In already its final week of training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers returned to Chuck Noll Field Monday afternoon. Practice will run through Thursday before camp breaks and players get to leave dorms and sleep in their own beds. Let’s discuss what happened today.
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Camp Notes (Day 13)
– Not practicing today included: FB Derek Watt (shoulder), EDGE Alex Highsmith (ribs), RB Benny Snell (knee), OL Chaz Green (undisclosed), WR Calvin Austin III (foot), WR Miles Boykin (ribs), WR Anthony Miller (shoulder), S Karl Joseph (ankle), ILB Marcus Allen (hamstring), and NT Montravius Adams (ankle). I didn’t see Austin, Miller, nor Joseph on the field today. Joseph is obviously dealing with what looks like a serious ankle injury suffered early in Saturday’s game while Austin and Miller missed it entirely. I did see Adams on the field with no boot/cast/anything on his ankle so that’s a good sign. Snell came down at 2:01, six minutes after practice started (likely getting treatment) but went through stretch line and moved around fine. So his injury seems minor.
Returning to practice included TE Zach Gentry, WR Chase Claypool, RB Najee Harris, OG Kevin Dotson and OLB Genard Avery. Harris was not tackled but worked in most team sessions, except seven shots, for the first time since the first day pads came on. CB Ahkello Witherspoon and DB Damontae Kazee, both hurt in Saturday’s game, practiced in full today. So good news there. NT Tyson Alualu worked full while SS Miles Killebrew was limited.
OG Kendrick Green suffered a left hand/wrist injury on the first play of 7 shots. He was checked on by trainers, walked up the stairs to the facility and then surprisingly returned to practice about ten minutes later and finished out the day. Can’t recall a time where a player left the field and then came back, much less practiced.
– Just two days after a game, the Steelers were in pads today. By comparison, the team wasn’t in pads coming off their first preseason game last year. Today’s practice wasn’t as intense as others in pads but Tomlin putting the team to work today.
– Newly signed OLB James Vaughters, replacing the injured Tuzar Skipper, will wear #96. He worked in full today.
– With Joseph out, WR Tyler Vaughns first one down the stairs at 1:23 with Arthur Maulet and Chris Owens not far behind.
– Four of the five starting offensive linemen walked down the stairs together: Dan Moore Jr, Kevin Dotson, James Daniels, and Chukwuma Okorafor. Only Mason Cole was the exception, walking about ahead of them by a little bit.
– Kendrick Green worked as first-team LG in warmups though ultimately, he and Dotson rotated starter reps throughout the day as they did before Dotson got hurt.
– Steelers break out and work on WR pop passes and jet runs at the start of every practice. Pop passes today with a very short forward pass to the receiver coming across. “Completion!” Mike Tomlin harped, emphasizing the need for a forward pass and not a handoff. If there’s a bad exchange, it’s an incompletion, not a fumble.
– Frisman Jackson working on curl routes with the receivers in positional drills, Jackson working as the CB as he coached up each rep. “Get me running, get me running, get me running!” he called out to each player, wanting the player to sell vertically to get the CB to open up before breaking down. Tyler Vaughns had one good rep that Jackson praised him for.
– Some funny moments during a coverage drill during the STs session, asking players to go around the first two bags (spaced about ten yards apart across the width of the field) before going through the third one. Jaylen Warren and James Vaughters wiped out trying to go through.
– Ok let’s talk seven shots.
First Team Session (Seven Shots)
1. Green in at LG. Mitch Trubisky at QB. Zach Gentry and Pat Freiermuth the TE pairing. T.J. Watt and Derrek Tuszka the EDGE rushers. Larry Ogunjobi and Cam Heyward the DTs. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds the safeties, Ahkello Witherspoon and Cam Sutton the CBs, Devin Bush and Myles Jack the ILBs. Initially an empty set before the back comes into the backfield and the formation is less spread out. Jaylen Warren working first-team RB and gets the carry up the middle. He’s stuffed by several Steelers, led by Terrell Edmunds, short of the goal line.
2. Green is hurt and Kevin Dotson comes in at LG. Trubisky holds onto the ball for a tick too long trying to find an open receiver before firing right side for Zach Gentry. Pass incomplete, Edmunds with the coverage. Warren had good initial pass pro and stood his ground but lost later in the rep, leading Trubisky to fire the ball.
3. Anthony McFarland in at RB. Out route to the right front pylon complete to Diontae Johnson for the TD.
4. Trubisky under center. Looks like a somewhat busted play as Trubisky looks and half-rolls left. Hits Steven Sims in the flat but Cam Sutton makes the tackle short of the end zone.
5. “3-1, 3-1” Tomlin yells out, reflecting the defense’s advantage. Kenny Pickett in at QB. Master Teague in at RB. Fade/jump ball left side for TE Pat Freiermuth, a pretty touch throw skied over safety Donovan Stiner and Freiermuth makes the grab. TD.
6. Pickett under center. Teague carry left side. Bounces left side and steps out of the tackle of a diving Genard Avery into the end zone for the TD. Avery may have been held a bit by his blocker but it’s still a score.
7. All tied at three for the final rep. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Mataeo Durant at RB. Quick slant to Cody White is complete but he appeared to have been stopped short of the goal line as the defense piles on him. White threw his hands up signaling touchdown but the defense did all the celebrating. Giving the defense a 4-3 win today. Steak and lobster for them.
– Notes from WR vs DB 1v1s
1. George Pickens runs a dig route against Ahkello Witherspoon. Pass is a little behind but Pickens reaches back for the grab, surviving the ground as Witherspoon shoves him down.
2. Chase Claypool runs vertically down the left sideline. Pass perhaps a tiny bit underthrown but a nice job by James Pierre to get his head around to knock it away.
3. WR Christian Blake runs a slant and plucks the ball against rookie Chris Steele.
4. This was in 3v3 action but Myles Jack with a nice breakup against Jace Sternberger.
5. Diontae Johnson runs a slant on Cam Sutton. Combative catch but Johnson reaches out in front of him and makes an impressive snag.
6. Pat Freiermuth runs a curl and makes the catch on Myles Jack.
7. Nice job here by Blake again to sell vertical and break down on the curl, just as Frisman Jackson repped earlier, to make the grab on Steele.
8. Connor Heyward rounds off his dig and Minkah Fitzpatrick makes him pay. Runs the route for the rookie, undercuts it, and picks it off.
9. Pickens jabs outside and vertical off the line to get Justin Layne to open the wrong way. Crosses his face on a slant for the catch. Nice route.
10. Chase Claypool runs a curl and makes the grab working over Sutton.
11. Ahkello Witherspoon trailing underneath but Johnson shakes him at the top of this 15-yard dig and makes the catch. Tough spot 1v1 but a good route from Johnson.
12. Slot fade from Anthony McFarland and he blows by Robert Spillane left side, making the catch.
13. Nice out ‘n up by Heyward who finishes strong with a leaping catch turning back for the ball and grabbing it against Tre Norwood.
14. Steven Sims on a well-run stop ‘n go to gain a step on DB Linden Stephens. Sims tracks the ball over his left shoulder and makes the catch deep downfield. Finishes the play with a hearty leap over the goal line.
Second Team Session
1. Backups starting off this rep with live-tackling to start. Jake Dixon in at LT, John Leglue in at LG, Nate Gilliam at C, Chris Owens in at RG. Mason Rudolph in at QB. Good run by Master Teague who breaks a tackle and gains five yards.
2. Rudolph under center. Not sure who had the carry here but it goes for a loss of one, the tackle made by Genard Avery. Justin Layne and Chris Steele the CBs on this play.
3. Donovan Stiner and – this is new – Linden Stephens at safety. Layne and Steele on the outside with Carlins Platel in the slot. Ron’Dell Carter and Delontae Scott the EDGE rushers. Mataeo Durant run. Mark Robinson dives and Stephens also helps on the tackle after a gain of three.
4. Donovan Jeter-Doug Costin-Khalil Davis the okie front defensive line. Rudolph under center. Split flow run with Durant on the carry. Nice job by Buddy Johnson to make the tackle, though he was unblocked on the play.
5. “Everyone on your feet,” Tomlin calls out as the starters come in, signaling the tackling portion is over. Which is good because Najee Harris is in the game with the rest of the 1’s. He gets carry left side but gets back to the line of scrimmage. Mitch Trubisky in at QB.
6. Harris again on the carry. He tries to cut left but hits into Mason Cole’s back and falls to the ground, clapping the football with his off-hand before he gets up. Gain of just one.
7. Trubisky still in at QB. George Pickens as the Z, Diontae Johnson as the X, Chase Claypool as the F (slot). Jaylen Warren right side. Chris Wormley in on the stop after a gain of two.
8. Tyson Alualu the DT opposite Chris Wormley. Myles Jack and Devin Bush the ILBs. Counter Trey run with James Daniels and Pat Freiermuth pulling right to left, Warren behind. Gain of two, Devin Bush scraping over and making the stop.
9. Offensive line of: Joe Haeg-Kendrick Green-J.C. Hassenauer-John Leglue-Trent Scott. Kenny Pickett in at QB in shotgun. Isaiahh Loudermilk and Henry Mondeaux the DTs. Don’t have the runner here but Hamilcar Rashed Jr. makes the stop at the line of scrimmage.
10. Jaylen Warren left side. Robert Spillane active as he’s been all camp, making the stop at the line. “Ball search,” someone called out, a theme of run plays all camp.
11. Tre Norwood slot corner with Levi Wallace at RCB, James Pierre at LCB. Explosive cut by Najee Harris and he gains five and finishes the rep. Gunner Olszewski and Steven Sims plus effort to block James Pierre down the left sideline.
12. Pickett under center. Olszewski and Cody White the WRs. Anthony McFarland finds a lane right side and gains ten. Like the hustle from DeMarvin Leal and he runs with McFarland, who is at half-speed, but they go 50 yards and follows him into the end zone. Both guys finishing strong.
Third Team Session
1. Kendrick Green back and in at LG. Ogunjobi and Heyward the DT pairing. Witherspoon and Sutton on the outside with Damontae Kazee, Terrell Edmunds, and Minkah Fitzpatrick on the field in a three-safety package (though Kazee has played slot corner in the past too). Edmunds more in the slot here. Trubisky throw over the middle is nearly picked by Cam Sutton, who got his head around a little late and juggled the ball twice. Pass hits the ground. t
2. Ball on the offense’s 22. Might have been a false start on the play but the ball’s still snapped. Complete left side on a slant to Diontae Johnson for a gain of five, working on Levi Wallace.
3. Dime defense with Witherspoon and Wallace on the outside, Sutton in the slot, and Tre Norwood as the dime defender. Nice blitz pickup by Jaylen Warren. Trubisky complete to Pat Freiermuth over the middle for six.
4. Alualu and Wormley the DTs. Pickens and Johnson on the outside with Claypool in the slot. Jaylen Warren in at RB. T.J. Watt beats Okorafor around the edge. Pressure and Trubisky’s throw is short and incomplete, a couple yards in front of Johnson. Teryl Austin always gets on defenders to run and pick the ball up and Minkah Fitzpatrick hustled to the sidelines to grab the ball next to the security guard and in front of the VIP fans to finish the rep.
5. Pickett in at QB. Vaughters and Rashed Jr. the OLB pairing. Leal and Loudermilk the DTs, Pierre and Wallace the CBs. Norwood and Kazee the safety pairing. Y-stick by Heyward and Pickett hits him for five. Arthur Maulet with a high and strong one-arm tackle that spins Heyward down.
6. Rashed Jr. and Scott the EDGE rushers. Stiner and Kazee the safeties, Carlins Platel in the slot. Pickett complete to WR Tyler Snead for about ten with a good bit of YAC. James Pierre chases him down the left sideline.
7. Leal and Henry Mondeaux the DTs. Tyler Vaughns and Cody White on the outside with Steven Sims in the slot. Pickett complete to Freiermuth over the middle for a gain of four.
8. Pierre and Steele the CBs with Maulet in the slot and Platel being the dime defender. Bubble screen complete to White who also gains about ten down the left sideline. Good block thrown by Anthony McFarland at the LOS while Mondeaux with his good athleticism chases him downfield.
9. Justin Layne in at LCB opposite Chris Steele. Mark Robinson and Buddy Johnson the ILBs. Mason Rudolph at QB. Slant is complete and broken up by Layne intended for Vaughns,.
10. Stiner and Stephens the safety pairing. Master Teague in the backfield. The Davis’ twins the DTs. Rudolph rolls left and hits Christian Blake for a short gain against Steele.
11. Costin and Jeter the DT pairing. Short throw from Rudolph complete to Vaughns and he turns Steele around, the rookie corner turning the wrong way, and gains 15 with a lot of yAC.
12. Vaughters beats rookie RT Jordan Tucker off the edge, causing Rudolph to climb the pocket. He tucks and runs.
Fourth Team Session
1. Dotson in at LG, Harris in at RB. Trubisky playaction. Dig route to Diontae Johnson clangs off his outstretched right hand and incomplete. Throw slightly off the mark.
2. Ball at the offense’s nine. Wormely-Alualu-Heyward the three down linemen. Pickens and Johnson the two WRs. Harris cuts left and gains six before Spillane charges a hard left shoulder into Harris’ right shoulder pad but Harris kept on trucking.
3. Warren good run of seven on a draw. Devin Bush grabs and pulls him around to end things, though Warren is good about finishing every rep hard.
4. Trubisky under center. Pony grouping with McFarland slot left. Playaction. Y screen to Zach Gentry left side for about ten. Kevin Dotson throws a block in front but loses his feet. Gentry’s working his way out of bounds but T.J. Watt comes flying in and tries to punch the ball out with a big overhand jab down through Gentry’s hands, colliding with him and sending Gentry – no small man- to the ground.
5. Warren carry right side. No tackling here so Warren flies out the right side but Delontae Scott got in the backfield and would’ve blown it up. Putting it down as no gain.
6. Pickett complete to Olszewski for eight right side. Stiner makes the tag.
7. Ball on the offense’s 19. Haeg-K.Green-Hassenauer-Leglue-Scott the 2nd team OL. McFarland slot right. Pickett under center and boots right. Lo-hi read but the flat and corner route to that side are covered. Pickett keeps his eyes downfield and finds Tyler Snead on the crosser working left to right and working back in Pickett’s field of vision. Pass complete for about ten. Good progression and read and throw by Pickett.
8. Fake jet run to Olszewski with Pickett shoveling to Heyward up the middle. Buddy Johnson meets him with a loud thud for a gain of maybe one. I hope this play isn’t run often. Probably something for short-yardage/goal line.
9. Khalil and Carlos Davis the DTs. Rudolph under center. Teague inside zone right, cutting upfield and gaining two. Mark Robinson fills his gap.
10. Layne and Steele the CBs on the outside with Platel in the slot. Stiner and Stephens the safeties. Vaughters and Carter the OLBs. Rudolph hits Cody White on an over route for a gain of 16, beating Steele. Frisman Jackson happy with White as he jogs back to the sideline. “That’s it, that’s a great job!”
11. Rudolph complete to Blake for a gain of five. Layne with the tag. Playaction here.
12. Mataeo Durant runs behind Jordan Tucker for four yards.
– OL/DL 1v1s
1. Isaiahh Loudermilk can’t rip the edge against Jake Dixon.
2. J.C. Hassenauer buries rookie Donovan Jeter to the ground.
3. Nice push-pull by Doug Costin to grab and knock Nate Gilliam down, though Costin himself stumbled a bit finishing the rep.
4. Nice anchor by Gilliam on Costin here. Costin swims him very late in the rep.
5. Carlos Davis has trouble cornering against Chris Owens.
6. They go again and it’s cleaner for Davis, who is able to gain the edge sooner.
7. DeMarvin Leal with a nice bull/swim move to beat Jordan Tucker.
8. Better job here by Tucker to get his arms extended and win the rep against Leal, who couldn’t club him.
9. Leal wins the tiebreaker and Leal wins the edge late.
10. Loudermilk with a quick swim over Dixon, who falls forward to the ground.
11. Hassenauer with another win on Jeter with each side offering a quick shove at the end of the rep.
12. Good hand fighting between Hassenauer and Jeter but Jeter swims late. Hassenauer working as a LG in all three of these reps.
13. Nate Gilliam seals Khalil Davis.
14. Better job here from Davis who quickly swims past Gilliam.
15. Chris Owens flashes a dead hand to Leal but Leal doesn’t bite, using his effective cross chop to beat him.
16. Leal’s bull rush wins this time, knocking Owens off-balance.
17. Leal pulls out another move, beating Owens with an inside spin and using an effective ice pick to disallow Owens from recovering for the quick win.
18. Nice cross chop/dip by Ron’Dell Carter to beat Jordan Tucker.
19. Power this time from Carter who punches hard inside Tucker’s chase and jolts him back, sending his hands up in the air. Good win from Carter.
20. Delontae Scott can’t rip past Dan Moore Jr. as the Steelers’ starting o-line finishes out the drill.
21. Kendrick Green with a good win on Khalil Davis.
22. Another win by Green on Davis, whose bull/rip move fails.
23. Mason Cole gives some ground but stalls out Doug Costin’s bull rush.
24. Carlos Davis with a good swipe/rip combo to get past James Daniels inside.
25. Kevin Dotson ends up on the ground against Carlos Davis, who stumbles a bit but wins the rep.
26. Bounce-back rep from Dotson who puts Khalil Davis into the ground.
27. Leal’s spin move this time won’t work on Dotson. Leal goes to the ground and pounds the grass before getting back to his feet.
28. Good initial anchor by Dotson but Loudermilk swims him late. Dotson was probably gassed at this point with four straight reps against four different rushers.
Fifth Team Session
1. Two-minute drill. Mitch Trubisky running first-team. Ball on the offense’s 32. Kendrick Green in at LG. Najee Harris in at RB, Pickens and Johnson on the outside with Claypool in the slot. Completion working on Tre Norwood gains 12 yards.
2. Someone along the o-line false starts. Back them up five yards to the 39. Norwood the dime defender here.
3. Freiermuth running open down the middle of the field and Trubisky hits him for a gain of 22 to the opposing 39.
4. “Tornado, tornado” is the offense’s hurry-up call. Throw right sideline for George Pickens is incomplete. Ahkello Witherspoon covering.
5. Throw over the middle intended for Connor Heyward is thrown behind and incomplete. Misfire by Trubisky.
6. Gunner Olszewski rotating in the slot with Claypool coming off. Throw right corner to Olszewski is out of bounds and incomplete. Witherspoon again covering.
7. 4th and 10. Claypool back on the field and in the slot. Trubisky hits Freiermuth again, a double-catch but secured, and he gets a good spot and picks up 11 for the first down to the 28.
8. Trubisky spikes the ball.
9. Trubisky takes off and runs out of bounds. Apparently a 14-yard gain though it didn’t feel like that.
10. Ball on the defense’s 28. Carter with pressure from his LOLB spot. Potential screen but Trubisky throws it at the back’s feet.
11. 3×1 formation. Short throw hits Heyward running right to left complete, Terrell Edmunds with the wrap-up after a gain of three.
12. Trubisky 50/50 ball in the right corner of the end zone for Pickens. Witherspoon competes and matches the chance, poking the ball away.
13. 4th and 10. One-second left. “Gotta go end zone,” the defense points out. Throw front left side for Johnson is incomplete, defensed by Cam Sutton.
– Now Kenny Pickett comes in for a two-minute drill. A little closer than what Trubisky had, the LOS around the 36.
1. Pickett’s first pass complete to Gunner Olszewski complete for eight. Chris Steele applying the tag.
2. Kevin Dotson in at LG. Jaylen Warren on a draw gains five to the offense’s 49.
3. Olszewski makes a sliding catch for ten.
4. Pickett wants Olszewski again left middle/seam but Arthur Maulet shuts it down. He jumps the route and picks it off, celebrating by firing the ball 50 feet into the air as the defense goes 2/2 in two-minute. That ends the day’s work.
– Bit of a longer look at some backups today with a lot of third-string types not working Saturday night. OL/DL was mostly backups today while the one team session, a live-tackling portion, had the backups kick things off.
– You’d expect it coming off his first game but things slowing down for Kenny Pickett. Third-read completion to Tyler Snead on that boot was a higher-level play. Good day for Pickett, though the INT was a sour note to end on.
– I’m going to need to check my notes but I know Pickett ran ahead of Rudolph every team session today (except for the second one where the backups/third-stringers kicked things off, which essentially showed Rudolph was the #3 today). I believe that’s the first time that’s happened this camp. The two have rotated but this might be the first day Pickett ran with the 2’s all practice.
(Update: Checked just now and Pickett did run ahead of Rudolph throughout the 5th practice. So this isn’t the first time. But uncommon and something to watch for tomorrow).
– Two-minute drill stats:
Mitch Trubisky: 4/10 39 yards, 0 TDs 0 INTs, 14 yards rushing.
Kenny Pickett: 2/3 18 yards, 0 TDs 1 INT
– Consistently today, Chase Claypool worked in the slot with George Pickens as the Z and Diontae Johnson the X. Expected 11 personnel grouping Week One. Pickens and Claypool rotated opposite Johnson in two-receiver sets.
– Nice to see Pat Freiermuth get involved in the pass game today. Not that I was worried but he’s battled injuries in camp so it was to see him make plays over the middle of the field today, including deeper downfield.
– Want to be fair and not mean but OT Jordan Tucker has struggled all camp. More than I thought he would. I wouldn’t be comfortable having him on the field with Kenny Pickett out there this preseason.
– T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick – elite players with elite work ethic. Watt chasing the ball and going for the forced fumble at the end of a rep. Working with assistant coach Denzel Martin on pass rush moves during STs session while most of the starting defense caught their breath on the bench. Fitzpatrick running over to pick up an incomplete pass even when he wasn’t covering or in the area. These two are professionals through and through.
– DeMarvin Leal a toolsy pass rusher with lots of tools in that belt. Excited to watch more of him.
– Shown just briefly but seeing the team try to get Damontae Kazee on the field in some three-safety looks now that Minkah Fitzpatrick is back. Kazee and Tre Norwood giving this team options in the secondary which is nice to have.
– Just don’t see it with CB Chris Steele. Not athletic or physical enough.
– Not surprised to see Linden Stephens play safety. To conclude Day 12, I noted he was very tight-hipped and should be tried at safety. Now he is.
Saint Vincent Snapshot
Danny Smith. The Legend.
Random Steelers’ Fact
The highest scoring game the Steelers have ever been apart of came in 1966, a combined 90 points against the Atlanta Falcons. Pittsburgh prevailed to win 57-33. It was just 6-0 after the first quarter but the Steelers racked up 44 second and third quarter points to win.
George Carlin’s Quote Of The Day
“When someone asks you, ‘A penny for your thoughts,’ and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?”