Categorized | Article, Training Camp

Recapping The Steelers First Three Days Of Training Camp


By Alex Kozora

Before we dive into the Pittsburgh Steelers fourth practice of training camp, here is a recap of my thoughts on the first three days.

- Putting a bow on the 11 on 11 session from Monday, I compiled the numbers and here are the totals. Sixty snaps of 11 on 11 broken up into four periods, 15 in each installment. First and fourth were almost completely dedicated to the run while the second and third featured mainly passes. Another reason why the defense has an advantage and looks good. They have a better idea of what the offense plans on doing.

Statistics from the quarterbacks. I do want to caution that I don’t have numbers for every single snap. There are a handful of plays where I didn’t have the quarterback listed. Those were obviously left out.

Ben Roethlisberger: 6/12 1 INT 1 “sack”
Bruce Gradkowski: 1/6 1 INT
Landry Jones: 4/7
Brendon Kay: 1/2

Number of carries each running back received.

Tauren Poole: 7
Jordan Hall: 7
Dri Archer: 5
LeGarrette Blount: 3
Miguel Maysonet: 3

And receptions by the following receivers.

Antonio Brown: 3
Justin Brown: 2
Michael Palmer: 2
Dri Archer:1
Danny Coale: 1
Will Johnson: 1
Kashif Moore: 1
Derek Moye: 1
Tauren Poole: 1
Matt Spaeth: 1
Eric Waters: 1
Markus Wheaton: 1

To round things out, targets. Like quarterbacks, there are one or two plays where I don’t have a receiver listed in my notes and there was one play on Monday where it wasn’t clear where the pass was going. Due to that, the numbers are not 100% complete and they will not necessarily match up with the quarterback’s attempts.

Antonio Brown: 5
Dri Archer: 3
Michael Palmer: 3
Justin Brown: 2
Derek Moye: 2
Martavis Bryant: 1
LeGarrette Blount: 1
Danny Coale: 1
Will Johnson: 1
Miguel Maysonet: 1
Heath Miller: 1
Kashif Moore: 1
Lance Moore: 1
Tauren Poole: 1
Lanear Sampson: 1
Matt Spaeth: 1
Eric Waters: 1
Markus Wheaton: 1

We’ll keep the totals going throughout camp.

I’ll refer to the players in the next section ones who have impressed so far and the ones who disappointed rather than winners or losers. Way too early to say a player has won or lost. We’ll know those guys in a month from now.

Impressive

A pair of second year wide receivers, Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown. Wheaton has already shown body control and the ability to separate, beating William Gay for a long catch down the left sideline on Sunday while Brown arguably had the best Saturday out of anybody on the roster. Brown is still running as the clear No. 4, and he’s carried the momentum he had in the spring to St. Vincent.

He was quiet the first two days but Jarvis Jones had a strong practice Monday. Took Kelvin Beachum to school in one-on-one drills and made a splash play in 11 on 11. Appears to be stronger with a more impactful punch. In my mind, still a tall mountain to climb, but this was a positive step.

Wesley Johnson is the lone offensive lineman to have lined up at three different spots in training camp. Third team center Saturday, second team left guard Sunday, and third team left tackle Monday (as well as running second team left guard). I haven’t seen anything particularly impressive with his game, but his versatility could be a deciding factor when it comes down to final cuts. Especially if the Steelers decide to keep only eight of the big uglies.

You could argue Tauren Poole had the most successful day as a runner on Monday, although Blount got few carries and still managed to bust off one nice run. But Poole can make defenders miss and doesn’t go down easily. As it stands now, at worst, he’ll make the practice squad and has a shot at cracking the 53. Teams prefer to choose in-house than scour the waiver wire.

There have been a number of rookies that have made their presence felt on Chuck Noll Field. Stephon Tuitt whoput together a few positive plays Monday, has been used on advanced concepts (stunting, playing with his hand up) while getting reps in the first team nickel as the right end. Shaquille Richardson provided a splash play, picking off Bruce Gradkowski. In addition to Johnson, Daniel McCullers has started camp as the second team nose tackle over Hebron Fangupo. At moments, he’s flashed the upside he has. Length, strength, and an improved first step.

Disappointments

No one has been more disappointing than Darrius Heyward-Bey and it isn’t up for much debate. He’s been running as the sixth or seventh wide receiver with the camp bodies. I originally thought he had a good chance to stick and provide the Steelers with veteran depth but so far, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Landy Jones is in a difficult spot. He’s working mostly with inexperienced players that are clawing to make the roster. Although the stats will show a 4/7 line, his passes tended to sail. Derek Moye’s height was Jones’ saving grace on one throw. He underthrew his one vertical shot and scrambled too often. This tells me he probably isn’t going through his progressions as well as he should.

You sometimes forget Miguel Maysonet is even on this roster. Isn’t getting many reps. Worse yet, he’s not making his mark when he does get a spare carry. The latter can be said for Jordan Hall. He’s getting work as a runner and returner, but I’ve yet to see even one decent run. And man, is he tiny at just under 5’8. Doesn’t appear to have the muscle a guy like Dri Archer has, either. Even though there are injuries, it’s telling the team has signed another running back.

Nick Williams’ chances of a roster spot seem slim. Running behind this year’s UDFAs (Ethan Hemer, Josh Mauro). Getting few reps and has not looked even slightly impressive. He’s got to make some noise and fast or else the depth chart is going to bury him.

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  • Kurt Williams

    Alex, thanks for the in-depth reports!

  • ApexSteel

    I pretty much guessed DHB and Landry Jones would struggle. You can’t learn how to catch after 6 years in the league and Jones was just terrible last year. If he wasn’t a 4th rounder I think John Parker Wilson could’ve gotten that roster spot over him.

  • Steelers12328882

    Enough picking on Landry Jones. How about Gradkowski being 1/6 and an INT? If Ben goes down we’re F’d!

  • Chad H

    So we may look at a late round QB drafted next year? All the other news is good.

  • steeltown

    Thanks Kozora

    I wonder if N.Williams is struggling to return to form after injury. Obviously he really hasn’t shown much since being drafted, but to hear he’s struggling and getting overshadowed by rookie UDFAs is not a good sign.

  • Ken

    Houston would have been cutting Case Keenum or Yates who I think are both better than anyone we have backing up… But the Falcons trade for Yates. I hope we look for backup QBs in free agency, I don’t think the Steelers take this seriously enough.

  • steeltown

    Doesn’t help when the D knows what the O is doing

  • treeher

    I’ve said same myself and agree completely. JPW was never picked up after Steelers released him though.

  • treeher

    Yes, remember he seemed slow to recover and obviously had not been able to be physically active, so he has a tough row to hoe. I still think he’s got potential and may catch on with another team after he’s fully recovered and back up to speed.

  • srdan

    I gotta feeling that DHB makes this team based on his work ethic, special teams contribution and most of all the need for veterans in the WR room. I can’t imagine going into the season with AB, Moore, and then the rest of the core would be two years or less of run. Crazier things have happened, but I don’t see it.

  • Steelers12328882

    Definitely. Just wish people would give Landry Jones a longer leash. He’s a 4th rd pick for goodness sakes. You gotta take a chance on QBs somewhere in the draft and the 4th rd is by no means a high pick.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yeah I’m having trouble digesting DHB as a disappointment so far just because of who he’s practicing with. If you had to separate 4 WRs from the group I would automatically pick AB, Wheaton, Moore and Brown. I think you’re right too. DHB has exceptional work ethic. I think we’ll see him make his way onto the team during the preseason games.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Clearly Landry is not the future. I’m concerned about Gradkowski as well. That line better keep Ben up. The QB backup needs to be addressed next year.

  • steeltown

    I agree. Too much is bought into Landry’s rookie campaign. We had Dixon on roster for 3 seasons before we cut ties and he was awful.

  • Alex Kozora

    Just reading the tea leaves. He’s running behind a lot of bodies. When I see him with camp guys, I think it’s fair to show concern.

  • joed32

    We’ve seen Gradowski play, beating the Steelers in fact. He’s not that bad.

  • dgh57

    That same work ethic has yet to pay off for DHB in the form of good hands as last year he had a drop rate of 23.68 and demoted then released. He is new to playing STs till he did so last year with the Colts. I like veteran leadership but in this case not at the expense of a players like J. Brown and M. Bryant who both have some upside.

  • Gautama Om

    Great job! I think Alex needs a raise Dave.

  • dgh57

    The preseason games will give us a clearer picture than what practice will do.

  • srdan

    You make a good point. Their receivers last year were younger than ours and he still got the boot.

  • Gautama Om

    Some bad QB’s have beaten the Steelers before as well. See Tim Tebow. So yes it is possible Gradkowski is bad.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yes, steeltown, I will be there. Should be there for the rest of the week.

  • Biggie

    As to WR I honestly thought DHB is a long shot to make the team due to how deep the competition is. To me he had to be one of the top 3, 4 at worse. I see the top 3 as A.Brown, Wheaton, L.Moore. By end of camp I fully expect Bryant to be the 4th WR (he will make the roster this year for sure) so after that DHB is going to have to beat out up and comer J. Brown and Moye as the 5th WR. It will seriously come down to who catches the ball better and is a solid ST guy. DHB is a hard worker but he is still very inconsistent as a receiver. There are a few others who are fighting for PS spots out Coale, Goodwin, Sampson and K.Moore. I don’t see a 6th receiver kept as Archer will be a RB/WR hybrid and a spot taken by another RB to go with Bell/Blount/W. Johnson out of Poole, Maysonet, Alexander. Hill is a long shot and it doesn’t sound like he is impressing at all.

  • steeltown

    Awesome

  • James Rogers

    A waste of a 4th round pick.

  • joed32

    He’s much better than Tebow. Let’s put it this way, how many career backups are better than him? Very few teams carry two good QBs, it just costs too much.

    I’m just saying that bad practice on the first day of 11 on 11s doesn’t make him a bad backup. Jones was 4-7 on day 1, that doesn’t mean he’s good.

  • Zach

    I’m not so much concerned with the backup QB position…Gradkowski can manage games for us in the same way or better than Charlie Batch if our D returns to form. Gradkowski reportedly is a great teammate and does well in the QB prep meetings so I don’t see too much reason to waste another late rounder on a QB prospect. It makes more sense to trade a late rounder for a Yates-like guy or pickup a free-agent.

  • joed32

    Pretty much agree but J. Brown may well be #4 coming out of camp. Can’t wait for the preseason games to see these guys. Bryant will make the roster so if they only carry 5 DHB and Moye would be out.

  • Steelers12328882

    So was Alameda Ta’amu, Thaddeus Gibson, Tony Hills, Orien Harris, Fred Gibson, etc… It’s hit and miss. There’s always wasted pics. The jury is still out on Landry Jones except for those that hold QBs to a higher standard for some reason. It’s his 2nd year. Gotta give the guy a chance.

  • Steelers12328882

    Definitely, but not sure I’d characterize it as a disappointment unless there’s truly that many positives in camp so far that the average stand out as a negative.

  • Steelers12328882

    Just because he has bad hands doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a good work ethic. Look at how hard Ike Taylor works at it. I would think at this point that DHB is competing for the 6th WR spot if there is one(not including Archer).

  • RASTA

    Good point Alex…however my tea leaves say that they needed to have one vet w/ that group….and I have only heard of him catching and not dropping passes, so I think it also comes down to if he misses any of his most likely limited passes in the first couple preseason games. Go Steelers!

  • Mike

    Alex, great write-up. I went to TC on Monday and my head is spinning with everything going on and all the substitutions. I am amazed you were able to keep track of so many stats. Why no talk of Landry Jones playing with the second string offense?

    A few things I noticed:

    -Ben was throwing to AB, LM, JB, Moye, Wheaton, and Bryant during warm-ups. No DHB.

    -DHB was 1/3 during the 1-on-1 WR-DB drills. And once Gradkowski didn’t even bother to throw because DHB ran the wrong route.

    -Munchak was running the linemen drill. Adams whiffed on Carter once so Muchak made him block Carter three more times in a row. One of the times he pancaked Carter. Adams isn’t going to be able to give 50% with Munchak around.

    -The 11-on-11s were mostly situational. The first set was 3rd-and-short, about 3 yards. That is why there were so many runs straight up the middle. The defensive line was stout. I think the only run that got a first was when Tauren Poole bounced it outside. Maysonet might have gotten a first up the middle when the first string offense went against the second string defense. McCullers was being double teamed by Decastro and Pouncey but managed to make the tackle for a two yard gain.

    -The tackle for loss was made by Carter not Jones. Scott Brown of ESPN agrees with me on this one.

    -The third set was 3rd-and-long, 7 to 10 yards. The last two downs Lebeau put in Mclendon and McCullers as the two linemen in the nickel. Kay was the QB. He was visibly shaken. Caused Adams to false start the first down. Then on second he just threw it away.

    -The fourth set was 1st-and-10, see if you can get a 1st down. Ben got a first in three or four downs with a screen to AB. Jones got several. Gradkowski maybe one and Kay none.

    -Archer has great hands. He caught everything within his grasp. The two misses were well underthrown. He also was with the first group during WR-DB drills for a couple reps.

    -McCullers was a beast for the first three sets. He had a sack on Landry Jones during the third set. But on the fourth set he was completely exhausted. That is when Jones got most of his completions.

    -Wheaton was able to get good separation but had too many drops.

    -During drills Blake was with the #1s and McCain the #2s but McCain covered a lot better. Before camp is out McCain will be listed as the first backup nickelback. Blake is strictly special teams.

    -After practice AB, Taylor, and Richardson worked the Jugs machine. Troy and Will Allen tossed a ball around with a trainer. Gradkowski worked with most of the young WRs, showing them routes, etc. Then he did laps with L Moore.

  • dgh57

    I’m saying that his work ethic hasn’t translated to better hands not about his overall work ethic. Good hands are the first thing you look for out of a WR. The first thing you want out of a CB is to cover and defend against WRs and if he catches the ball it’s a bonus. So Taylor is doing his job. If DHB , who’s first and foremost job, is to catch the ball when thrown too can’t do that then nothing much else matters for a WR if he can’t do that.

  • steeltown

    Hear hear

  • James Rogers

    Yeah, but the thing is, we didn’t NEED a QB. BR isn’t retiring anytime soon, so even if LJ was good, he’d be a free agent before BR was gone.

  • Steve

    Disagree – How can we keep a WR that can’t catch? AB, Moore, Wheaton, Bryant, J Brown are our receivers. DHB may be a vet but he sure don’t act like one.

  • Steve

    Can’t make chicken soup outta chicken sh*t.

  • Steve

    What? Steelers had Ben, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich on there roster for years.

  • Steve

    He got one today. Dave allowed him a McDonalds extra value mill.

  • charles

    Big McKullers fan. He could change the sacks and ints totals in a hurry as well as relieve some of the focus that will be on Heywood. Like to see him build up stamina.

  • Steve

    McCullars stamina will come by the end of camp. He will be a load to move and if Coach can get him off the snap faster, he’s got a spot.

  • charles

    Alex kinda hinted at him seeming to have a quicker first step. The 3-4 works much better with an attention grabbing nose.

  • http://suspect5.bandcamp.com/ HardPunkKore

    Or a realiable back up and possible trade bait.

  • Steve

    In a few years McCullers will be our nose tackle. Pouncy and DeCastro doubled him and he still made the tackle.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Haha…Sure you can, but I won’t be eating that soup!

  • joed32

    And they were good?

  • Steve

    Yes

  • Alex Kozora

    Good stuff, Mike. But I still have to stand by my statement. Jarvis made the TFL. I was watching him the whole play.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yeah Ben won’t be gone, and that’s why there shouldn’t be any pressure on Landry, but most people at the time agreed we needed a QB because Batch and Leftwich retired. They just disagreed with where we took one in the draft, but to me that’s overvaluing what a 4th rd pick usually turns out to be.

  • Asmitty56

    I would hate to cut a talented WR like J.Brown for DHB simply because he’s an okay special teamer. At this point the Steelers have plenty of players who are special team capable and I don’t see why J.Brown can’t learn in that area. I don’t mean this to be rude, but I’d rather have vets who has accomplished some things in the league be the leaders for the WR corpes, DHB however has not.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Sorry but was he that good or did we play that bad? Im not basing my comment on this camp. I know we can do worse but I have yet to see this guy look good since he has gotten here.

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