Back at it for Day Two of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 training camp. It only took until the second day for the rains to pour in and oh boy, did they ever. One of the worst downpours I’ve been in since attending camp, though at least there was no lightning that impacted practice.
The team, however, did practice on the turf field far away from the bleachers. For awhile, it wasn’t clear if they would return to the grass field, that often happens but they stayed on the turf field for the entire workout, save for a couple of positional drills done on the middle and far fields away from the crowd. I was also unable to track yards because I couldn’t get enough feel for that, though most of the plays made today were short and underneath with deep shots failing. Because of that, my notes are more limited than usual so I apologize for that. Things should be better tomorrow.
That said, let’s talk about what’s in my notebook.
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Camp Notes (Day Two)
– Quick injury report update. S Miles Killebrew (pec) did not practice today. But his spirits seemed high, a cautiously optimistic sign his injury is short-term. Rookie EDGE T.D. Moultry (cramps) did carry his helmet onto the field and I believe he worked today but I don’t have him listed down in any of my team notes. I’ll check again tomorrow but the injury seems minor even if he was limited today. WR Diontae Johnson did not work in team and only went through limited individual drills. He did go through lines when WRs were working by themselves but did not run routes on air with the QBs throwing to them. That seems to be his plan for the time being. DL Larry Ogunjobi again worked in individual sessions but not in team. Johnson and Fitzpatrick walked and jogged together on the middle field throughout the practice.
– Arthur Maulet and Damontae Kazee first to hit the field at 1:30, a half-hour before the rain came.
– Danny Smith had extended separate conversations with Johnson and Killebrew early on in practice. Najee Harris hung around near Mike Tomlin and Matt Canada.
– Return line: Gunner Olszewski, Anthony Miller, Calvin Austin III, Tyler Snead, and Steven Sims.
– QBs again working on moving out of the pocket in some of their early warmup drills. They’re usually a sign of what you’ll see run later in the day during team. Here, they were pivoting and spinning out on boots to the left.
– Kendrick Green and Kevin Dotson again rotated as first-team LG but Green got first crack there today. So the Steelers really have it as an open competition or at least are acting like it.
First-team OL (initially): Moore-Green-Cole-Daniels-Okorafor
Second Team OL: Scott-Dotson-Hassenauer-Leglue-Haeg
– Minkah Fitzpatrick and Tyson Alualu remain on their designated injured lists. Fitzpatrick caught tennis balls on the side with both hands, including his injured right wrist, with a coach tossing them to him. Alualu did some walking along the side and did some walk-through planting on his injured left knee. Hopefully a sign of a slow but eventual return.
– Like yesterday, QBs and WRs working on jet runs. Some orbit motion with the player crossing the formation one side to the other and then pivot back and take the jet handoff towards the side they started on. So align left side, motion right, come back left to take the ball.
– Offensive line working on zone combination blocks. Two at a time with whichever going to the second level based on how the defense flows. New OL coach Pat Meyer also taking time to talk to the group early one, having the entire o-line circle around him while he went over a couple coaching points with hand placement and footwork. Looked like pass protection pointers.
– T.J. Watt is always working. Even during special teams sessions, Watt was on a separate field working on his pass rush moves with Alex Highsmith next to him. Watt is as active as anyone. Elite players is when great talent and great work ethic combine and Watt possesses both.
– Some special teams session notes. Should note rookie Connor Heyward was seeing time as a wing on the field goal kick team. Heyward doesn’t have ideal size for it and it’s more likely other guys like Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry, who are bigger and longer, would actually do that on gamedays.
– Yesterday, we talked about Tre Norwood working as first-team upback on the punt team. He still saw work there but I saw three lines of the punt protect unit. Here’s how they looked.
First Team: Robert Spillane-Derrek Tuszka-Christian Kuntz the linemen left to right. Marcus Allen the upback, Benny Snell the right wing. I don’t have notes on the other spots but that appeared to be the “starting” group with Allen the upman. So that’s an important update to what I wrote yesterday.
Second Team: Kevin Rader-Genard Avery-Christian Kuntz-Delontae Scott-Tuzar Skipper. Donovan Stiner at LW, Jeremy McNichols at RW, Tre Norwood as the upback.
Third Team: Buddy Johnson-Connor Heyward-Christian Kuntz-Jace Sternberger-Mark Robinson. Karl Joseph at LW, Mataeo Durant at RW. Jaylen Warren the upman.
– Some 7v7 notes.
– Benny Snell tried making a great toe-tapping catch along the right side but couldn’t do it.
– Mason Rudolph hit Gunner Olszewski on a pretty deep ball, throw and catch, down the left sideline. Olszewski showed some wheels to gain separation along the sideline.
– Poor Chris Oladokun. For the second straight day, he didn’t see any work in team drills and I know he didn’t get any in this 7v7 session. Don’t believe he did yesterday. I posted this clip earlier today of the QBs working in positional work and Oladokun doesn’t even have his helmet on. He knows he’s not going to need it much until/unless a QB in front is unavailable.
First Team Session
1. Seven shots returned after curiously being absent yesterday, the team focusing on a third down session to start instead. My view of things was semi-obstructed at points and I may update this post if Steelers.com provides additional information with their recap. They’re normally good about it. Mitch Trubisky the QB with Kendrick Green at LG and Arthur Maulet, who saw a lot of time today, the starting slot. Chase Claypool, George Pickens, and Cody White the receivers. Trubisky fires left side to Pickens. Believe it was caught but not 100% sure. (Update: team practice report says it was a TD)
2. Trubisky tries to throw short middle/left to TE Zach Gentry but the ball is jostled out of his hands and Devin Bush makes an opportunistic play to come away with the INT. Good team defense.
3. Trubisky playfake. Fires to WR Anthony Miller left side for what I believe is a catch and touchdown but I will need to double-check. (also confirmed a TD)
4. Little redemption for TE Zach Gentry and Trubisky hits him for the TD. SS Terrell Edmunds with the coverage. Quick low-five from RG James Daniels to Gentry as he walks back and out of the end zone.
5. Anthony McFarland checking in at RB, Mason Rudolph in at QB. Rudolph throw short middle/right is a poor read and Justin Layne steps in front. Did everything right but finish the play, letting an INT through his hands. Wet football with the rain but a play that needed to be made.
6. Rudolph looks to hit TE Kevin Rader on a stick route right side. Good close by Ulysees Gilbert III and Tre Norwood to break up the pass.
7. Derek Watt sidecar next to Rudolph. Quick slant to WR Tyler Vaughn for the score.
Second Team Session
1. Cody White, Chase Claypool, George Pickens the three WRs. Mitch Trubisky complete to Pickens left side with Cam Sutton covering.
2. Chris Wormley-Montravius Adams-Cam Heyward the three down linemen. Robert Spillane and Myles Jack the ILB pairing. Chase Claypool nice hands catch working against Ahkello Witherspoon.
3. Damontae Kazee and Terrell Edmunds the first-team safety pairing.
4. Trubisky rolls to his right. Pass is tipped at the line of scrimmage, not sure by who, maybe TJ Watt, on a pass intended for Benny Snell in the right flat. Incomplete.
5. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Anthony McFarland in at RB. Anthony Miller in the slot. Rudolph fires deep down the left sideline for rookie WR Calvin Austin but James Pierre pins him him to the sideline, finds the ball, and breaks it up as they both fall to the ground.
6. Rudolph hits Miller on a curl right side with Justin Layne covering.
7. Rudolph again complete, this time finding Steven Sims right sideline who drags a toe to stay inbounds and complete the catch.
8. 12 personnel. Rudolph for Miles Boykin complete left side on a relatively short throw. Jeremy McNichols the RB. Tight ends on the field were Connor Heyward and Jace Sternberger.
9. Third team OL in with Jordan Tucker at LT, Chaz Green at LG, and Nate Gilliam at center. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Wants Boykin left side but the pass is low and behind and picked by rookie UDFA Chris Steele.
10. Pickett boots and rolls to the right and tries to fire in the right flat but Delontae Scott sees, times his jumps, and bats the ball back. Incomplete.
11. Pickett complete on a slant to Tyler Vaughns. Donovan Stiner first man there who greets him with a thud in this non-full contact session. Hitting won’t happen until Monday.
Third Team Session
1. Couple plays to start I have missed in here in terms of full notes. Robert Spillane broke up a throw for Zach Gentry while Najee Harris dropped an attempted screen to the right side. Maybe the Steelers will run a successful RB screen by 2053.
First play I have noted here is a completion from Mason Rudolph to Jace Sternberger right side.
2. Rudolph tries to hit Gunner Olszewski on a deep corner/7 route right side but the pass is incomplete and out of bounds, though Olszewski laid out to try to make a diving catch to no avail.
3. Rudolph hits Miles Boykin on a curl route left side. James Pierre on top of him but Boykin was able to secure it, though Pierre attempted to argue the pass hit the ground.
4. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Looks to his left, cocks back but then opts against it and runs to his right. Eventually connects with Anthony McFarland who reaches back and dives/falls to make the catch for a couple yards. Good adjustment and grab by McFarland.
5. Pickett feels some pressure and rolls to his left to hit rookie Tyler Snead. Nice job by Pickett to move while keeping his eyes downfield. Snead gets a helpful block in front from Tyler Vaughn. Tyler’s working in tandem. Gotta stick together.
6. Pickett complete to Mataeo Durant over the middle. Stiner first one there.
7. Donovan Jeter and Khalil Davis the DTs. Pickett hires deep right side for Tyler Vaughns. Felt like the ball hung a bit and Vaughns had to slow up for it, allowing Chris Steele over to try and make a play. Steele may have also slightly mistimed it but his coverage was enough and the throw a little too far to the right for Vaughns to get his feet inbounds. Did like to see Pickett taking a shot but incomplete all the same.
Fourth Team Session
1. Run session. Watt and Highsmith the EDGE rushers. Chris Wormley and Cam Heyward the DTs. Kazee and Edmunds at safety. Ahkello Witherspoon and Cam Sutton the outside CBs, Arthur Maulet inside. Robert Spillane and Myles Jack at ILB. Najee Harris left side. Looks like someone poked the ball out at the end as the defense swarmed around him. Cam Sutton came away with the football and was very proud of that fact, holding tightly onto the football.
2. Mitch Trubisky playaction. Throws down the middle but Robert Spillane sees it, jumps it, and picks it off. Great read and finish by Spillane, who had a nice day today.
3. Derrek Tuszka and Genard Avery the EDGE rushers. DeMarvin Leal rotating in as a nickel rusher. Harris carry left side but sees nothing there and cuts it all the way back to the right.
4. Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace the outside corners with Karl Joseph in the slot. Kazee and Edmunds remain at safety. Benny Snell run right side. Good hole created by the o-line and Snell sprints through. Joseph first man to tag him.
5. Likely a would-be coverage sack with Rudolph looking left, right, and then back middle. Finally finds Anthony Miller over the middle. Myles Jack with the two-hand touch.
6. Leal and Henry Mondeaux the DTs. Rudolph boot right. Pulls the ball down initially before firing right side for Olszewski. Pass is a little over his head and Olszewski can’t squeeze it as he falls into the defense’s sideline and the pass is incomplete.
7. Pony backfield with Jeremy McNichols in the backfield and Anthony McFarland motioning across and takes the handoff on a jet run, something he did last summer too.
8. Rudolph playaction. Good coverage by the defense and Rudolph tries to fire it left side to TE Jace Sternberger. But Karl Joseph is all over it and the pass is to the left, out of bounds, and incomplete.
9. Mataeo Durant run right side. DL Doug Costin got free and got penetration into the backfield. Not much running room here.
10. Bokykin and Vaughn the two WRs with Sternberger and Rader the tight ends. Kenny Pickett fires downfield again, this time left side. There’s two receivers semi in the area but no one close enough to actually make a play on it. Ball falls harmlessly incomplete.
11. Jaylen Warren carry up the middle. Khalil Davis and Donovan Jeter try to tag him but Warren slides through as the two defenders collide into each other. Joseph comes downhill to tag him.
12. Kenny Pickett rolls left. There’s pressure but he hits Warren underneath.
– Again, just two days, team not in pads. But I’d have to say the QB that’s played the best is Mason Rudolph, followed by Mitch Trubisky, followed by Kenny Pickett. Today is a practice Pickett would probably like to forget. Just struggled with accuracy, being able to drive the ball, and threw a pick. The other QBs haven’t been perfect either, they all should’ve been picked today (Pickett was, Trubisky was twice, and Rudolph should’ve been) but I’d rank them solely off the first two days as Rudolph, Trubisky, and Pickett.
– Steelers’ defense has been really active. Four INTs over their first two days, including three today (Steele, Bush, Spillane). Offense is going through growing pains, I know, but the defense can’t hit and it’s nice to see them make so many plays on the football, deflections, extended coverage, and picks. They’ve been strong.
– Will the Steelers use more Pony with two running backs at the same time? First little taste of it today with McFarland. At some point, if they’re going to run it in camp, they need to show it in game, preseason and regular season. Or it’s a waste of valuable reps.
– George Pickens isn’t being eased in as a young rookie. Tons of first team reps and opportunities early. They’re seeing what he can do early on and the impact he can make. Not a lot of plays but he’s flashing traits two days in.
– Some of the undrafted corners showing up a bit the last two days: Carlins Platel and Chris Steele. Some youthful names to watch in the back end. And veteran Karl Joseph continues to show up in my notes. Hopefully the rain holds off tomorrow and I can report more.
– Elsewhere, Justin Layne and James Pierre have stepped up the first two days. Two guys who realize they may be fighting each other for one spot. Bringing best out in each, perhaps. That’s what makes camp great and important.
St. Vincent Snapshot
At the Steelers’ shop today. I’m not sure what exactly it is, just some poster board, but a photo and caption of one of my all-time favorite Steelers, Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb. Had to snap a shot. The caption refers to his untimely death of a reported, though disputed, heroin overdose.
Twitter Camp Question Of The Day
It’s something Oladokun could do but that’s not the whole reason why you spent a draft pick on a player. You could sign a QB that week, something Pittsburgh has done, to mimic that. That’s a narrow view of it. So I would not call that the entire point.
Random Steelers’ Facts
The Steelers played their first ever home game on a Wednesday. They only played one Sunday game in 1933 due to PA Blue Laws remaining on the books until that November’s elections.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
“If you’ll scratch a cynic, you’ll find a disappointed idealist.”