Back at it on Day Six of the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp. We’re one-third of the way done already. Just beat the rain with it coming down as I was leaving Saint Vincent College. Let’s talk about the team’s second padded practice of the summer.
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Camp Notes (Day Six)
– Injury report/roundup. Not practicing for the Steelers today was: RB Najee Harris (foot), RB Jeremy McNichols (shoulder), TE Pat Freiermuth (hamstring), WR Chase Claypool (right shoulder), S Miles Killebrew (pec), LB Marcus Allen (right hamstring), CB Levi Wallace (unknown), and SS Karl Joseph (unknown). I didn’t even see Joseph today and I knew something was up when it was Arthur Maulet, not Joseph, the first man down the stairs. Claypool caught passes with both hands from Frisman Jackson early in practice so he’s making progress. After jogging the width of the far field yesterday, Freiermuth jogged the length of it today, showing he’s close to a return. He also went through stretch line and punched the sled in early TE drills though didn’t burst off the line like the other tight ends due to his leg injury. I’m betting he’s back within 2-3 days. Despite the injuries at RB, the team’s yet to sign anyone, giving opportunities to just the handful of healthy runners on the roster.
WR Diontae Johnson’s hold-in continues though he teased fans by carrying his shoulder pads, cleats, and helmet down onto the field today. He did put his shoulder pads on and even briefly wore his helmet, taking a couple of reps on jet sweeps/pop passes early in practice. But any additional work he did was minimal and he did not participate in team sessions as he looks for a long-term deal.
– Kendrick Green and Jake Dixon getting extra reps early, working on their pass sets together before the first horn. Dixon was putting in a lot of extra time.
– First reps in warmups had George Pickens as the X receiver, Anthony Miller as the Z in 12 personnel with Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward the tight ends. Benny Snell ran 1st team RB with Harris out.
– Gunner Olszewski caught five balls in the punt return challenge today. Tyler Vaughns got all the way to six but couldn’t bring in the seventh. It’s a crowd favorite and little competition for the receivers early on.
– Wide receivers put through more run blocking drills today by Frisman Jackson. Heavy emphasis these last two days. No sleds today but hitting a bag held up by Jackson and assistant coach Blaine Stewart. During 1v1s, the WRs and DBs worked on run blocking which has happened in past camps. But Jackson has really been on these guys to work in this area. Hopefully it pays off.
During that stalk block drill, Pickens did well while Tyler Snead was the surprise of the group. One of the smallest receivers, he had a great rep against fellow UDFA CB Chris Steele that put Steele into the ground. “Good shit” Jackson called out to Snead, who received plenty of praise from his receiver teammates.
– Quick note on new OL Coach Pat Meyer. Coaches generally have two trains of thought when they go through drills. Maximize reps and don’t coach/talk much between or slow things down and lose reps but talk and teach and coach between. Meyer is more of the latter spending plenty of time going over details with the OTs and TEs as they worked on combination blocks. I think that’s a good thing for a young and new offensive line that doesn’t need to fall into bad habits.
– Some quick special teams notes. The Davis twins, DTs Khalil and Carlos, working on the kick coverage team. Big bodies but good athletes for their position. Henry Mondeaux has helped earn a spot in the past thanks to his special teams value.
– Danny Smith with a quick teaching point to CB Linden Stephens who let Anthony Miller outside of him on a return. Smith wanted Stephens to contain and force him back inside.
– I have one-half of the starting kick coverage unit for you guys. From the kicker’s right, Derrek Tuszka as R5, Buddy Johnson R4, Benny Snell R3, Tre Norwood R2, and James Pierre R1 (furthest most outside player to the right). Believe Miles Boykin was L1 as the contain guy on the other side.
– Ok let’s talk team session.
First Team Session (Seven Shots)
1. Kendrick Green running first team LG. Robert Spillane and Devin Bush the ILBs. George Pickens, Anthony Miller, and Cody White the three receivers. Benny Snell in the backfield. Cam Heyward yells out “ball key” to key and watch the ball. For some reason, the offense had to quickly reset their huddle with Mike Tomlin yelling out something they did wrong. Wasn’t clear what happened, they hadn’t even gotten to the line of scrimmage.
Mitch Trubisky’s first throw of the day is a slot fade to the back right corner for Cody White. He catches it but is pushed out of bounds and the pass is ultimately incomplete.
2. Trubisky attempts a shovel pass for TE Kevin Rader. But in a live tackling session, T.J. Watt and Robert Spillane converge to stop Rader at the one.
3. Anthony Miller and George Pickens on the outside for this rep. Trubisky throws front left corner intended for George Pickens but Cam Sutton reads it, drives, and knocks the ball down. Good defense.
4. Pickens as the Z receiver here. Connor Heyward on a quick stick route left side. He’s open and Trubisky finds him but Heyward flat out drops the pass. Incomplete.
5. Kenny Pickett in at QB, again running second team throughout the day. Kevin Dotson now in at LG. O-line consisting of: Scott-Dotson-Hassenauer-Leglue-Haeg. Jaylen Warren in at RB. Joe Haeg false starts and has to do the run of shame as Chaz Green replaces him at RT. On the snap, Pickett is under pressure and probably would’ve been sacked but he hitches up, climbs, and hits Jace Sternberger open in the back of the end zone. Offense puts up their first TD.
6. Backshoulder throw from Pickett intended for Tyler Vaughns is incomplete, low and away as Vaughns tried to reach back and down for it. James Pierre covering.
7. Haeg back in at RT. “Here We Go” chant started up in the crowd. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Boots to his right and looks into the right corner but it’s not there. Rudolph makes a nice throw on the run hitting Miles Boykin, bending backside left to right, and in front of a diving James Pierre, who has been diving but not finishing the last couple of days.
Defense still wins seven shots, 5-2. They’ve been winning almost daily in these sessions.
Second Team Session
1. Ball on the opposing 43. Mitch Trubisky in at QB. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith the EDGE rushers, Myles Jack and Robert Spillane the ILBs. Ahkello Witherspoon at LCB, Cam Sutton at RCB, Arthur Maulet at NCB. Benny Snell in the backfield. Snell carry up the middle for two yards, tackles by Jack and several others. Connor Heyward lost his helmet on the backside of the run and it rolled up into the back of Cam Sutton’s ankle.
2. Chris Wormley and Cam Heyward the nickel DTs. Snell again left side. Spillane and Heyward in on the tackle after a gain of one. Full tackling here.
3. Some wide receiver personnel grouping with guys coming on and off the field until some players yell “George!” and Pickens exits the huddle. Cody White one of the two WRs on the field in 12 personnel. Snell good run for five yards with Kevin Rader pretty pumped, signaling first down. Snell and Heyward go after it after the play and both ran hot. Some punches were thrown and Heyward was especially pissed off at something. Pretty intense moment.
4. Jet run right side with Calvin Austin III. T.J. Watt easily diagnoses it and tackles Austin, slowly pushing him down and backwards for a five yard loss. Austin took offense to something and tried to get into a skirmish with Watt, who walked away. Tempers flaring early.
5. Kenny Pickett in at QB. McFarland carry right side for five yards. Genard Avery and Justin Layne help make the stop.
6. McFarland with a crease up the middle. Good run of about six yards with the offensive line and pretty much everyone except for Pickett pushed the pile forward for another five-ish yards. Call it a gain of 11 in total. Really good push by the line.
7. Offensive line doing its job again with them and Derek Watt lead blocking to open a lane for RB Jaylen Warren who gains nine before Gilbert III grabs him. “Play the next play” someone on the defensive sideline calls out, trying to get the defense to refocus after a couple of poor collective reps.
8. Warren another carry right side. Steps out of a diving Avery tackle from his ROLB spot before Derrek Tuszka makes the stop after a gain of four.
9. Mason Rudolph in at QB with Warren staying in at RB, a product of the short RB lines. Rudolph under center. Mark Robinson flies into the backfield and trips Warren up, falling forward and picking up about two.
10. 11 personnel, Mataeo Durant at RB. Playaction, the only pass of the session and Rudolph hits Tyler Vaughns for a 13-yard gain gain. Linden Stephens and Donovan Stiner combine to make the top. Steelers false keyed by pulling the left guard.
11. Bad exchange under center between center Nate Gilliam and Mason Rudolph and Rudolph has to pick the ball off the ground. Dead ball, dead play. “Next snap!” Tomlin yells out.
12. Shotgun snap. A flying in T.D. Moultry trips up Durant who falls forward for about two to end the live session.
Third Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 29. Wormley and Heyward the DTs. Witherspoon and Sutton the CBs. Green in at LG, Trubisky in at QB. Kazee and Edmunds the safety pairing. Benny Snell at RB. Third down session. Sutton makes another play on the ball with a diving breakup on a slant from Trubisky intended for Miller left side. Good timing and finish.
2. Trubisky scrambles right then throws down the right sideline deep downfield for George Pickens. But Witherspoon plays his man well and the ball hits off Witherspoon’s back and incomplete. Good coverage without having to look back to the ball. On the line, Watt beat Okorafor around the edge.
3. Highsmith hand down as the RDE, Watt hand down as the LDE. Trubisky’s throw for Connor Heyward sails over his head and is easily picked off by Damontae Kazee, who runs it back roughly 15 yards before going down. Highsmith beat Dan Moore Jr. inside with a quick and effective spin move.
4. Sutton in the slot, Pierre at LCB. 21 personnel. Witherspoon with some contact deep down the right sideline running with Pickens and Trubisky’s pass is incomplete.
5. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Scrambles and tucks and runs with him not finding anything downfield.
6. Layne and Pierre the CBs with Carlins Platel in the slot. Henry Mondeaux and Isaiahh Loudermilk the nickel pairing. Bush and Spillane the ILBs. Pickett boot left. Quick and perhaps rushed throw in the left flat to a well-covered Calvin Austin, who had either Bush or Donovan Stiner on him. Pass is incomplete.
7. Stiner and Norwood the safety pairing. Tuszka and Avery the EDGE rushers. Pickett hits Sternberger on a quick curl for five yards.
8. Pickett calling out to the other ten, Huddle, Huddle as they regroup and get the call. Delontae Scott LOLB, Tuzar Skipper ROLB, DeMarvin Leal and Khalil Davis the DTs, Ulysees Gilbert III and Mark Robinson the ILBs. Pickett tries to get the defense to jump with a hard count to no avail. Pickett fires down the left sideline. It’s a little underthrown and Sims has to slow up and work back for the ball. James Pierre can’t match him and Sims makes the catch and gets a couple more yards down the left sideline for a gain of 26 yards.
9. Rudolph scrambles here up the middle. Not much happening here.
10. Tucker-Dixon-Gilliam-Owens-Scott the offensive line grouping here. Rudolph underneath to Rader is dropped by the tight end. Buddy Johnson on the coverage. Trent Scott beat around the edge here.
11. Screen left caught by Durant. Gilbert III reads it and drives to make the stop basically at the line of scrimmage. Good diagnose and read and finish by UG3.
12. Newly signed Javon McKinley the Z receiver. Rudolph to Sternberger incomplete, perhaps Sternberger turned the wrong way, but Gilbert had decent coverage.
Fourth Team Session
1. Ball on the offense’s 29. Trubisky under center. 12 personnel. Miller and Pickens the receivers with Pickens the Z. Snell carry right side. Watt got free with a punch at the football as Snell runs through and past. No full-tackling here. Gain of two.
2. Spillane and Bush the ILBs. Witherspoon and Sutton the CBs, Maulet in the slot. Unbalanced line with Okorafor moving right to left. Trubisky rolls left and hits Anthony Miller along the left sideline with Sutton providing tight coverage. Miller caught it but I think it was out of bounds. Miller nor the offense didn’t react like he got both feet inbounds.
3. McFarland run right side for four. Myles Jack working off Okorafor’s block and to get a hand on McFarland’s jersey. “Good rep!” Tomlin yells out.
4. Trubisky screen left to Snell is complete. Terrell Edmunds with a good pop into Snell to slow his roll at the end. Gain of nine.
5. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Loudermilk and Davis the DTs. Jaylen Warren the running back and gets the carry. Jack turns it back inside for just a gain of one.
6. Pickett playaction and climbs the pocket. No throw and he tucks and runs. Three-man route downfield.
7. Johnson and Gilbert III the ILB pairings. Backup base defensive line of Leal at LDE, Mondeaux at NT, Loudermilk at RDE. Warren bends the run back and gains two, Gilbert filling the lane.
8. Connor Heyward standing up slot right before motioning to an in-line position. Pickett checkdown complete to Warren for four. Gilbert there again on the tag.
9. Chris Steele and Linden Stephens the outside CBs with Maulet in the slot. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Empty set. Shotgun snap. Bad exchange at the mesh point to Warren and Rudolph falls on the football. D-line was disruptive and may have hurried the exchange – I couldn’t get a real good look at it.
10. Rudolph under center. Delontae Scott blows up a jet run/reverse to Steven Sims for a loss of five.
11. Rudolph again under center. Play of the day. Rudolph with a dime deep down the left sideline hitting Calvin Austin, dusting CB Linden Stephens for a 76-yard TD. Great throw and Austin’s speed was really and truly on display here.
12. Mataeo Durant up the middle spinning away from Mark Robinson before getting popped by a DB at the end. I’ll give him five here.
Fifth Team Session
1. “How we gonna finish? Exclamation point!” Tomlin calls out to the whole group. Ball on the offense’s 19. Trubisky in at QB, Snell at RB. Completion to six on a boot from Trubisky to Pickett, who dives across the 25-yard line face first.
2. Snell carry right side. Watt forces him back inside. Call it a gain of two.
3. Trubisky short throw complete to Connor Heyward. Spillane had good coverage but appeared Heyward hung on. Gain of four.
4. Wormley-Adams-Loudermilk the first-team DL. Loudermilk in for Heyward. McFarland up the middle. Adams flashed his quick first step to get into the backfield but McFarland gets past. Gain of five.
5. Wormley-Mondeaux-Loudermilk the three-down linemen. Tuszka and Avery the EDGE rushers. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Complete to Zach Gentry on a stick route, though Gentry had to double-catch it as he went to the ground. Gain of six.
6. Carlos Davis and Isaiahh Loudermilk the DTs. Robert Spillane and Myles Jack the ILBs. Justin Layne and James Pierre the CBs. Toss right to McFarland with Joe Haeg pulling out in space. More toss plays this year under Pat Meyer. Spillane with a good angle and tags McFarland. Gain of five.
7. Perimeter run to the left side with Mataeo Durant. Genard Avery good chase backside with the frontside CB filling well. Putting this down as a loss of two.
8. Tyler Vaughns and Miles Boykin on the outside with Gunner Olszewski in the slot. Jaylen Warren motioned out slot right. Pickett again climbs and tucks and runs for at least the third time today.
9. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Delontae Scott and Tuzar Skipper the EDGE rushers. Warren inside zone cut upfield with a solid amount of burst. Good, quick cut. Give him eight. Linden Stephens first man there to tag him.
10. Jake Dixon at RT. Rudolph checkdown to Durant is broken up by Gilbert III.
11. Rudolph under center. Jaylen Warren left side. Delontae Scott tracks him from the backside for a loss of one.
12. Rudolph hits Tyler Snead on a crosser for six. Jordan Tucker fell down during the play. Not sure what happened there but I’ve seen him on the ground a bit in team. That ends the day.
– From after the first team session, my log of RB/LB 1v1 coverage drills. This is an event heavily tailored to the offense.
RB/LB Coverage 1v1s
1. Benny Snell beats Devin Bush to the outside for the catch.
2. Anthony McFarland bursts outside to make the grab on Myles Jack.
3. Derek Watt gets into Mark Robinson’s pads but separates at the top and makes a sliding grab to the right.
4. Jaylen Warren on a pivot route, faking in and turning back out. Mark Robinson with a good rep to sink, change directions, and drive on the football. A good rep in a tough environment.
5. Mataeo Durant beats Buddy Johnson outside but drops the ball, looking upfield and taking his eyes off the football.
6. Benny Snell on a wheel route down the right side and tracks the ball very well, making the grab over his left shoulder against Robert Spillane, who had good coverage but Snell made a great play.
7. Anthony McFarland jumps inside and breaks back out. But Ulysees Gilbert III drives and takes a good angle on the ball, picking it off. Rare INT in this drill.
8. Watt and Bush collide at the top but Watt gets free inside and makes the catch.
9. Jaylen Warren bursts at the top against Mark Robinson and creates space for an easy catch.
10. Mataeo Durant beats Buddy Johnson on the outside.
11. Nice route by Benny Snell, shaking Ulysess Gilbert III on an out ‘n up and winning vertically for a downfield catch.
12. McFarland converts his wheel route to a curl and makes the grab on Myles Jack.
13. Warren beats Robinson inside.
14. Spillane covers Watt well on his out cut and the pass is incomplete with Watt never getting a hand on the football.
15. Durant with an easy route and win against Bush.
16. Snell on another out ‘n up against Buddy Johnson. Diving attempt but incomplete. “A” for effort, at least.
17. McFarland with the catch on the out route against Gilbert.
18. Warren and Bush get tangled up as Warren releases into him. Pass ends up being incomplete.
19. Slow pivot route from Watt running inside, stopping, and then coming back outside. Buddy Johnson had a slight tug on Watt as he tried to run back out and the pass is incomplete.
20. Durant with the grab on Bush on an inside/outside route. They give each other a fist bump as they walk back to their lines.
21. I guess the good battles they had turned the tables and put Robert Spillane at RB and Benny Snell at LB. Spillane ran a five yard out and caught the ball. At the risk of sounding like the Grinch, I don’t know why the team does this. It’s a rep not worth anything for anyone.
22. They get back on track. Bush playing off coverage against McFarland who runs a quick out and makes an easy grab.
23. Robinson holds and grabs Warren who goes to the ground. Incomplete but an obvious penalty.
24. They go one more time, this time split out like a WR instead of a backfield alignment. You know what’s coming. Go route down the right side. Warren creates some space at the top but loses some speed while looking back for the ball near the goal line. All-out dive as he falls on his back but the ball skirts over his two outstretched hands and it’s incomplete.
– Here are the OL/DL reps.
1. Good initial punch by Dan Moore Jr. on Alex Highsmith but Highsmith is able to knock them down and win inside.
2. Cam Heyward corners late against Kevin Dotson around the edge.
3. Montravius Adams working on Mason Cole with a swim and club but neither were super effective.
4. Chris Wormley beats James Daniels inside.
5. They go again and Wormley wins with a bull/swim combination.
6. Chukwuma Okorafor with a good rep to stall out Watt’s bull rush.
7. Okorafor wins again, sealing Watt up the arc.
8. Moore mirrors Highsmith’s spin move well, though Highsmith got past late in the rep.
9. Cam Heyward with a dirty outside spin move against Kevin Dotson. Highlight of the rep.
10. Dotson saves some face to win this rep in a rematch against Heyward, whose club move failed to connect.
11. Tiebreaker. Heyward with either a swim or push/pull to get past Dotson and take the set, 2 wins to 1.
12. Mason Cole anchors and holds on against Henry Mondeaux’s bull rush.
13. Mondeaux wins here, ripping past. Mondeaux’s looked good in these drills.
14. James Daniels with some issues against Adams early in the rep but he’s able to give a little ground and square his hips to finish better than he started.
15. Trent Scott locks up Derrek Tuszka.
16. Scott opened the gate (his hips) pretty early here, maybe anticipating speed and sealing Tuszka up the arc.
17. Tuszka wins here with good power, jolting Scott back and drawing some cheers from his defensive teammates.
18. Genard Avery tries a bull rush but slips and loses his footing, falling down to the ground as Joe Haeg lands on top.
19. Avery more effective with finesse here, cornering late but getting past Haeg. Avery has shown good bend around the edge.
20. Good bull rush by Isaiahh Loudermilk as Kendrick Green ends up going down to his knees.
21. Loudermilk’s attempted rip move fails against Green as they go again.
22. Tiebreaker. Green wins it by sealing Loudermilk upfield.
23. Carlos Davis with an explosive bull/swim move past J.C. Hassenauer. Davis ended up falling into the offensive lineman standing behind the drill watching and waiting to get in line.
24. Good battle between Davis and Hassenauer again as each guy tries to hand fight. Davis went to the ground so I’ll give Hassenauer the win here. Can’t sack the QB on the ground.
25. DeMarvin Leal with a great long-arm to walk OG John Leglue into the would-be QBs lap. Leglue takes a little swipe at Leal as he’s walking away, a sign of things to come.
26. I didn’t catch the whole rep because I thought it was the last of the drill with the horn going off to get ready for the final team session. But Tomlin wants Leal and Leglue to keep battling. On the second rep, it looks like Leal was pushing Leglue back again with power but I couldn’t tell for sure.
27. They go one more time with the two locking up again. Both guys are pissed and start swiping at each other. No close-handed punches but a lot of strong slaps at each other as Leal grabs Leglue’s helmet and at least one of them, if not both, went to the ground. The skill players on the near field are just standing and watching, waiting for the linemen to stop fighting so they can get in the drill and be done for the day. Kind of a funny sight.
– Thought Mason Rudolph was the best QB today. The great throw to Austin for a TD and throw to Boykin in seven shots were very good throws. I might put Kenny Pickett as the second-best QB today, partly because Trubisky struggled. Pickett seems to tuck and run more than anyone else though. I’ll need to pull numbers on that to confirm.
– Another data-gathering exercise I’ll have to do. Jaylen Warren with a ton of carries today in part due to the injuries to Jeremy McNichols and Najee Harris. Warren seemed to receive the bulk of the extra chances.
– I expect camp fights and skirmishes. But this year has been weird. Carlos Davis racing off the sidelines to blindside Jake Dixon. Today, it was Cam Heyward vs Benny Snell and Calvin Austin vs T.J. Watt. Not exactly a same weight class fight.
– Really liked getting to see Austin’s speed as a true receiver on that long TD. Not just jet/screen/pop pass stuff. On a go ball down the sideline and making a big play like he did at Memphis.
– Chris Wormley’s seemed to be besting James Daniels in OL/DL. Done it the last two days.
– Offensive linemen have mixed and matched but Jake Dixon has been lining up all over. He’s showing versatility.
– I like seeing more power rushes from Isaiahh Loudermilk. That’s how he’s going to win and I’m seeing him lean on it more in 1v1 drills. Hope it continues.
– Ulysees Gilbert III had one of the best practices today. INT in 1v1s during a drill heavily slanted in the offense’s favor. Two breakups in team and a good angle to sniff out a screen pass. Competition in the ILB room is heating up.
– Good days for Cam Sutton and Ahkello Witherspoon. Sutton has quietly had a nice camp and is more vocal this year in Joe Haden’s absence.
– Know it’s early but kinda bummed by Levi Wallace missing time. With the CB rotation they’ve employed, he hasn’t gotten a ton of reps and has essentially missed three practices now. Hope he gets back soon.
Saint Vincent Snapshot
A very lonely jog for Joe Haeg, forced to run after a false start in seven shots in the opposite end zone.
Twitter Camp Question
Usually five. And that could be the five. But we’ll see. Marcus Allen has to be feeling some heat though with that hamstring. And Buddy Johnson is certainly no lock to make it.
Random Steelers’ Fact
The Pittsburgh Steelers employed the NFL’s first full-time specialist in kicker Mose Kelsch, an old friend of Art Rooney. Kelsch played for the team from 1933-1934 before being killed in an offseason car crash.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
“Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.”