Categorized | Article, Training Camp

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.

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  • CW

    I think everybody hoped Wing would succeed to be honest. Elite leg, at least in college, but an utter moron in his personal life is probably the only reason he wasn’t drafted by someone in the sixth or seventh round by some team.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    If Mike Adams doesn’t make the team, I think they go out to the waiver wire and pickup an experienced backup tackle. I think they like Wes Johnson, but he has no NFL experience, so I can’t see him being the only backup at left tackle. I know Gilbert can play left tackle, but I think they like him at right tackle too much to want to move him to left tackle, even if Beachum gets hurt (I haven’t heard much about Beachum during training camp. He must be doing okay).

  • falconsaftey43

    I’m concerned about Archer’s hands. They didn’t look good on tape, and hearing that they are an issue in camp is concerning. He can be great with the ball in his hands, but if he’s dropping passes routinely, that really limits what you can do with him.

  • Burgh Ball

    Alex nice article.. But no mention of Dangerfield? He gets no respect…. I guess he has cooled off some since early days in camp – A player to watch on Saturday night though..

  • Jesse Murray

    No one really seems to be discussing it, so I will ask, how is Pouncey doing coming off the injury?

  • Alex Kozora

    Still don’t see how he fits on the roster. So my pre-camp thoughts there haven’t changed much. Excellent PS though, as I’ve said.

  • Alex Kozora

    Pouncey has looked just fine.

  • SteveM2

    “…the games will give us our best look. As (they do) for any position.”

  • 20Stoney

    You’re going to tick off the Landry Jones fan club. Surprised all 3 of them haven’t complained yet.

  • steeltown

    The reception numbers for Wheaton, Moore, J.Brown, Bell, Will Johnson and Miller are all pretty impressive.

    I really hope Blanchflower and Waters BOTH have a stellar preseason

  • treeher

    Injury bug or not, we know what we have – and don’t have – with the P’s. I’d prefer to go with the young guys and carry 4 tight ends. That would give some insurance for OL depth. And I’m about to throw in the cards on Adams.

  • joed32

    Where are you hearing this? From everything I read his hands are fine.

  • joed32

    I’m checking in. Not really a fan but Alex just doesn’t like Jones. We’ll know a little more about all of the players after we see them play some games. Seeing is believing.

  • falconsaftey43

    He’s caught 4 of 10 in camp so far. I can’t recall where, but I was reading an article (post-gazette, trib, here?) that said Ben was getting frustrated at him for dropping some easy passes. And it’s obvious on his college tape that he will drop balls even when he is wide open.

  • Biggie

    I’m looking forward to the preseason games to see the competition for guys fighting for jobs. We know what we got with starters other than maybe at DE (Thomas, Tuitt) P (Wing, Podlesh), every other position is set for starters. Want to see the young TEs, hoping Waters or Blanchflower win 3rd spot. One on roster, one on PS. Need upgrade from Paulson, Palmer (tired of one trick poney TEs). Who wins 4th RB spot + W. Johnson. Want to see Poole, Harris, Hall, Maysonet and what they bring. Never expected DHB to make the roster unless he could win 3rd position. A.Brown, Moore, Wheaton, Bryant were locks, J. Brown has be a great surprise. I don’t like losing Moye, think he has promise, not sure if he has any PS eligibility left or not. The rest are competing for PS spot. CB is another position of interest, really want to see Richardson and Blake in preseason and where they are at.

  • joed32

    He dropped a screen that I read about, Kaboly said he catches everything, so why 4 for 10. I don’t know.

  • Alex Kozora

    4/10 doesn’t mean they’re all drops. They’re just targets and catches. Can be bad throws, breakups. Archer has had a few drops though. Will let some easy ones bounce off him. And yeah, it was here where Ben got a little mad at him to hold onto the ball.

  • falconsaftey43

    Do you see his hands as something to be concerned about? It would really limit his effectiveness if he can’t reliably catch the ball. After all, that’s why DHB never panned out.

  • Alex Kozora

    From what I can tell, yes, he will frustrate you with the occasional drop. It’s similar to what I saw on his college tape.

  • Burgh Ball

    Agree – but will be fun to see what he can do Saturday night

  • Burgh Ball

    What do the Wind and Landry Jones have in common?

  • steeltown

    I see us carrying 3TEs (+Will Johnson) with one the PS

  • Steelers12328882

    I’ll check in too. Not really a fan of Landry, but I’m less of a fan of carrying 2 QBs. Gotta give the kid a chance and we’ll see just that in these upcoming preseason games.

  • Steelers12328882

    Most disappointed in the backup TEs for sure, but with Heath and Spaeth healthy and Will Johnson probably being involved with the TEs in some capacity it just might not matter a whole lot.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I know Alex doesn’t like Landry, but I think that is because he doesn’t see him as a long-term Ben replacement. I look at him more as a backup to Ben for the next 5 years, nothing more….nothing less. He isn’t here to be the starting QB in any way shape or form IMO.

    DHB I think is going to be an early cut. I could be wrong, but I think they will give him the opportunity to go somewhere else. It wouldn’t surprise me if DHB is currently down at #7 on the depth chart.

    As I see it right now, Blake has made his spot a given. That takes up 4 of the potential 5 or 6 CB spots on the team.

    I am excited about our LB depth. Williams and Spence could be starters in this league…and they are 2nd string. Moats I also feel good about.

    Dline is still in flux, I have NO IDEA what is happening there, but I think Tuitt may be in the driver’s seat starting by the middle of the season.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree. If we can hang in there for 14, I’m hoping for drafting a TE somewhere between rounds 1-3.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree with every point you made, nice post. In addition to your Landry marks, I think it was a nice gamble draft pick. One, to support your theory, he is a serviceable back up for Ben. Two, if he did succeed and turn heads, he would be nice trade bait. A win-win pick up. Let’s all be honest, it was a huge eye opener how bad our back up qb situation was with Batch and Leftwich. The situation needed to be addressed sooner or later. Glad it was sooner and I’m o.k. with the Jones pick. The Giants did the same thing with Nassib.

  • Jeff

    It’s great to see such high catch percentages for Wheaton, Moore, and Justin Brown….

  • steeltown

    I’ve made the same argument over and over, some people just don’t understand the reasoning. Even New England, who have “the great” Tom Brady draft a QB almost like clockwork every few yrs and most of them were earlier than the 4th rd

  • 20Stoney

    Both blow?

  • 20Stoney

    I am a fan of carrying 2 if you don’t have 3 that can win.

  • Doogie

    Mike Adams is still making mental errors? Not moving his feet, bending and extending too far. WHY? It would be different if he wasn’t physically capable to play tackle but is almost like he is asleep. And the Dead fish look on his face doesn’t inspire either.

  • 20Stoney

    I am undecided on Jones but I hope he turns out great. I just get a kick out of the same few people that argue with Kozora every time he gives his opinion on him because he sees him more than any of us.

  • Craig

    Alex, I’m kinda old and kinda computer illiterate but was wondering if you ever thought about setting up a blog for Steeler fans, maybe charging like 5 bucks a month as membership, probably would take some time to monitor but I would guess you could maybe get around 50-60 sign-ups….Just a thought.

  • Steve

    With you on that. Some players practice well and some bring it on in games. Will see how it goes.

  • Steve

    Mike Adams has not done anything and don’t deserve to make our 53. Has been given plenty of chances, but just can’t pass block when you can’t move your legs and fall on the ground. Look out blocks don’t cut it in the NFL.

  • steeljatt

    how about big mcCullers??? does he has any chance??

  • Steelers12328882

    LOL. We have 1 that can win. Should we just keep 1 QB on the roster? You know what Gradkowski’s record as a starter is? 6-14! It’s a joke that some people put all this unneeded pressure and blame on Landry for not being a great QB after being selected in the 4th rd. I mean gimme a break. It’s tough to find QBs. All we need him to do is be a backup. That’s it.

  • Steelers12328882

    I am undecided too, but I think a 3rd QB is deserving of a roster spot and I think Landry deserves that chance. I like Kozora, but it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t like Landry and that will lead into some biased observations from him. Same thing happened with Marczi last year in his observations of Dwyer over Redman. I mean Kozora tells us not too worry about Gradkowski’s low completion percentage so far in camp(59.3%), yet his career average is 52.9%!!!

  • Steelers12328882

    Couldn’t agree more with this conversation about Landry. He is what he is, but anyone that hates on Landry seems to give Gradkowski a pass at the same time. Just take a look at Gradkowski’s record and stats as a QB. It’s not pretty. Our backup QB situation was bad and it still is bad. QBs are incredibly hard to find. Taking a shot on one in the fourth rd. is hardly a risk if you look at our past drafts and the production we received from that round. I’m so tired of hearing about Landry being a wasted pick and a bust.

  • Alex Kozora

    I don’t want to worry about anyone’s completion percentage that much. Drops and stuff will affect that number. I just put it there as another stat to look at – I take those QB stats with a grain of salt, frankly. Even Jones.

    I try to be as objective as possible and point out when Jones has a good play. But yeah, there could be some bias at work there. I’ll cop to it. Try as hard as I can not to though but it’s human nature.

  • Alex Kozora

    Thought has never and will never cross my mind. I don’t buy into the subscription nonsense. Let people read your work for free. If it’s up to snuff, you’ll find a way to make a living off of it. Depot offers the great opportunity to provide the best content without ever asking for a dime. And it doesn’t blast anyone with ads either.

  • Alex Kozora

    He’s got a chance. Seen the good and the bad. Let’s see what the games tell us.

  • Craig

    I’m talking about a site where Steeler fans can communicate their thoughts and feelings about their team 24/7 if you can put that up at no cost all the better, and having it coordinated w/ your input would be a plus for everyone. The Post Gazette had a site like that but they ruined it and chased everyone away

  • Steelers12328882

    I hear ya, but I’m not a Gradkowski fan. We’re in the same boat with him as we were with Batch and Leftwich on their worst days. Very, very low ceiling with Gradkowski, and with that in mind you need to give another QB a chance to get better. Maybe Landry isn’t that guy, but we don’t have anyone else for now.

  • 20Stoney

    Gradkowski is nothing special but he’s servicable as a back up. He gives you a chance. That is what I expect from a back up. Hopefully Landry can become servicable too, but if he isn’t he doesn’t deserve to take up a roster spot. It’s all moot until we see him on the field anyway.

  • keth Naab

    ridiculously great job with this Alex. any ideas how the defensive linemen/OLBs have been doing in the pass rush? tough to really get a lot out of what’s going on there, but I’m of the opinion that our pass rush is the most important aspect of our defense (I know, CPT Obvious here, right?) Especially concerned about how Jarvis Jones is doing.

  • Alex Kozora

    Tuitt has been a monster pass rushing. Violent, active hands who can dip the edge. Thought Jones has had his moments though him missing the last couple practices has made it tough to build off of that (CPT Obvious here, too haha).

    Want to get a good look at these guys Saturday when they can actually hit the QB. Especially Moats.

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