Recapping The Steelers First Nine Days Of Training Camp

By Alex Kozora

With Tuesday being an off day for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it presented an excellent time to recap stats from 11 on 11 of the last two days while compiling them from the first seven padded practices. We’ll look at some things I was wrong and right about (so far) after.

Your stats from the last two days of camp. Sunday and Monday.

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger: 11/20 2 TD
Bruce Gradkowski: 18/28 1 TD
Landry Jones: 10/18 1 TD
Brendon Kay: 5/9 1 TD 2 INT

Landry Jones received a lot of reps over Gradkowski in order to get a better look at him but Gradkowski still had more attempts. He was the 2nd team QB in the two minute drill, showing that Jones is no competition.

Running Back Carries

Le’Veon Bell: 7
Miguel Maysonet: 6
Tauren Poole: 6
Dri Archer: 5
Josh Harris: 5
Jordan Hall: 5
LeGarrette Blount: 4
Jawan Jamison: 4

On the whole, the running backs have ran well the last two days. Offensive line has been getting the better of the defense. It’s easier to tell watching the rotation live but the numbers slightly back up the assertion that Maysonet and Poole are starting to gain some separation from Harris, Hall, and Jamison.

Carries are comparatively low for all the backs after the team used its 4th installment on Monday – normally a run-dominated time – to run its two minute offense.

Receiver Targets/Receptions/Touchdowns

Antonio Brown: 9/5/1
Markus Wheaton: 8/5
Martavis Bryant: 5/3/1
Derek Moye: 5/2/1
Le’Veon Bell: 4/4
Lance Moore: 4/4
Kashif Moore: 4/3
Justin Brown: 4/2/1
Matt Spaeth: 4/2
Dri Archer: 4/1
Danny Coale: 3/2
CJ Goodwin: 3/0
Jordan Hall: 2/2
Bryce Davis: 2/1
Josh Harris:2/1
Tauren Poole: 2/1
Will Johnson: 1/1
Miguel Maysonet: 1/1
Heath Miller: 1/1
Michael Palmer: 1/1

Wheaton had seven targets on Monday, a great sign for the second-year wide receiver. Lance Moore and Bell continue to catch pretty much everything thrown their way. Derek Moye gets a lot of looks but not a ton of catches. A big body they just like to chuck it up to. Dri Archer only caught 25% of his targets but one incompletion came on a screen that was snuffed out and another a catch Tomlin ruled incomplete after the running back fumbled.

And from the entire training camp.

Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger: 56/85 (65.9%) 3 TD 2 INT
Bruce Gradkowski: 32/54 (59.3%) 2 TD 1 INT
Landry Jones: 32/52 (61.5%) 1 TD 2 INT
Brendon Kay: 17/27 (63%) 1 TD 3 INT

Life of a #4 quarterback. Very few reps for Kay. An interception every nine passes isn’t pretty to look at, either. I wouldn’t worry about Gradkowski’s low completion percentage.

Running Backs carries

Jordan Hall: 31
Miguel Maysonet: 29
Tauren Poole: 28
Josh Harris: 24
Dri Archer: 21
Le’Veon Bell: 17
LeGarrette Blount: 13
Jawan Jamison: 9

Not much to add here. The carries show this team really trying to figure out what they have past Bell and Blount.

Receivers targets/receptions/touchdowns

Antonio Brown: 26/16/1
Martavis Bryant: 17/10/1
Markus Wheaton: 15/11
Derek Moye: 15/7/1
Justin Brown: 13/9/1
Lance Moore: 11/9
Matt Spaeth: 10/6
Dri Archer: 10/4
Le’Veon Bell: 9/9
Will Johnson: 9/7
Josh Harris: 8/7
Heath Miller: 7/7
Kashif Moore: 7/6
Danny Coale: 7/5
Tauren Poole: 6/4
David Paulson: 5/4
Miguel Maysonet: 5/5
Jordan Hall: 5/3
Michael Palmer: 5/3
Bryce Davis: 4/3
Lanear Sampson: 3/3
LeGarrette Blount: 2/0
Eric Waters: 1/1

Antonio Brown has been targeted nine more times than any other player. He’s going to catch a lot of passes in 2014. Derek Moye has caught less than 47% of his passes. Only three players with more than one target have caught every one: Bell, Miller, and Maysonet.

I know there’s excitement over what Eric Waters could become, but we’re talking about a guy who has one catch in 11 on 11.

Lance Moore (82%) and Markus Wheaton (73%) boast great catch percentages.

Things I Thought Before Camp (And Still Do)

– The Steelers will keep two quarterbacks on the roster, placing Landry Jones on the practice squad. Jones hasn’t shown near enough to warrant a roster spot despite recent chances to run with the second-team. The team is better served to use that spot elsewhere, maximizing their roster with players who have the chance to play.

– Martavis Bryant is as impressive as he is frustrating. He can make difficult grabs and is a threat vertically, but like any rookie receiver – especially one as raw as Bryant – he’s having his growing pains. Dropped passes, wrong routes, and incorrect splits have reared their ugly head throughout the first nine practices. With Justin Brown running ahead of him, making Bryant the #5 receiver, playing time will be difficult to come by. He can still make an impact but it’ll be in smaller doses.

Mike Adams hasn’t shown much to believe he’s starting to turn a corner in his career. Still seeing a lot of the issues in pass protection that have plagued him throughout his career. Legs going dead, doubling over, and spending too much time on the ground.

– A healthy Marcus Gilbert is a quality Marcus Gilbert. Had a quietly good camp with very few things to complain about. He’s shown chemistry with David DeCastro in passing off stunts. There’s reason to be excited about the entire offensive line in 2014, especially under the superb coaching of Mike Munchak.

Will Simmons and Chris Elkins are making strong cases to be placed on the practice squad. Good battles between those two and Chris Hubbard.

– Had the Steelers not drafted Ryan Shazier, they’d have been happy with having Vince Williams. He’s had a great camp, constantly playing in the backfield and dishing out some big blows. Humble player that also has a chip on his shoulder. Helps make inside linebacker the deepest position on the team.

Will Allen is still getting a ton of love from the Steelers, receiving the majority of reps with the first team defense during Mike Mitchell’s absence. He may be 32 and unquestionably lost a step but the team still has a lot of trust in Allen. Guy that doesn’t give up many splash plays and is a reliable tackler who will support the run.

– Defensive line depth is still an issue. Going to have to let the games sort this one out. Practices aren’t doing it.

Brad Wing is having a strong camp and making an excellent case to make this team, as I had predicted in my pre-camp roster. Though that was an utter guess. Still counts…kind of.

Things I Thought Before Camp (And Don’t Anymore)

Darrius Heyward-Bey was going to make this team. And this was pre-concussion. He was the odd man out, running with camp bodies from the onset before taking a knee to the head from Shaq Richardson. Justin Brown and Martavis Bryant currently have a stranglehold on the #4 and #5 spots. It’s only a question of if the team carries Derek Moye as the sixth receiver and that seems unlikely.

Rob Blanchflower was the favorite to become the Steelers’ third tight end. Of course, his injury hasn’t helped matters. But the position seems extremely fluid. If Blanchflower nor Eric Waters can make any plays, the spot will have to come down to David Paulson or Michael Palmer. Long ways to go and like defensive end, the games will give us our best look. As it does for any position.

Roy Philon was my super-sleeper and Vic So’oto was another player I was intrigued by. Unfortunately, neither have done much to impress. They’ll have to shows coaches they deserve a longer look with strong performances in game action.

– I was skeptical, and I still believe reasonably so, that Sean Spence could recover from his horrific knee injury. He doesn’t look like a guy who suffered an injury most would have retired from. I’m done talking about his knee. I’m ready to talk about how he can help this team win. Replaced Shazier in practice and is running on the first team punt coverage unit.

– I figured the hype around Antwon Blake had more bark than bite. A capable special teamer but with little prospects of ever becoming a contributor at cornerback. I still believe Shamarko Thomas would act as the dime back, but Blake has shown why the team has sung his praises. Explosive click/close with fluid hips. Competitive and confident to face taller receivers, an underrated trait for a cornerback. Have to believe you’re always going to win. Even if you’re not.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.