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Rookie Report: Steelers Vs Vikings

Throughout the season following each game I will be taking a look at the rookies and how they fared each week. This will consist of thoughts such as the positive and negatives from that game, areas to watch or work on and clips to support what I’m sharing. Hopefully, this will shed some insight on some things you may or may not have seen.

Week 14 – Minnesota Vikings

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Najee Harris (Round 1) – 71 offensive snaps, 20 carries, 94 yards, 4.70 YPC, 1 TD, 3 targets, 3 receptions, 10 yards, 3.33 YPR, 1 TD, 1 tackle

It was another productive day for Harris including his first multi-touchdown game. The running game started slowly with Harris having to work for holes. The second half was bit easier on the ground when the Vikings shifted to a more pass appropriate defense with the big lead. The touchdown run was fairly easy with a rare big hole to run through. He showed high effort as always getting hit a couple times in the backfield and still gaining yards.

His three receptions came on a screen with him split outside and in the flat. On that play he gained 6 yards after contact despite being hit as soon as he touched the ball. His receiving touchdown was on a flat route and he made a nice catch in the flat late in the game adjusting to a ball thrown behind him. Pass protection was solid overall with high effort and mental processing.

Pat Freiermuth (Round 2) – 45 offensive snaps, 3 special team snap, 3 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards, 16.0 YPR, 1 TD

Freiermuth had limited opportunities with the ball but he was able to still make his mark. While his route tree remained fairly diverse his receptions were simple routes. The first came on a dump pass over the middle on the final play of the second quarter. He gained eleven yards after the catch with no help from the receivers to block for him. His second reception was on an out route where the defender fell down allowing him to retain the team lead in touchdown receptions. His final chance was on the final play and was knocked out on a nice play by the defender.

He has had more chances to be a blocker in the run and pass game recently. In the run game he has looked good moving laterally to stay square and in front of his defender. In pass protection on the edge he has a tendency to duck his head and lose sight of the defender but he has a few nice blocks on screens but unfortunately no one else blocked on those.

Kendrick Green (Round 3) – 74 offensive snaps

Last week there was improvement from Green and maybe his best game. That did not carry over into this game. The third quarter was just awful. He has a handful of snaps that were far to the right of the quarterback and didn’t get two snaps off in time due to some confusion. He struggled in the run game to sustain and move defenders on inside Zone. He wasn’t quick enough on outside Zone runs to get across the face of the defender. He was adequate on Gap runs getting some push but not consistently.

In Pass protection, he seemed passive at times and struggled to read the scheme with defenders often in the A gaps. He still only looks one way when uncovered and leaves the gap behind him open. On a screen play he was looking at Harris instead of blocking the safety that could have save Harris from another player hitting him. A definite step back this week.

Dan Moore (Round 4) – 74 offensive snaps, 3 special teams snaps

Moore has been consistent lately in the sense that he improves at the game progresses. Early in the game his use of hands was a tad slow and high. This allows the defender access to his chest as well as the possibility of his hands slipping off the defender. Though he improved later in the game and only got bulled back to the quarterback once. He was quick at the snap on pass sets with a couple looking like they could have been false starts. He looked good and showed good reaction time on twists as well as with his mobility to change direction against inside rushes.

In the run game, like Green he needs to be quicker on outside Zone runs to not let defenders in the B gap. He didn’t get a lot of push on inside zone blocks. His best run block came on the touchdown run displaying very good quickness to block down and allow the left guard to pull around him to lead Harris to the end zone as seen below

 

Buddy Johnson (Round 4) – 6 defensive snaps, 23 special teams snaps, 1 tackle

After making his first tackle last week on special teams he was credited with his second chasing a returner out of bounds. His blocking on punt coverage looked very good but he needs improvement on his blocking on kick return.

In a bit of a surprise Johnson saw his defensive debut getting six snaps and I felt he showed some positives. He seemed to diagnose versus the run well and showed aggressiveness to attack downhill as well as flow to the outside. He did overrun a couple plays a bit but that could be just the adrenaline flowing. He also looked comfortable dropping in Zone. Alex did a video evaluation of his defensive debut you that you should check out.

Isaiahh Loudermilk (Round 5) – 18 defensive snaps, 2 special team snaps, 2 tackles, 1 solo

Loudermilk again saw a good bit of play and was again used up and down the defense logging snaps from the 1 technique to the 5 technique. He continues to be solid against the run and at the point of attack. He can hold his ground and protect his gaps and was solid moving laterally with blockers. He displays the motor to always chase after the ball. He made one tackle in his gap and one chasing to the outside.

He would benefit by improving his snap quickness which is pretty consistently below average. His hands also need improvement. He got stuck on some run blocks and won’t be a pass rushing threat without improvement in those areas. In my opinion, he has earned more playing time especially on early downs.

You can’t teach effort. Loudermilk (92) initially gets stuck on the block but works he way to outside to make the tackle

 

Tre Norwood (Round 7) – 9 defensive snaps, 13 special team snaps, 1 solo tackle

Norwood has continued his consistently play always being ready when called upon. His snaps came as a slot corner in nickel and dime groupings. From the slot he blitzed once, played a couple snaps in Zone coverage and five snaps in Man coverage. His Man coverage ability has been the biggest surprise for me so far handling slot receivers and tight ends well limiting the number of times he has been targeted.

He had one tackle and it came on a running play late in the second quarter working from the outside in and making a clean tackle.

Norwood (21) is always communicating on the field. He makes a nice read on the play here making a nice stop on a play that could have been bigger

 

Presley Harvin III (Round 7) – 9 special team snaps, 6 punts, 43.0 yard average

Harvin’s up and down performance has continued with some already calling for his head. Rookies are going to have struggles at every position and he is no different. He had six punts with half being solid and half below average.

The first travelled just 40 yards and was compounded by a 16 yard return. The next three were pretty good at 49 yards (no return), 45 (kicked out of bounds) and 49 (fair catch). The last two left a lot to be desired with one travelling 41 yards with a 15 yard return and the last being a 34 yard punt kicked out of bounds.

Inactive for Week 14 – None

Practice Squad –S Donovan Stiner, DL Daniel Archibong, P Drue Chrisman

Reserve/Injured – WR Rico Bussey

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