One final Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp practice until the team’s Saturday night preseason opener against Seattle. The Steelers got back on schedule and practiced and their normally scheduled 1:55 time in front of a strong crowd of fans. Let’s talk about what went down.
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Camp Notes (Day 12)
– Injury Roundup: Not practicing for the Steelers today includes: RB Benny Snell (left knee), FB Derek Watt (shoulder), WR Chase Claypool (undisclosed, potentially shoulder), LB Marcus Allen (hamstring), EDGE Alex Highsmith (ribs), EDGE Genard Avery (groin), NT Montravius Adams (ankle), OG Kevin Dotson (ankle), and TE Zach Gentry (undisclosed). RB Najee Harris continues to be limited to just individual sessions while Mataeo Durant dressed but did not work in team. WR Diontae Johnson (hip) wore black sweats all practice but was essentially a full participant, though his 11v11 workload may have been slightly reduced compared to his norm. He had just one snap in seven shots, for example. NT Tyson Alualu worked in team during seven shots but none of the other periods. Coming off that ankle injury, I haven’t seen Adams on the field the last two days. Has me a little worried.
Allen, Watt, and Avery are slowly making their way back, walking around the middle field during the early stages of practice. I think Allen could come back right at the end of camp but don’t expect him to play Saturday. It’s likely all three of those guys and others like Dotson and Highsmith don’t play. Gentry caught passes with Marcel Pastoor on the side while Durant did some jogging later on in practice.
WR Javon McKinley suffered a shoulder injury making a catch yesterday and was waived/injured. The team signed WR Christian Blake to replace him, also wearing #21 and a pretty big guy like McKinley was. Blake made his way onto the field as the Steelers were stretching. Mike Tomlin found him, called WRs Coach Frisman Jackson over to say hello and then Blake found Diontae Johnson for a quick bro-hug. Two Florida boys who played college ball in the MAC, Johnson at Toledo, Blake at Northern Illinois, so I’m sure they were at least familiar with each other.
– Newly signed EDGE rusher Hamilcar Rashed Jr. was a full participant today. He will wear #46, T.D. Moultry’s old number.
– In a signal all is right with the world, Karl Joseph was the first man down the stairs and onto the field at 1:23. To given context of how early that is, the next player – WR Tyler Vaughns – didn’t come down until 1:30 for a 1:55 practice.
– During one special teams session, OT Joe Haeg and TE Kevin Rader worked as the left and right wings on the field goal team. During a separate kick return session, Gunner Olszewski, Anthony McFarland, Steven Sims, Calvin Austin III, and Tyler Vaughns rotated as return men.
– During their positional work, tight ends were working with the offensive tackles on run blocks/combo blocks.
– Let’s talk seven shots.
First Team Session
1. Seven shots on the other end of the near field today and the OLBs like T.J. Watt had to call the group over to the right side. Chris Wormley and Cam Heyward the DTs, Watt and Derrek Tuszka the OLBs with Devin Bush and Myles Jack at ILB. Mitch Trubisky in at QB, Kendrick Green LG. Diontae Johnson, George Pickens the outside receivers with Calvin Austin in the slot. Pickens picks up where he left off yesterday, grabbing this fade closer to the front corner of the end zone off Cam Sutton for the TD.
2. Trubisky under center. Toss left to Anthony McFarland who jukes and cuts his way into the end zone inside the front left pylon. TD.
3. Bubble screen from Trubisky to Anthony Miller who makes the catch and gets upfield. He took a vicious hit from a pair of defenders, not sure who, but crossed the goal line as he lost his helmet. All ends in a TD.
4. Steven Sims in the slot. Some controversy here. Fade right side to Pickens this time who seems to make the catch over Ahkello Witherspoon and Pickens celebrates with an end zone dance. But the defense argues its case and it appears after a couple of moments, Tomlin ruled it incomplete. So I’m putting it down as incomplete for now. Seven shots sure has been controversial this year. (Update: Steelers.com says Pickens made the catch so I don’t know, I’ll give the offense the win here).
5. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Levi Wallace in at RCB with Buddy Johnson and Mark Robinson the ILB pairing. Either a jet or quick toss to Gunner Olszewski who crosses the goal line as Delontae Scott brings him down by the ankles. Touchdown.
6. Jaylen Warren in at RB. Pickett with a naked boot to the right. Throw right side, perhaps to Miles Boykin but I’m not certain, is tipped by the defense twice, including once by James Pierre, and nearly picked before the ball hits the ground. Incomplete.
7. Mason Rudolph now in at QB. J.C. Hassenauer in at center, Chaz Green at left guard. Rudolph under center. Throw over the middle is well-defended by James Pierre for WR Cody White. Incomplete.
Offense wins seven shots, 5-2.
– Different 1v1 drill during the competition period today. Done once each year, a 1v1 tackling drill. Players align about ten yards apart, the runner gets the ball, spins around, and tries to elude the tackle along the sideline. Defender has to try to use his leverage to make the stop. It was a really intense and fun session with Mike Tomlin watching the whole thing.
1v1 Tackling Drill
1. Jaylen Warren runs over Cam Sutton but Sutton is able to knock Warren out of bounds too, a win for the defense Mike Tomlin is quick to point out.
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick wraps up Anthony Miller and knocks the ball out, recovering it, a rare occasion in a drill like this.
3. Big collision between Tre Norwood and Master Teague but Norwood knocks Teague out of bounds. Like the “want-to” from the smaller Norwood here.
4. George Pickens with a sly sidestep and hurl over Justin Layne’s low cut-down attempt.
5. Arthur Maulet with a balanced, form tackle on Steven Sims and he quickly takes him down. Maulet is pumped and army crawls out of bounds.
6. Miles Boykin jukes past Carlins Platel.
7. Calvin Austin quick cut inside to jet past Linden Stephens, who looks tight-hipped, a theme of his camp.
8. Levi Wallace stands up new WR Christian Blake as Blake tries to keep churning forward. Wallace with a good finish to knock the ball out of Blake’s hands. “Good ball search,” Tomlin calls out.
9. “Hold onto that ball,” Tomlin calls out to Tyler Snead, whose next in line. He does and breaks Platel’s tackle attempt, which was too high.
10. “Come on, White Chocolate,” Najee Harris calls out to Gunner Olszewski. But Fitzpatrick breaks down and mirrors him for the tackle and stop.
11. They go again and Fitzpatrick wins the rep again. Couldn’t have done it any better than Fitzpatrick did in this drill.
12. Nice wrap and roll tackle by James Pierre to take down Cody White.
13. Connor Heyward and Damontae Kazee with a big collision, Heyward driving a hard shoulder into Kazee but Kazee is able to bring him down as Heyward lands on top. From his back, Kazee flips himself up with a kip up (which I’ll provide an example of via this extremely 2009-based video) which gets some oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
14. Master Teague with the offense’s best rep, absolutely truck-sticking CB Chris Steele. Najee Harris is hyped and chases Teague down to celebrate as Arthur Maulet, in good spirits, pulls Harris away.
15. They go again and Teague hurdles over Steele to win again.
16. Tyler Vaughns plants and cuts inside of Stephens.
17. Blake gets past safety Donovan Stiner.
18. Jaylen Warren flashes a burst of speed and beats Justin Layne to the corner.
19. Platel with good roll tackle on Calvin Austin.
20. Anthony McFarland stiff-arms Cam Sutton and nearly gets away. But Sutton parachutes himself to the back of McFarland’s black undershirt, holding on for dear life to slow McFarland down. As McFarland slows, Sutton lunges out with an arm to cut down one of McFarland’s legs, tripping him up to finish the rep. McFarland with a good run but I loved the effort and recovery here from Sutton.
21. Pierre makes the tackle on George Pickens.
22. They go again and Pickens hurdles Pierre though does land out of bounds.
23. Karl Joseph uses the sideline to his advantage and forces Tyler Snead out of bounds.
24. Boykin sidesteps Stephens. Not a good drill for Stephens here.
25. Matchup worth watching. Master Teague vs Mark Robinson. Hard collision at full speed between the two but Teague finishes stronger and runs through Robinson. Najee Harris is hyped again.
26. They go again. Robinson gets revenge and makes the stop on Teague. Robinson and the rest of the defense is hyped for their quick revenge.
27. You know they gotta go one more time to settle the score. Each side is going crazy. Teague tries to spin inside on Robinson but Robinson gets enough of him and Teague’s right knee hits the ground, though he’s able to keep his feet and run upfield. Najee Harris bursts out from the group and argues Teague’s knee was up while the defense is pounding the ground saying Teague was down. Robinson lost the first battle but won the war, 2-1. This was a really fun drill.
Second Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 36. Wormley-Mondeaux-Heyward the DL. Ahkello Witherspoon and Cam Sutton the CBs. Mitch Trubisky under center. Jaylen Warren with the carry. Derrek Tuszka and T.J. Watt make the tackle after a gain of three.
2. Trubisky out of shotgun. Anthony McFarland run right side. Tries to cut back to the right but Devin Bush makes the tackle after a gain of three or four.
3. Devin Bush and Robert Spillane the ILBs. Good lane created and Jaylen Warren bursts through the other side on this end zone run. Gain of 13.
4. Pat Freiermuth in as the Y tight end. Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick the safeties. Steven Sims and Calvin Austin on the outside with Gunner Olszewski in the slot, the Steelers’ “small” lineup. McFarland right side for five yards with a good-effort block by Austin. Bush and Fitzpatrick combine to make the tackle.
5. Karl Joseph and Damontae Kazee the safety pairing. James Pierre and Levi Wallace the CBs with DeMarvin Leal, Henry Mondeaux (NT), and Isaiahh Loudermilk along the defensive line. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Connor Heyward false starts and is pulled out of the drill, Freiermuth coming in to replace him. Good push up the middle and Warren gains four. “Good run Jaylen,” Tomlin says at the end.
6. Miles Boykin and Cody White on the outside with Tyler Snead aligned in the slot. McFarland run left side but Tre Norwood flies in and trips him up for a three-yard loss.
7. Norwood and Joseph the safety pairing. Warren finds a crease up the middle for seven before Joseph comes flying in to leave his feet and send Warren sprawling down.
8. Tomlin shouts out for the personnel sub. “Get Master Teague in the game.” Mason Rudolph in at QB. Teague for a gain of two before Norwood and others pulls him down.
9. Donovan Stiner and Karl Joseph the safety pairing. Mark Robinson and Buddy Johnson the ILBs. Linden Stephens and Justin Layne on the outside with Carlins Platel in the slot. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Teague run for four this time before Mark Robinson takes him down. Delontae Scott pretty pumped for Robinson after the play.
10. Stiner and Norwood the safety pairing. A lot of rotating here. Stephens contains this Teague run well and Delontae Scott stands him up after a gain of three.
11. Jordan Tucker in at RT, Jake Dixon at LT. Pickett under center, 11 personnel. Teague again carry right side. No Durant in team so it’s the Warren/Teague show. He gets three here with Stephens helping in on the stop.
12. Steele and Layne the outside corners with Platel in the slot. Mike Tomlin calls out to the offense, wanting them to gain at least four yards. They do a lot better than that. Teague gets the handoff from Pickett and follows a pulling Chris Owens right to left up the middle for 15 yards before Donovan Stiner plops him down in this live-tackle session.
Third Team Session
1. Green in at LG. Spillane/Bush the ILBs. Trubisky in at QB. Diontae Johnson at WR. Wormley/Heyward the DTs. “Stay on your feet,” Tomlin calls out for this non-tackling session. Anthony McFarland split out slot right. Trubisky wanted a quick throw in the right flat but T.J. Watt is right there and leaps up. Trubisky wisely thinks better of it and comes back from the right to the middle and hits Pat Freiermuth, the ball sticking in his chest for a gain of three.
2. Ball on the offense’s 36. T.J. Watt LDE. Completion again to Freiermuth over the middle working on Robert Spillane for a gain of roughly 10.
3. Trubisky wants Pickens right side but he gets his head around late and the pass is out in front and incomplete.
4. Trubisky hits the other rookie receiver, finding Calvin Austin along the left sideline for a gain of 13. Cam Sutton nickel blitz with RB Anthony McFarland late to see it and trying to reach out to push Sutton upfield. Probably wouldn’t have worked in a real game.
5. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Tre Norwood and Damontae Kazee the safeties with Karl Joseph in the slot. James Pierre and Levi Wallace the CBs. Throw over the middle for Heyward is incomplete with Norwood covering, Mike Tomlin calling out to Heyward and wanting to see him make a combat catch.
6. Rudolph empty set. Boots to the right. Pass is incomplete on a corner route, thrown into double-coverage with Maulet and Joseph covering.
7. Kenny Pickett in the game. Screen left caught by Jaylen Warren for three.
8. Pickett fires down the right sideline and Miles Boykin makes a contested grab against Justin Layne for a gain of 24.
9. Mason Rudolph back in. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. in at LOLB. Maulet working in the slot. Rudolph boots right and looks for Steven Sims but the pass is out in front and incomplete.
10. Rookie Jordan Tucker in at RT. Teague in the backfield with Platel and Steele the outside corners. Rudolph complete left side to Tyler Vaughns against Steele. Gain of six.
11. Pickett back in. Sims in the slot, Stiner and Joseph the safety pairing. Pickett finds Sims over the middle for a gain of nine.
12. Newly signed Christian Blake thrown into team. Chris Owens in at RG. Pickett with a nice off-platform throw with some pressure in his face but hits Tyler Snead for a gain of 15 along the right side. Ron’Dell Carter got free for a would-be sack.
Fourth Team Session
1. Trubisky in at QB, Johnson the X receiver. Minkah Fitzpatrick rotates down into the box and mans up Pat Freiermuth on the snap. Trubisky looks left side and fires but Cam Heyward gets a hand up and bats the pass down.
2. Devin Bush the lone linebacker in the Steelers’ dime defense. Tre Norwood the sixth DB. Fitzpatrick over slot with Cam Sutton at FS. Ahkello Witherspoon at LCB, Levi Wallace at RCB with Terrell Edmunds at SS. Trubisky wants to hit Pickens on a deep dig route but Witherspoon is trailing underneath and jumps the route. Should’ve picked off the pass but it clangs off his hands. A frustrated Witherspoon runs 50 yards into the end zone.
3. Warren carry but T.J. Watt blows up this run, getting past Chukwuma Okorafor for a loss of three.
4. Rotating the dime linebacker with Robert Spillane occupying that role. Sutton now slot with Fitzpatrick in his normal FS spot. Late secondary rotation and I think someone blew a coverage. Steven Sims is running wide open down the right sideline and Trubisky hits him. Sims eludes the LCB and races downfield before Cam Sutton grabs him at the 15. Call it a gain of 56.
5. Mason Rudolph checks in. Completion for six to Cody White on a curl, Devin Bush tagging him.
6. Isaiahh Loudermilk and Carlos Davis the DTs. Tuzar Skipper the ROLB. Pierre and Stephens the CBs. Buddy Johnson and Mark Robinson the ILBs. Warren carry up the middle for a healthy gain of 11 before being tagged up as Warren finishes the run another 50+ yards into the end zone. White and Pierre get a little tangled up as White shows good effort to keep blocking and ends up on the ground.
7. Offensive line of: Dixon-C.Green-Gilliam-Owens-Tucker. Kenny Pickett in at QB working under center. Teague carry right side. Nice rep from the new guy Rashed Jr who forklifts back Tucker and forces Teague to bounce the run wide and to the outside. Gain of three before Teague loses his footing along the sideline.
8. Joseph and Stiner the safety pairing. Maulet working in the slot. Pickett rolls left and hits Tyler Snead for four. Maulet with a solid thud is enough to knock the small and light Snead down to the ground.
9. Pickett helping Christian Blake get aligned wide left as the X receiver. Quick jet run to Tyler Snead who has a crease, though no tackling here, and gains 15.
– OL/DL 1v1 charting.
1. Cam Heyward can’t rip of club/hump move past Dan Moore. Doesn’t look pretty but Moore wins.
2. Good anchor by Kendrick Green to rebuff Isaiahh Loudermilk’s bull rush.
3. Carlos Davis can’t rip past Mason Cole.
4. Chris Wormley late swim on James Daniels.
5. Daniels either held or trapped Wormley’s arm and knocks him down near the end of the rep.
6. Good bull by Delontae Scott to run back Chukwuma Okorafor. I caught it out of the corner of my eye but I swear Scott and DeMarvin Leal were playing rock-paper-scissors to see who would get the rep.
7. Okorafor better here and mirrors Scott’s spin move.
8. One more time to break the tie. Okorafor seals Scott upfield and into the fellow group of offensive lineman behind the drill.
9. Cam Heyward rips through Moore to the outside and gets past.
10. Nice job by Kendrick Green again locking up Isaiahh Loudermilk’s bull to rip.
11. Nice stab and mirror by Mason Cole on Carlos Davis’ spin move.
12. Khalil Davis quick rip to get past James Daniels.
13. Strong base initially from Daniels though Khalil Davis rips past very late in the rush.
14. Trent Scott bending at the waist but does seal Ron’Dell Carter up the edge.
15. Scott puts Carter on the ground here.
16. One more time. Scott with a quick set and Carter counters and beats him inside.
17. Skipper jumps early here. His bull on Haeg fails but gains the edge late.
18. Quick swim by rookie Donovan Jeter to beat Chaz Green. Defenders excited for Jeter for the nice win.
19. They go again. Jeter shows power in his hands to jolt Chaz Green back, though he’s able to recover and stay engaged.
20. J.C. Hassenauer with a quick win against Doug Costin, who goes to the ground after making contact. Hassenauer working as a center here with Costin over nose.
21. Loudermilk with effective bull on Leglue who gets turned around the wrong way, facing outside as Loudermilk wins to his inside shoulder.
22. Leglue handles Loudermilk’s long-arm better here.
23. Leal slips off the line. They get reset and Trent Scott seals him, Leal unable to dip the edge.
24. Scott wins again, sealing Leal here.
25. Swipe attempt by Rashed Jr. doesn’t bother Joe Haeg and Haeg mirrors the rush and wins.
26. Rashed Jr’s bull rush stalls out against Haeg though Rashed is able to rip late in the rush.
Fifth Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 16. Fitzpatrick and Edmunds the safety pairing. Witherspoon and Sutton on the outside with Joseph in the slot. Tomlin again reminding guys to stay on their feet. Trubisky under center. Boots left and hits an open Freiermuth for six.
2. Diontae Johnson as the X. George Pickens the Z, Calvin Austin in the slot. Warren left side. Nice fill by Robert Spillane to take on a block while Devin Bush works clean and makes the tackle for one.
3. Well-thrown ball by Trubisky on a wheel route to McFarland, who gains a step on Spillane. Good deal of YAC involved but a really good pass. McFarland tears down the right sideline and gains 44.
4. With RB lines thin, no time for McFarland to rest. Back in the huddle and gains five on this run with Joseph filling the alley.
5. Kazee and Norwood the safety pairing with Joseph in the slot. Pierre and Wallace the CBs. Screen to McFarland who slips as he tries to make a cut to the right. Only picks up two.
6. Spillane and Bush the ILBs. Carter and Skipper the ROLBs. Joseph and Kazee now at safety with Norwood in the slot. Rudolph under center. Warren left side to stop him at the line, Skipper and Spillane first men there. Khalil Davis chases Warren from behind and grabs him as Warren looks to finish the run.
7. Delontae Scott and Hamilcar Rashed Jr. the OLBs. Leal and Costin the DTs. Joseph and Kazee the safety pairing with Norwood in the slot. Pony grouping with McFarland out there. Pickett playaction. Scott blows things up and Pickett quickly gets the ball complete to Austin in the right flat for no gain, Mark Robinson quickly closing and greeting him with a thud.
8. White and Boykin the outside receivers with Snead in the slot. Pickett playaction and fires deep for Snead who has a shot to make a pretty tough grab in coverage but can’t come down with it. Believe Norwood and Kazee were covering. Snead claps his hands in some frustration after the play. Saw Rashed Jr. rip through Jace Sternberger off the edge.
9. Blake and Vaughns the WRs. Donovan Stiner and Miles Killebrew the safety pairing. Quick slant complete from Pickett to Blake for seven. CB Chris Steele unable to punch the ball out.
10. Warren carry right side for two. Robinson sets the edge to turn the run back in and Warren meets with Johnson.
11. Layne and Steele on the outside with Platel in the slot. Killebrew in the box. Warren run for five yards, Skipper wrapping him up. Faked the end around to Tyler Vaughns here.
12. Pickett playaction is complete for 15 over the middle to Blake working over Justin Layne.
– Ebb and flow of the quarterbacks continue. Don’t think anyone had a terrible day but Trubisky overall looked sharp and certainly was better yesterday. Pickett was strong too and his accuracy on the move has really shined the past few days.
– Master Teague has rare size for a running back with a nice combination of power and explosiveness. He and Jaylen Warren are highly conditioned and taking on as many reps as they can handle. Fact the team hasn’t signed another RB despite having just three running backs working in team today – McFarland, Warren, and Teague – says a lot about them wanting to give those guys chances. And they’re ready to meet the moment.
– Miles Boykin has come on strong over the last two weeks and is routinely winning in contested situations. Anthony Miller has faded and I put Boykin ahead of Miller right now. Tyler Vaughns may be another classic case of receivers who look good early but stumble down the stretch. He’s been a lot quieter this week.
– Mason Cole has been better than fine. He’s been rock solid and did well in OL/DL today. Ditto with Kendrick Green, who went 2/2 against Isaiahh Loudermilk’s power rushes. Loudermilk isn’t Cam Heyward or Vita Vea but Green can only focus on winning who he goes against and Loudermilk has enjoyed a nice camp. Those were quality reps for Green who gets all the attention while Dotson sits out.
– Chris Steele has some tools and traits but he’s far from a finished product who doesn’t do one thing all that well. Practice squad at best. Linden Stephens is very tight-hipped and should probably be playing safety.
– Karl Joseph has had a really impressive camp and his physicality is always on display. Worked a lot with the 2’s today at slot corner and safety and he’s pushing hard for a spot. Tre Norwood, similar to Cam Sutton, is more physical and attacking in Year 2. I think he’s ahead of where Sutton was.
– Meanwhile, Miles Killebrew’s spot may not be as safe as it once was. It’s a deep DB room and Joseph is playing well. Killebrew didn’t see a lot of reps today and when he did, he worked third-team next to Donovan Stiner. Keep an eye on that. I’d say him and Justin Layne are fading a bit though Layne is in real danger of missing the boat.
Saint Vincent Snapshot
Setting the scene for that 1v1 tackling drill that was high-energy and a ton of fun to watch.
Twitter Camp Question
Not many relevant questions in my feed today so I’ll just comment here. Don’t expect it to happen. It’d take several injuries, probably at least two, for that to potentially be a serious talking point. Top four outside CBs are going to be Witherspoon, Sutton, Wallace, and Pierre. It’s not an elite group but if Witherspoon can be a higher-end cover corner, it’ll be a group you can win with.
Random Steelers’ Fact
According to Pro Football Reference, the player with the slowest 40 time the Steelers have ever spent a draft pick on is OL Trai Essex, taken in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. His reported 40 time varies, ranging from 5.61 to 5.65.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”