones.
25. Jones with some revenge, using his height to dip under the very tall CSW.
26. Inside jab, outside step by Chick to beat Rader.
27. Spillane dips past Webb.
28. Spillane with power this time, absolutely flattening Webb.
29. Swim move by Ola Adeniyi beats Trevor Wood.
30. Didn’t see the whole rep but Adeniyi beat Wood, who ended up on the ground. Predictable result.
31. Spillane swims over McMillan.
32. Oh boy. Heavyweight matchup and Vince Williams wins by TKO. Plows right over Roosevelt Nix. Dang.
33. Williams tries to swim him but Nix is able to push him upfield and off his feet, a hard shove into the offensive teammates standing behind Nix.
34. Actually felt like Adeniyi was being double-teamed. Rader chipped him off the ball but Adeniyi stayed on course and swam inside to beat Grimble.
35. Snell anchors on Bush’s power attempt.
36. Bush bends the corner to get past Snell.
37. Gentry anchors on Spillane.
38. Another win for Gentry, taking Spillane to the ground.
39. Williams shoves UG3 upfield.
40. Gilbert has an inside spin to beat Williams.
41. Bush tries a similar move but it fails against Snell. Those two have been battling all camp.
– Let’s talk some OL/DL work that went down later in the practice.
1. Chukwuma Okorafor wins on Ola Adeniyi, #92 going to the ground.
2. Spin by Chick fails on Okorafor.
3. Zach Banner buries Chick as he tries to win the edge.
4. Decent enough anchor by JC Hassenauer on Tyson Alualu, who uses a late club to disengage but not get past.
5. Javon Hargrave jolts BJ Finney and sheds but Finney is able to mirror and stay square.
6. Power to swim by Stephon Tuitt works over Fred Johnson.
7. Johnson wins against Tuitt’s spin.
8. Feiler handles Chickillo’s spin.
9. Feiler knocks down Chick’s punch for another W.
10. Johnson and Chick go at it, Johnson throwing Chick to the ground on a two man game. The two jaw and in each other’s face, broken up by teammates. But no punches thrown.
11. Hargrave beats Johnson to the inside.
12. Hargrave gets under Johnson’s pads and uprights him though the rookie is able to anchor after giving up some ground.
13. Nice outside hand control to steer Henry Mondeaux upfield by Jerald Hawkins.
14. Tuitt clubs past Hawkins but loses his footing at the top of the arc and falls.
15. Hawkins’ hand placement a little high, getting up near Tuitt’s helmet but he’s able to control him enough and win the rep.
16. Chick could’t turn the corner on Banner.
17. “Ola, go get it” Tomlin yells out to Adeniyi. Adeniyi tries to rip through Banner but it doesn’t work.
– Ok, let’s talk 11 v 11.
First Team Session (Seven Shots)
1. Josh Dobbs in at QB. Okorafor at LT, Fred Johnson at RG. BJ Finney at center. JC Hassenauer at LG. Matt Feiler the only part of the regular first team participating. Dobbs flushed right, Adeniyi applying pressure, but finds James Conner along the right side for the score.
2. Dobbs QB draw for the score.
3. Nice pickup by Trevor Wood. Eventually releases to the right flat as the play gets extended but blown dead as soon as Dobbs hits him. No score.
4. Dobbs’ pass tipped at the LOS, not sure by who, but Devin Bush comes away with his first camp INT. Catches it at the one and starts running it out. Heads up play by Diontae Johnson, hammering his right arm down and through the ball, knocking it out of Bush’s hands. Anthony Chickillo fell on it.
5. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Has a wide open Ralph Webb in the left flat as he walks into the end zone. One of Hassenauer or Hawkins was knocked back into the pocket.
6. Again Rudolph complete in the left flat, this time to Ryan Switzer for the score. Working on Brian Allen.
7. Scales pressures Rudolph but TD to Tevin Jones on the right side working on Justin Layne.
Offense wins 5-2. Your camp total:
Second Team Session
1. Artie Burns at LCB, Steven Nelson CB. Bush/Williams at ILB. Run session. Jaylen Samuels carry off right guard. Vince Williams and Adeniyi combine on the tackle. Gain of three.
2. Diontae Johnson/James Washington the WRs. Snell right side. Adeniyi quickly discards Kevin Rader *attempting* to block him. Only a run of one.
3. Samuels again right side. Bush first man there with Burns right behind him. Just another run of three.
4. Dobbs in at QB. Snell up the middle. Either Daniel McCullers or Tyson Alualu made the stop. Call it a three yard pickup.
5. Ralph Webb left side. Alualu and Spillane in on the tackle after a short two yard gainer.
6. Malik Williams off right side. Roosevelt Nix pulling out in front on this gap run but Tyler Matakevich sheds him, finds the ball, and makes the stop for a loss of three. Really nice rep by Dirty Red.
7. Devlin Hodges in. Playaction. JT Jones gets pressure. Heaves it deep right side for Diontae Spencer. Little out in front but nice coverage by Justin Layne, who stayed with him. Incomplete.
8. Trey Edmunds finds the best crease so far in this defensive dominated session off left tackle. But Ulysees Gilbert III has the speed to cover sideline to sideline and shoves him out of bounds. I’ll be generous and say it’s a five yard pickup.
9. 2nd team offense pitted vs the first team defense. Lot more guys on offense got today off than the defense. Samuels on the handoff and then pitches it to Spencer on the reverse. Adeniyi isn’t fooled and makes the open field tackle for a five yard loss. Adeniyi continues to do it all.
10. Snell right side. Banner washes out Chick but Mike Hilton gets in there for the spot. Tuitt and Hargrave clog the LOS. 2-3 yard run.
11. Very rare bad snap from Morris to Dobbs. Play blown dead. I didn’t see it but a buddy said Chukwuma Okorafor was the 6th OL and released on a route downfield.
12. Mailk Williams off right guard. Gets grabbed by the ankles by someone, stood up, and Marcelis Branch comes flying in with the biggest hit of the night to send Williams to the ground. Big lick. Three yard run.
13. McMillan carry left side. Skipper on the tackle after a three yard run.
14. Dobbs pretty placement on a back shoulder throw complete to Tevin Jones right side against Brian Allen. 20 yard gain. Tuzar Skipper got 3rd string LT Damian Prince to open the gate and beat him inside.
15. Gilbert makes an ankle tackle of McMillan. Good run defense this session. Like so many of the other runs, a short gainer that goes for just two.
Third Team Session
1. Rudolph finds Eli Rogers open right side for a ten yard pitch and catch.
2. Ball out quick complete to Grimble on a curl. Kameron Kelly wraps. Seven yard play.
3. Rudolph to Washington incomplete. Sutton on the coverage.
4. Short throw over the middle, Rudolph connecting with Washington, who shows some bust to get upfield and turn on the jets. Matakevich tags him “down” so we’ll call it a gain of 15, but Washington sprints to the end zone, chased by Terrell Edmunds, who pushed him out before he reached the left pylon. Can see the benefit of Washington losing some weight and getting faster.
Elsewhere, Adeniyi beat Okorafor around the edge.
5. Diontae Spencer wide open over the middle, would’ve been a 20 yard catch with chance to run after, but the pass thrown by Hodges hits him in the chest and bounces out for the drop.
6. Another hook complete to Grimble by Hodges. Matakevich touches up. Eight yard gain.
7. Attempted screen right. But JT Jones reads it immediately and bats the ball into the air. Looks like Hodges caught it off the bounce and briefly ran before it was blown dead.
8. Scotland-Williamson again flashing as a downfield threat, 25 yard catch over the middle, though PJ Locke smartly pulled up to not kill the guy. Justin Layne tags him down as CSW falls to the ground.
9. Dobbs fires to Trey Griffey but the receiver never gets his head around. Incomplete.
10. Nice hard count by Dobbs to get the defense to jump. This time, his throw is complete to Giffey. Kelly wrap up. Five yard gain.
11. Screen left to McMillan. Kelly again on the stop after a ten yard play.
12. Short throw complete Hodges to Edmunds. Goes for five.
13. Over route from Hodges to CSS incompletion. Scales with the breakup. Damian Prince was flagged for holding.
14. Hodges’ throw is behind James Washington, clips off his hand, and is picked by an opportunistic Dravon Askew-Henry.
15. Hodges throw to Jones is broken up by Jordan Dangerfield.
Fourth Team Session
1. Dobbs complete to Rogers complete for ten. Hilton covering.
2. Dobbs scrambles.
3. 10 yard touchdown in the underneath the uprights from Dobbs to Washington working on Edmunds.
4. Chased to his left by Chickillo, Dobbs finds Conner in the back left of the end zone at the last second. Five yard score.
5. Diving low grab by Tevin Jones for a two yard score from Dobbs.
6. Hodges at QB. Tucks and runs into the end zone.
7. Crosser looking for new WR Brandon Reilly is incomplete. Spillane covering.
8. Checkdown from Hodges to Snell. Snell with a backcut, juking one defender before Dangerfield shuts it down with a hard, late shot. Have it down as a six yard gain.
9. Reilly finds the end zone on his reception, a five yard score from Hodges.
10. Hodges throw over the middle incomplete. Incomplete. Tipped by either Spillane or Dangerfield.
11. Rudolph comes back in. Checkdown to Williams for ten.
12. Rudolph scrambles left and throws one up for grabs. CB Derrek Thomas makes his presence felt, signed yesterday, making a snazzy one-handed interception.
13. Screen left complete to Edmunds for four.
14. Throw intended for Switzer incomplete from Rudolph. UG3 with the breakup.
15. High throw for Switzer incomplete.
Fifth Team Session
1. Dobbs throw to Rogers low and incomplete. Nice pass pro by Samuels.
2. Dobbs quick and short throw left flat to Tevin Jones. Steven Nelson wraps up. Loss of one.
3. Samuels bends run right to left. Hilton tag. Goes for seven.
4. Power run left side, Snell on the carry. Snell gives a hard helmet-to-helmet shove on Matakevich at the end. Gain of two.
5. Dobbs throws incomplete to Jones. Ball lands at Locke’s feet.
6. Four yard score from Dobbs to Switzer.
7. Throw in the right flat from Hodges to Webb was a tad bit out in front but still catchable and skirts Webb’s fingertips incomplete.
8. Hodges throw left side. Tipped by either Greg Gilmore or Winston Craig.
9. Samuels split out. Hodges complete right side to Trevor Wood. Justin Layne tackles him to the ground after a four yard reception. Zach Banner wins this rep on Adeniyi.
10. McMillan right side. Nice block by Christian Scotland-Williamson. Daniel McCullers busts through the LOS.
11. Edmunds toss left. Skipper holds the edge and turns the balls inside. Spills him to Scales for the tackle. Gain of three.
12. Diontae Spencer skies over Artie Burns on this well placed ball by Rudolph for a four yard touchdown. Nice play.
13. Webb bursts up the gut for a five yard gain.
14. Williams bounces run to the left. Holding called on whoever was blocking NT Greg Gilmore but it goes for a 15 yard touchdown, outrunning Spillane to the corner.
15. Rudolph looks for Rader right side. Caught but out of bounds. Branch covering,
– Better day for Josh Dobbs. I do like what he does pre-snap. Loud cadence and his hard count gets the defense to jump a lot, either going offsides or being able to tip where the blitz is coming.
– Zach Banner is having himself a camp. You want a name to make that final roster spot or two along the offensive line, it’s probably him. Weight is down, moving well, and his size is obviously imposing.
– Tevin Jones perking up a little bit. Hasn’t been great but he’s getting targeted and making some plays he very much needed. More reps to take advantage of with the injuries to Moncrief, Holton, and today, Johnson.
– Christian Scotland-Williamson’s work ethic is off the charts. He may not making it but won’t be for a lack of effort or want-to.
– Fred Johnson really got tested by the coaches in OL/DL. At one point, had four straight reps. He seemed to pass, finishing each rep with physicality and not looking winding. No hands on hips.
– We talk a lot about Sutton Smith making the roster but we need to include Ulysees Gilbert III. Always active around the ball in run sessions and doing well to finish as a tackler.
– Jordan Dangerfield another guy who is stringing together a couple of good days. After starting camp third string, he needed it. Flying around the ball in the run game, delivering a couple big hits, and making opportunistic plays when the ball is in the air.
St. Vincent Snapshot
Scene after practice before the fireworks show.
Twitter Camp Question
No, I don’t. They paid Bud to be a starter and he’s going to start. We just have to hope they don’t stick Adeniyi as the #4 and not play the snaps he deserves to see. That’s my fear.
Steelers Highlight (You Probably Don’t Remember)
Neil O’Donnell fires this TD to Eric Green in 1993.
Bob Belcher Quote Of The Day
“It’s not dinner, and it isn’t theater either. It’s like the imitation cheese of theater.”