Another morning practice at Saint Vincent College Wednesday, a 10:30 start time due to weather, though the forecast was clear all morning and it’s not raining in Latrobe right now. So not sure what drove the team to make that decision. Anyway, let’s talk about what happened on Day #11.
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Camp Notes (Day 11)
– No pads today as the team worked in shorts and shells. So a lower intensity practice and no tackling. At least, none intended by the coaches.
– Injury Report: Not practicing today include: WR Chase Claypool (undisclosed), FB Derek Watt (shoulder), EDGE Alex Highsmith (ribs), EDGE Genard Avery (groin), OG Kevin Dotson (right ankle), NT Montravius Adams (ankle), WR Diontae Johnson (hip), TE Zach Gentry (undisclosed), LB Ulysees Gilbert III (right foot), RB Mataeo Durant (undisclosed), and LB Marcus Allen (hamstring).
Didn’t see Claypool nor Gentry on the field today. Dotson made his way down a little bit into the session and walked around fine with nothing on that injured right foot/ankle. That’s a good sign. Gilbert remains in a boot. Durant worked a little bit on the side with a trainer during one of the special team’s sessions and hung around assistant S&C coach Marcel Pastoor at the end of practice. Marcus Allen did some jogging and walking around the middle field, the first signs of a return from a leg injury like his. He’s still days away but it’s some progress. Allen also served as team DJ during stretch line so he’s keeping busy.
RB Najee Harris was limited but worked in positional drills. He looked explosive and was cutting and seems pretty much healthy though the Steelers are smartly being cautious. NT Tyson Alualu remains limited.
– DeMarvin Leal and Minkah Fitzpatrick got their right wrists wrapped before the start of practice.
– A lonely start to the day for TE Pat Freiermuth. During an early special teams session, with Gentry out, Freiermuth was all by himself standing next to Alfredo Roberts. The other TEs – Kevin Rader, Connor Heyward, and Jace Sternberger – were all working in the special teams session.
– Some coaches chatting during stretch line. OC Matt Canada and OL Pat Meyer. On the middle field away from everyone, waiting for the defense to make their way over, DC Teryl Austin and assistant OLB Coach Denzel Martin were having a discussion.
– Steelers start most of their install session working on WR jet runs. That included today.
– Mike Tomlin hanging around the tight ends as they went through receiving drills, a W drill and finishing with a catch. Tomlin with a quick callout to Connor Heyward, “Drop your weight, Connor” as he began to walk away to a different group.
– Some of Frisman Jackson’s coaching points heard during the day. “Eyes to the sky” on tracking fades. “Strong hands, soft hands,” as they went through the chutes and finished with a catch. A quick overview of the day. Go through the chutes catching rugby balls then they do half-speed routes on back shoulder throws, gos/fades, catching passes thrown high well over the receiver’s head and then low passes down at their knees to work on passes outside their frame. Then they walked over to the quarterbacks and ran routes on air. That’s a quick look into how the receivers go through their individual portion of practice.
– Miles Boykin, James Pierre, Linden Stephens, and Tyler Snead getting work as gunners during special teams work. During punt sessions, Tre Norwood worked as first-team upback with Karl Joseph and Benny Snell the starting wings. Jaylen Warren second-team upback with Donovan Stiner and Javon McKinley the second-string wings.
– Quick 7v7 notes. Connor Heyward nice catch down the middle during the session. Jace Sternberger had a drop on a crosser working on Robert Spillane. Tyler Snead burned Chris Steele down the right sideline and caught a pretty ball thrown by Kenny Pickett, who got a fist bump from coaches after the play. Pickett and Snead found each other again on a slant on the final 7v7 rep.
– Some punting hangtime and yardage notes. Pin-deep punts so I didn’t track yardage but both avoided touchbacks. Cameron Nizialek had a 4.32 hangtime, Pressley Harvin a 4.47 hangtime.
Here are the open air punts and yards.
Pressley Harvin III: 4.60 (N/A yardage), 4.83 (49 yards), 3.69 (44 yards), 4.62 (54 yards), 4.84 (54 yards), 4.70 (59 yards), 4.68 (62 yards).
Cameron Nizialek: 4.66 (53 yards), 4.53 (51 yards), 4.49 (44 yards – out of bounds), 4.61 (43 yards), 4.66 (43 yards).
Should note PR Tyler Vaughns muffed a punt on air with no rush on one attempt.
– Alright, let’s talk seven shots.
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick/Terrell Edmunds the safety pairing. T.J. Watt and Derrek Tuszka at OLB. Kendrick Green in at LG, Mitch Trubisky at QB, and Benny Snell at RB. Devin Bush and Myles Jack the ILBs, Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormley the DTs. Ahkello Witherspoon LCB, Cam Sutton RCB, Arthur Maulet in the slot.
Trubisky drops back. Nothing available to he floats and rolls to his right. Throw to Anthony Miller clips off his hand and out of bounds but Miller really didn’t have a chance to make the grab. Good coverage by Ahekllo Witherspoon. As Trubisky was starting to run to his right, someone called out, maybe Cam Heyward, “it’s not there,” recognizing how well defended this play was. Pass is incomplete and defense gets on the board first.
2. Trubisky a little hesitant and fires left side. Karl Joseph jumps up underneath and nearly picks it off but the pass is incomplete. Devin Bush is excited and leaps up and grabs the crossbar, hanging for a moment, before letting it go as the goal posts sway.
3. Throw for Connor Heyward over the middle is nearly picked off by Robert Spillane, the pass skimming through his hands and out of the back of the end zone. Spillane’s hands haven’t been the best this summer but he’s making plays on the football.
4. Trubisky still in at QB. Jaylen Warren in at RB. Rookie Calvin Austin II in the slot. Trubisky looks for Austin on a corner route to the right side but the pass is out in front and incomplete with Arthur Maulet providing the coverage. Trubisky and the offense with him goes 0-4.
5. Mason Rudolph in at QB. James Pierre at LCB. Throw left side and Miles Boykin makes a nice one-handed snag against Levi Wallace for the TD. Really good grab.
6. Master Teague in at RB. Slant/flat combination left side and Cody White comes under on the slant for the TE inside the goal line.
7. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Donovan Jeter and Khalil Davis the DTs. James Pierre, Levi Wallace the outside corners with Karl Joseph in the slot. Pickett’s throw for TE Jace Sternberger is incomplete.
Defense wins seven shots, 5-2, with Mason Rudolph the only QB to throw touchdowns here.
– WR vs DB 1v1 notes with some RBs/LBs mixed in throughout this drill.
WR/DB + RB/LB 1v1s
1. Good rep from Ahkello Witherspoon, squaring off against George Pickens. Pickens with a slower release off the line but with active feet trying to get Witherspoon to bite. But Witherspoon remains patient and breaks on the route as Pickens runs his slant. Knocks the ball away from the incompletion.
2. Quick in-cut by Connor Heyward who makes a nice hand catch, plucking the ball outside his frame working on Robert Spillane.
3. Anthony Miller fakes a corner route and breaks down to make the catch on a deep curl against James Pierre, who was tugging on Miller a bit vertically and couldn’t break down with him.
4. Some contact with Anthony McFarland leaning into Robert Spillane at the break point before bursting on an out route and making a good catch.
5. Calvin Austin double-move against Chris Steele and runs down the right sideline. Has a step on fellow rookie Chris Steele. Ball thrown over his right shoulder and Austin has to fade a bit to his right and flip his head that way to find it. Can’t quite track it and it falls through his hands incomplete.
6. Jace Sternberger on a corner route against Donovan Stiner, who has good but not airtight coverage. Throw out in front and incomplete, Stiner’s coverage forcing that pass a bit out in front based on his leverage underneath.
7. McFarland push off to make the catch against Spillane.
8. Steven Sims creates a ton of space on this 10-yard dig against Justin Layne who gives up a ton of separation. But the throw is low and Sims can’t make the catch, though it was catchable. Chris Oladokun on the throw. First time we’ve mentioned his name, though he’s worked in these 1v1 sessions every day, and here we’re talking about him for the wrong reasons. These are the extent of Oladokun’s “reps.” Throws in 1v1 competition period.
9. Nice sliding catch on a corner route by Connor Heyward working against Stiner.
10. Miles Boykin breaks down on a deep curl against Chris Steele and makes the grab.
11. Mike Tomlin specifically calls for a Pickens/Witherspoon matchup. “25/14, right here!” And so they line up. Pickens runs a go route down the right sideline. A bit of contact perhaps but Pickens, seemingly glided and not breaking a sweat, keeps a step on Witherspoon and plucks the ball off his left shoulder, reaching back just slightly, and making the grab. Really good rep.
12. Spillane a half-step behind but carries McFarland vertically. Pass is a little too far inside and incomplete, McFarland falling for it but not coming up with the catch.
13. Miller on a corner route left sideline, Cam Sutton covering. Pass off the mark and incomplete out of bounds.
14. Minkah Fitzpatrick with blanket coverage on Jace Sterneberger, breaking up a contested throw at the catch point.
15. Good coverage by Chris Steele to defend this in-cut by Calvin Austin. Ball off Austin’s hand and incomplete.
16. They go again and Austin makes the catch on the same dig route.
16. One more time between Austin and Steele. Tomlin wants it even though the drill is supposed to be over. Austin runs a straight go-route and flashes his elite speed, gaining two steps on Steele, but the pass – somehow – is overthrown and incomplete. Maybe Austin looked back a little early and slowed down. No catch but Austin won the route and the tiebreaker.
Second Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 35. Kendrick Green at LG. Larry Ogunjobi and Cam Heyward at DT, Myles Jack and Devin Bush at ILB. Ahkello Witherspoon and Cam Sutton on the outside at CB and Arthur Maulet in the slot. Trubisky in at QB. McFarland run left side. Calling it a loss of two with Derrek Tuszka flying by Kendrick Green, who might’ve been pulling here, I’m not sure. No tackling here.
2. Wormley-Mondeaux-Heyward the base defense as Ogunjobi comes off the field. 12 personnel. Handoff to Benny Snell who looks hesitant and nearly stops but gets vertical and gains two. Kind of a weird moment here.
3. Trubisky under center. Anthony McFarland run on a split zone run, Pat Freiermuth coming across right to left. Spillane makes the tag after a gain of three.
4. DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk the DTs, James Pierre and Levi Wallace the CBs, Damontae Kazee and Miles Killebrew the safeties. Killebrew working in team for the first time since Day One. Mason Rudolph in at QB.
Second-team OL of: Trent Scott-J.C. Hassenauer-Nate Gillian-John Leglue-Joe Haeg. Jaylen Warren carry for three, Loudermilk coming off a block and tagging him.
5. Jet run to Steven Sims. Nice contain by Levi Wallace to turn it back inside while Delontae Scott comes from behind to tag Sims at the line for no gain.
6. Pierre and Wallace on the outside with Joseph in the slot. Jet run right side out of shotgun to Gunner Olszewski with a fake shovel to Connor Heyward. Pierre good contain and the run goes for just a couple, call it 3-4.
7. Now it’s Damontae Kazee and Tre Norwood at safety. Rudolph under center. Warren left side with a crease. Karl Joseph fills the alley for a gain of three.
8. Justin Layne and Chris Steele the CBs. Buddy Johnson and Mark Robinson the ILBs. Carlins Platel in the slot. Twins Khalil and Carlos Davis the DTs. Delontae Scott and Ron’Dell Carter the EDGE rushers. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Master Teague run right side for one. Scott sheds and puts hands on him.
9. Teague run left side for three. Carlins Platel and others help combine for the stop.
10. Jake Dixon in at LT with John Leglue at center. 12 personnel. Teague over left guard for four. Buddy Johnson coming free and making the tag.
11. Donovan Jeter and Doug Costin the DTs with Linden Stephens at LCB, Chris Steele at RCB, and Carlins Platel at NCB. Pickett fakes the dive and tosses right to Teague right side. Good CB run support this session, easier when they don’t have to tackle, and we’ll call it a good three with Stephens containing this run well.
Third Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 17. Trubisky complete to Gunner Olszewski on a crosser against Maulet. Gain of eight.
2. Myles Jack and Robert Spillane the ILBs. T.J. Watt LDE with his hand down and Derrek Tuszka at ROLB. Spillane free on a blitz. Deep ball down the right sideline for Anthony Miller, Ahkello Witherspoon covering. A tad underthrown and Miller has so start to slow for it. Witherspoon helps force the incompletion with Miller trying but failing to make the catch on the way down.
3. Pony Set with Anthony McFarland and Benny Snell. Henry Mondeaux and Isaiahh Loudermilk the DTs. Trubisky cocks back to throw but the ball slips out of his hand for a fumble. Don’t see that often in camp. Drizzled a bit during the STs session before so maybe that factored in to the fumble. But not Trubisky’s best moment.
4. Bit of a bounce back here with Trubisky off playaction hitting George Pickens over the middle on a 10-yard dig for a gain of 11 against Ahkello Witherspoon.
5. Mitch Trubisky in at QB. Tuzar Skipper and Delontae Scott at OLB. Rudolph dump off right side to McFarland for three.
6. DeMarvin Leal and Carlos Davis the DT. Rudolph bubble screen left side, I think intended for Cody White but I’ m not sure, and Scott from his ROLB spot bats the ball up into the air and back. Nearly picked but it falls incomplete. Another batted pass by Scott.
7. Rudolph complete to TE Kevin Rader for a gain of six. Levi Wallace on the tag with Rader throwing a shoulder into the much smaller Damontae Kazee at the end of this play.
8. Pickett rolls left with Skipper giving chase. Good throw on the run complete to Miles Boykin for a gain of 15 along the sideline.
9. Donovan Stiner and Karl Joseph the safety pairing. Mark Robinson blitzing off the edge from his ROLB spot though he tipped it early. Rudolph throw over the middle for McFarland is low and Platel dives and helps break it up.
10. Jeter-Costin-Khalil Davis the defensive line front. Justin Layne and Chris Steele the CBs. Rudolph still at QB. Half rolls to the right and throw complete to Cody White for three, Layne on the tag.
11. Kenny Pickett hits Jaylon McKinley on a quick out for a gain of four. Layne busy here and makes the tag.
12. Jeter and Costin the DTs. Pickett nice backshoulder throw to McKinley down the left sideline, making a twisting catch for a gain of 28 working on Steele. Good throw and catch.
Fourth Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 34. Trubisky hits Olszewski who sits down against zone for a gain of five. “That’s it, Gunner!” someone calls out.
2. Cam Sutton playing a FS spot opposite Terrell Edmunds. I think Minkah Fitzpatrick was in the game but lurking underneath. Witherspoon and Wallace the CBs on the outside. Nice job by Wallace to sink in his flat/underneath zone to tip this corner route/smash concept for Calvin Austin down the left sideline. Incomplete.
3. Deep throw down the middle from Trubisky for Olszewski, who was running free downfield. Minkah Fitzpatrick closes hard and the pass skims through Olszewski’s hands as Fitzpatrick jolts him and helps force the incompletion.
4. Benny Snell in at RB. Trubisky’s throw incomplete to Snell in the left flat. T.J. Watt ripped through Chukwuma Okorafor for a would-be sack. Okorafor may have jammed his finger and came off the field hurting a bit, though he’d finish out the day.
Simulating an actual series, a punt after this play, which is fitting given the Steelers’ 0-3 on their last three passes. Harvin’s hangtime was 4.86 seconds.
5. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Empty set. McFarland slot left. Anthony Miller wide open right side. Pass is slightly behind but not by much and very catchable. But Miller drops it.
6. Pickett’s throw for Sims is incomplete. Good pass pro by Jaylen Warren who sealed Robert Spillane upfield on his ILB blitz, Spillane going to the ground and laying on his back a second before getting up.
7. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Tre Norwood and Damontae Kazee at safety. DeMarvin Leal with pressure. Rudolph’s throw over the short middle to Tyler Snead is incomplete, though Karl Joseph was hanging onto him pretty good.
8. Rudolph fires on a ten-yard dig to Pat Freiermuth but Norwood makes a nice play on the ball and breaks it up. Another incompletion, the seventh in a row.
Another punt. Mike Tomlin realizes the skeleton punt unit is missing a player and Benny Snell gets on the field. Cameron Nizialek’s punt is 4.59 seconds of hangtime.
9. Mason Rudolph still in at QB. Tons of pressure, looked like a screen pass but wasn’t and Rudolph’s throw to Cody White right side is incomplete.
10. A completion after eight failed attempts. Rudolph hits White on a short crosser for five working against Maulet. White in the slot with Boykin as the X receiver this play.
11. Pickett sprint right. Throw is off line for Sims and he claps his hands in some frustration.
12. Carlins Platel and Justin Layne on the outside with Arthur Maulet in the slot. Skipper and Carter the OLBs. Stiner and Joseph the safety pairing. Pickett complete to Heyward for a gain of four working on Mark Robinson.
Fifth Team Session
1. Two-minute drill. Ball on the offense’s 40. Mike Tomlin gives them one timeout. The offenses wouldn’t need it. Mason Rudolph kicking things off. Calvin Austin makes a falling catch right side for seven.
2. Quick checkdown for Anthony McFarland as the offense picks up a first down. Gain of six.
3. Rudolph fires deep down the left sideline with a great throw and catch to George Pickens tracking the ball over his shoulder, beating RCB Levi Wallace to the ten for a gain of 37. Great throw and catch and Pickens gets out of bounds.
4. Rudolph fires a fade for Pickens left corner. Wallace has good coverage but Pickens makes a fantastic, one-handed catch, reaching out with his right hand and pulling the ball in before falling down on his back for the score. Pickens was hyped.
1. Now Kenny Pickett comes in. Short throw left flat to a wide open Jaylen Warren, defense blew a coverage, and Warren tears down the left sideline to the 20 before being shoved out of bounds by Donovan Stiner. A 40-yard gain.
2. Pickett hits Steven Sims on a post right side working to the middle, beating Linden Stephens for a 20-yard TD. Two plays, two completions, one touchdown. Rest of the offense runs down into the end zone to huddle and celebrate their strong end of the day.
– In terms of offense vs defense, a pretty back-and-forth day. Defense dominated seven shots and select team sessions but offense rolled them in two-minute.
– After a strong day yesterday, Mitch Trubisky struggled today. I’d say he was the worst QB of the three. That’s the ebb and flow of camp. Kenny Pickett’s accuracy on the move was impressive today. And Mason Rudolph throws the best deep ball of any of these guys.
– George Pickens has all the traits and tools in the world. He’s got work to do but he’s so much fun to watch and he’s going to be a problem early on for defense’s.
– TE Jace Sternberger’s hands aren’t consistent enough. Drops too many. He’s a decent athlete but probably not a great blocker and lets too many throws into his chest. Not seeing enough there with him.
– Like I wrote above, at one point, the Steelers’ defense forced eight straight incompletions. Which might be a camp record though no, I’m not going to look it up.
– Less commentary about their play but similar to how Jaylen Warren and Master Teague are getting tons of reps at RB, Buddy Johnson and Mark Robinson are getting a ton of reps at ILB. Johnson’s been in my notes more the last three days than probably all of last camp.
– Exchanges were cleaner today than yesterday which is good news with Saturday’s game nearing.
– Good numbers overall for Pressley Harvin III in his punting sessions and work.
– Up and down day for Levi Wallace. Some wins, some losses. Wallace did work first team in the two-minute drill but Witherspoon more consistently ran first team and I saw less rotation there than I did earlier in camp. I think Witherspoon and Sutton will be the starting CBs in base defense Week One.
– Little less in the notes today with the team in shells.
Saint Vincent Snapshot
The big Steelers’ inflatable dude always makes me laugh because it looks like he’s flipping the bird to everyone walking in.
Twitter Camp Question
I just like the battle. I know I didn’t tweet it but you’ll see in the report that Witherspoon broke up a Pickens’ slant on the first rep. Often, when Tomlin is calling out two guys, it’s because they’ve been battling and winning their fair share. And he wants a rematch or a tiebreaker. It’s camp. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. No one bats 1.000. I do like learning more about the new guys though so it’s generally more interesting.
Random Steelers’ Fact
Since targets became an officially tracked stat, the Steeler with the highest catch percentage (minimum 100 targets) is RB Jaylen Samuels at 82%. Highest minimum 200 targets is RB Le’Veon Bell at 78.6%. Highest minimum 500 targets is TE Heath Miller at 71.8%.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
“People are wonderful. I love individuals. I hate groups of people.”