It took a couple extra days but we’re finally back at a Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp practice. The Steelers returned to the public eye after Friday night lights was cancelled and the team having a close session back in Pittsburgh Saturday. To try to salvage Friday, the team moved practice from Saint Vincent College to Latrobe Memorial Stadium, though Monday afternoon lights didn’t quite have the same ring to it. Regardless, let’s discuss what happened today.
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Camp Notes (Day Nine)
– Injury report. Lot going on, plenty to note today. Not practicing today included: RB Najee Harris (foot), Ulysees Gilbert (right foot), LB Marcus Allen (hamstring), and FB Derek Watt (unknown). Gilbert is the big one. His foot was in a grey boot and though he stood on it throughout practice and these things can sometimes be less serious than they look, this obviously isn’t a good sign for UG3, who is having a nice camp. Injuries have derailed him before and may do it again.
Returning to practice today in limited or full capacity were: FS Minkah Fitzpatrick (full), TE Pat Freiermuth (limited), WR Chase Claypool (full), CB Cam Sutton (full), CB Levi Wallace (full), DL Larry Ogunjobi (full), NT Tyson Alualu (limited), and S Miles Killebrew (limited). Really good news here. Sutton’s past his Thursday injury scare, Wallace is working in team again, Ogunjobi played in team sessions for the first time this camp, Killebrew dressed in pads, and Alualu came off PUP. Happy to see all of that.
Injured during practice included Alex Highsmith (waist) and Kevin Dotson (right foot/ankle). Highsmith had a wrap and ice around his waist at the end of practice while Dotson got his foot looked at late in the session. He didn’t finish the day but did stand around at the end of practice so I think it’s minor. Genard Avery also had a wrap on – Mike Tomlin called it a groin injury.
– Rookie EDGE T.D. Moultry was waived/injured with EDGE Ron’Dell Carter signed in his place. Carter will wear #44 and worked in limited fashion today. Moultry had some interesting traits so a bummer he got hurt, presumably during that Saturday practice.
– The buses left the stadium at 1:19 to head to Saint Vincent College. They returned at 1:44 with busloads of players and then left the stadium again at 1:49. Play-by-play if you literally want to know what times the train run.
– If you also want to literally know who was the first man off the bus and onto the field, it was DL Chris Wormley.
– Spotted a James Daniels’ jersey today. That was a first and kinda cool.
– Predictably, a smaller crowd today. Maybe 3000-4000 fans attending as opposed to the usual 10,000+. It was a hot day too, my phone was giving me an overheat alert, which may have driven some of the crowd away.
– I’ve sat all camp wondering who the backup long snapper would be. So far, it’d just been Christian Kuntz and Chris Boswell snapping. Got an answer today. Backup OLB Derrek Tuszka snapped next to Kuntz during an early special teams session. Tuszka snapped at Warner High School in South Dakota.
– With the whole roster working on one field today, I got to watch the defense warmup a bit closer. Usually they’re on the far field during SVC practices. Grady Brown putting CBs through drills, working on their pedal and a tackling circuit (wrap-up, no one going to the ground) with Brown reminding players to keep their eyes up while the players tracked the hip of the receiver/runner.
– Just watching the TEs go through drills, rookie Connor Heyward predictably looked a lot more fluid and explosive than the others like Kevin Rader and Zach Gentry. Heyward is smaller so you’d expect it but something that caught my attention.
– Some quick punter numbers today. Should mention Gunner Olszewski, Steven Sims, Tyler Vaughns fielded these punts. These numbers are the open air punts from the 20.
Pressley Harvin: 5.06 (60 yards), 3.60 (46 yards), 4.16 (54 yards), N/A hangtime (44 yards), 3.99 (46 yards).
Cameron Nizialek: 5.06 (65 yards), 3.16 (38 yards), 4.02 (47 yards), 4.53 (52 yards)
Hangtimes a little iffy but some good distance today. Still work to do for each. First punts each guy had were excellent. Nizialek’s first punt is one of the best we’ve logged.
– Ok, let’s jump into seven shots.
First Team Session (Seven Shots)
1. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith the OLBs. Chris Wormley-Montravius Adams-Cam Heyward the defensive line. Damontae Kazee and Terrell Edmunds at safety. Kendrick Green in at LG. Diontae Johnson on the field with Anthony McFarland in the backfield. 13 personnel with Kevin Rader, Connor Heyward, and Zach Gentry out there. Empty set. Mitch Trubisky hits Anthony McFarland, aligned slot right, for a TD on a speed out against Kazee.
2. Diontae Johnson finds the end zone from Trubisky in the right front pylon for the score. Good throw and catch. Jaylen Warren in the backfield on this snap.
3. Larry Ogunjobi takes his first team rep with Montravius Adams in this 2-4-5 nickel package. Chase Claypool out there as well for the offense. Throw for Diontae Johnson is incomplete.
4. 12 personnel with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on the field. Trubisky rolls right and fires for Connor Heyward right side. Heyward caught it but I couldn’t tell if he stayed inbounds or not. I’ll have to check back on this one later in the day (Steelers’ team site says no catch).
5. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Playaction, boot left. Throw incomplete with Genard Avery making the play of the session, a diving breakup to knock the pass down and incomplete.
6. “Climbing back like Rocky” Mike Tomlin calls out, signaling the defense trying to even the score after the offense went up 2-0. Rudolph fires right side for Kevin Rader who reaches up over his head and initially made the catch but couldn’t survive the ground. Incomplete.
7. Kenny Pickett getting the final rep. Karl Joseph good coverage on this throw for Gunner Olszewski, who couldn’t make the catch. Incomplete.
Excluding play #4, I have the defense up 4-2. We’ll see what that Heyward play ends up being. And with it being called incomplete, I’ll put the defense up 5-2.
Second Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 36. Cam Sutton in at RCB. Wormley/Heyward the DT pairing. George Pickens and Diontae Johnson the outside receivers with Calvin Austin III in the slot. Mitch Trubisky in at QB. Anthony McFarland gets the carry up the middle. Wormley and Alex Highsmith combine to make the stop at the line for no gain.
2. Kevin Dotson in at LG. Robert Spillane/Devin Bush in at ILB. Jaylen Warren carry left side. Good contain by Cam Sutton on the outside to contain this run and Warren gets tripped up by someone else for a gain of just two.
3. Larry Ogunjobi now in team alongside Montravius Adams. McFarland in at RB. Ogunjobi helps makes the stop after a gain of one.
4. Warren run left side for one. Ogunjobi had a great block shed here, I’m not sure who against, maybe Dotson, and makes the tackle. Two great reps as Ogunjobi works full for the first day. Good start.
5. Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal the third-string DT pairing. Calvin Austin jet run right side. Defense isn’t fooled, Austin is dodging tacklers in the backfield, and he’d have been lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage.
6. Levi Wallace in art RCB. Mataeo Durant plows into the middle for a gain of three yards.
7. “Pony” the defense shouts out from the sideline as Anthony McFarland and another RB enter the game. Derrek Tuszka and Genard Avery the EDGE rushers on this snap. McFarland jet run right to left. Gets upfield before being popped hard in the alley, nailed by Tre Norwood and others after a four-yard gain. Nice to see Norwood throw his weight around.
8. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Connor Heyward motioned to the backfield and in at FB with Watt out. Durant carry up the middle and squirts out the other side for a tough run, busting through for a 14-yard run before Karl Joseph makes an open field ankle tackle, dragging Durant down. Good run by the rookie.
9. Durant with the carry left side. Khalil Davis in on the tackle with the frontside defense forcing the run back inside. Buddy Johnson also a good angle to help make the stop after a gain of five. “Way to hunt, Buddy J,” Tomlin calls out as Johnson walks back to the huddle. Durant’s helmet comes off at the end of this run.
10. Teague left side for three yards. Tuzar Skipper with the tackle and flex at the end of the play.
11. Jake Dixon at LT, Nate Gilliam at center with the third-team offensive line. Pony look with McFarland. Teague right side for seven yards, planting his foot on this zone run and getting upfield with a good burst. Skipper again on the stop.
12. Donovan Stiner and Tre Norwood at safety. Chris Steele at RCB. 12 personnel. Teague or Warren run right side, not positive who. Delontae Scott forces the run to bounce wide and Justin Layne cleans it up with the TFL for a loss of four.
Third Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 36. Minkah Fitzpatrick part of this team session. After dominating last team session, Ogunjobi running first-team alongside Heyward. Trubisky in at QB. Completion to Diontae Johnson on a crosser for nine. Trubisky under pressure and his arm may have even gotten hit before he threw.
2. Karl Joseph in the slot with Ahkello Witherspoon and Cam Sutton on the outside. Robert Spillane and Devin Bush at ILB. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds the safety pairing. Witherspoon reaches out and breaks up throw from Trubisky along the right sideline intended for Chase Claypool. They both tumble out of bounds.
3. Claypool and Pickens on the outside, Claypool motioned to twin set right side. Wallace and Sutton outside CBs. T.J. Watt the LDE. Trubisky throw over the middle is high over Claypool’s outstretched hands and falls incomplete. Minkah Fitzpatrick with the coverage.
4. Wormley and Adams the DTs. Wallace and Sutton on the outside with Joseph in the slot. Connor Heyward slot right. Trubisky looks for Calvin Austin on a deep in-cut. Austin jumps for it but it’s through his hands and incomplete, a drop. Levi Wallace covering and closing.
5. Mason Rudolph in the game. He boots right. Complete to Gunner Olszewski right side against Carlins Platel for a gain of 12.
6. Fitzpatrick getting extra reps now working with the 2’s, aligned opposite Kazee. Platel and James Pierre the outside CBs. Rudolph hits Anthony Miller on a crosser for 13 against Pierre. Rudolph looked in the flat and then worked back over the middle.
7. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Pickett good throw to the left sideline complete for 12. Good on-time throw and catch.
8. Tre Norwood and Damontae Kazee the safety pairing. Chris Steele at LCB, James Pierre RCB, Karl Joseph NCB. Mark Robinson and Buddy Johnson the ILBs. Pickett checkdown in right flat complete to Durant to three yards. Norwood and Durant meet at the 40 and keep pushing for a few more yards, though no one goes to the ground.
9. Nate Gilliam at center, Chris Owens at right guard, Jordan Tucker at right tackle. Mason Rudolph back in at QB. Throw on corner route right side complete to Miles Boykin, who makes nice catch on a bit of a low-throw for 18 along the sideline.
10. Rudolph empty. Completion to Durant right side for nine. Khalil Davis with a good pressure on a push-pull or swim move to beat right guard, I think Chaz Green. Durant seemed a little hobbled at the end but was ok, maybe cramping in the middle of a hot day.
11. Kenny Pickett back in as part of this QB rotation. Pickett complete right side to Tyler Vaughns down the sideline against Chris Steele for a gain of 13.
12. Pickett boot rights and hits Tyler Snead for a gain of six.
Fourth Team Session
1. Kendrick Green in at LG. Chris Wormley-Montravius Adams-Cam Heyward first team Okie front. T.J. Watt and Derrek Tuszka in at the EDGE (Highsmith hurt before this point, obviously). Ball on the offense’s 29. Live tackling session, unusual but something that’s happened before. Snell up the middle for six.
2. Trubisky in at QB these first two reps. Jet run to Olszewski working right to left. Myles Jack isn’t fooled and makes a one-armed tackle rolling and tossing Olszewski down after a gain of two. Strong open field tackle.
3. Benny Snell in at RB. Edmunds and Kazee the safety pairing, Spillane and Jack the ILB grouping. Great run by Snell up the middle, stiff-arming through a defender (wish I knew who but I don’t – maybe a DB) and ripping off a 16-yard run before being dragged down. One of the best camp runs and Snell flashes his power.
4. Whistle resets the huddle. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Jaylen Warren up the middle for three. Isaiahh Loudermilk gets off a block and is in on the stop. Connor Heyward at FB.
5. Warren flings himself into the middle of a pile for another gain of 2-3 yards. Not much doing here.
6. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Platel at RCB. Karl Joseph and Donovan Stiner the safety pairing. 12 personnel. Teague right side for four. Joseph flying in with a hard collision, going at Teague’s hips/waist to cut him down.
7. Linden Stephens and Justin Layne at CB. Pickett still in at QB. Durant run left side. Stiner meets him but Durant keeps his feet and stretches out for an extra 1-2 yards, a surprising win given how much bigger Stiner is. Offense gets hyped for Durant who ends up gaining about five yards. For the second time of practice, Durant’s helmet calls off and he might have caught an elbow/arm to the face and was a little slow to get up. But he’d be ok.
Shorter session here because of its live nature.
Fifth Team Session
1. Goal line drill with the ball on the one. 13 personnel, Kendrick Green in at LG. Benny Snell in the backfield. Gets the carry up the middle and meets resistance short of the goal line. Minkah Fitzpatrick flies in from his FS spot to slam Snell and the pile and push everyone backwards. Fitzpatrick wasn’t in the other live-tackle sessions but he was in for goal line and was so hyped to make the play and stop. Welcome back, Minkah.
2. Trubisky fakes the handoff and boots to the left. Hits Gunner Olszewski for the TD along the left sideline.
3. Snell back in at RB with Connor Heyward at FB. Snell on the carry again and dives over the goal line. Looks like he crossed it though the ball came out and TJ Watt ended up with it, who held it up as if to say “We got the stop, right?” But I think it was a TD.
4. Kendrick Green thought he was going out but had to be told to go back in with Dotson’s day done due to a seemingly minor injury. So Green ran 1st and 2nd team LG this session. Kenny Pickett in the game. Playaction with him hitting Kevin Rader just inside the goal line for the TD.
5. Steven Sims on a jet run working right to left. Untouched and into the end zone for the score.
6. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Bad snap between him and center Nate Gilliam, who was still holding onto the ball after the play was dead.
7. Another exchange that didn’t seem perfectly clean and Rudolph was a little slow getting away from center. Teague carry right side. Delontae Scott in on the stop right at the goal line. I couldn’t tell if Teague crossed or not. May have needed a booth-review there.
– Here are the RB/LB 1v1 coverage drills.
1. Benny Snell sells vertical and bursts outside against Robert Spillane for the grab.
2. Anthony McFarland motioned and split out. Foot fire and beats Myles Jack outside.
3. Jaylen Warren on a wheel route making a basket catch deep down the right sideline against Devin Bush, who had good coverage but didn’t make a play on the ball as Warren tracked in a great throw.
4. Mataeo Durant and Buddy Johnson collide off the line as Durant runs a wheel. Pass is incomplete, out in front.
5. Quick out by Master Teague to run away from Mark Robinson, who is giving chase but doesn’t come close to impacting the throw. Tougher drill for the defense than the offense.
6. Snell on a wheel route but Robert Spillane is all over him. Pass is a little underthrown and Snell can’t grab it off Spillane’s back, incomplete. Snell claps his hands as he makes his way back to the line.
7. McFarland angle route and he makes a nice combat catch against Myles Jack, who pulls him to the ground.
8. Crosser for Jaylen Warren is out and front and incomplete. Bush covering.
9. Nice drive, close, and finish by Buddy Johnson on this out route by Mataeo Durant.
10. Teague sells vertical and bursts outside to make the catch against Robinson.
11. Snell swims Spillane and cuts to the inside. But the ball is out early, Snell doesn’t get his head around, and it’s incomplete.
12. Easy catch by McFarland on an out route against Jack.
13. Warren makes the catch on Bush, who stumbles as he drives on Warren’s out cut.
14. Another breakup for Buddy Johnson, who has a good and physical battle with Durant.
15. Teague with the swipe to beat Robinson. Runs down the ride sideline and…I don’t have the result here. I think Teague caught it but I know Robinson was behind by a step here, showing a lack of long speed.
16. Spillane blankets Snell vertically deep down the right sideline. Spillane gets his head around and nearly picks off the pass but it falls through his hands. Good rep but Spillane could’ve finished it. He walks back to the line, drops to both knees, lays face first on the ground, and then does five pushups for dropping the INT.
17. McFarland beats Jack on a speed out.
18. Bush is an easy five yards off and gives up a quick catch to Jaylen Warren on a pivot route. Warren motioned out pre-snap.
19. Johnson is in the pocket of Durant but the throw is out in front and Durant makes a nice hands catch.
20. Teague does a nice job to sell vertical before breaking down on a curl against Mark Robinson. Robinson does a fantastic job to drive and break on the football, breaking up the pass. Good rep by Robinson.
21. Spillane misses his jam on Snell off the line and Snell burns him upfield for the catch.
22. They go again and Snell hits Spillane with a rocker step to burst outside and make the grab.
– Log of OL/DL reps.
1. Kendrick Green holds his own against Cam Heyward’s bull as he tries to gain the edge.
2. Montravius Adams with a quick swim to beat Mason Cole, who goes to the ground.
3. James Daniels is able to mirror Chris Wormley well-enough.
4. T.J. Watt inside spin move easily dusts Chukwuma Okorafor.
5. Newly signed Ron’Dell Carter with a good first rep, shedding Dan Moore Jr.
6. Cam Heyward with a successful bull rush against Kendrick Green.
7. They go again and Heyward swims Green.
8. Adams and Cole lock up and Adams can’t swim him late.
9. Wormley dips past Daniels late in the rep.
10. Watt tries an outside spin this time but it’s not nearly as effective and Okorafor easily handles it.
11. Loudermilk power rush into Dotson and swims him late but a good battle from each.
12. They go again. Loudermilk tries a spin move but it’s slow and Dotson easily stays square to it. Loudermilk should never spin again in his entire NFL career. Just wasting chances.
13. Good swipe/swim by Henry Mondeaux to work past J.C. Hassenauer.
14. Good rep by John Leglue to win against rookie DeMarvin Leal.
15. Leglue gets pushed back as Leal uses a bull but he’s able to stay engaged and holds his own.
16. Joe Haeg gets his hands into Derrek Tuszka’s facemask and seals him upfield.
17. They go again. Tuszka loses his balance and goes to the ground as he tries to win the edge again.
18. Trent Scott locks up Delontae Scott in this Scott v. Scott battle.
19. They go again. Delontae shows good burst and beats Scott around the edge.
20. One more time. Scott with a cross chop to gain the edge. Giving Scott the 2-1 victory here.
21. Khalil Davis swims past James Daniels.
22. They go again and Daniels does better, though Davis rips through late in the rush.
23. Nice rep from the rarely discussed Donovan Jeter, who used a swipe/rip to get past Hassenauer.
24. Carlos Davis late rip move against Chaz Green. Davis ends up on the ground doing a split. He’d be ok.
25. Chaz Green wins against Carlos Davis.
26. One more time. Another rip move from Davis late in the rush.
27. Ron’Dell carter beats Jordan Tucker inside. Tucker was hearing about it from one of the coaches. Getting whooped on by the new guy.
28. Carter swims past Tucker.
29. One more time. Tucker slightly better but doubles over and Carter gets past.
30. Delontae Scott dips past Jake Dixon along the edge, Dixon aligned like a LT (he’s lined up all over the line during camp so it’s worth specifying).
31. Dixon does better here and anchors against Scott’s bull attempt.
32. Another bull and Dixon holds his ground.
– Liked to see Kenny Pickett drive the ball downfield a bit more today with completions to Calvin Austin III and Tyler Vaughns. They weren’t 30 yard missiles but it was progress and some higher-level throws.
– Anthony McFarland continues to catch my eye. As we sit here today, I think it’s Najee Harris, Benny Snell, and McFarland as the three backs who make the 53. Connor Heyward still worked with the TEs but lined up as a FB on a handful of snaps. Role expands with Derek Watt being out. But I will say Benny Snell and Mataeo Durant ran really hard today. McFarland looked better in the receiving drills.
– Not that I’m worried but it’s been quieter for George Pickens lately. At least during the team sessions. Having some of that WR group healthier may be one reason why.
– Cody White gets a lot of playing time. Not a ton of production though.
– Rookie OT Jordan Tucker just looks a bit overmatched at this level. Tough day for him and he’s been on the ground too much in camp.
– Really enjoy the 1v1 battles Benny Snell and Robert Spillane have had. They’ve been going at it all camp with each making plays. Good split today but Spillane had his wins in a tough environment for the defense.
– Khalil Davis has some serious juice. I think he shines in preseason action. His hand use and quickness will make him some plays…and create some buzz.
– Larry Ogunjobi sure looked nice in run session today. He can’t play against the 2’s. He’ll eat them alive.
– Montravius Adams has had the best camp that no one is talking about.
– Buddy Johnson coming alive in my notes today. And he’ll have more reps and chances with the injuries to Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III. Maybe the most memorable day I have of Johnson through his two training camps.
– CB Carlins Platel getting work on the outside with the slot room a bit more crowded. They might like this guy and I’m going to keep an eye on Justin Layne’s reps because he didn’t seem to be getting all the 2nd-team CB reps today. Worth a note and double-check tomorrow.
– Just a healthier team all-around, at least, heading into the day. Didn’t entirely end that way. But no serious injuries going on sans UG3, who may miss some time with that foot issue.
Saint Vincent Snapshot
A look at the DBs warming up early in practice. Nice to see Killebrew and Sutton dressed.
Twitter Camp Question
I wouldn’t say that. There’s been some injury to that group too and it’s always good to have RBs on speed dial, especially the physical nature of Steelers’ camp practices. I think they liked the idea of a veteran back in that room which is partially why they signed Jeremy McNichols. But I think they want to see what their outside options could be and just keep everything on the table. Obviously, no one has been signed so it’s not like the team really hates their group. Or else they would’ve made a move by now.
Random Steelers’ Fact
With yesterday’s rainout and Saturday’s missed practice, you get two of each today, facts and quotes.
1. Since the stat has been tracked, two Steelers hold the record for most tackles in a game with 17: Lawrence Timmons in 2013 and Dewayne Washington in 2001. Didn’t expect Washington to be on the list.
2. A pair of Steelers are tied for the most safeties in team history. Ernie Stautner and Bill McPeak each have three.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
1. “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”
2. “What if there were no hypothetical questions?”