Next to last day of 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp. Pretty eventful day and change of pace to practice from the usual schedule and layout. Lets’ talk about it.
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– Injury Report. Scary moment of the day came on the next-to-last play of practice, Chase Claypool suffering a left ankle injury falling to the ground trying to make a catch along the right sideline. He stayed on the ground for several moments before being helped off by Ben Roethlisberger and Eric Ebron. Luckily, reports are that it’s a minor injury and nothing that should impact his Week One status.
Not practicing today included: CB Antoine Brooks Jr. (left thigh/knee), DL Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed), and ILB Marcus Allen (undisclosed). All in all, a pretty healthy team right now. Brooks did have a helmet early in practice and caught a few balls on the JUGS machine. He ran some half-sprints later in practice, signaling progress, but he’s also missed quite a bit of team. We’ll see if he’s available for the final day of camp. My guess is he won’t be. Tuitt was at practice, he may have came on the field late because I didn’t see him early, but was not in jersey and didn’t work in any capacity. TJ Watt went through individual drills. Unless a deal is struck tonight, he won’t have fully practiced all of camp.
Some of this is carryover from Sunday’s practice (that wasn’t open to the public) but practicing in full today included: RBs Benny Snell and Kalen Ballage along with WRs James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud. CB Joe Haden also practiced in full after some vet/maintenance days. Rookie center Kendrick Green also returned after missing the last two practices with an excused absence. OT Chaz Green was back in full today as well. So was OG Brandon Walton, though he was one of the five players to be cut immediately following today’s practice.
– Diontae Johnson was the first Steeler on the field day at around 12:59, catching some passes before things got going. Guy puts in a ton of work before and after practice.
– Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin were hanging out on the wall separating the back of the end zone and first row of seats before practice.
– Abdullah Anderson and TJ Carter hit the sleds early in practice. Only one of them remains a Steeler – Carter, who surprisingly got the nod over Anderson.
– New LB Joe Schobert chatting up Jerry Olsavsky before practice. Schobert worked in first-team today alongside Devin Bush.
– Some really good news. For the first time this year, the Steelers’ projected starting offensive line worked together as a unit in team today. Okorafor-Dotson-Green-Turner-Banner the starting o-line today.
Second-team o-line was: Haeg-Coward-Hassenauer-Finney-Moore.
– Punting numbers today. First punting number comes from the opponent’s 43 so it’s a directional/red zone punt. The second one is an end zone punt from their own 8. The rest came at the 21 which I’d consider open-air punts.
Jordan Berry: 3.66 seconds (35 yards, lands at eight), 4.14 (44 yards), 4.93 (56 yards), 4.60 (50 yards – pinned well to sideline), 4.76 (47 yards), 3.92 (36 yards).
Pressley Harvin III: 4.22 (37 yards, lands at six), 5.02 (45 yards), 4.48 yards (roughly 44 yards, ball went out of bounds), 4.92 (50 yards), 3.66 (29 yards), 4.56 (42 yards), 4.48 (47 yards).
Here are their averages:
Berry: 4.34 seconds, 44.7 yards
Harvin: 4.48 seconds, 42 yards
Numbers may look close here but Berry had the better today. Harvin had two poor punts, including that ugly 3.66 second, 29 yarder. Worst of the day of either guy. 3.66 hangtime on Berry’s red zone punt that landed inside the ten is much better than Harvin’s open-field punt. First rough day I’ve seen from Harvin and a reminder this battle hasn’t been fully won yet.
– With Marcus Allen out, Tre Norwood worked as first team upback. Benny Snell and Miles Killebrew working as the wings. Donovan Stiner was the backup upback. Trey Edmunds and Ballage the backup wings.
– On the side today, Danny Smith talked over a coaching point with backup long snapper Christian Kuntz. Working on blocking after snapping the ball.
First Team Session
– No seven shots today, which is typical for the end of camp.
1. Ball at the offense’s 42. Najee Harris bursts through left side. Five yard gain on an inside zone run.
2. Melvin Ingram and Alex Highsmith the OLBs. Schobert and Bush the ILBs. Joe Haden and Cam Sutton the CBs. Ben Roethlisberger at QB. Roethlisberger’s short throw to Claypool is over his head but he extends and leaves his feet to snag it for a pickup of five. Bush on the tag/stop. No live tackling today, though the team worked in pads.
3. Pat Freiermuth the tight end. 11 personnel. RPO. Roethlisberger opts against handing the ball off with the defensive blitzing instead hitting Diontae Johnson for a 12 yard gain. Sutton with the stop along the sideline, Johnson running an out route.
4. Claypool and Johnson on the outside, JuJu Smith-Schuster in the slot. Empty set with Anthony McFarland split out. Roethlisberger pumps and then rolls to his right. Hits Johnson again for a gain of six with Joe Haden tagging him up.
5. Anthony Johnson and Cody White on the outside, Ray-Ray McCloud aligned in the slot. Cassius Marsh and Jamir Jones the second team OLBs. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Hits White on a crosser for 14 yards. Shakur Brown came on a blitz. Cassius Marsh beat Dan Moore off the edge, Moore working at right tackle.
6. James Washington in at WR. Rudolph complete to Anthony Johnson for 12 yards right side, Buddy Johnson tagging him up.
7. Rudolph hits Ray-Ray McCloud open in the right flat for a gain of 11.
Second Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s 26. Rudolph in at QB. Run up the middle to Tony Brooks-James. Run of four though Alex Highsmith squeezed the play, defeating TE Marcus Baugh’s block and working down the line.
2. Rudolph’s throw is batted down, timed well by a leaping Tyson Alualu, and the pass is incomplete.
3. Third-team offensive line of: Collins-Walton-Leglue-Pridgeon-Green. Pete Guerriero run left side. Highsmith again in the backfield for a short loss. Backup offense, second and third stringers, against the Steelers’ starting defense.
4. Rudolph playaction. Anthony Johnson gets open along the right sideline on a corner route. Nice snag and an on-time ball from Rudolph and it’s a big, 37 yard completion. Maulet on the stop after the catch to limit YAC.
5. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. Don’t have the runner listed but it’s a gain of three left side.
6. Ball at the offense’s 41. Justin Layne and James Pierre at CB, Miles Killebrew and Tre Norwood the safety pairing. Carlos Davis and Henry Mondeaux the defensive linemen. Haskins playaction. Hits Rico Bussey Jr. on a curl against Justin Layne for a short gain of four.
7. Trey Edmunds in at FB. Buddy Johnson flying in for the tackle for loss of three. Read BJ Finney pulling around and made the stop shooting through the backside gap. Believe Guerriero had the carry.
8. Josh Dobbs in at QB. Draw to Brooks-James. Robert Spillane and Buddy Johnson in there to hold the POA. No gain.
9. Jamar Watson and Quincy Roche the OLBs. Mark Gilbert and Lafayette Pitts the CBs. Guerriero carry left side. Pitts a good run fit and fill.
10. Ball at midfield. Calvin Bundage and Ulysees Gilbert III the ILBs. Brooks-James on the run and it goes for six.
Third Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s 20. Roethlisberger in at QB. Harris left side. Gain of four with Pitts on he stop. Starting offense vs backup defense.
2. Anderson and Carter the DT pairing. Gilbert and Denmark at CB. Roethlisberger boots right and hits a speedy Ebron in the right flat. Goes for ten until Stiner tags him.
3. Split zone run with Harris. Johnson meets Harris in the hole. Another gain of four.
4. Roethlisberger playaction. Checkdown left side to Harris who gains nine yards.
5. Nice burst by Anthony McFarland. Tre Norwood comes downhill well from his FS spot. Gain of seven.
6. Layne and Pierre on the outside, Shakur Brown in the slot. Buddy Johnson and UG3 at ILB. Roethlisberger uncorks one down the right seam to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster makes a diving, and then bouncing coming off the ground, for an awesome 55 yard gain. Justin Layne and Tre Norwood covering. Ben’s arm looked fine here.
7. Benny Snell for a two-yard gain right side. Marsh coming in backside, Jamir Jones shed the frontside block of the tight end. Very light touch session in the run game today. No one trying to get hurt.
8. Roethlisberger playaction again and he hits Smith-Schuster sitting down left side for a 20 yard gain. Pierre on the tag.
9. Cody White and Anthony Johnson on the outside, Ray-Ray McCloud in the slot. Trai Turner pulling right to left. Kalen Ballage has room and goes to the left for five yards. Pitts again on the stop.
10. O-line of: Haeg-Coward-Hassenauer-Finney-Moore. Fake the jet run. Roethlisberger under pressure floats a pass to Ballage who tracks and adjusts it in the right flat. Stiner on the tag, just a gain of one. Brown came in on a blitz.
11. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Trey Edmunds inside zone run to the left, a ten yard run with a spin move near the end. Looked like Freiermuth lost his block on this play.
12. Rudolph playaction. Heavy playaction day. Good throw to hit Eric Ebron on the money on an over route for a gain of 21.
1. Quincy Roche can’t rip through Chukwuma Okorafor to the inside. Okorafor tosses Roche to the ground. “Run it back,” Tomlin calls out.
2. Roche better here, swiping Okorafor’s hands down and able to corner.
3. Nice rep here by Kevin Dotson to mirror and slide with Cam Heyward.
4. They go again. Dotson shows forward body lean here late in the rep and Heyward wins it.
5. Tyson Alualu with a powerful long arm, putting Green on skates and quickly running him back into the QB.
6. Green a little better here versus Alualu in their rematch but Alualu still walks him backwards and wins the rep.
7. Not sure if it was 100% one but looked like a hump move into Dan Moore’s shoulder from Chris Wormley here.
8. Easy win by Wormley on Pridgeon winning to the outside. Pridgeon was slow off the ball.
9. Zach Banner locks up Cassius Marsh. Nice re-punch with the outside, right hand here to win the rep.
10. Banner again a good rep on Marsh.
11. Alex Highsmith swim move to the inside beats Zach Gentry.
12. Gentry able to steer Highsmith up the edge here. Highsmith with a late spin but Gentry won this rep to save face from the prior one.
13. Melvin Ingram with a dirty inside spin to dust Joe Haeg.
14. They go again. Same move, same result. Ingram’s spin not quite as fast here but still gets the job done to beat Haeg. Haeg was aligned as a left tackle here, by the way.
15. Rashaad Coward stalls out Henry Mondeaux’s rush.
16. Coward better hand placement on Mondeaux though his base is really wide. But he wins the rep.
17. Head fake from Roche who beats Collins to the edge.
18. Better rep here from Collins, nice punch and chops Roche as he tried to corner again.
19. Isaiah Loudermilk shows good power against Brandon Walton.
20. Isaiah Buggs starts with power to get into John Leglue’s chest and then rips through late.
21. Better rep here from Leglue. Strong initial punch and mirrors Buggs the rest of the tep.
22. Another hump-looking move from Anderson on Pridgeon, which opens the offensive lineman’s hips and allows Anderson to win.
23. Active hands from Anderson but he can’t completely shed Pridgeon’s block. Good battle.
24. Late shed by Anderson against Pridgeon here.
25. Jamar Watson dips the edge to beat Dan Moore pretty easily. Moore working at RT so a pretty new position for him here.
26. Again, Watson dips and wins the edge against Moore.
27. And Watson wins for a third time, this time countering with an inside spin Moore is unable to mirror.
28. Collins seals the edge against Jamir Jones.
29. Collins misses trying to chop Jones hands down initially but still works him up the arc.
30. TJ Carter good power to rip past Brandon Walton.
31. Carter gets locked up by Walton, who gets praise from someone. “Good hands!” Carter’s last-second spin move fails.
32. Carter gets into Walton’s chest but Walton is able to hold his ground.
33. Missed the first moment of the rep but Leglue put Anderson on the ground. Sure did something right here.
34. Anderson responds with a good bull rush, pushing Leglue’s hands up into the air and getting into his chest.
35. Lot of second and third battles today. Leglue seals Anderson upfield to win the war, 2-1.
36. Carlos Davis successfully spins Pridgeon to the inside.
37. Swim or swipe by Davis to easily discard Pridgeon again.
38. Chaz Green able to seal Watson upfield. Green is more comfortable at RT than say, Moore.
39. Inside/out move from Watson backfires. Loses his balance and falls to the ground working against Green.
40. Collins drops his hips and anchors against Jamir Jones’ bull rush.
41. Another bull from Jones who sheds late.
42. Weird rep. Collins sets too wide and Jones has the inside open. But he spins back to the inside and into Collins’ chest. Reminder guys work on stuff on these reps. Not a true simulation of football. So beating a guy who gives up the inside easily doesn’t make you better.
43. Push-pull by Loudermilk doesn’t work perfectly against Walton though Loudermilk wins late in the rep here.
Fourth Team Session
1. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Backup offense against the first-team defense. Ball at the defense’s 40. Run with Guerriero quickly goes nowhere, Melvin Ingram bursting through and making the stop for a loss of four as Guerriero bounces the run to the right.
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds the safety pairing. Playaction. Alex Highsmith explodes off the ball and gets pressure. Rudolph hits Isaiah McKoy for five over the middle. Arthur Maulet covering.
3. Tyson Alualu and Cam Heyward the defensive tackle pairing. Alualu meets Brooks-James at the line of scrimmage for no gain.
4. Miscommunication potentially here. Rudolph looks for Marcus Baugh but the throw is off-line as Baugh breaks away from where the ball is going. Incomplete.
5. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. Brooks-James run left side. Marsh tags him after a gain of one.
6. 12 personnel. Buddy Johnson coming in free for the TFL on Guerriero.
7. Haskins complete to Tyler Simmons for a ten yard gain. Level concept with Simmons running underneath and Baugh running a 15-20 yard route behind him also over the middle.
8. Josh Dobbs checks in. Nice burst by Guerriero right side for ten. Looked like Baugh had a nice block on the edge.
9. Anderson and Buggs the DTs. Cody White the slot WR. Dobbs complete to Baugh right side for five. Wade tags him.
10. Brooks-James carry right side, stopped at the line of scrimmage. Anderson walking back Pridgeon.
Fifth Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s 14. 1st team offense against 2nd/3rd string defense. Roethlisberger in at QB. Mondeaux and Loudermilk the DTs. Roethlisberger wants to hit Diontae Johnson left corner but checks it down to Smith-Schuster left side for a gain of six. Shakur Brown on the stop.
2. Najee Harris inside zone left side. Carlos Davis gets off his block and it goes for a gain of five. Stiner with a late tag here.
3. Gilbert and Denmark the CBs with Brown in the slot. Harris run left side. Give him seven. Good push by the first-team offensive line, which you’d expect given the circumstances of working on backups.
4. David and Anderson the DTs. Roethlisberger still in at QB. Playaction, checks it down to Harris for nine. Stiner on the stop.
5. Nice zone cut by Anthony McFarland left side. Just a two-yard gain before Robert Spillane cleans it up.
6. Anderson-Davis-Carter the defensive line grouping. Roethlisberger playaction and boots to the right. Looks for a deeper crosser but hits Freiermuth shallow along the right side for a gain of six.
7. Benny Snell at RB. Run of six right side. Miles Killebrew with the stop.
8. Pinpoint throw and a nice catch by Eric Ebron, grabbing the ball away from Killebrew on an over route for a gain of 25.
9. Kalen Ballage left side. Giving him a run of 25 though pretty sure someone on the o-line would’ve been called for holding on Loudermilk. Helped open the lane for Ballage to run through – think Hassenauer would’ve been penalized here.
10. Bundage and UG3 the ILBs. Chase Claypool makes a great toe-tap catch against Mark Gilbert along the right sideline. 20 yard completion. Claypool did a terrific job dragging his right foot inbounds.
11. Ballage has a crease on a zone run for ten. Carlos Davis got moved down the track.
12. Roethlisberger fires a bomb downfield for Claypool. Claypool looks for it over his right shoulder but it’s to the inside over his left shoulder. Can’t find it and it lands a few yards in front of him. Stiner covering.
Sixth Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s 40. Now 2nd/3rd string offense against 1st team defense. Bad snap here kills the play. Rudolph in at QB, not sure who was the center. Probably Hassenauer but could’ve been Leglue.
2. Pistol. Playaction off the downhill run look. Highsmith with pressure. Rudolph throw to Bussey for what would’ve been about ten goes through his hands and is dropped.
3. Rudolph complete to right side for Tyler Simmons. Gain of 11. Joe Haden on the tag.
4. Highsmith and Ingram flip sides. Highsmith at LOLB, Ingram at ROLB. Brooks-James carry up the middle for a gain of one.
5. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. Complete to McKoy over the middle of playaction. Justin Layne can’t punch it out. Gain of ten.
6. Marsh and Jones the OLBs. Guerriero draw for five. Good block from Baugh on Buddy Johnson.
7. Haskins fires a tight-window throw over the middle but Kevin Rader can’t hang on. Hits his chest and it’s incomplete.
8. Josh Dobbs throws left but Isaiah Buggs bats it down. Nice play.
9. Trey Edmunds in at FB. Two yard gain for Guerriero. Finney pulled around on this play but a defender came in free on this counter, not picked up by Finney or Edmunds.
10. Angle route by McKoy from Dobbs complete for five.
Seventh Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s 49. Mason Rudolph in at QB. 1st team offense against 1st team defense. Short throw complete from Rudolph to Claypool. Just a three-yard pickup.
2. Bush and Schobert the ILBs. Good throw by Rudolph complete to Freiermuth right side, making the grab working away from Bush. Gain of 16.
3. Rudolph empty set. Short throw complete to McFarland, Schobert draped on him and quickly making the stop/tag. Alualu looked to bat another pass again but missed. Okorafor able to anchor Ingram’s bull rush well enough.
4. Haskins in at QB. Fires down the right sideline for Claypool. Goes up to try and make the acrobatic catch but can’t come down with it. Play he got hurt, landing out of bounds. Remained down and had to be helped off by teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Eric Ebron.
5. Haskins hits Freiermuth down the seam for a gain of 25 for the final play of practice.
– Different feel for practice today. Very little contact and harder to evaluate with the lines being mixed up.
– Before the injury, a nice day for Claypool who had that really impressive grab just a few minutes before turning his ankle.
– Anthony Johnson and Pat Freiermuth are going to wind up with two of the highest catch rates I’ve ever tracked in camp. Freiermuth might capture the #1 spot all-time.
– Dan Moore definitely uncomfortable on the right side. Doesn’t come out looking good in my notes today, losing three times in 1v1 to a third string OLB, but he’s new to the position. So don’t freak out.
– Very happy to say I could see the projected starting offensive line work together. Nice box to check. Banner working in 1v1 signals another step forward as well.
– Not that it means much of anything since he’s been waived by the team but Abdullah Anderson a very high-energy, active hand use pass rusher. Sometimes doesn’t work but he’s trying. Surprised he got the pink slip over TJ Carter.
– Defensive line really influencing the pass game lately. Batting down multiple balls at practice after not getting many/any early in camp. Two today, one by Alualu, one by Buggs.
– Spin moves from these OLBs will be something to watch this year. From Highsmith and Ingram especially. Not always going to work but when it does, it’s going to be really pretty. Just need to be able to get them in island situations where the guard is sliding away so they’ll have room on the spin and not get bumped by the guard working that way. Something for Keith Butler/Mike Tomlin to scheme.
– Nice day for Buddy Johnson in run session. Couple of solid stops at or behind the line of scrimmage.
– Danny Smith may be talking him up a little bit and put a little heat on Harvin but this punter battle isn’t over. Berry’s had a good camp and to me, he was clearly the better punter today. I hope they punt tomorrow to see how Harvin responds. But you can’t always work on every element during STs session each day. Supposed to rain tomorrow and I’d like to see these guys kick in some weather. We’ll see.
Heinz Field Snapshot
TJ Watt getting a drink after getting some reps on the side.
Twitter Camp Question of the Day
How you feel about Banner starting?
— rupper (@k_rupp3) August 17, 2021
He’s still a pretty unproven guy for how long he’s been in the league for. But I’m comfortable. I think he’ll improve this team’s run blocking. Pass pro is a little more questionable. But from a healthy/readiness standpoint, he’ll be goof for Week One. And we’ll all be watching.
Vintage Steelers’ Photos
Another cool snow game photo. Steelers/Eagles in 1960.
Dale Gribble’s Best Quotes
“I thought we agreed to never discuss the horrors we saw on the killing fields of the Family Fun Center.”