Steelers 2013 Training Camp – Day Four Recap

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the fields of Saint Vincent College on Monday for their third training camp practice of the 2013 season. The team wore their pads for the first time on Monday and below is recap of the practice.

On Monday, the pads were on and at center stage was the inaugural “backs on backers” drill that always gets everyone excited. The drill, which most of you should know by now, is heavily slanted in favor of the linebackers, as they get a running start at the running backs, who are not allowed to cut block. Mike Tomlin, however, tried to balance things out this year by at least letting the running backs know which linebacker was coming at them.

Center stage within the drill was of course linebacker Jarvis Jones and running back Le\’Veon Bell, the Steelers top two draft choices. The two went at each other four times with each winning twice. Jones uses his hands more than the other linebackers, according to an interview Bell gave to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider and it apparently caught him off guard a few times. In total, Bell participated in 11 battlers and Mike Prisuta of DVE Radio scored the rookie running back as winning five of those.

As far as the other combatants, Will Johnson, Isaac Redman and Matt Spaeth all faired well overall in their battles, while David Paulson and Baron Batch were the disappointments. On the linebacker side of the drill, Marshall McFadden reportedly had a good showing as did LaMarr Woodley. McFadden beat Batch on one of the reps and the running back took exception. There might have been a pretty good scuffle had running backs coach Kirby Wilson not intervened, according to several reports on Twitter.

In the end, Prisuta had the defense winning 30-17, which isn\’t overly surprising as they win the drill every year.

While the drill is certainly fun to follow and talk about, there is always too much focus put on who won or loss. I like to think of the drill as one that measures “want to” and there were no signs via any of the reports that any of the players involved didn\’t “want to.”

As usual, you can probably expect the next round of “want to” to take place Friday night under the lights during of Latrobe High School.

In addition to Jones “wanting to” during the backs on backers drill, there were several reports suggesting he his doing well when it comes to his drops into coverage. This is something that Jones has said in the past he didn\’t do a lot of at Georgia, so it\’s good to hear that he is potentially making some strides in that area of his game. In addition, Jones also got his hands up and on a few passes, so through the first three days of practices, nearly all of the reports have been positive on him and you have to like that.

Bell was reportedly rewarded with some first team reps in the offense for the work he put in earlier in the day, according to Ken Laird of Trib Live Radio. Laird also reports that Bell said he\’s picking up the playbook just fine and only pre-snap reads are causing him problems. That of course is to be expected right now.

Wrapping up what Laird had to report, he said backup nose tackle Hebron Fangupo picked up rookie undrafted backup center Joe Madsen and swung him thru the air, which prompted a funny response from Tomlin.

Both Paulson and Johnson continue to show their ability to make plays with their hands, according to one of my readers, who did add that Paulson got popped pretty good on one passing play.

With the pads on, the defensive backs were allowed to be more physical on Monday and they used that to their advantage not only when jamming off the line but in coverage as well.

Later in the day, Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest heaped a lot of praise on McFadden as he compared him to James Harrison. I am a huge McFadden fan, but am not ready to go that direction just yet. McFadden of course plays an entirely different position than Harrison, but it is good to finally hear more and more people get on his bandwagon.

A few names you are not hearing about thus far in camp are the names of linebackers Chris Carter, Adrian Robinson and Stevenson Sylvester. That\’s not unusual as most tend to only focus on the draft picks. We will get a better idea as to were those three players are at in their development as soon as the preseason games get rolling.

Labriola did report the second team offensive line as being Malecki at center, Chris Hubbard and Kelvin Beachum at the guard spots, and Joe Long and Guy Whimper at the left and right tackle spots respectively. How much should we read into that right now? Nothing, but I do stand firm in my belief that only Beachum and Malecki are the serious contenders to be the backup centers and guards.

Speaking of the offensive linemen, David DeCastro talked to the media on Monday and actually showed a little personality as he seems to be warming up to talking more. Me, I like the last year\’s angry and quiet DeCastro better.

Jonathan Dwyer also had his turn with the media on Monday and talked about losing 25-30 pounds during the offseason after training once again down in Florida. Man, that weight fluctuation can\’t be good for the heart, can it? Regardless, Dwyer is in shape and he said he hopes to lose five more pounds by the time the preseason games get rolling.

Tomlin wrapped up the events from the day in a bow during his afternoon Q & A with the media and he appeared to like what he saw during the first day in pads. As far as injuries go, cornerbacks Cortez Allen (knee) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) remained sidelined and rookie Terry Hawthorne (knee) was sidelined for the first time during training camp, as that surgically repaired knee must be bothering him. Tomlin, as usual, would not speculate about when any of the three will return to practice, but according to Wexell, Van Dyke\’s hamstring injury might very well sideline him for a while. Should another young cornerback be signed between now and Wednesday, it\’s a pretty good sign that one of the three, if not more, will be down a while.

Of course Heath Miller (knee), David Johnson (knee), Sean Spence (knee) and Alameda Ta\’amu all remain on the PUP list and all are limited to work on the side with the trainers.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked to the NFL Network after practice to once again discuss his knee and relationship with Todd Haley. Knock yourself out watching the video if you have time to spare out of your life.

The Steelers will be off on Tuesday and will return to practice on Wednesday. I know several of you readers attended the Monday practice, so add what you observed during the practice in the comments below should you feel so inclined.

  • Matt Searls

    great article again man! i really hope its ok that im adding things that i saw. lets see… backs on backers woodley was ridiculously unblockable, it wasnt even fair. timmons was really powerful and had his way too. marshall McFadden was in there a lot and had more pop than i was expecting. bell held his own against jarvis and took a nice shot from timmons but stood strong, he looked good even against woodley once but woodley got him the next time. redman never got beaten, neither did will johnson. matt spaeth looked good too. david paulson struggled at times but didnt get beaten badly like batch did. jarvis jones has looked awesome in basically everything and has lined up both inside and outside, in coverage he batted a couple balls down, one went right back to jpw and jones hit him immediately. he was lined up inside and dropped into coverage and couldve destroyed david gilreath on a crossing pattern if he hadnt let up. tomlin praised him for being in good position. im not sure what is going on with paulson but he couldnt drop a pass if he tried. (im a big paulson fan so this is great) Cromartie Smith did have a hard hit on him but he held on. there were a lot more interceptions than i expected, which is good and bad i guess. ike has 2 so far, he got ben in 1 on 1s today, gay got one today on ben in 7 on 7. curtis brown had a hard hit on Emmanuel Sanders and knocked the ball away from buress on a deep route,but was handled by cotchery easily. shamarko thomas seriously looks like hes being used like troy. he has been lined up on the line, deep in coverage, and in the slot. hes looked really good too, very quick and strong. he jammed markus wheaton so hard we all oooooo’d! isaac redman looked like a lean rock today, not as quick as yesterday but still faster and just as immovable. bell looks confident and it was good seeing him run with the first team in 11 on 11, he got good hard yards too. it was weird though when he broke into the open on a long run and was chased down by polamalu, troy looked like he just pushed him down. bell went down easier than i thought he would after looking so solid the rest of the time. but it is practice and it is troy. larod stephens howling looked quick and shifty, very flashy too. will johnson has been insane, catching everything and his blocking has really gotten better.he is running out of room to improve. honestly johnson, paulson and jones have really stood out. Derek Moye caught my eye, nice one handed catches and had a nice deep pass over shamarko. again brown and sanders look like starters, i cant watch them without smiling because of how explosive brown looks and how much faster sanders does. reggie dunn seems to be getting thrown at a lot and caught way better today. justin brown has surprised me with his routes and catching looks easy for him. if i had to describe him with one word itd be smooth, dont believe the hype that hes too slow. he also was able to catch punts while holding 5 balls today. Vince williams got chewed out on special teams by danny smith because of his blocking. stephens howling, j.d woods, and curtis mcneal fielded kickoffs, and antonio brown, sanders gilreath, and justin brown fielded punts. reggie dunn did both. sorry for jumping all over the place im not a professional writer by any means, just a fan and a sophomore in college. those were the hilights of what i saw if you had someone specific that you asked me to look out for and i didnt say anything then they didnt do anything really worth noting that i saw. just reply and ill tell u what i saw though and answer anything i can. Dave is the man though. STEELER NATION!

  • sgtrobo

    great updates man! thanks!

  • Matt Searls

    np man im trying to find a way to shorten it haha its a little too long..

  • SteelersDepot

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Madi

    Great notes.
    Seems pretty unanimous that Paulson has made a big leap in the passing game since last year. That’s great, because we need it. Between his step up as a receiver and the step up Spaeth represents as a blocker, our tight end position will be much better in 2013, assuming Heath regains his form.
    Don’t know much about Danny Smith, but I’m glad he’s chewing someone out.
    Glad to hear about Justin Brown. I hadn’t read anything on him until this. He doesn’t have good measurables, but he WAS a punt returner in college, so you know he’s got something.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    thank you. love the updates. keep ’em coming.

  • Ahmad

    If you ask me, the backup WR’s this year sound light years ahead of the ones from last year.

  • steeltown

    Very true… considering we’re still talking about Burress and 2nd year player Gilreath In addition to all the rookies, im liking the potential depth there. Preseason should really be exciting watching these guys try and overtake eachother

  • steeltown

    Very nice

    I’m starting to get excited about Sanders being a full time starter. If we get Wheaton on the field sooner than later it will be hard for opposing Teams DB’s to match up with the speed

  • steeltown

    Probably the most exciting news to me besides Paulson and M.Mcfadden seemingly making strides in their 2nd seasons, is the positive news on rookies Jarvis and Le’veon
    Most disappointing so far…. Ta’amu on the PUP.. if he doesn’t get his butt back on the field Fangupo will pass him up, he’s no slouch

  • Matt Searls

    Honestly I really like what Danny smith is doing, there’s always a crowd because of the quick tempo. They worked a lot on blocking punts yesterday. He is really stressing turnovers. Justin brown kind of reminds me of a taller cotchery. I’ve never been to camp before so idk how these young guys will respond in games.

  • Matt Searls

    They look good I hope all of it doesn’t disappear during a game

  • Matt Searls

    Wheaton definitely looks like his own type of player, different from brown or sanders in ways. I think he’ll pass cotchery because of his scoring and deep threat