Training Camp

Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Six

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp practice today was certainly a lower intensity one than any of the others they’ve had in pads so far. It is a long stretch of practice, five in a row, and the always impactful Friday Night Light’s practice is happening tomorrow evening. So smart to ramp things down a tad, many players wearing shorts today, and no live tackling during team drills. Let’s get into what happened.

Quick aside: want to thank our training camp sponsor, Touring Plans, who is supporting the meals throughout camp. Thanks again to them, 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 roundup. Came out looking ok today. Still out: Cam Sutton (lower body), Mike Mitchell (ankle/foot), Cam Heyward (excused), Senquez Golson (received a monkey’s paw, wishes backfired), and James Conner (shoulder). Some minor appearing bumps and bruises throughout the day. Ryan Shazier with a hamstring, Alejandro Villanueva with the most minor or lower body injuries (he didn’t miss a rep), and Ben Roethlisberger reportedly turned an ankle and sat out the last team session. He’s fine, too.

Bud Dupree looked ok but was held out of the latter three team sessions. Chickillo started at LOLB. Not sure what’s up.

Conner did go through the stretch line and was on the punt block team at the very beginning portion of practice and even went through some drills at quarter speed with the running backs. Expect him to return in no more than a couple days. Possibly by tomorrow.

The other injured players traced the middle field, walking around the sidelines for a lap or two. First sign of on-field rehab. Mike Mitchell practicing ball security, tucking the ball tight to him as he walked around. Sammie Coates did half-speed running and cutting too, a sign that he is inching closer to a return.

New injuries for today: cornerback Greg Ducre did not participate for unknown reasons. Hope he gets back soon. Having a nice camp.

Terrell Watson was the first player out, as he usually is, appearing around 2:30 PM. Unless you count Coates, who is always dropped off first to get work on the JUGS machine.

Phazahn Odom and Demarcus Ayers also got work on the JUGS machine before the 2:55 horn blared.

– Fun part of the pre-practice routine. Maurkice Pouncey and Roethlisberger compete on a crossbar challenge, hitting the cross bar from 25 yards out and then moving five yards back each time they hit it again. Pouncey nearly dusted Roethlisberger, nailing it 40 yards out while Ben was still struggling to hit it from 35. But Ben quickly caught up and had the best throw, hitting a final one from 45 yards deep. Pouncey didn’t have quite the arm to make it there.

Martavis Bryant is inching closer to the field. Literally. Was on the near field with the rest of the team, still not in pads, of course, but standing next to WRs coach Richard Mann and being around the wide receiver huddle in individual work. Later in practice, he ran routes at full speed by himself on the middle field.

– Newly signed TE Jake McGee still shaking off the cobwebs in warmups. Was supposed to settle in the flat with a “defender” (QBs coach Randy Fichtner) sitting wide but he ran into him. Josh Dobbs knew he screwed up and didn’t throw the ball, kinda just staring at McGee. They went through it again, McGee settled, and caught the pass.

– Roethilsberger and Justin Hunter working to get on the same page. Appeared that Hunter took a slide step to his right as he settled on a curl. Ben called out to him, saying “There’s the slide….nothing wrong with it,” and the two went over things for a brief moment.

– Charted the first half of reps for the LB/RB one-on-one coverage drills.

1. Fitzgerald Toussaint on a speed out to the right, cutting off Vince Williams for the catch.

2. T.J. Watt with tight coverage on Jesse James, pass incomplete on a dig.

3. Knile Davis works to the flat and then retraces his step inwards. Ryan Shazier (wearing James Harrison’s #92) jersey closes quickly to try and break it up but can’t do so.

4. Xavier Grimble makes a contested catch on a curl working on Anthony Chickillo.

5. Tyler Matakevich with a rare bad play, grabbing Brandon Brown-Dukes, letting go as to not draw a flag and BBD scoots away. Pass hits off his hand incomplete though.

6. David Johnson with a surprisingly impressive double move downfield, shaking away from Arthur Moats and catching the pass downfield.

7. Trey Williams beats L.J. Fort’s jam, making the catch in the flat.

8. Phazahn Odom’s height really working against him. Can’t rip under Keion Adams coming out of his stance and gets tied up. Quarterback never even tries to throw the ball.

9. Terrell Watson really nice back shoulder adjustment down the sideline vs Steven Johnson.

10. McGee gets away from Farrington Huguenin on an out cut, making the grab.

11. Roosevelt Nix with a catch on an out cut, beating Keith Kelsey.

12. Xavier Grimble beats Watt on a dig. Watt lost his balance at the top trying to follow Grimble’s break. But the pass was off the mark and incomplete.

13. Toussaint wins again working on Vince Williams.

14. Jesse James a quick swim move Chickillo. Chickillo holds him, ref throws a flag, but James makes the catch on a corner route.

15. Knile Davis beats Matt Galambos on an inside breaking route.

16. Huguenin nice breakup on Trey Williams.

– Then decided to look at the WR/DBs on the goal line (and wound up missing when/how Shazier got hurt because of course).

WR/DB

1. Incomplete to Cobi Hamilton. Coty Sensabaugh with the coverage.

2. Antonio Brown out ‘n up and makes the catch in the back left corner versus Artie Burns. But Burns pushes him out of bounds, incomplete.

3. Eli Rogers with an inside stem and then outward cut working on Mike Hilton. Believe the pass was incomplete.

4. Back shoulder throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster incomplete against Brandon Dixon.

5. Darrius Heyward-Bey creates space to the left front pylon versus Brian Allen but bobbles the ball and the pass is ruled incomplete.

6. Receivers now lining up on the 15 instead of outside the goal line. Incomplete fade right corner to Cobi Hamilton, also against Allen.

7. Good press and leverage by Burns on AB off the line but Brown nudges him away at the catch point and pulls in the pass. Convinces the ref to rule it a touchdown.

8. Rogers touchdown, getting away from Hilton.

9. Ross Cockrell gets flagged for pass interference on a fade to the right corner against Justin Hunter. But Hunter does well to high point and catch the ball, getting both feet in bounds for the score. Really strong play.

10. Good body control by Smith-Schuster along the sideline, catching this pass in front of Dixon.

11. Post route by DHB is complete, still working over Allen.

12. Another out ‘n up by AB versus the other AB, Burns, to the right corner. But Burns gets his head around in time and gets enough of the ball to break it up.

13.  Rogers in and then out stem against Hilton, leaping off the ground to make a nice diving catch in the end zone versus Hilton.

14. Dixon does a nice job to swat away a fade to Demarcus Ayers.

15. Marcus Tucker finds the ball at the last second, scoring in the back right corner on Cockrell.

First Session

1. Seven shots, as usual. Like yesterday, Tyson Alualu starting RDE without Heyward. Empty set, Toussaint split out. 12 personnel, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble standing up. Roethlisberger zings a slant to Grimble in between Bud Dupree and Vince Williams for the touchdown.

2. Antonio Brown makes a diving adjusting catch to the left side from Ben before getting tagged up by AB a foot outside the goal line. No magical stretch this time.

3. 12 personnel, empty set again. Davis split out and Justin Hunter in the slot, Grimble farthest to the right sideline. James and Roethlisberger get on the same page and #7 finds his starting tight end open in the back of the end zone. Toe tap by Jesse to finish the play, a welcome sight.

4. AB and JuJu the outside receivers with Rogers in the slot. Bunch set. Roethlisberger seeking Johnson but Sensabaugh breaks it up at the catch point.

5. Josh Dobbs steps in at quarterback. Hamilton and DHB stacked. Dobbs half roll to the right, money throw to Hamilton at the pylon, Mike Hilton in trail.

6. Second-team corners with that line pretty thin. Sensabaugh LCB, Dixon RCB, Hilton in the slot. Nothing available so Dobbs tucks and runs but I count this as a win for the defense, despite the score.

7. Huguenin/Adams at OLB. Dobbs misfires, throwing between David Johnson and Smith-Schuster. Safety Jacob Hagen blanketed Johnson. Defense wins, 4-3.

Second Session

1. With Shazier out, Tyler Matakevich stepping in first team opposite Vince Williams. Maurkice Pouncey pulling with Toussaint behind. Good burst, though that’s easy without pads and when no one can tackle.

2. Tuitt, despite this being a non-tackling drills, drags down Knile Davis. T.J. Watt was really strong at the POA, getting under Grimble’s pads and charging him backwards.

3. Toussaint shows some Le’Veon Bell-like patience but Chickillo keeps a lid on things and keeps the back inside and into the teeth of the defense.

4. Ben checks down to Davis. Watt dipped under Grimble around the edge.

5. Toussaint up the middle. You guessed it, it’s Matakevich flying up either the A or B gap.

6. Nowhere to go for Davis. Lavon Hooks and L.T. Walton, the latter at the nose, doing well to hold the point of attack.

7. Terrell Watson gets the carry up the gut. Nice stack and shed by Keion Adams, working on Odom.

8. Toss left to Brown-Dules. Tries to cut it back but Adams flowed down the line well and kept contain. Would’ve made the tackle had it been permitted.

9. Dobbs playaction. Arthur Moats beats Chris Hubbard around the edge. Quick checkdown to Davis.

10. Run to the right, BBD the carry. Steven Johnson fills his gap and meets him first.

11. Roy Philon perking up the last few days, shedding his block and swallowing up Trey Williams at the LOS.

12. Williams running behind a pulling Kyle Friend. Brian Allen the first man there before Keith Kelsey shoves him to the ground.

14. Watson up the gut. Several Steelers meet him almost immediately.

15. Brown-Dukes also up the middle. Matt Galambos shoots in before DE Nelson Adams bear hugs the back.

16. Quick screen to the right from Bart Houston to Marcus Tucker. Dixon first one to tag him up.

Third Session

1. Bud Dupree didn’t get any work from here for unknown reasons (he was on the sideline, looked fine). Anthony Chickillo inserted into first team LOLB. Roethlisberger throws a rope down the right sideline for a 30-40 yard gain, Justin Hunter stretching out his arms and making the catch with a step on Cockrell.

2. Flag on the snap. Ben checkdown to Davis.

3. Marcus Gilbert steers Chickillo upfield. Roethlisberger with some heat on his throw over the middle. Watt dives for it but can’t make it there in time. Hits Jesse James in the stomach, nearly dropping to a knee, but staying up and turning upfield.

4. Davis the carry off the right side.

5. Toussaint split out wide. ILB blitz. Dobbs finds Hamilton on a curl, Sensabaugh covering.

6. Second team DL: Hooks-Walton-Maxey. Keavon Milton pulling on playaction but the defense stays at home. Dobbs does well to go through his progression, not forcing it down the seam and looks for DHB along the left sideline. Pass is off target and clanks off the receiver’s hand. Hilton had the coverage but didn’t influence the play.

7. Good zip on a pass from Dobbs complete to Demarcus Ayers on an out cut.

8. Brown-Dukes cuts back to his right. Pile up of players and L.J. Fort took a second to get up before walking off the field to get some water.

9. Empty. Box loaded, Matakevich blitz. Looked like Cover 1. Roethlisberger hits Brown on a drag left to right, who runs away from everyone and scores down the right sideline.

10. Playaction. Roethlisberger another perfect throw over the middle downfield to David Johnson, catching it over Watt and in front of Sean Davis.

11. Roethlisberger a beauty down the left sideline for AB. Looks like he made the catch working on Burns but the ref rules him out (there was “video” review moments later, AB’s personal photographer capturing it, where the ref confirmed the pass was incomplete).

12. Hooks generates some pressure. Bart Houston looks for Hamilton on a comeback to the right sideline but it’s dropped off Hamilton’s outstretched hands.

13. Fire X blitz. Houston heaves the ball down the left sideline for Marcus Tucker, who has a step on Allen, but the pass is a step in front.

14. Brown-Dukes did well to square up in pass pro. Houston hits Nix in the right middle, working to the flat.

15. Houston again complete to Ayers. Jake Rodgers doubled over in pass pro but managed to seal Huguenin upfield.

Fourth Session

1. Screen to Davis. Matakevich immediately there for the “tackle,” getting home before the line can peel out to him.

2. Matakevich again making plays. Dobbs with heat over the middle to Johnson, probably 15 yards downfield, but Matakevich gets a paw on it to knock the ball away.

3. Gilbert seals Chickillo. Dobbs throws a go-ball down the right sideline to Antonio Brown versus Burns. Not a lot of space but really good ball placement and Brown hauls it in.

4. Draw to Davis. Matakevich again first man there. Think Davis tripped over him and falls.

5. 2nd team offensive line: Hubbard-Milton-Finney-Feiler-Hawkins. Hawkins good base block. Toussaint carry up the middle.

6. Playaction. Dobbs wants Johnson in the flat but he’s covered so Dobbs works to Nix, on a Hank (curl) route over the middle. Pass hit off Nix’s hands and incomplete.

7. Hamilton leaves his feet to make a catch, as he usually does, but complete on a curl from Dobbs. Adams swimmed over Hawkins but Hawkins has the length to seal him upfield.

8. Dobbs complete to Ayers. Fort truck sticked Watson in pass pro. Whew.

9. Draw to Davis. Golden fills the alley and Tuitt chases from the backside.

10. Here’s a fun one. Vince Williams taken out and the Steelers go dime. First time I’ve seen it all camp. The six defensive backs: Davis and Golden at safety. Burns, Cockrell, Gay, and Hilton at corner. Interesting. Pass goes through AB’s hands. Maybe he was just as surprised as I was.

11. Toussaint on a draw. Trips up.

12. Houston checkdown to Nix.

13. Mesh route (two drag routes crossing each other). Tight end always sets it, the receiver running under, and Houston hits Jake McGee over the middle. Keion Adams in coverage.

14. Huguenin beats Rodgers and the tackle has to hold on. Houston complete to Odom.

15. Nothing for Houston to work with. Smart play to check it down to Watson but his foot work is off and the pass floats over the back’s head.

Fifth Session

1. Dobbs first team QB with Ben out. Jesse James on an over route across the middle. Zings it between Steven Johnson and another defender but James can’t haul it in as he goes to the ground.

2. Outside zone to Toussaint off the right side. Matakevich, Johnson, Alualu all there.

3. Watt may have beaten Villanueva. Looked like he was getting held trying to bend the edge. Fort blitzes. Dobbs just tucks and runs.

4. Two receiver set, Smith-Schuster in the slot. Brown-Dukes up the middle. Matakevich fills his gaps, Tuitt sheds his block on the edge.

5. Yeah…can’t read my notes on this one. Something about Dobbs throwing the ball down the right sideline and the pass was incomplete. Best I can make of my terrible handwriting.

6. Draw to Davis. Chickillo crashes down to tag him up.

7. Adams swats down Dobbs’ throw at the line of scrimmage. Does the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag.

8. Watson carry right side. Adams sheds his block and is the first man there.

9. Ayers in the slot. Trey Williams on the draw. Good stalk block by Cobi Hamilton on Hagen. Sensabaugh and Williams run down the left sideline.

10. Dobbs strong throw over the middle to connect with Marcus Tucker on a dig.

11. Brown-Dukes up the middle.

12. Terrish Webb and Malik Golden at safety. Brian Allen and Brandon Dixon at corner. Watt works under Brian Mihalik and pushes him into the pocket. Throw from Houston over the middle to Ayers is behind. Allen with the coverage.

13. Williams up the middle for a short gain. McGee good seal of Huguenin.

14. Third team DL. Adams-McCullers-Philon. Kelsey/Galambos the ILB. Hubbard in at tackle eligible. Houston forced to reset the huddle, issue with David Johnson’s motion. Johnson pulls right to left and Watson follows behind.

15. Ayers and JuJu on the outside, Canaan Severin in the slot. Bubble from Houston to JuJu on the right side. Huguenin the first one there and Galambos gave chase.

Final Thoughts

– Pretty quiet day all around. Lower intensity. Josh Dobbs continues to shine. Ball gets out quick, in rhythm, with accuracy and ball placement. Shows the same whether it’s over the middle or down the sideline. Doing a better job going through his progressions after struggling there his first two days.

– Marcus Gilbert with a good day. No surprises there though.

– Keion Adams is hitting the ground running. Showing a good football IQ, the ability to drop and cover, and some basic pass rushing ability.

– Tyler Matakevich continues to be one of the stars of camp. Hasn’t had a bad day yet and shows his coverage chops, too.

– Mike Hilton had two breakups in 7v7. Both against tight ends (James and Odom). He’s going to make himself a tough cut.

– Brian Allen hasn’t done much yet. Hoping he can show out on special teams in the first game. That’s his path, anyway.

– Still looking for Sean Davis to make a splash play. Aside from one breakup in 7 shots the other day, he’s been quiet. I guess that’s sorta typical for safeties though. Farthest away from the ball.

– Scheme wise, Steelers continue to run empty on the goal line in seven shots. Either in 11 or 12 personnel. Think you’ll see a lot of that this year.


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History Through A Lens

What could have been. No doubt Joe Gilliam had talent. If you have any stories/memories of him, let us know in the comments.

Football: Pittsburgh Steelers Joe Gilliam (17) in action vs Cleveland Browns at Three Rivers Stadium.
Pittsburgh, PA 9/23/1973
CREDIT: Walter Iooss Jr. (Photo by Walter Iooss Jr. /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X17881 )

St. Vincent Snapshot

Jordan Berry with the boot.

Ron Swanson Quote Of The Day

“That’s the real reason I hired you. Those brownies were damn good.”

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