Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day 16

Well guys, this is it. The final practice of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 training camp. Tomorrow, the team will return home and finish out the preseason practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in Pittsburgh. Today’s practice finished how things began, the team working on the turf field at Greater Latrobe High School. A low-key practice, much work dedicated to the backups, and no tackling allowed.

Quick aside: want to thank our training camp sponsor, Touring Plans, who is supporting the meals throughout camp. Had a real chicken sandwich today, not a McChicken. Think that’ll make all of you very, very proud. Thanks again to Touring Plans, who you should check out if you’re ever planning a trip to Disney, the second most magical place on Earth (SVC being the first, of course). You can hit up their website here.

– Injury round-up. I guess one good thing is that when you have a bunch of injuries at the start of camp, guys get healthier by the end. Out fully today included: Ramon Foster (rest, I guess, though this is his third day in a row), JuJu Smith-Schuster (bone bruise), Keion Adams (shoulder, still iced/wrapped), Mike Mitchell (leg/ankle), Senquez Golson (figuring out how many licks it takes to the center of a Tootsie Pop), and Ben Roethlisberger (rest).

Demarcus Ayers was in pads and went through the first route in individual work. Then he took his helmet off and his day was done. Maybe by the year 2147, he’ll get progress enough for a full practice. Cam Sutton was also a partial participant. James Conner did virtually nothing today, evidently still banged up from the lower leg tweak suffered yesterday. He was in pads but that was about it. Also iced his left shoulder towards the end of practice before taking the ice/wrap off and handing it back to head trainer John Norwig. Maurkice Pouncey did not work in team session.

Returning for Pittsburgh: B.J. Finney was a full-go after leaving early with hydration yesterday. Big news of the day was Ryan Shazier, who worked in full. William Gay also back after getting yesterday off. Landry Jones continued to only take handoffs in team period, and his reps seemed even slightly reduced compared to the last two practices. For whatever that’s worth.

– Team essentially came out at once but Mike Tomlin and RBs coach James Saxon were the first two on the field.

Antonio Brown the last man out, jogging out to loud applause at 3:03 PM for a 2:55 practice.

– Mike Tomlin and James Harrison presented a Steelers’ jersey to Darran Dunlap, a little girl battling leukemia. Great photos here from the team’s Twitter account. Harrison gave her a hug, Tomlin a high five. Crowd cheered.

– In warmups, looks like Jordan Berry caught a turf pellet in his right eye holding for a snap. He was ok, laughing it of.

– Pretty much all team sessions today. No one-on-one work.

First Session

1. No seven shots today. Ball on the 25 yard line. Josh Dobbs first team QB. Dobbs complete to Antonio Brown on a curl to the right side, Ross Cockrell in coverage.

First team offensive line: Villanueva-Feiler-Finney-DeCastro-Gilbert. Feiler with the one’s, now that is interesting.

2. Playaction. Dobbs with a pretty heave down the right sideline, hitting Martavis Bryant in stride. Had two steps on Cockrell for what would’ve been a TD (stopped up about 20 yards short).

3. William Gay back in the nickel. Checkdown to David Johnson on a drag route right to left.

4. Burns at RCB, wearing a grey sweatshirt underneath, his best James Harrison impression. Empty set. Dobbs fires to Cobi Hamilton on a curl. Sean Davis couldn’t close in time, shaking his finger after the play. He would be fine.

5. Jacob Hagen safety blitz off the defense’s right, Terrell Watson picking him up. Dobbs throw to AB on the left side. Made the catch working on Burns but only got one foot in, the coaches ruling he didn’t get the second down.

6. Coty Sensabaugh/Greg Ducre at CB. Dobbs wants Bryant on a comeback to the right sideline but Sensabaugh reads it and breaks on the ball, undercutting it and picking it off.

7. Moats free rusher. Bart Houston throws low to Justin Hunter, too low, and Hunter can’t get his hands under it, falling to the ground.

8. Second team offensive line. Hawkins-Cooper-Finney-Milton-Hubbard. Bubble throw from Houston to Bryant off the right side. Xavier Grimble threw a good block in space, Phazahn Odom also out there.

9. Fake bubble to the left, screen right to Terrell Watson. Lots of space in front until Johnny Maxey got off his block and tagged him. About a 10 yard gain.

10. Draw to Fitzgerald Toussaint. Jerald Hawkins good seal on Keith Kelsey. Fitz into the second level before Terrish Webb fills the alley.

11. Brian Allen LCB, JaCorey Shepherd RCB. Front seven lined up on the LOS. Matt Galambos off the edge. Good coverage initially before Houston finds Rogers off the right side.

12. Houston climbs the pocket and then throws an awkward checkdown to Odom. Behind him, incomplete. Think Farrington Huguenin had the coverage.

Second Session

1. Run session, no tackling. Toussaint up the middle for not much.

2. Shazier in team. Feiler seals Roy Philon, Knile Davis up the middle.

3. Xavier Grimble turns out Shazier. Watson runs off his inside hip but appeared to have tripped over him through the hole. Stumbled, fell, before getting back up and finishing the run.

4. Davis over left guard. Marcus Gilbert sets his hips and throws a good block.

5. Malik Golden with a decent pop, by today’s standards at least, on Watson up the gut.

6. Brandon Dixon, Shepherd, Mike Hilton (slot) the corners. Dart scheme with Alejandro Villanueva pulling, engulfing Webb. Toussaint runs off his inside hip.

7. Kyle Friend at center. Playaction, Justin Hunter runs a wheel route but is late to get his head around. Ball behind, incomplete.

8. Playaction. Deep ball down the left side to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Shepherd times his jump and tips the ball away. Got props from Sensabaugh and Gay on the sideline.

9. Short gain for Trey Williams. Cobi Hamilton a wing pre-snap. Malik Golden and Christian Brown, who worked off a block, in on the stop.

10. Knile Davis meets Shazier and Lavon Hooks up the middle.

11. Francis Kallon gets pressure. Houston checkdown to Watson. Watson double-caught the ball before turning upfield. Think Tomlin said, “Catch it once, Nightmare!”

12. Brandon Brown-Dukes totes the rock off to the right side. Jake McGee threw a good block on Shazier.

Third Session

1. 2nd team OL in. Playaction. Boot left. T.J. Watt in Dobbs’ face, who manages to dump it off to Phazahn Odom in the left flat.

2. Davis carry up the middle. Williams meets him in the hole.

3. Houston complete to McGee in the left flat.

4. Williams off the left side. Tuitt swims over his block and chases from the backside, running the poor back over and then having to avoid stepping on his face.

5. Lucas Crowley in at center. Jake Rodgers playing left tackle today. Cam Heyward pressure up the A gap. Houston looks for DHB on a dig. Pass a bit high but through the receiver’s hands. Sigh.

6. Hunter/Coates on the outside, Marcus Tucker in the slot, the latter I was happy to finally see. Dobbs hits Hunter on a slant between L.J. Fort and whoever the corner was.

7. Keavon Milton pulls. Fort free, the first man in to stop up BBD.

8. Landry Jones at QB. Trey Williams inside zone. Moats beats Odom’s face and is the first to get in the way.

9. DHB working out of the slot. Houston hits Odom in the right flat. Galambos chases, trying to punch the ball out from behind as Odom turns up the sideline.

10. Houston complete to Coates on a curl. Hilton slipped out of his break in his hook zone.

11. Big hole for Williams down the left side. Ethan Cooper, Friend opening up a lane.

12. Houston’s throw to Hunter skips short. Rodgers sealed Philon upfield.

Fourth Session

1. Dobbs has AB open on a ten yard curl. Bad throw, sails over his head incomplete.

2. No rush, DL pulling up, and Dobbs hits Toussaint on a drag.

3. Eli Rogers bursts away from Brian Allen on an out route to the right. Dobbs finds him.

4. Dobbs has Hunter open on a curl but drops the pass. Dixon in coverage.

5. Playaction, boot left to a wide open Rosie Nix. Jacob Hagen good inside/out angle to finally reach him.

6. Empty set. Dobbs bomb down the left sideline. Hunter wasn’t running at full speed and didn’t find the ball until really late. Incomplete.

7. Dobbs to Toussaint short pass to the left. Fort got picked by McGee, falling to the ground and opening Fitz up.

8. Houston wants Coates on a drag right to left. Pass behind. Coates reaches his hand out but can’t haul it in. Bad throw.

9. Mesh concept. Odom running over top Coates. This time, Houston connects with Sammie.

10. Tucker and Cobi on the outside, Rogers in the slot. Davis motioned to empty. Looked like a Hail Mary defense, the entire linebackers/secondary lined up next to each other ten yards deep. Check/release to Jake McGee. Situational stuff.

11. Fort and Shazier at LB. Houston hits Cobi on a slant. Ducre with the coverage.

12. Coates runs a nine route down the right sideline. Houston puts it on him and Coates makes a strong combative catch, wrestling the ball away from CB Brandon Dixon.

Fifth Session

1. Goal line work, ball on the offense’s own half-yard line. Grimble false starts. Reset and it’s a toss left to Toussaint. Vince Williams flows and meets him just outside the end zone, about at the LOS.

2. Davis up the middle. Tyler Matakevich flies in and Tuitt shed his block.

3. Good blocks from Rodgers and Coates, the latter stalk blocking Sean Davis (who gave him a pat on the helmet after the play). Watson runs between them for a good gain.

4. Playaction. Houston’s throw is either too early or Hunter got out of his breaks too late, pass badly incomplete.

5. Short throw over the middle from Houston to DHB. Burns gets his arm in there and spins the receiver down. Pass incomplete.

6. Burns blitzes. Davis throws to the blitz and has Hunter open on a short curl but Hunter drops his second of the day.

7. Jones in at QB. Williams off the right side. Huguenin holds the POA vs Odom. Safety, couldn’t tell who it was, filled the alley.

8. Brown-Dukes cuts left and has some space. Rodgers threw a good block for him.

9. Boot right for Houston. Hits Nix once he clears big Dan McCullers’ airspace.

10. Draw to Brown-Dukes. Hooks sheds his block late and trails BBD by a step. Keith Kelsey takes a good angle to chase him.

11. Corner/dig combo. Hunter redeems himself, catching a dig from Houston.

12. Brown/Kallon in nickel. Hawkins shoves Huguenin down up the arc. Houston incomplete to DHB.

Sixth Session

1. Clean pocket for Dobbs, who checks down to Toussaaint.

2. Dobbs fires to Grimble on a curl. Shepherd a step late from picking it off.

3. Davis off the left side. Feiler stayed square, moved laterally, and stuck to Philon. Shazier takes the right angle to run Davis out of bounds.

4. Dobbs complete to Hunter, sitting down for a short five yard curl.

5. Empty set. Mesh route. Houston hits Davis underneath.

6. Watson bends this zone run to the right. Kelsey fills the gap.

7. End around to Martavis Bryant. Jake McGee threw a good block, setting his hips and sealing Kelsey to the inside as Bryant easily won the perimeter.

8. Quick throw complete from Houston to Hamilton.

9. DHB/Cobi on the outside, Tucker in the slot. Draw to Davis, Kallon reading the play and crashing.

10. DHB beats Brian Allen on a post in the end zone. But Houston’s throw is shallow and short, falling incomplete. DHB can’t catch a break.

11. Crowley subs in for Kyle Friend. Coates runs an out and snags the pass over his head versus Allen.

12. Hamilton/Tucker on the outside, Eli in the slot. Houston complete to Odom, Fort in coverage.

Seventh Session

1. Backup offense vs first team defense. McGee at fullback. Brown-Dukes up the middle. Davis fills the alley and BBD scoots away to his right.

2. Pin/pull scheme, toss left to Davis. Watt easily sheds his block and meets Davis as he tries to get upfield.

3. Houston looks for Odom on the right side. But William Gay breaks the pass up. Rodgers struggled with sealing Watt up the arc.

4. Inside zone left to Watson. Javon Hargrave meets him in the middle.

5. Houston fires a slant to Cobi along the left side.

6. Houston forced to re-huddle. Tries to push the ball on his throw, back foot swinging up in the air. Not sure who the WR was but Davis broke it up.

7. Brown-Dukes off right side. Another good block from McGee. Cockrell crashes down to tag him.

8. Checkdown to BBD in the left flat.

9. Trey Williams looks to gain the left edge. Hagen’s jersey being held as he tries to scrape over. Rodgers/Philon and someone else all ended up tangled up on the ground.

10. Nice route by Eli Rogers. Nod to the outside, breaks across for a post. Low throw from Houston but Rogers dives and gets his hands under the ball. TD.

11. Ball on the five. Quick out to Odom from Houston. Odom gets his head around late and the ball hits him in the chest. Galambos thumps him and the ball squirms out.

12. Cooper with a nice, final block to spring Brown-Dukes up the middle and into the end zone for the last play of camp.

Final Thoughts

– Not a lot going on today. Jake McGee shows he has functional strength and ability to set his hips as a blocker. Definitely has some value and now getting work at fullback, too.

– Justin Hunter had a pretty bad day. Two drops, didn’t run hard on one rep that led to an incompletion and got his head around late on another. Coates stepped up and won the day. Bone goes to him, for this practice at least.

– Poor Darrius Heyward-Bey. It’s not all his fault but his catch percentage is the worst I’ve tracked in four years of doing this stuff. We’ll get the final numbers up soon but it’s probably going to come in around 25%. Yuck.

– Happy that Marcus Tucker at least got a few looks in the slot. Has the skillset to be successful there and would only add to his value.

– Jake Rodgers seemed to have a decent day as a run blocker. But again, hard to gauge.

– Phazahn Odom struggles to catch the ball cleanly like he should. Too many passes in his chest.

– Ditto Francis Kallon on the day he had. Good IQ and hand use as a pass rusher. Big lump of clay to mold but there’s a little something there.

– JaCorey Shepherd is a good leaper with a knack for timing his jump.

– Thanks to everyone for another great camp. Appreciate all the support and loved talking to you guys. We’ll do it again next year!


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History Through A Lens

Love this photo. Terry Bradshaw, leading his team out of the tunnel.

St. Vincent Snapshot

Ron Swanson Quote Of The Day

“I call this turf and turf. It’s a sixteen ounce T-Bone and a twenty four ounce Porter House. Also a whiskey and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at the same time because I am a free American.”

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.