By Alex Kozora
My observations from another day at St. Vincent College. The 13th practice for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
– Dri Archer and Brad Wing were the first players to walk down the stairs, at 2:35. Guess they made up after they didn’t come down together yesterday. Such an odd pairing. Like the sea anemone and clownfish.
– The Steelers came into today’s practice very healthy. Jarvis Jones was the only player in shorts today. Some players were still held out, but everyone got some participation. Michael Palmer ran on the side and got work in 7 on 7’s. Matt Spaeth was back in pads. Same with Le’Veon Bell, who again did not participate in team drills. Don’t think Justin Brown was in 7 on 7 but did run on the side and was in pads, catching punts in the opening return drill.
Mike Mitchell returned and practice in full.
Ramon Foster was in pads but don’t think he did much in the form of drills today. Normally had helmet in hand. Maybe he got some work on the turf field and I missed it.
Ryan Shazier worked in positional and I saw him for at least one rep in TE/RB vs LB, but then he was taken out. Sported a wrap on his right knee for a brief time but it was removed later in practice.
Vince Williams left on a cart early in practice due to a possible concussion.
– Since he wasn’t practicing, Jarvis Jones spent a good 15 minutes signing for fans. Cool to see.
– Return men in the opening drill as the team again began on the turf field: Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Dri Archer, Martavis Bryant, Justin Brown, James Shaw.
– Wide receivers were working on PCP – post, corner, post – routes in drills. Something new, to me at least.
– In opening team drills, the LBs were in coverage against the TEs and RBs. Defensive backs were working on goal line concepts, 3 DBs matched up against 2 WRs. Working on facing some common goal line concepts. Think slant/flat and fades. Sure they were going over their “banjo” calls of playing a matchup zone and passing off receivers based on the route concept. Some critical, situational football.
– Joey Porter wore a cutoff shirt today. His arms have more muscles than my entire body.
– Howard Jones and Rob Blanchflower received praise from Mike Tomlin and Mike Sellers in the TE/LB coverage drill. LeGarrette Blount, for as poor hands as he has, made a contested grab against Arthur Moats. The two were practically sandwiched together and the back somehow came down with it.
– Was looking between that drill and the WR vs DBs. Saw Antonio Brown catch a slant as he fell into the end zone. I looked away but turned back when I heard a roar emerge from that group. Turned back to see Antonio Brown heated about something, and ended up throwing a punch at somebody. Either Shaq Richardson or Devin Smith. Took exception to something. Cooler heads eventually prevailed.
– Return men in punt drills today, in order that they appeared: Dri Archer, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore.
– No punts from Wing today after getting a good workout yesterday. Team used one of the machines to send them.
– With Ramon Foster out, Cody Wallace – not Chris Hubbard – ran as first team left guard.
– Second-team line: Guy Whimper, Bryant Browning, Wesley Johnson, Chris Hubbard, Mike Adams.
– Third-team line: Mike Adams, Chris Elkins, Wesley Johnson, Will Simmons, Emmanuel McCray.
– Danny Smith was back at it today, dishing out some tough love. Drew the ire of James Shaw in the first special team drill as the team worked on punt coverage. Then went after Blanchflower on the next rep, missing his assignment as one of the wing players on punt protection.
“You didn’t pick up nobody! You had the first outside, didn’t you!?”
– Later in practice during another special team sessionl, one of the assistant coaches barked to Arthur Moats: “Don’t wait, don’t look at the returner!”
Moats responds and corrects the problem. Next rep, the coach yells out, “Go get that guy, *collision*, that’s it, much better.”
– The team preaches not to “waste a rep” in special teams. With the team being non-contact for the second straight day, special teams has become one of the most intense periods. Why I’ve been paying more attention to it. With how vocal Smith is, it’s a nice opportunity to get to listen to him from the stands.
– In the final 7 on 7, Dri Archer caught back-to-back touchdowns on wheel routes.
– Palmer made a leaping grab along the left sideline in the same period.
– Lew Toler broke up an attempted fade, it was probably going to be incomplete anyway, intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey, too. Still a nice job to high point and make the catch impossible.
– Play-by-play of DL/OL. Less one on one reps now. Team easing off a little bit while also spending some extra time on stunt pickup.
1. Kelvin Beachum seals Howard Jones despite Jones getting his arms extended.
2. Cam Heyward slips off Cody Wallace, the offensive lineman doubling over and Heyward scooted past.
3. Hebron Fangupo swims to the inside of Wesley Johnson after Johnson initially pushed the nose tackle down the line.
4. David DeCastro does a real nice job of anchoring against Cam Thomas.
5. Thought Mike Adams did a good job of mirroring against Arthur Moats. Then again, at the end, they somehow rolled into mock QB Bryant Browning’s leg, taking him to the ground.
6. Bryant Browning mirrors Josh Mauro well. Mauro playing a little out of control on this one.
7. Chris Elkins is able to anchor against Brian Arnfelt and is about to win but Arnfelt has a late swim over to swap hips and get past.
8. Chris Hubbard anchors versus Nick Williams.
9. Emmanuel McCray loses to Vic So’oto, the outside linebacker shedding inside on a bull rush.
10. So’oto with another speed bull and rips through McCray.
11. Will Simmons does a moderately good job of absorbing big Daniel McCullers.
12. Mike Adams anchors against Ethan Hemer. Nice base.
– Three quick notes watching some of the stunts. Wallace and Beachum missed one stunt, letting Howard Jones loop inside free. Chris Hubbard looked lost, beaten twice on consecutive plays in stunt pickup. And David DeCastro/Marcus Gilbert continue to pass things off well.
– Play by play of 11 on 11.
– No full contact in any period today.
1. Inside zone to LeGarrette Blount. Heath Miller and David Paulson opened up as the starting TEs. Matt Spaeth was held out of team drills.
2. Outside zone to Blount. Jason Worilds held up at the POA, forcing a cutback.
3. Dive again to Blount for a few yards.
4. Will Allen and Robert Golden running as second-team safety. Playaction with Ben Roethlisberger booting to the right. Nothing initially available but Roethlisberger chucks it to the back of the end zone for Markus Wheaton. Golden closes on the ball quickly and breaks it up.
5. Outside zone to Dri Archer off left tackle. Moats is running second-team LOLB, Howard Jones at ROLB.
6. Josh Harris running over Tauren Poole for the second-straight day. Gets the carry. Rob Blanchflower getting reps with the first team.
7. Harris with another carry and find a crease, cutting to his left. Lew Toler comes from across the field to push him out of bounds.
8. Inside zone to Tauren Poole.
9. Landry Jones bootleg to the right, checking down to Rob Blanchflower. Even in no tackling, Dan Molls, running second-team with Vince Williams down, nails the rookie tight end out of bounds. Probably the biggest hit of the day.
10. Power O with Bryant Browning pulling. Misses hitting Lawrence Timmons in the hole and he makes the tackle on Harris.
11. Harris with another tote. Chris Carter comes in free off the offense’s left side for the TFL. Roy Philon got penetration, too.
12. Philon puts together back-to-back plays. Stuffs Jordan Hall at the line.
13. Miguel Maysonet shows an impressive burst off left guard for a big gain.
14. Counter from right to left with Maysonet. Gets a few yards before Terence Garvin ends it with a thud.
15. Rob Blanchflower lined up in the backfield. Looks lke Browning again struggled to pull. Cam Thomas eats up Poole.
– A dad to his little kid, after the toddler asked his 1000th question.
“No more questions for the next five minutes, please.”
“That’s a question.”
1. Ben checks down to Blount against a blitz for a completion.
2. Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward are in the nickel, as they did for most of the day with the first team defense. Screen intended for Blount but Sean Spence bats it down at the line.
3. Jason Worilds lines up at LOLB and Arthur Moats at ROLB. Roethlisberger completes to Markus Wheaton on a curl.
4. Second-team defense comes in. Moats shifts to LOLB and Jones comes in at ROLB. Dan Molls at linebacker though Molls is lined up as a LOLB on the play. Big Ben complete to Lance Moore working against Isaiah Green.
First time I got to witness Dri Archer pass protect. Wasn’t pretty as Molls pretty much ran through him. Archer was pushed aside and nearly fell down.
5. Big Ben hits Antonio Brown on a dig. AB wonderfully plucks it out of the air. Our photographer Frank got a gorgeous shot of it. Look for it later tonight.
6. Roethlisberger again finds Lance Moore.
7. Second-team defensive line: Ethan Hemer/Daniel McCulers/Josh Mauro. Double A gap blitz. Bruce Gradkowski hits Martavis Bryant on a bubble screen. Jordan Dangerfield works through the trash to make the “tackle.”
8. Pressure and it probably would have been a sack. Bruce Gradkowski misses on a throw for Derek Moye on an out route to the left sideline.
9. Felt like everyone moved early but the coaches let them play on. Gradkowski puts it up for grabs intended for Derek Moye but it’s too far in front. Devin Smith provided the coverage.
10. Now Chris Carter is running at first team ROLB opposite of Worilds. Ike Taylor breaks up a curl for Derek Moye from Gradkowski.
11. Ethan Hemer swims over Chris Elkins Gradkowski hits Martavis Bryant on the money on an out route.
12. Jason Worilds rushes in free. Gradkowski’s pass isn’t even close to Moye, the fourth time in five throws the QB looked 14’s way.
13. Brendon Kay comes in and finds Miguel Maysonet in the left flat. Will Allen has the thud.
14. Sharmarko Thomas rushes in free up the middle. Probably would have been another sack. Kay with nice touch to throw it over Arthur Moats, dropping into a hook zone. Completes to Lanear Sampson.
15. Shark and Will Allen are in at safety. Appears to be miscommunication between Kay and James Shaw. Shaw runs a curl and I think Kay was looking for a comeback. Probably one of those option routes where the route breaks depending on how the corner is shaded.
– I can’t say I was his biggest fan, and I’m not a huge movie buff, but Jumanji was one of the first movies I can remember watching growing up. Completely forgot Robin Williams was even in it. Fantastic movie. Williams will be missed by so many.
– 3rd down period as the team works on situational football.
1. Heath Miller and David Paulson start at TE. Cody Wallace pulls from his left guard spot with LeGarrette Blount following behind. Carter is starting at ROLB to begin this period.
2. Attempted screen from Ben Roethlisberger to LeGarrette Blount is snuffed out, forcing Ben to chuck the throw into the soggy ground.
3. Ben completes to Antonio Brown on a curl. Cortez Allen just couldn’t close in time.
4. Chris Carter loops free inside and Troy Polamalu blitzes from the outside. Ben throws a lame duck to the middle of the field that lands without a player – offense or defense – even close.
5. Now Blanchflower is the #2 TE with Miller. Cortez Allen presses Antonio Brown on a slant from Ben and it sails incomplete.
6. Ben Roethlsberger forces a corner to Lance Moore. Should have been picked off but it slips through Ike Taylor’s hands. Mike Tomlin, standing on the sideline, throws his hands up in the air. Oh Ike.
7. Will Allen and Robert Golden are second-team safeties. Dan Molls and Terence Garvin in at ILB. Moats at LOLB, Howard Jones at ROLB. Landry Jones checks to Josh Harris.
8. Inside zone to Tauren Poole. McCullers got moved down the line, but hard to defend against some of those zone runs.
9. Arthur Moats gets good penetration with a quick first step and beating his man inside. Jordan Hall totes the rock.
10. Landry Jones gets the ball to Jordan Hall via a checkdown.
11. Hall on the draw. Moats again is the first guy into the backfield.
12. Draw to Miguel Maysonet. Terence Garvin engulfs him.
13. Dan Molls, dropping into his hook zone, bats down a Landry Jones pass. Nearly had the INT but couldn’t quite find the ball in time. Been awhile since this defense has had an interception, hasn’t it?
14. Third-team defensive line: Nick Williams, Hebron Fangupo, Brian Arnfelt. Brendon Kay arguably holds onto the ball too long, and though knowing what the progression could be is an impossible task, appeared to miss a wide open Eric Waters streaking across the middle of the field (similar to David Paulson’s big catch yesterday). The QB instead checks down to a RB.
15. Kay hits Blanchflower. Jordan Zumwalt with the tackle.
16. Miguel Maysonet gets the handoff on a dive. Roy Philon was turned by either Chris Elkins or Chris Hubbard. Has to try and stay square.
17. Jordan Hall gets the carry off the left side. Mike Adams had a nice combination block. Chipped Brian Arnfelt, aiding to knock him to the ground, and then works and sticks to Zumwalt.
18. Kay fires a nine route towards Darrius Heyward-Bey. He has a step on Shaq Richardson but the pass is underthrown. Still, Heyward-Bey could have made the catch with Richardson being trailing and not looking for the ball. True to form, the receiver lets it slip through his hands.
19. Carter now at LOLB and Howard Jones at ROLB. Screen that is well behind Josh Harris.
20. Zumwalt lines up off the right edge. Kay finds Markus Wheaton – I don’t get why he was logging time with the reserves – on an out route. Devin Smith had the coverage.
– As you can tell, the team ran a whopping 20 plays in this series. Every other one in every practice had been 15.
– I have not bought books for school yet. I should probably do that soon. It’s just the worst way to spend money. A book that I’ll probably hardly use that’ll cost $50. Throwing money away.
– Red zone work. Ball placed at the 20.
1. Miller and Paulson again start at TE. Miller is an in-line blocker with Paulson in the slot. Dri Archer at RB. Big Ben fakes a swing pass to Archer and then hits Paulson on a post over Troy Polamalu.
Worilds and Carter were the OLBs.
2. Blount now in at RB. Cam Heyward beats Kelvin Beachum inside. Roethlisberger throws to Heath Miller down the seam but the window is small and the pass falls incomplete. Sean Spence provided tough coverage.
3. Ben complete to Antonio Brown on a quick hitter in the left flat.
4. LeGarrette Blount on the draw. Decisive cut to get upfield.
5. Student Body right on a half-toss to Archer. DeCastro and Pouncey motoring down the line.
6. Martavis Bryant somehow brings down a fade against Antwon Blake. I thought it was too tall, even for Bryant. Pretty sure it even surprised the players. Pass came from Ben.
7. Landry Jones enters. Think this play was the same as the first but Jones throws the swing instead of pump faking it. Misses badly, way too far in front. That’s the kind of stuff that frustrates me.
8. Jones fires complete to Rob Blanchflower on a curl.
9. Jones checks down to Harris.
10. Bruce Gradkowski hits an open Tauren Poole on an angle route but Poole drops it. Hit him right in the hands.
11. Power O, Chris Hubbard pulling. Tauren Poole gets the carry and shimmies through a hole.
12. Jones throws a backshoulder fade to Derek Moye that falls incomplete. Devin Smith applying the coverage.
13. End around to Dri Archer. Dan Molls gets off his block and records the thud.
14. Kay throws a slant but it looked like someone got a piece of it at the line, the ball wobbling to the ground.
15. Martavis Bryant ends practice on a high note, catching another fade for a TD, outmuscling Ike Taylor.
– Make that two straight days where Josh Harris has been ahead of the pecking order. Not thinking it’s a fluke now.
– Martavis Bryant stormed back with a couple of “big guy” plays. At least he’s taking advantage of the reps Justin Brown is missing. Still think Brown is entrenched as the #4.
– Derek Moye seemingly gets targeted 100 times a day. He’ll catch 50 of them. Not sure what these quarterbacks obsession is with him.
– Seeing quite the rotation for the #2 TE with Spaeth and Palmer not working in team drills. Paulson still seems like the frontrunner as he had another nice grab today. Hopefully Blanchflower and Waters are making the best impression possible. Feels likely that Michael Palmer will be back tomorrow. Spaeth probably won’t miss much more time either.
– I know I’ve dogged him but Mike Adams had one of his better practices today. It’s a step, at least. Need to see him perform well against starters in a game. Should be at left tackle tomorrow and will hopefully get to square off against Mario Williams a few times.
– Even though Nick Williams had a good showing Saturday, he’s still running as really the 4th team RE. Makes getting snaps tough.
– Roy Philon had by far his best practice today with those two plays in the backfield. Probably the last time we’ll say that though.
– Arnfelt continues to run as the 3rd team RE.
– Heavy rotation at ROLB with Jarvis Jones down. Still happy to see Arthur Moats get some of that split. He’s the best pass rusher beyond Worilds and Jones. Think the team wants him to be the next man up at either spot for his ability to set the edge and stuff the run more than anything else. Remember Carter is awful against the run. No upper body strength.
– Mike Tomlin is right. Dan Molls is an instinctive guy who can find the ball. Odd to see him running with the second-team with Garvin, two guys that usually play the Mack. Didn’t see who was acting as the Buck today. Totally forgot to. It probably was Garvin.
– With all the safeties healthy, another pretty heavy rotation that I didn’t get a great feel for.
– The Buffalo Bills pay a visit to Chuck Noll Field tomorrow. Should be fun. Really don’t know what to expect format-wise. Looking forward to it.
– Made my triumphant return to McDonald’s today. Was welcomed with o̶p̶e̶n̶ ̶a̶r̶m̶s̶ blank stars. Home sweet home. Your McDonald’s Syfy movie of the day: No movie but a mini-marathon of Face Off, the show where monster make-up artists compete. Or something. I dunno. Reality TV is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
– Number of bees that flew around me today: 1 million. Number of McChicken’s consumed during training camp: 10. Number of hello’s from Missi Matthews: 0.
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