Today marks the final day of the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp. Steady rain came down throughout the day but we still have plenty of notes to finish things out. Let’s dive in.
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– Injury Report: Not practicing today was WR Chase Claypool (ankle), DL Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed) and OLB TJ Watt (contract). Claypool was on and off the field throughout the day but walked around without a boot, a brace, or any other stabilizing device. Even had both sneakers on. Walked without a limp too – if you didn’t know it, you would’ve thought he was fine and didn’t get helped off by his QB and TE 24 hours ago. So really good signs there. Tuitt and Watt have now officially gone through camp without practicing in team sessions. Watt didn’t go through individual work today on a wet and slippery Heinz Field.
Pleasantly surprised that CB Antoine Brooks Jr. returned in full today. Was in pads and worked in team. Ditto with LB Marcus Allen who missed yesterday’s practice.
Rookie center Kendrick Green got his ankle rolled up on mid-way through practice at the end of a pass play. He stayed on one knee for a few moments before making his way off to the side unassisted. Missed a couple of snaps before returning and finishing out the day. OT Aviante Collins suffered a left foot/ankle injury late in the day. Got checked out by the trainers on the side and though they let him go and he put his helmet back on, he didn’t work in team the rest of the day. Looked to be alright.
– With the rain spoiling the day, not a lot of fans at Heinz Field. When things started around 1:15-1:30 (first horn came at 1:15, little earlier than usual) there were probably 100 people in the stands. Smart people (not me) sat in the upper section with some protection from the rain.
– Steelers were in pads today but no contact and a pretty light day of work.
– Chris Boswell stood around by himself today. Reminder of yesterday’s cuts. No Sam Sloman.
– Cam Heyward a vocal, encouraging teammate as the DL and LB went through pass rush drills. Coaching, cheering these guys after each rep.
– WR Cody White and RB Tony Brooks-James solid catches in 7-on-7. White had a honey hole shot that he came down with both feet and secured the ball to the ground. TBJ caught the ball over his shoulder on I think a wheel along the right sideline.
– Pressley Harvin spent a lot of time as Chris Boswell’s holder today. Both in STs session (holds looked good to my untrained eye) and on the side. Ben Roethlisberger also legitimately held for Boswell on actual field goal attempts, which I assume is an emergency situation plan if your punter gets hurt mid-game.
– Saw Robert Spillane on kick coverage during STs drills today. Should become a core guy there now that he’s the backup. Carlos Davis and Henry Mondeaux also out there. Davis as L5, Mondeaux as R4.
– Brooks-James muffed one kick return. Picked the ball up but was impacted by the rain and a wet football.
First Team Session
– Again, no seven shots today. And like yesterday, a lot of mixing and matching offense vs defense. Lot of 1st team vs 2nd/3rd string.
Ball started on the offense’s 29.
1. First-team O-line: Okorafor-Dotson-Green-Turner-Banner. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Half-day for Roethlisberger. Joe Schobert and Devin Bush at ILB, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds at safety. Joe Haden and Cam Sutton the outside corners. Melvin Ingram lined up over the A gap here.
Ebron on an over route, catching this well-thrown pass from Rudolph for a 16 yard pickup, Ebron tumbling down at the end.
2. Defensive line of Wormley-Alualu-Heyward. Najee Harris left side but stopped at the line. Terrell Edmunds crashed in while Melvin Ingram can in from the backside free.
3, Arthur Maulet running first team slot. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. Anthony McFarland zone cut left with Tyson Alualu on the stop. Just a gain of one. Alualu beat the block of Green or Dotson – not sure who.
4. Speed out from Haskins hits James Washington for an 11-yard gain. Joe Haden couldn’t close quickly enough to break it up.
5. Ben Roethlisberger coming in. Kinda weird to see him come in third but might be a scout team/look thing. Tre Norwood and Miles Killebrew at safety. Pat Freiermuth at tight end. Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen second-team ILB. Roethlisberger hits JuJu Smith-Schuster right side for a gain of 23 in front of Tre Norwood.
6. Anthony Johnson and Cody White the WRs. Roethlisberger hits Kalen Ballage for six yards left side, Ballage going to the ground as he makes the grab. Spillane tags him up.
7. Roethlisberger hard count gets the defense to jump offsides. Free play. Looked like either Jamar Watson or Carlos Davis encroached. Roethlisberger fires deep down the right sideline for Anthony Johnson. Nice zone drop by Justin Layne to sink from his Cover 2 responsibility, squeeze, and break up the throw. Johnson stayed with it and dove for the ball but couldn’t get a piece of it.
Second Team Session
1. Tony Brooks-James left side. Loss of one. Alex Highsmith turned the run inside with Arthur Maulet crashing backside. Mason Rudolph in at QB.
2. Pete Guerriero carry up the middle. Joe Schobert grabs him high around the neck after a gain of five. Highsmith whooped TE Marcus Baugh off the ball and a nice run fill from Cam Sutton.
3. Trey Edmunds in at FB. Play action. Melvin Ingram gets pressure. Throw to Anthony Johnson in the right flat. Minkah Fitzpatrick covering the underneath throw and Rudolph’s pass is off-line, behind, and incomplete.
4. Angle route from Brooks-James from Rudolph complete for a gain of two. Ingram zone drop with Schobert trailing behind TBJ but applies the tag.
5. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. Toss right to a RB I don’t have listed. Cassius Marsh stayed clean and made the tag for a loss of two.
6. Justin Layne and James Pierre at CB with Shakur Brown in the slot. Marcus Allen comes downhill to blow up a power run. Loss of two.
7. Josh Dobbs checks in. Guerriero carry left side for no gain. Nice run fill off the edge by Pierre, sticking his face in the fan and standing up the back with a decent pop on this no-tackle day.
“Stay up, Carlos” Mike Tomlin calls out after Davis hit the ground. Want guys to stay on their feet, avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else.
8. Jamar Watson and Quincy Roche the OLBs. Zone run to the right, Brooks-James on the carry. Gain of two. Nice job by Roche to rip through the backside.
9. Checkdown left side from Dobbs to Guerriero. Good bit of running room, call it a gain of 16 before Cam Sutton runs him out of bounds.
Third Team Session
1. Ball on the defense’s 48. “Quality looks” Tomlin yells out in this scout-team simulation session. 1st team offense against third string defense.
Najee Harris up the middle for five. Nice base block by TE Zach Gentry.
2. Mark Gilbert at LCB, Lafayette Pitts at RCB. Harris bursts to the left flat with Roethlisberger hitting James Washington on a screen to the right. Brooks Jr. on the stop after a one-yard gain.
3. Gilbert and Pitts on the outside, Brooks in the slot. Toss right to Harris. Gain of four, Zach Banner pulling out in space on Brooks. Harris ran off his inside hip.
4. 16-yard completion from Roethlisberger to Johnson. Faked the toss and Roethlisberger booted to his right. Caught against Gilbert.
5. No gain for McFarland here on this split zone, met by Robert Spillane at the LOS.
6. Roethlisberger play action. Hits Johnson on a dig caught between Spillane and Pierre. Goes for nine.
7. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Benny Snell carry left side for about five.
8. Rudolph playaction, hitting Derek Watt in the right flat. Justin Layne applies the tag. Gain of four.
9. Nice burst by Ballage up the middle on this run of seven yards. Trai Turner pulled around and offered a lead block.
10. Second-team offensive line of: Haeg-Coward-Hassenauer-Finney-Moore. Edmunds in at FB. Zone run, good read and cut by Ballage. Gain of three before Marsh squeezes it backside.
11. Haskins fakes the handoff and then quickly fires to Johnson on a screen left, Johnson with a reduced split to make it a closer/quicker throw and catch. Joe Haeg huffs and puffs to the left flat to seal Wade, who gets part of Johnson’s jersey before Johnson cuts upfield. Hard to consider what is “down” in moments like these but I’m giving Johnson ten.
12. Haskins fires to the right corner for Anthony Johnson. Really nice job by Mark Gilbert to stay with it and track it, making the running grab over his shoulder at the five yard line. Nice play.
13. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Throws left side to Mathew Sexton in the slot. Cam Sutton reaches in with his left hand to break it up. Terrell Edmunds came in the blitz.
Fourth Team Session
1. Backup offense against starting defense. Rudolph hits a wide open Kevin Rader on a crosser working right to left. Whistle blew at the 25 so I’m going to mark him “down” here for a 15-yard gain but Rader ran the rest of the way, racing to the goal line before being met by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
2. Rudolph play action. Alex Highsmith pressure. Incomplete pass thrown at TE Marcus Baugh’s feet. Schobert covering. Highsmith came in unblocked, wonder if the ball was supposed to come out faster here. Highsmith ended up just standing next to Rudolph for a couple seconds until he threw it.
3. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. 14-yard gain from Anthony Johnson. Nice cross chop by Highsmith on Chaz Green.
4. Haskins quick throw in the right flat to Guerriero but he can’t squeeze it and drops the football. Marcus Allen on the coverage. Free blitzer forced the throw.
5. Haskins throw off his back foot. James Pierre nearly comes away with the INT but Sexton plays DB well and swats it away. Ball hit off Pierre’s helmet it looked like.
6. Josh Dobbs at QB, empty set. Completion to Trey Edmunds right side for eight yards against Miles Killebrew. Late recognition by Malcolm Pridgeon on a defender to prevent pressure.
7. Edmunds in at FB, Weak I formation. Dobbs throw to Rico Bussey Jr. is incomplete, off his hand. Pierre covering.
8. Tony Brooks-James right side. Melvin Ingram blows it up, forklifting Chaz Green. Maulet came in backside. No gain.
9. Split backs in shotgun. Dobbs hits Cody White over the middle for seven, Haden covering. Highsmith beat OT Aviante Collins.
Fifth Team Session
1. Ball at the offense’s 33. 1st team offense against backup defense. Roethlisberger in at QB. Gain of two by Harris. Think he bumped into Trai Turner.
2. “Ball searching over there!” Mike Tomlin calls out to the defense. Ray-Ray McCloud and Diontae Johnson as the wings. Johnson on the end around right to left. Gain of ten. Johnson runs to the sideline for the biggest hit of the day. Tyson Alualu didn’t feel like getting out of the way on the sideline and Johnson runs into him, dropping to the ground. He would be ok.
3. Johnson, Smith-Schuster, and Washington on the field. Unfortunately don’t have much of the rep written down here – Roethlisberger threw the football – because this was the play Green went down and came off the field.
4. JC Hassenauer replaces him. Throw right side intended for McCloud is incomplete. Nice job by Shakur Brown – they call him Shaq – to rip the ball away.
5. Roethlisberger fires down the left sideline. Pierre covers it well and Miles Killebrew undercuts the throw downfield to pick it off, his first of training camp.
6. Green returns, missing just two plays. Roethlisberger complete to Ballage on a crosser for ten running right to left. Calvin Bundage covering.
7. Cassius Marsh and Jamir Jones the OLBs. Good blitz pickup by Ballage on Shakur Brown. Roethlisberger throw for Smith-Schuster is incomplete.
8. Checkdown left side complete from Roethlisberger to Jaylen Samuels. Bundage again trailing. Gain of eight.
9. Roethlisberger complete to Cody White along the right sideline. Goes for 13.
10. Wade and Norwood the safeties with Donovan Stiner rolling down as a linebacker. Different look I haven’t seen before. Snell carry up the middle. Giving him ten.
Sixth Team Session
1. Backup offense against first team defense. 13 personnel. Brooks-James loses a yard. Run stunt by Alualu and Ingram. Ingram looped over Alualu (Alualu slanting down) as Ingram lined up off-ball.
2. Brooks-James again but gets five. Devin Bush wraps him up.
3. Four yard gain from Rudolph complete to Brooks-James right side, Joe Haden quickly closing on the football.
4. John Leglue in at center. Dobbs complete to Sexton left side against Sutton. Very low throw but I think Sexton kept it off the ground. Alualu provided the pressure to impact the throw.
5. Tyler Simmons and Mathew Sexton the WRs. Brooks-James up the middle for two. Stopped by Mondeaux.
6. O-line of: Haeg-Hassenauer-Leglue-Pridgeon-Moore. Haskins throw to Bussey left side is incomplete. Nice angle and close by Norwood to contest it well.
7. Sexton and Simmons on the outside, White in the slot at WR. Dobbs in at QB. Miscommunication, Simmons running a deep curl, White maybe should’ve gone outside when he broke inside, but the pass is thrown directly into Arthur Maulet’s hands for the easiest pick of camp. Dwayne Haskins, though he didn’t throw the ball, jogged down to meet Maulet at the goal line. Someone wasn’t on the same page here.
8. Guerriero carry left side. Loss of one. Nice inside/out run defense by Spillane. “Yeah, Rob!” someone rang out.
9. Highsmith beats Green off the line. Dobbs complete to Baugh for a 12-yard gain over the middle. Fitzpatrick wraps him up. Green at left tackle here.
10. Fitzpatrick breaks up throw from Dobbs intended for Kevin Rader. Play were Collins got dinged blocking Alualu on a stunt.
Seventh Team Session
1. Ball at the defense’s 28. Roethlisberger in at QB. Harris gain of three. UG3 got shoved from behind, I think by Okorafor.
2. Outside/inside cut by Harris for a gain of two. Roche on the stop from the backside.
3. 15 yard completion to Johnson on a shallow crosser from Ben.
4. McFarland run left side. Isaiah Buggs sheds Kevin Dotson’s block and the run goes for just about two.
5. Derek Watt in at FB. Roethlisberger play action. Hits Watt in the right flat for seven.
6. O-line of: Haeg-Coward-Hassenauer-Finney-Moore. Ballage left side. Good push by the line, really nice block by Hassenauer, and though the defense is running half-speed here, it’s still a 15-yard TD.
7. Washington, Johnson, and Smith-Schuster (in the slot) as the WRs. Out ‘n up/nod route by Pat Freiermuth, hit by Roethlisberger for a 14-yard score.
8. Toss right to Snell for a ten-yard TD though again, the defense wasn’t running full speed here.
9. Empty set. Well-placed ball on a fade to the right corner by James Washington, leaping and high pointing the football over Gilbert, who didn’t leave the ground. Ten-yard TD.
10. Ball at the five. Rudolph hits Freiermuth in the back of the end zone and he makes the grab working on UG3. But Freiermuth couldn’t get both feet in – I don’t think either landed in the end zone. One on the chalk, one fully out of bounds. And that’s the last play of camp.
– Ben Roethlisberger’s been asked to throw on the move on rollouts and boots the last two days. And he’s looked good. Of course, could be a different story on November 18th when your body is a lot more beat up.
– Really excited to compile the numbers on Pat Freiermuth’s training camp. Think we’ll see some pretty impressive totals.
– Still feels like Hassenauer is running ahead of BJ Finney, for whatever that’s worth.
– Talked a lot about Alex Highsmith this camp. He’s bigger, stronger, but his get-off might be the area he’s improved the most. He’s really exploding off the ball. Playing with his hand down is probably helping but even hand-up, he’s keying and getting off the ball really quickly.
– Melvin Ingram just killed the Steelers’ offense in run sessions. Him and Highsmith. Just making play after play. Highly impressive.
– Thought I noticed it during team today and Mike Tomlin confirmed it after. Cam Sutton got a little run in the slot today.
– I will say Justin Layne has made plays on the football this camp. Pierre’s definitely been better but maybe I’m still a little too quick to write him off the 53-man roster. Next two games will be crucial for him, I think.
– Appreciate everyone for following our camp coverage. Thrilled to be back out there. Looking forward to it next season. Hopefully in Latrobe.
Heinz Field Snapshot
Pressley Harvin III holding for Chris Boswell during special teams sessions.
Twitter Camp Question of the Day
Maybe this is a dumb question. Could that be used for a trick play where Ben actually throws it? Or can’t you do that ?
— Joseph Gotowski (@Aux_mercaedor) August 18, 2021
Nah, I wouldn’t suggest it. It’s a big red flag to ST coaches when you have your punter as your normal holder and then suddenly, a QB is in the game. That was the upside to the days of when the backup QB was the normal holder. Easier to surprise a defense on a fake.
Jordan Berry can’t throw the football a lick so he’s not an option. Harvin though, given his background, could. So it’s something on the table if Harvin becomes the holder/punter. Opens up the fake playbook more, though I’m not a big fan of fake punts and field goals.
Vintage Steelers’ Photos
RB Tom Tracy against the Eagles in 1960.
Dale Gribble’s Best Quotes
“The peanuts are emitting toxins as an evolutionary defense mechanism. They’re tired of being eaten, and now they’re fighting back.”