Day Four of Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp is in the books. The last day of the “ramp-up” period that’s been a glorified OTA session. Monday will be the fun day with the pads coming on and full-contact occurring. But today was still a great day with a fantastic crowd, atmosphere, and weather. Let’s dive in.
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Camp Notes (Day Four)
– Injury Recap: No Chase Claypool (shoulder) but there’s no brace or sling or anything on his injured right shoulder. So little concern there. TE Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) remains out as does S Miles Killebrew (pec). Freiermuth served as an assistant coach through some TE positional drills, holding the bag for players to run through/be hit with to practice ball security.
Good news was that CB Levi Wallace (illness) returned and worked in full today. In-practice injuries include LB Marcus Allen (right hamstring) who pulled up at the very end of a play chasing Anthony McFarland downfield. TE Connor Heyward (right ankle) got tripped up by T.D. Moultry in 7v7 and didn’t finish practice, missing the final team session. Had it iced and wrapped to finish out the day.
– Walked into camp and saw a fan wearing a Dwayne Haskins Ohio State jersey. Pretty cool.
– As has become the norm, S Karl Joseph first man on the field at 1:18. Took another ten minutes for anyone else to get down there: OLB Derrek Tuszka, OL John Leglue, and CB Ahkello Witherspoon, who walked down the stairs at 1:28.
– Steelers’ drum line loud and proud today, playing for fans as they walked in and for the players as they made their way down the stairs.
– Great feeling today with a full crowd, sunny skies, and plenty of ex-Steelers returning. Heath Miller and the Miller family were here after being inducted into the team’s Hall of Honor. Ike Taylor has been here for a couple days while Vince Williams was also at practice, hanging around the ILBs all day. Tomlin briefly spoke to the crowd and introduced Miller, though fans already recognized him far before Tomlin got on the mic.
– Most players don’t sign autographs before practice, waiting until after instead. But Larry Ogunjobi signed a solid five minutes before hitting the field. Nice of him to do.
– First snap of warmups. Cody White and Anthony Miller the outside receivers with George Pickens in the slot. Lines a little short without Diontae Johnson or Claypool working.
– Anthony Miller, George Pickens, Steven Sims, Calvin Austin III, and Gunner Olszewski in the punt return lines. Even Diontae Johnson fielded one or two.
– Heath Miller said hello to a large chunk of the team today. After being intro’d by Tomlin and taking a photo with him and Art Rooney II, Miler hung around the tight end group in warmups, shaking Zach Gentry’s hand. He also got a hug from STs Coordinator Danny Smith and assistant head coach John Mitchell, two coaches who were on staff when Miller played. Speaks to the level of continuity in Pittsburgh.
– Punt return catching challenge. After failing on ball #6 yesterday, Anthony Miller redeemed himself today and caught #6. Nearly had seven. Gunner Olszewski nearly caught #6 but one fell out of his very full hands and he skipped that football downfield with a hearty kick. Tyler Vaughns also caught five but not six while Calvin Austin and Steven Sims, two small dudes, didn’t have much success. I don’t think either got past three.
– Quick notes on some players snapping during positional/skeleton drills as the QBs worked on WR pop passes: Nate Gilliam, Chris Owens, Mason Cole, and J.C. Hassenauer.
– Some of the offensive linemen shifted during practice. OT Jake Dixon seeing work at RT and OG Chris Owens seeing work at center, though he played far more center than guard at Alabama. His center snaps today though seemed off the mark. Might have been rusty.
– Watching George Pickens work on-air. A great leaper and always high-pointing the football. Plucked the ball out of the air on a fade to the back right pylon and snagged another over his head on a little out ‘n up in the back of the end zone.
– As has happened in the past, the offensive linemen were split into two groups between the two coaches, head OL coach Pat Meyer and assistant Isaac Williams. But it wasn’t split evenly into interior linemen and tackles like past years. More mixing and matching between the two. Meyer’s group had a blocking sled but with only one player pushing it at a time before coming off the block and working towards a “linebacker,” a lineman holding a bag. Williams’ group was working combination blocks in tandem. Looked like Meyer’s drills were more man-blocking focused while Williams was zone blocking.
– No full punting sessions today with a rush, coverage, and return, but I’m antsy and wanted to get some hangtimes, though I wasn’t tracking yards. Numbers for each guy.
Pressley Harvin III: 4.67, 4.90, 4.49, 4.49, 4.83, and 4.72.
Cameron Nizialek: 4.46, 4.71, 3.63, and 4.72.
A “good” hangtime can vary a bit based on the situation but Harvin’s numbers are good though again, they’re on air and take them with a grain of salt. Overall, he punted consistently. Nizialek had one shank that went probably 25 yards and one-hopped into the bleachers.
– Marcus Allen and Jaylen Warren working as first and second-team upbacks today. Karl Joseph and Benny Snell first-team wings, left and right respectively, with Donovan Stiner and Mataeo Durant second-team wings, left and right respectively.
– Some 7v7 notes. I will say I wish George Pickens didn’t leave his feet quite as often as he does over the middle. Some times where he doesn’t need to and it’ll help his YAC, which was one of his few negatives in college. Just a minor critique over an impressive start.
To compliment him, watched Pickens turn and throw a block on Cam Sutton after a teammate caught an underneath pass. He didn’t bully Sutton or do anything crazy but I love seeing him have the IQ and effort to try to spring a block in 7v7. Don’t always see that. Pickens billed as a willing and capable blocker out of Georgia.
– Connor Heyward with two good reps in 7v7, making a combat catch against T.J. Watt trying to swat the ball out to no avail. And Heyward shook T.D. Moultry on the play he got hurt. But some good plays today for the rookie.
– Tyler Vaughns made a leaping catch against James Pierre along the left sideline. He hade some impressive plays today. Jace Sternberger had a drop. His hands have been suspect.
– Ok, let’s talk about team sessions.
First Team Session (Seven Shots)
1. Ball on the two. Kendrick Green first team LG. Mitch Trubisky in at QB. 12 personnel with Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward in the game. George Pickens and Anthony Miller the WRs. Levi Wallace at LCB, Cam Sutton at RCB. Cam Heyward and other defenders turn back to the crowd on the hill and pump them up.
To the play itself, Trubisky throws a fade left side for George Pickens but Cam Sutton plays it well, smothers Pickens, and the pass is incomplete.
2. 3×1 “nub” formation with the TE in-line and isolated. Pickens in the slot. T.J. Watt comes in free for pressure. Trubisky rolls right and throws incomplete.
3. Benny Snell in at RB. Miller in the slot, Cody White and George Pickens on the outside. Trubisky boots to the left and looks for Anthony Miller on the goal line but Arthur Maulet knocks the ball away at the catch point. Good rep.
4. Najee Harris split out. Trubisky complete to Connor Heyward but Terrell Edmunds makes a great stop inside the one-yard line and Heyward never breaks the plane. Defense with another stop.
5. Mason Rudolph comes in. Under some pressure and his pass is a lame duck. Guessing his arm was hit but I’m not sure. Pass is floating well short of its intended target. Second-year safety Donovan Stiner finds the ball and tries to run to it, diving to try and make the interception. But the ball pops up as he’s trying to go to the ground, not hitting the ground, just popping back up into the air, and Connor Heyward shows great concentration to find and catch the ball, reaching and falling over into the end zone for the offense’s first score in pretty wild version.
6. Good team defense and Rudolph doesn’t have any options. He rolls right and fires to the sideline, maybe for Anthony McFarland, but it’s out of bounds and incomplete.
7. You’ve been asking for it. You got it. Kenny Pickett getting his first seven shots rep. Throws a rope to the back left corner for Tyler Vaughns, who contorts his body and makes a great grab in the air for what was ruled a touchdown. Probably worth a booth review to see if he really got both feet down but the team gave him the score and so will I. Defense still wins the day, 5-2.
Second Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 38. Kevin Dotson in at LG, Trubisky in at QB. Anthony Miller and George Pickens the outside receivers with Calvin Austin III in the slot. Najee Harris in at RB. Trubisky fires deep down the left sideline intended for Anthony Miller. But the two aren’t on the same page. Miller breaks his route off on a curl and Trubisky’s deep ball falls incomplete. Cam Sutton on the coverage at RCB.
2. Levi Wallace and Cam Sutton the outside CBs and Karl Joseph in the slot. Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee at safety. Trubisky’s throw is incomplete, potentially tipped somewhere along the defensive line that caused the pass to miss, thrown right side for a potential slant.
3. Myles Jack and Devin Bush the ILBs. 11 personnel. Trubisky hits Miller on a crosser working right to left. Myles Jack turns him back inside and Ahkello Witherspoon, the RCB on the play, tags him up. Miller gets a little chippy with Cam Heyward who I believe – or someone on the Steelers’ defense – swiped the ball out of Miller’s hands at the very end.
4. Myles Jack blitz up the middle. Trubisky fires and connects with George Pickens over the middle, a good strike for a 17-yard pickup. Those two have shown good chemistry.
5. 12 personnel. Connor Heyward Y-Off tight end. Mason Rudolph in the game and boots left. McFarland can’t make the catch and it’s incomplete on a drop.
6. Second-team OL. Haeg-Green-Hassenauer-Leglue-Scott. Buddy Johnson and Ulysees Gilbert III the ILB pairing. Justin Layne at LCB, James Pierre RCB. Derrek Tuszka LOLB, Genard Avery ROLB. Karl Joseph slot corner. Miles Boykin beats press and runs a slant, a nice grab above his head from Rudolph. Donovan Stiner gives him a thud as Boykin gets upfield. Gain of 14.
7. Base defensive line grouping of DeMarvin Leal at LDE, Henry Mondeaux at NT (ugh), and Isaiahh Loudermilk at RDE. McFarland the RB, Connor Heyward split out wide. Rudolph complete to Steven Sims right side who gets both feet inbounds. Gain of eight.
8. Layne and Pierre the outside corners with Tre Norwood in the slot. Empty set, Pony grouping with Anthony McFarland and Jeremy McNichols on the field. McNichols motioned back into the backfield. Rudolph’s throw is incomplete. UG3 swam over and past McNichols for would-be pressure.
9. Kenny Pickett into the game. Khalil Davis and Donovan Jeter the DTs with Delontae Scott and Tuzar Skipper the OLBs. Boykin and Gunner Olszewski on the outside with Tyler Snead in the slot. Pickett looks for Gunner Olszewski over the middle but the pass is off the mark with Karl Joseph diving for it. A would-be sack if pressure was allowed to touch the QB.
10. Vaughns goes in motion. Nothing available for Pickett. Runs right and then tries to throw back cross-body. But no one is really in the area and the pass is incomplete.
11. OL of Dixon-Owens-Gilliam-C. Green-Tucker. 11 personnel. Pickett’s throw to Anthony Miller is short and low. Miller tries to get under it but is falling away and can’t complete the catch, incomplete. Mark Robinson blitzed in free off the edge.
12. Moultry and Johnson the OLB pairing. Dixon buried his man around the edge. Pickett tries to fire over the middle but the pass is rejected by DT Doug Costin, who bats it down.
Third Team Session
1. Ball at the 31. Trubisky again first-team QB. Complete to Zach Gentry on a short throw and catch with Myles Jack all over him, even forcing the ball out at the tail end. Call it gain of three.
2. Olszewski, Pickens, and Miller the three WRs to the same, right side initially. Olszewski motioned across to the left but he’s a little anxious and leaves early, flagged for a false start as the team has to reset. They get back to the line. Witherspoon and Wallace on the outside with Cam Sutton in the slot, a potential preview of how things will look come Week One. Robert Spillane rotating in and working next to Jack. Trubisky climbs the pocket, there’s nothing there, and he tucks and runs with Cam Heyward giving chase.
3. Connor Heyward motioned out wide. Trubisky wants to hit him on a slant to the right but TJ Watt’s seen that before and bats the ball down with both hands. Kicks the ball into the stands and into the 10th-ish row, caught by a fan in a Minkah Fitzpatrick jersey.
4. Devin Bush in at ILB. Trubisky complete left side to Cody White for a gain of 12 along the sideline. Kendrick Green was struggling with a bull rush here and trying to stall it out. Didn’t see what defender was giving him the business.
5. Arthur Maulet in the slot with Justin Layne and James Pierre on the outside. Devin Bush and Myles Jack the ILB pairing. Mason Rudolph in and boots right, hitting Calvin Austin along the right sideline before Ahkello Witherspoon gets a hand on him. Gain of nine.
6. Rudolph good throw caught underneath by McFarland as a diving UG3 can’t make a play on it. Gain of 17 with half of that coming as YAC. Carlos Davis showed burst and generated pressure.
7. Boykin the X, Austin in the slot. Rudolph hits Connor Heyward right side who snags the ball away from his body and turns upfield. Call it gain of eight. This is the play I have Allen getting hurt on, pulling up lame at the end and then limping over to a Gatorade cooler to sit on while trainers, including head athletic trainer John Norwig, examined him. Allen’s day done after that.
8. Rudolph with a good throw left side complete to Miles Boykin against James Pierre, who just missed breaking the pass up and knew it as he got back to his feet. Gain of 15. Buddy Johnson got some pressure up the middle while UG3 was trying to untangle himself from the RB, having some success but losing his footing and never really got in the QB’s face.
9. Kenny Pickett in the game. Short throw right side complete to Olszewski though Carlins Platel quickly ended things with a thud. Would’ve been a lot worse than that if this was Monday’s live session. Three-yard gain.
10. Johnson and Robinson the ILB pairing. Chris Steele and Linden Stephens the outside corners with Platel in the slot. Boykin and Vaughns on the outside with Olszewski in the slot. Screen left complete to Warren before Tre Norwood tags him. Leal gave good chase and forced a lineman in front to peel back and block him. Call it gain of five.
11. Low snap from Chris Owens, getting his first camp reps at center. Pickett hits Mataeo Durant underneath who has to reach out for it and falls to the ground. Three-yard gain. Chaz Green at LT, Jake Dixon at RG.
12. Olszewski in the slot. Pickett with a strong, on-target throw for Olszewski running a curl route, putting it on the outside half away from the DB level. Platel fives for it but can’t get a hand on the ball but Olszewski is unable to bring it in, diving and having it hit off his hands. Incomplete but a good rep for Pickett.
Fourth Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 34. Levi Wallace and Cam Sutton the outside CBs with Arthur Maulet in the slot. 3×1 “nub” formation with Pickens, Boykin, and Austin all to one side. Trubisky in at QB. Attempts to throw WR bubble to the right for Pickens but T.J. Watt – yet again – reads it. Tackle doesn’t cut him (not that they would in this setting, especially not to Watt) and Trubisky’s pass is swallowed up by Watt into his chest, who races into the end zone for the pick-six.
2. 21 personnel. Alex Highsmith pressure around the edge. Trubisky steps up and climbs but there’s zero options for him to throw to and he’s forced to run again. Secondary is hyped for plastering and covering so well. High-fives all around with Edmunds, Sutton, Kazee, and Witherspoon.
3. Pony backfield with Snell behind Trubisky and McFarland splitting out. Trubisky complete to Pickens for ten yards on a curl, though he never saw Karl Joseph who ran up from behind and knocked the ball out at the end of the play. Snell picked up the loose ball and kept running with it down the right side. Carlos Davis beat Kevin Dotson on the play.
4. Najee Harris right side. Arthur Maulet works off a block and wraps up Harris low, though sort of falling off in part due to the no-tackling nature and part because Harris’ thigh is bigger than Mauler’s torso. Gain of three.
5. Myles Jack and Robert Spillane the ILB. Mason Rudolph in at QB. 12 personnel. Rudolph fires down right sideline but Justin Layne pins Pickens well and stays with him all the way to the ground. Pickens makes a good attempt but Layne plays down through the hands and breaks it up, incomplete.
6. Jeremy McNichols gains one left side. Good defensive flow. Don’t know how but saw Kendrick Green end up on the ground.
7. Power run to the right, Anthony McFarland on the carry. Nice rep by Delontae Scott to work off a block and make the quick stop from his LOLB spot. Gain of just one.
8. Austin in the slot. Steven Sims the X. Rudolph with one of the hardest velocity throws in camp over the middle, nailing Boykin in stride as Pierre, a full-out, dive just missed. Great placement. Gain of 16.
9. Pickett playaction and looks for Austin in the right flat. But UG3 is all over it and thuds him for a loss of one. Jordan Tucker ended the play on the ground and was a little slow getting back up, though he may have just been tired at that point.
10. Tyler Snead in the slot. Jaylen Warren at RB. Warren carry up the middle for four. Low-ish snap here from Owens didn’t help. Warren and Khalil Davis got a little tangled up at the end here.
11. Mataeo Durant at RB. Pickett working under center. 12 personnel. Khalil Davis busting through and free. Pickett rolls right and throws incomplete, broken up by Maulet.
12. Unbalanced look for the practice’s final play with RT Trent Scott motioning across the formation to line up on the left side. Durant carry up the gut. Mark Robinson knifes in and throws a shoulder into his chest after a gain of two. Would’ve been a big hit if Robinson was allowed to finish it.
– I’ll have to run some of the numbers but Mitch Trubisky is developing a nice rapport with George Pickens, especially over the middle. Seems to be his favorite target and with good reason.
– Overall, Trubisky seems to be pushing the ball downfield a bit more, though Rudolph certainly has his downfield attempts/strikes, too and he fit passes in tight windows today, especially. Again, I will need to run the numbers. Nearly everything Pickett has thrown has been short or intermediate at best. Very fundamental “take a profit” approach.
– Kenny Pickett got his seven shots rep. Everyone happy now? Mixed day for him overall but I’d say it’s better than the last two. Baby steps.
– Prior to the injury, which I think is minor, Connor Heyward with a nice day catching the ball. Sitting down against zone, making catches in traffic, finishing the play, being ball-aware, and moving around a fair bit. Hopefully he can get back out there Monday. Sunday off-day is good timing for him.
– Tyler Vaughns tested poorly coming out but he’s a springy player with plus body control and tracking. Good day from him today.
– Miles Boykin was a lot better too after struggling to finish yesterday, though he caught slants and crossed today compared to failed deep balls yesterday.
– Really excited for the pads to come on Monday to better evaluate the lines. But the Davis brothers look quick and explosive and definitely play with chips on their shoulders.
– Good day for Arthur Maulet. I’m still not sure how or where he fits come Week One, even if he’s getting starter reps now, but he’s not going away quietly.
– Not that it really needs to be said but TJ Watt is just a force. Trubisky has to hate facing him as he battles for the starting QB gig. Watt doesn’t make any QBs look good and he doesn’t make it easy on any of those guys.
Saint Vincent Snapshot
Chris Boswell kicking during a special teams session.
Today’s Camp Twitter Question
It’s always going to be a mixture of both. But I just like to credit the unit that’s out there making plays. So the nod to the defense here. They’ve been high-energy and just swarming in camp. They’ll give up the play every now and then, that’s to be expected, but they’ve been a strong unit. Aggressive going after the football with energy and effort and finish. Really competing well.
Random Steelers’ Fact
Only two of the Steelers selections in their inaugural 1936 draft ever played a down for the team: 5th round pick Dick Sandefur and 8th rounder Ed Karpowich.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”