The referees were present on day seven of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp and below is your daily recap of the updates from practice from around the interwebs.
The team had a second straight day of live tackling drills on Thursday and we will start tonight with some nuggets that Dale Lolley of the Washington Observer posted on his blog. Lolley reports that while rookie Jarvis Jones is doing his best impression of J.J. Watt as it relates to batting down passes, he looked lost at times in the defense. Jones did intercept one ball, however. Lolley also reports that William Gay is filling in as the nickel cornerback with Cortez Allen still sidelined and that Curtis Brown is playing the outside spot when the team utilizes their sub package. Cornerback Josh Victorian was victimized twice by Antonio Brown, but Lolley says the young corner had good coverage on both of the passes from Ben Roethlisberger. Lastly, Marcus Gilbert had a good day in drills, Ramon Foster has yet to be beaten in a one-on-one and Mike Adams reportedly needs to improve his hand placement.
Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest reports that inside linebacker Marshall McFadden flashed his coverage skills in the running backs versus linebackers drill as he did a good job covering Isaac Redman. However, it appears that all of the linebackers are having problems covering rookie Le\’Veon Bell in the drill. Bell had 67 catches during his final two years at Michigan State, so it is exciting to think about how he will be used in the passing game during his career. Labriola also said on the Thursday evening edition of Steelers Live that both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark aren\’t seeing much if any time during the live tackling portion of practice because Mike Tomlin is trying his best to save wear and tear on them. With both starting safeties watching, Robert Golden and DaMon Cromartie-Smith are seeing some extra action and both are reportedly making plays at the point of attack.
Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider reports Thursday evening that undrafted offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. was handled pretty well by defensive end Al Woods in front of his father during drills and that the aforementioned Golden might have had the hit of the day on running back Jonathan Dwyer. Tomlin said after practice that tackle Mike Adams wouldn\’t be graded on a curve because of his offseason incident. Wexell reports that Adams and guard David DeCastro have a good bond with one another and that the two communicate well. These two figure to be playing alongside each other for several years, so it\’s definitely good to hear they are working well together. Quite a bit is expected out of both this year and I look forward to watching the ruin game improve behind them.
We already talked about how good of a receiver Bell is and Mike Prisuta of DVE Radio reports Bell worked some as a slot receiver in a no-huddle, empty set with the first-team offense on Thursday. Being as he has whipped the linebackers, this is yet another thing to get excited about. Prisuta also passed along word that rookie Markus Wheaton was running with the first-team offense as the slot receiver to both prep him and give Jerricho Cotchery a bit of a rest. That was a first for Wheaton, evidently.
According to Ken Laird of Trib Live Radio, LaRod Stephens-Howling was used as a sidecar back when Wheaton was in the slot during the no-huddle drill. It\’s obvious the team wants Stephens-Howling to serve as a change a pace back in the offense. Laird also liked what he saw out of rookie Shamarko Thomas during a safety blitz. He called him sneaky and explosive. Justin Brown and Derek Moye continue separate themselves from the other wide receivers as Laird reported both had nice catches on sidelines when working against the defensive backs in drills. In case you need reminding, Brown is listed as 6\’3″ and Moye is 6\’5″.
The name of undrafted free agent linebacker Alan Baxter continues to surface as Michael Tanier of Football Outsiders reports the college defensive end had a big hit on Dwyer and ended practice by batting down a pass from rookie quarterback Landry Jones. Nose tackle Hebron Fangupo caught the eye of Tanier on Thursday.
Jason Worilds worked on the left side with Jones manning the right side when LaMarr Woodley was sidelined with calf tightness, according to Will Graves of the Associated Press. Graves also reports that backup Bruce Gradkowski is pretty good with the hard count and that he drew a couple of offside calls while using it.
As far as injuries, Allen (knee), DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring), Terry Hawthorne (knee) and Nick Williams (knee) all remain sidelined on Thursday and day-to-day. Also remaining sidelined arte the four players on the PUP.
Worilds (toe) suffered an injured big toe on Thursday that Tomlin says could limit him the next few days. Woodley (calf) has some tightness in his calf, but neither his injury nor Worilds\’ injury is expected to be serious. Expect the worst when it comes to undrafted guard Nik Embernate (knee) as he suffered a knee injury during one-on-drills that required him being carted off. Tomlin said after practice that it could be significant.
The Steelers will practice Friday night at Saint Vincent College but Tomlin said we shouldn\’t expect to see the goal-line drill.