Thursday was the ninth day of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers and that means we are now one week away from the first preseason game that will take place next Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Philadelphia Eagles. As we do every day, below is a recap of the practice that we have collected from several members of the media as well as a few call in reports we received from fans in attendance.
I also invite you to check out the nightly recap episode of The Terrible Podcast with special guest Ken Laird of Sports Talk At Trib Live Radio.
Not practicing on Thursday of course were the five players that remain on the PUP list along with running back John Clay (groin), punter Jeremy Kapinos (back), cornerback Terry Carter (hamstring) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (undisclosed). The only new injury that Tomlin revealed was linebacker Brandon Hicks (abdominal), who suffered a lower abdominal injury of sorts. Tomlin said he hopes that will not be significant and added that Woodley should work on Friday and that Clay is close to returning. Linebacker James Harrison (knee) said on Thursday he is still day-to-day.
On Thursday the Steelers had visitors in the form of a replacement skeleton crew of referees that helped out officiating. According to Tomlin there were just a few minor incidents with the crew but that overall he thought they did a nice job. One of those incidents came during the two-minute drill, but Tomlin attributed it to the lack of officials.
In the competition portion of the practice it featured the tight ends versus the outside linebackers. That entailed run blocking, base blocking, reaching and cutting off. Tomlin said that it is an area that they still need to grow in on both sides of the ball regard to the young players. The main focus of the day, however, was the installation of the two-minute packages for both the offense and the defense.
According to David Todd, the tight end versus linebacker drills saw Chris Carter reportedly handle Leonard Pope twice. David Paulson and Mortty Ivy split their their first two battles with the third being a draw. Brandon Johnson got handled by Jamie McCoy, while Will Johnson and Adrian Robinson split their two battles.
Mike Prisuta reported that the first two minute 2-minute drill the first team offense was asked to go 62 yards in 1:52 with 1 timeout against the second team defense. The drive stalled at the one-yard line after time ran out on an incompletion. The drive included a rare drop by Emmanuel Sanders. Paulson also received work with the first team on that drive. Antonio Brown slipped free of Curtis Brown on the drive but was overthrown by Ben Roethlisberger after a pump fake. Roethlisberger, per Prisuta was 5 of 11 on the drive for 47 yards and had a 13-yard scramble. Brown was targeted six times, caught four passes for 42 yards. Jerricho Cotchery chipped in the other catch for 5 yards.
The second-team offense led by Byron Leftwich went against the first team defense and did not score. Ike Taylor reportedly had the hit of the day on receiver Derrick Williams during that drive.
The second first team drive resulted in a touchdown pass of 36 yards from Roethlisberger to Brown, who beat Keenan Lewis. The drive was just three plays, two of which reportedly went to Isaac Redman. Brown continues to be head and shoulders above the other receivers on the field according to reports.
The second second team drive led by Charlie Batch ended quickly with an interception by Cortez Allen on a pass that was intended for Toney Clemons. Allen, not surprisingly, continues to have a solid camp by all reports and was only beat deep once in drills on Thursday.
In drills, Clemons continues to have an up and down camp that has been highlighted by a few drops according to reports. One drop noticeably drew the ire of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The other wide receivers continue to be up and down and very inconsistent reportedly.
Prisuta named Cameron Heyward his one-on-one star of the day after he beat rookie Kelvin Beachum badly four consecutive times. Steve McLendon also reportedly had another good day in addition. Rookie Alameda Ta\'amu reportedly received an earful from John Mitchell who had to tell him to "fight his ass off." Dick LeBeau had to get on Andre Freeman once for not getting out on the field when they switched units.
David DeCastro and Mike Adams are reportedly not struggling by any means, but neither really have overly impressed yet either. It is still early on in camp and way too early to worry about either. They\'re rookies.
Ken Laird called the practice sloppy as did Tomlin.
The Steelers will be holding their annual “Friday Night Lights” practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium on Friday.