Training Camp

Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Nine

Back at it for Day #9, the next-to-last public practice before the Steelers’ second preseason game Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a scorcher today, a solid 90 degrees and sunny, arguably the hottest day of camp. Team was in pads, full tackling sessions, so their conditoning was tested. But they seemed to respond well. Didn’t see anyone puking into a bucket. Always a plus.

Let’s get into what happened today at Heinz Field.

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– Injury Report: Not practicing today was: Antoine Brooks Jr. (left knee/leg), WR Ray-Ray McCloud (right knee), WR James Washington (right knee – didn’t see him on the field), RB Benny Snell (undisclosed), RB Kalen Ballage (lower body), and DL Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed). QB Ben Roethlisberger also received a full day off while WR JuJu Smith-Schuster seemed to get a light day. Don’t believe he worked in team.

Snell ran, cut around cones, and looks close to 100%. I think he has a chance to even practice tomorrow and try to get into Thursday’s game. Ballage did some light jogging and walking around the sidelines during stretch line so it appears his injury is not serious. Probably back within a week. Tuitt was back on the field after being absent the last two days. Watt went through individual drills.

– WR Chase Claypool came up limping during one play in team session. Saw him crouched on the ground at the end of a pass and then he limped off. Trainer John Norwig came over to him but Claypool waved him off. He finished the day in full, working in 7v7 and the last team session. So he’s ok.

– For what it’s worth, OT Joe Haeg practiced in full but had a wrap at and below his right knee.

– Newly signed OL Malcolm Pridgeon will wear #64. DL Calvin Taylor was waived/injured. He suffered a foot injury I assume during Thursday’s game. In a walking boot on Saturday and though he shed it yesterday, it was serious enough for the team to make a move.

Pridgeon got dapped up by John Leglue as Leglue made his way onto the practice field. Pridgeon worked in individual sessions, OL/DL, and even seven shots, though I believe he was held out of the other team drills.

– Kevin Dotson worked in all team sessions today. He remained the second-string LG behind Rashaad Coward, who ran with the 1’s.

– WR Cody White first man on the field.

– Robert Spillane joined a handful of DBs (Fitzpatrick, Maulet, Sutton) on the JUGS machine. Like AB used to do, they tried to catch passes about a foot in front of the machine, standing to the side with hands in front. Real test of how well you can catch passes. Mixed results for these guys but they caught a couple.

– Minkah Fitzpatrick trying his soccer moves, attempting to kick the football up to him soccer style. Didn’t work. Stick to football, Minkah.

– Early in practice, while other guys were playing catch, talking it up, kicker Sam Sloman stood alone on the sideline, football in hand, like he wanted to talk to someone but there was no one around. I’ve never related to a football player so much in my life.

– Ben Roethlisberger may have had the quietest entrance to Heinz Field ever. Last man out on the field at 1:37, walking up the steps near midfield. No one seemed to notice as he took the field.

– Two coaches working on ball security drills with Najee Harris. He held a football in each hand and the coaches tried to punch it out. They couldn’t.

– I’m not 100% sure but saw Mike Tomlin chilling on the sideline bench early in practice. Unlike him. I think his son Dino was there with him. Pretty cool if he was. Memory in an environment most people don’t get to have.

– Don’t think it’s mandated by coaches but Justin Layne dropped a pass in DB drills. Got down and did push-ups.

– RB pass pro drill. Stand over a cone, stay square and step to a coach. Saw Derek Watt working with Najee Harris on technique.

– EDGE rushers running the hoop drill. Work around the coach/bag and corner. Have a photo of it above.

– In one TE/LB run-block drill I watched, Melvin Ingram overpowered Eric Ebron and reverse-pancaked him. Ebron looked and sounded a little frustrated after the rep.

– Kickers kicked today. From my vantage point, it’s hard to tell if field goals are good or not. It *looked* like they were perfect today though there were no attempts longer than 46 yards (and that was just one attempt). Boswell did have more kicks than Sloman, for whatever that’s worth. Boswell had nine attempts to Sloman’s four.

Pressley Harvin and Jordan Berry rotated as Boz’s holder. Berry had one nice hold, snagging and pulling down a high snap by LS Christian Kuntz.

– Brooks-James, Guerriero, and McFarland the kick returners during that special teams session. Trey Edmunds, Jaylen Samuels, and Lamont Wade served the upbacks.

First Team Session (Seven Shots)

1. OL of: Okorafor-Coward-Green-Turner-Banner. D-line of Wormley/Alualu/Heyward. Bush and Spillane the ILBs, Haden and Sutton the CBs, Fitzpatrick and Edmunds the S. Melvin Ingram, Alex Highsmith the OLBs. Mason Rudolph in at QB with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool at WR.

Slant right from Rudolph, intended or Johnson. Chris Wormley got a hand on it and deflected it at the LOS.

2. Pistol look, Harris shifting to behind Rudolph. Rare run in this session. Normally not a tackling one either but Melvin Ingram grabs onto Harris at the one but Harris drags him just over the goal line. I don’t think/know Ingram was going full-speed here but I’ll give the offense a TD here.

3. Looked like there was a mix-up on the snap. Not everyone in sync. Sort of a busted play. Rudolph fires back left corner and caught by Johnson for the TD.

4. Second-team line. Moore-Dotson-Hassenauer-Finney-Haeg. Dwayne Haskins looks for Anthony Johnson on a crosser left to right. Tight coverage by Buddy Johnson breaks it up. Johnson throws his flag up, wanting a flag.

5. Haskins throws it up for Rico Bussey left side. Face-guarded by James Pierre, avoiding contact and a would-be penalty, and the pass is incomplete.

6. OL of: Collins-Walton-Leglue-Pridgeon-Green. Josh Dobbs in. Power shovel pass to Jaylen Samuels. Backside guard Pridgeon pulling around and offering a good block up front. TD.

7. Series tied at three. Dobbs throws a fade right corner to I believe Eric Ebron. Mark Gilbert times it well and has the size/length to match him, tipping the pass away. Incomplete.

Defense wins 4-3.

LB/RB Tackling Drill

– Tackling session. Leverage/tackling drill with a RB one-on-one with a LB or safety. Tomlin calling out “Challenge yourself” before the drill began. Don’t have each one charted but some highlights/lowlights.

– Najee Harris with the play of the day. Going against Arthur Maulet who didn’t even dive low but Harris hurdled and basically cleared him to win the rep. Really incredible. And a little scary.

– Tony Brooks-James has some juice and lateral agility. Put a nice move on Devin Bush, cutting back to his left, for example.

– Marcus Allen did well in this drill. Solid wrap and roll tackle on Brooks-James and a big stick/collision on Derek Watt, taking him down. “Alright Chico” a coach yelled out after his tackle on Brooks-James.

– Need to see Calvin Bundage and Ulysees Gilbert finish more consistently. Good athletes, Bundage can cover, but both tend to lunge and fall off too often. They aren’t naturally big or strong enough to get away with that.

Second Team Session 

1. Ball at the defense’s 46. Rudolph with the 1’s. Justin Layne at LCB, Cam Sutton at RCB. Live-tackling, run session. Anthony McFarland takes the run to the right. Coward pulls and kicks out Melvin Ingram (and might have tossed him down at the end). McFarland gets cutdown and tumbles over a couple bodies for a gain of four.

2. Fake the jet to Anthony Johnson. McFarland again right side. Ingram closes down on it and makes the tackle for about another gain of four.

3. Haeg in at RT here. Alex Highsmith flying in, think he beat Gentry, and tackles Jaylen Samuels for a loss of four.

4. Rudolph playaction. Tyson Alualu came in free up the middle for a would-be sack. Rudolph looks left to Samuels but Ingram, dropping into coverage, gets a hand on it for the deflection and incompletion.

5. Dwayne Haskins in at QB. Inside zone left give to Trey Edmunds. Nice block by Dan Moore to wash down Henry Mondeaux and Edmunds bursts into the second level for a gain of nine.

6. Tony Brooks-James in at RB with the lines pretty thin right now. Isaiahh Loudermilk and Henry Mondeaux the nickel DL. Cassius Marsh, Jamir Jones 2nd team OLBs. Toss to Brooks-James right side. Runs through the arm tackle of I think Shakur Brown (either him or Marcus Allen). Henry Mondeaux comes flying down the line right to left to make the tackle along with Justin Layne. Just a gain of two. Defense pretty excited for Mondeaux’s effort/chase.

7. Buddy Johnson and Marcus Allen the ILBs. Small crease for Brooks-James left side for a gain of three. Allen and Marsh converge on the tackle. Loudermilk won his block up front but lost his footing and Brooks-James did well to create and avoid a tackle for loss.

8. Brooks-James for a gain of seven.

9. Jamar Watson and Quincy Roche at OLB. Josh Dobbs in at QB and under center. Tegray Scales with a tackle for loss on Pete Guerriero two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Guerriero went down quick here.

10. Nice run here for Guerriero, best one of the session. Runs away from Carlos Davis giving chase along the right side. Turns upfield and flashes his speed, running for 14 yards before getting pushed out by Scales and Donovan Stiner. Nice effort on his stalk block by WR Isaiah McKoy.

11. 18 yard completion from Dobbs to TE Marcus Baugh. Dobbs rolling left, a lo-high read. Flat was taken away so he progressed to the TE bending his route behind, Baugh making a low grab with Killebrew breathing down his neck.

12. Buggs breaks through the line of scrimmage to tackle Guerriero at the line. Nice run stop.

Third Team Session

1. Ball at the offense’s 38. Rudolph again the QB. Coward in at LG, Banner in at RT. Pass complete left side to Johnson for a gain of six. Maulet on the tag/stop.

2. Johnson running 1st team in 11 personnel with the injuries today. Rudolph screen right to Diontae Johnson. Run-after-catch but Maulet tagged him up behind the LOS for a loss of two.

3. UG3 and Spillane the ILBs. Rudolph complete to Chase Claypool on a curl right side, wrapped up immediately by Joe Haden. Five yard play.

4. Johnson, Johnson, and Claypool your Steelers’ wide receivers (and also an emerging Pittsburgh law firm). Claypool runs a ten-yard out and Rudolph’s on target, hitting him in front of Haden for what goes down as an 11 yard gain.

5. OL of: Moore-Dotson-Hassenauer-Finney-Green. Mondeaux and Loudermilk the DTs. Dwayne Haskins in. Mesh concept, Rico Bussey Jr. running under Cody White, and Bussey has a couple steps on Justin Layne. Bussey turns upfield and gets 15.

6. Dan Moore false starts. Haskins looks for Bussey right side but the throw felt late and Layne makes a nice play to break it up.

7. Jaylen Samuels and Anthony McFarland on the field, pony look. Screen left to Samuels for a loss of three. Not sure what defender got in there.

8. Haskins looks for McKoy on a dig route over the middle. McKoy got his head around very late and almost ducked the football. Incomplete. Layne covering.

9. Mark Gilbert and Stephen Denmark at CB. OL of: Collins-Walton-Leglue-Coward (he gets so many reps)-Green. Josh Dobbs comes in and hits Cody White for a 19 yard completion. Stiner tags him. Maulet comes in on a blitz. Steelers have been blitzing their slot corners almost as much as they’ve asked them to cover (not literally but it sure feels like it).

10. Quincy Roche comes through unblocked. Dobbs throws hot in the left flat to Brooks-James but Lamont Wade closes quickly for the stop. Loss of one.

11. Gilbert and Lafayette Pitts the CBs. Dobbs looks for Zach Gentry over the middle but Calvin Bundage plays the pocket and breaks it up. “Way to go” a coach yelled out. Little five-yard out route by Gentry but Bundage broke it up.

12. Carlos Davis and TJ Carter the nickel defensive linemen. Dobbs complete left side to Anthony Johnson, who steps out of a would-be tackle by a DB. Takes off for a 22 yard gain before going out of bounds along the sideline.

Fourth Team Session

1. Ball at the offense’s 43. One of the linemen jumped. Maybe Coward. Ball gets moved to the 38. Spillane/Bush the ILBs. Alualu/Heyward the DTs. Claypool and both Johnson’s at WR, Anthony Johnson in the slot. Five yard completion to Anthony Johnson but immediately stopped and spun around by Devin Bush.

2. Ebron the tight end. Alex Highsmith hand-down as the RDE. Rudolph throw left side to Ebron but it clips off his hands and incomplete. Bush covering. Didn’t see the whole rep but looked like Ingram won against Banner, who got turned around and tried to stay with him.

3. 12 personnel set, Pat Freiermuth and Kevin Rader in at TE. Shovel option to Freiermuth with a potential option by Rudolph to pitch it wide to Najee Harris. Call it a gain of five.

4. Ball at the defense’s 49. Empty set. Rudolph complete to Rader over the middle for about ten. Great rep and win here by Marsh to swim inside and beat Okorafor. One of the best I’ve seen in camp. Play where Claypool came limping off.

5. Short throw by Rudolph over the middle to Tyler Simmons versus Buddy Johnson. Goes for six.

6. Dwayne Haskins in. Power run to Brooks-James. Loudermilk in on the stop.

7. Rico Bussey catch right side for ten yards from Haskins, working on Buddy Johnson.

8. Toss left to Trey Edmunds. Clean toss and Edmunds can’t handle it, a pretty clear drop, and he can’t pick it up. Defense jumps on it, Tegray Scales coming away with the football.

9. Haskins throws deep right side. Looks like miscommunication and the ball falls harmlessly incomplete.

10. Haskins throws right side for Cody White. Bundage covering and the pass is incomplete.

OL/DL

1. Dan Moore Jr. with a good rep and mirrors Jamir Jones.

2. Cam Heyward rips the edge vs Rashaad Coward, though Coward seals the edge.

3. Tyson Alualu runs through Kendrick Green and walks him back.

4. False start between Trai Turner and Chris Wormley. Wormley uses a bull-to-rip to beat Turner around the edge.

5. Marsh swims to the outside and corners the edge late.

6. Moore looked like he missed his punch on Jones and he dips past the edge.

7. Jamir Jones’ inside spin fails. Believe it was against Moore.

8. Push-pull by Heyward on Coward, finishing with a veteran move by pulling on Coward’s jersey to pull him forward and jets on past.

9. Alualu puts Green on skates and walks him back into the “pocket.”

10. Trai Turner traps and knocks down Wormley to the ground.

11. Great rep from Cassius Marsh, dipping under and past Haeg for the win.

12. Nice, tight hands by Aviante Collins to absorb Quincy Roche’s power.

13. Push/pull by Loudermilk against Walton, who hangs on to try and stay with the rep.

14. Nice swim and rips through Walton to win to the outside.

15. Isaiah Buggs tries and can’t rip over John Leglue’s helmet, his arm catching Leglue’s helmet.

16. Carlos Davis swims Pridgeon.

17. Big win here for Davis on Pridgeon. Explosive off the ball, wins the edge and then seems to be toying with Pridgeon, spinning to the inside. Overall, won the rep.

18. They go a third time. Quick shed by Davis for the 3-0 sweep.

19. Chaz Green mirrors Henry Mondeaux’s inside spin.

20. Collins’ flashes his hands and wins this rep against Roche.

21. Nice win for Walton on Loudermilk, who falls to the ground.

22. Abdullah Anderson can’t rip through John Leglue.

23. Anderson powers through Leglue, a good win. “It’s over!” Cam Heyward yells out.

24. They go once more. Abdullah shows quick hands and slips past Leglue. “It’s over” Heyward yells out again.

25, Pridgeon locks up Carter’s rush and wins this rep, saving a little face.

26. Carter tries to spin outside and then inside. Both fail on Pridgeon, getting a good amount of work in this session.

27. Mondeaux beats Green to the inside.

28. Green seals the corner working on Mondeaux, though he’s able to turn upfield late in the rush.

Fifth Team Session

1. Ball at the defense’s 29. Heyward comes in free, think he beat Kendrick Green pretty bad. Throw to Claypool right side for 19, who runs a good route to turn around Joe Haden.

2. Screen to the right. Rudolph kills the ball, throwing the ball at Derek Watt’s feet.

3. OL. Okorafor-Coward-Green-Turner-Haeg. High snap. Rudolph complete to McFarland for four yards.

4. McFarland and Watt split backs in the gun. Shovel pass to Watt, Turner pulling right to left to knock out Devin Bush. Seven yard TD.

5. Haskins in at QB. Coward second-team LG. Mondeaux comes in free on the rush, pressuring Haskins. Throw to Ebron right side off his fingertips as Haskins tried to float the ball over James Pierre. Incomplete. Pierre could’ve taken a better angle.

6. Layne, Pierre, and Brown the CBs. Cody White slot right at WR. Draw to McFarland. Marsh wraps him up, gain of three. Jamir Jones shed the block of Walton.

7. TD from Haskins to McKoy for a 15 yard TD running away from Miles Killebrew.

8. Ball at the defense’s eight. Edmunds and Brooks-James on the field. Brooks-James run left side for five, met by Norwood, who popped the ball out very late in the rep. Don’t think I’d even call it a forced fumble but a nice attention to detail and finish by the rookie DB.

9. Josh Dobbs in at QB. Blown coverage defensively, Eric Ebron wide open over the middle for a 26 yard touchdown.

10. Guerriero run left side, staying on his feet as Davis swipes him from behind. Gain of just one or two.

11. Toss right to a RB I don’t have noted here. Corners and turns upfield for a ten yard run before being taped by Wade. Green and Leglue pulling out into space.

12. Dobbs throws a jump ball left side for Simmons. Incomplete with Denmark providing good coverage.

TL;DR

– I know we’ve seen him briefly back in 2019 but I like RB Tony Brooks-James burst and agility. Little different flavor in the backfield. Quickness and good lateral movement. Hoping to see him a bit in the preseason, at least in the final game or something.

– Najee Harris’ hurdles. Man, it’s fun to watch. Very Le’Veon Bell like in that regard. 235 pounds and he’s got crazy hops. Shouldn’t feel possible.

– Been a rough outing for some of these OTs lately. Not a great day for Okorafor or Haeg, the latter I wonder if he’s playing through a minor injury or something.

– Don’t mention him much but not seeing it with OG Brandon Walton. Too small, not powerful enough. Gets pushed around too easily.

– For what it’s worth. Hard to gauge offensive linemen in team but Kevin Dotson has looked, on the surface, fine in his return to team drills. If you were wondering.

– Lots of first-team reps today for Anthony Johnson with JuJu limited and Washington/McCloud out. He’s not a special athlete or that great of a receiver, mainly a big body, but he’s healthy this year, getting a lot of reps, and can wear as many hats as pretty much anyone on this team.

– Like what I’m seeing from Isaiahh Loudermilk. Feels like his hand use has been improved and he’s working off blocks pretty consistently in the run and pass game.

– Davis dominated OL/DL but it did come against a guy in his first practice. Probably even didn’t know Davis’ name. So that’s important context with these drills. Who you’re facing.

– Cassius Marsh very much feels in the driver’s seat of that #4 OLB job. Nothing I’ve seen so far is pushing me off that idea. Not how he’s playing or where he’s running, still ahead of Quincy Roche.

– Alex Highsmith has been electric in this run sessions. Maybe not always beating top-flight competition but I don’t know if any player on this defense has made more plays in the backfield than he has.

– Like I wrote above, Calvin Bundage and UG3 are good athletes but need to be better finishers/tacklers.

Heinz Field Snapshot

Derek Watt vs Buddy Johnson in a 1v1 tackling drill (the one where Harris hurdled Maulet).

Vintage Steelers’ Photos

Joe Krupa sacking Y.A. Tittle in 1963.

Football: Pittsburgh Steelers Joe Krupa (75) after sack vs New York Giants QB Y.A. Tittle (14) at Yankee Stadium.
Bronx, NY 12/15/1963
CREDIT: Neil Leifer (Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X9720 TK1 C18 F1 )

Dale Gribble’s Best Quotes

“You have bully-ragged this production and stifled my creativity from Day One. It is now Day Two. I quit!”

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