Tue. Nov 12th, 2019

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2019 Steelers Training Camp Diary: Day Six

18 min read


Very busy practice #6 of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. Let’s talk about what happened.

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– Injury report. Pretty long list, par for the course this team year. Missing in full today were: FS Sean Davis (left ring finger), CB Herb Waters (waived/injured with shoulder injury), OG Fred Johnson (leg/ankle, saw him hurt it yesterday but finished practice), OLB Bud Dupree (unknown), OLB JT Jones (unknown), ILB Mark Barron (unknown), LS Kameron Canaday (groin), and S PJ Locke (unknown).

WR Donte Moncrief was in full pads but was limited in work, only going through footwork drills with the receivers. Didn’t run routes and not in team. Similar story with WR Johnny Holton, still working his way back from a hamstring injury.

Practicing in full today were: OG Derwin Gray, WR Ryan Switzer, OG David DeCastro and OLB Anthony Chickillo. All were either injured or missed the previous practice.

– Newly signed WR Brandon Reilly will wear #83. He worked in individual, special teams sessions, and inserted into team very late in practice. Chatted up Danny Smith early in practice. Reilly was one of the first players on the field, joining Josh Dobbs, Devlin Hodges, and Trevor Wood, the four coming down at 2:35 PM.

– We now know the DBs getting on the JUGs machine is mandatory. And those guys take a lot of reps. At the end, they catch one ball, move a step closer, and repeat until they’re right in front of the machine, trying to catch it as soon as its shot out.

– Referees on hand for practice today. They’ll probably stick around for a few days.

– Return line: Diontae Spencer, Ryan Switzer, Diontae Johnson, Cam Sutton, and I think Eli Rogers. Rogers, like I said before, gets there late and sorta bounces around early in practice.

– Sutton ties/holds the record for most punt returns caught in the PR challenge with six. Went to tie it today but couldn’t handle the 6th one. Cam Heyward stepped in and did pretty well. Had three before the fourth one got him.

– O-line flipping around a bit too. Jerald Hawkins to RT, Chukwuma Okorafor to LT.

– QBs briefly had the trash can drill today, throwing fade routes into a trash can. But much shorter than in the past, only 10-15 throws, and no one connected.

– Moncrief does look smooth with his footwork. Soft steps, no extra/false steps, and gets out of his breaks quickly. Runs the drills like a vet.

– Three random notes from WR vs DB. Dravon Askew-Henry had a nice breakup on Tevin Jones, Kameron Kelly finished a play and ripped a sideline throw away from Eli Rogers, and Diontae Johnson beat Steven Nelson’s jam to win the route over the top, though the throw went elsewhere (they were working in pairs of two, 2 WRs vs 2 DBs).

– Special teams notes. Lot of kicking today and with the refs under the uprights, it was easy to see who made/missed. And the kickers made it easy on the zebras. There weren’t any misses.

Chris Boswell went 6/6 with makes from: 32, 32, 37, 37, 41, and 51.

Matthew Wright went 5/5 with makes from: 32, 37, 37, 41, and 51. That final one was a “mayday” kick, as Danny Smith coined it, a kick with the clock winding down. That 51 yarder barely tumbled over the crossbar but hey, good is good.

The only hiccup here was a bad, low snap by Vance McDonald, filling in for the injured Canaday (groin) that Boswell scooped up and ran with.

Ran some fakes too. Ian Berryman completions to Kevin Rader and – no joke – Tyson Alualu – who made a graceful catch.

– Let’s talk punters. Didn’t chart all their work but the back half of it. Here’s what I’ve got.

Jordan Berry: 55 yards (4.57 seconds hangtime), 50 yards (5.05), 46 yards (4.29), 39 yards (3.40).
Ian Berryman: 61 yards (4.62), 38 yards (3.65), 44 yards (4.33), 55 yards (4.92).

Up/down for both guys. Trevor Wood’s snaps were consistently high.

– First team punt team. The two wings were Roosevelt Nix and Benny Snell with Jordan Dangerfield the upback/personal protector.

Second team: Travon McMillan and Malik Williams with Devin Bush the upback. Steelers have had their last two 1st round draft picks, TJ Watt and Terrell Edmunds, run done punts their rookie year. Watt was removed last year and Edmunds figures to have the same done this season.

– Notes from RB/TE vs LB one-on-one coverage drill.

LB vs RB/TE

1. James Conner beats Vince Williams downfield and makes a combat catch for the win.

2. Nice job by Xavier Grimble to knock Sutton Smith’s hands down at the line of scrimmage, running away from him on this corner route and hauling in the throw.

3. Jaylen Samuels crosses Tegray Scales’ face on a short crossing route and hauls in the throw.

4. Kevin Rader swims over Tuzar Skipper but slows up a bit and the throw is over his head and incomplete.

5. Ralph Webb shows wheels, jetting by Tyler Matakevich downfield. Nice rep.

6. Ulysees Gilbert III seemed to guess on Malik Williams’ route, jumping outside as Williams beats him inside and he makes the grab.

7. Nice jam by Ola Adeniyi to jam Trevor Wood, pulling out Wood’s shoulder pad. Wood is able to run his curl and box out, Adeniyi punching wrong, landing on his back instead of through the receiver’s hands/wrists.

8. Benny Snell able to burst away at the top of his route from Devin Bush, who was pulling the back of his jersey.

9. Anthony Chickillo rides Zach Gentry downfield and the ball goes through Gentry’s hands.

10. Easy win for Trey Edmunds on a quick route, running away from Robert Spillane.

11. Sutton Smith playing tight and underneath on Christian Scotland-Williamson but Scotty runs through him coming back to the ball and makes the grab.

12. Travon McMillan gets space on Gilbert III, whose feet were stuck and was a little late reacting to the route.

13. Hard jam by Adeniyi on Vance McDonald. McDonald runs back to the ball on a curl but can’t hang onto the ball, falling to the ground.

14. Quick out by James Conner wins on Vince Williams.

15. Grimble tracks the ball downfield with two yards of separation on Chickillo, who can’t keep up and ends up falling belly-down to the ground.

16. Pitch and catch on a short route to Jaylen Samuels vs Robert Spillane.

17. Tegray Scales misses his jam on Malik Williams, who wins the route and makes the grab.

18. Benny Snell beats Devin Bush inside and cuts away for the reception.

19. Texas/angle route by Ralph Webb on Tyler Matakevich, the linebacker closing downhill at the catch point but Webb hangs on.

20. Roosevelt Nix makes the catch on Sutton Smith on an out route.

21. Nice jam by Devin Bush on Snell, those two have seen plenty of each other, but Snell able to box out and make the grab on the diving rookie linebacker, pounding his fist into the ground at the end as Snell scooted away.

– And here’s OL/DL.

OL/DL

1. “Ola, let’s go” Tomlin yelled out to Adeniyi to kick things off. And go he did. First rep on Chukwuma Okorafor. Dips the edge and under Okorafor, winning relatively easy.

2. They go again. Adeniyi with an even more convincing victory, again dipping under the coffee table with great ankle flexion to beat Chuks.

3. Rookie Isaiah Buggs walks JC Hassenauer back. Good leverage by Buggs.

4. BJ Finney doing well in these drills where he’s struggled before. Anchors on Daniel McCullers.

5. Jerald Hawkins too deep in his kickslide, Chickillo clubbing and beating him inside.

6. Coaches rerack them. Chickillo with a speed bull rush to run through Hawkins.

7. DT/DE Winston Craig can’t dip/rip past Okorafor.

8. Hassenauer and DE Conor Sheehy grabbing each other, Sheehy turned around and facing away from the linemen while Hassenauer has both hands outside. They ended up looking like every prom photo.

9. Strong outside hand control by BJ Finney in Buggs’ chest to win the rep.

10. Bull to rip move by Casey Sayles fails against Patrick Morris.

11. TKO. Henry Mondeaux swims over Jerald Hawkins immediately off the snap. Hawkins really struggling.

12. Hawkins saves face a little here, holding his own on Mondeaux’s bull/rip combo.

13. Okorafor able to anchor on Stephon Tuitt’s bull rush though Tuitt walked him back a few steps.

14. Good punch by Zach Banner on Winston Craig to win the rep.

15. Nice spin and win by Buggs to defeat rookie guard Garrett Brumfield.

16. Call it a draw on this bull attempt by Lavon Hooks on Hassenauer. Hooks’ helmet may have gotten stuck in Hassenauer’s helmet or something, Hooks having to remove it before the center handed it back to him.

17. Banner able to slide and mirror Hooks’ inside move.

18. Cam Heyward able to get into Banner’s exposed chest, moving him backwards to win this rep on a bull.

19. Banner not able to trap and gets uprighted by Tyson Alualu’s long arm stab but Banner has the strength to hold on.

– Let’s talk team sessions.

First Team Session (Seven Shots)

1. Ola Adeniyi and Anthony Chickillo the OLBs. Devin Bush and Vince Williams at ILB. Joe Haden/Steven Nelson at corner with Kameron Kelly and Terrell Edmunds the safeties. On offense, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson on the outside with Eli Rogers in the slot. Ben Roethisberger quick throw to the right incomplete, a little low but also impacted by Devin Bush.

2. Roethlisberger, on an extended play/scramble drill, hits a toe-tapping JuJu in the back of the end zone for the score before Mike Hilton can shove him out.

3. David DeCastro lifts his left foot too early for the false start. Ben complete to Eli Rogers running a pivot route against Edmunds.

4. Artie Burns now in at LCB. Slant/flat with Diontae Johnson running under Smith-Schuster and to the sideline. Rub creates space and Cam Sutton can’t close over the top before Johnson hits paydirt.

5. Mason Rudolph in empty set out of 12 personnel. Christian Scotland-Williamson and Trey Edmunds split out with Kevin Rader in the game at tight end. Throw right side complete to James Washington for the score in the back right corner on Marcus Allen.

6. Benny Snell the RB. Rudolph’s pass for Zach Gentry is tipped by Cam Sutton, nice competitive play by him, and picked by Jordan Dangerfield, racing down the left sideline chased by Tevin Jones.

7. Stick route to the right intended for Wood is tipped away by Robert Spillane.

Offense still wins 4-3. Updated camp standings.

Seven Shots

Offense: 24
Defense: 17

Second Team Session

1. Ball at the offense’s own 10. Tuitt and Javon Hargrave the nickel defenders. Williams and Bush at ILB. Josh Dobbs in at QB. Handoff to Jaylen Samuels right side. Joe Haden charges hard to fill the alley for a three yard gain.

2. Jerald Hawkins the 6th offensive linemen. Samuels again the carry, this time up the middle, but not much going on. Hargrave clogs this up. Give Samuels a run of one.

3. Benny Snell right side. Bounces this run and Artie Burns makes a strong tackle, grabbing and tossing Snell out of bounds for no gain.

4. Quick throw complete from Dobbs to Diontae Johnson right side. Burns again there, jumping on the rookie’s back until the coaches whistle the play dead. Gain of one.

5. Power. Roosevelt Nix kicks out Cam Sutton. Wrap up tackle by Dangerfield on Snell, Snell trying to fall forward but ending up on his back for a one yard run. “I see you Danger!” a defensive teammate called out from the sidelines.

6. Second team o-line: Okorafor-Hassenauer-Finney-Morris-Hawkins. Rudolph all day to throw. Gentry found himself wide open along the right sideline and catches the ball but doesn’t look like he got his second foot inbounds. Calling it incomplete. Would’ve been a 15-20 yard gain otherwise.

7. Hawkins again tackle eligible. Power again with Morris and Nix leading the way. Ralph Webb has a crease left side before Dangerfield, active day for him, makes the stop. Gain of seven.

8. Scales and Matakevich at ILB. Had to rehuddle after the defense had 12 men on the field (Big Dan was pulled off). Webb up the middle. Buggs got turned out but ended up spinning his way into the back to help on the stop. Gain of 5-6.

9. Trey Edmunds in the backfield. Adeniyi comes in with late pressure to force an incaccurate throw by Dobbs. Flag route for Grimble is off the mark and picked by CB Steven Nelson.

10. Vince Williams lined up at ROLB. Unblocked and flies in to stomp Snell for a three yard loss.

11. Samuels carry right side. Williams and Mike Hilton chase backside to make the stop for no gain. Overall, defense won this session and since that tough first day, have tightened up their run defense.

12. Devlin Hodges in at QB. Malik Williams on the carry, right side, spinning off Justin Layne, but Layne slows him up enough to let Robert Spillane finish things a moment later. Gain of two.

13. Third team o-line. Prince-Brumfield-Hassenauer-Gray-Banner. Stretch left to Edmunds. Greg Gilmore with a rare mention, holding the point of attack and shedding the block while Marcelis Branch flies in from his safety spot for a run of only two.

14. McMillan up the middle. Spillane unblocked, Prince may have missed it, and stuffs the rookie back for a one yard run.

15. Shehy-Gilmore-Craig the defensive linemen. Wheel route from Hodges complete right sideline to Rosie Nix, who put on a move and juked two Steelers – wish I knew who they were – for a 20 yard gain.

Third Team Session

1. 4 wide. Johnson, Switzer, Smith-Schuster, Washington. Defense jumps, perhaps Hargrave. Roethlisberger hits Smith-Schuster for 19.

2. This time, a legit five wide receivers on the field. Shallow crosser from Ben to Switzer is complete but Bush flashes his speed, running with him and though allowing the catch, not giving up any YAC.

3. Nickel blitz by Hilton. Stick route from Ben to McDonald complete against Williams. Completion of six.

4. Nice adjustment by Washington on this throw from Ben, reaching back for it over the middle with a lot of traffic around him. Again, Hilton had a nickel blitz/pressure. 16 yard pickup.

5. RPO, Rudolph complete to Tevin Jones. Felt like JC Hassenauer thought it was a run, not a pass, slowing up in the open field and didn’t end up throwing a block. Scales first man there for a four yard gain.

6. Jones and Diontae Spencer the two receivers. Rudolph a poor throw in double coverage for Grimble. Ovethrown, probably a good thing or else it’s likely picked, with Sutton patrolling the area.

7. Pony/2 RB set. Snell and Samuels on the field, the latter split out. Nice placement by Rudolph, a backshoulder throw complete to Tevin Jones along the right sideline picking on Justin Layne. 21 yard gain.

8. Dangerfield/Marcus Allen the safety pairing. Deep drop by Rudolph. Tuzar Skipper flying in and Rudolph got bumped after throwing the ball. Wants Spencer on a dig over the middle but Layne rebounds nicely, flying in hard to break up the throw. Good timing and physicality at the catch point.

9. Samuels catches a shallow crosser from Rudolph. Kameron Kelly on coverage, tugging the back of Samuels’ jersey to end the play, a six yard gain. Teryl Austin yelled out a coaching point to Kelly I couldn’t quite make out. On the line, nice job by Feiler to steer Adeniyi upfield.

10. Pocket collapses on Dobbs. He gets tall in the pocket and as a result, throws over Conner’s head. Incomplete with Bush covering.

11. Dobbs empty set. Complete to Switzer on the right sideline for six. Dobbs scrambled and flushed out to his right, chased by Adeniyi (who discarded Feiler once Dobbs broke away).

12. Dangerfield and Mike Hilton (at free safety) the pairing. Keith Butler said Hilton moving to FS was going to happen for at least a few reps. Dobbs fires right sideline for Spencer but he bends his route in a bit while the throw was intended for the sideline/outside shoulder and incomplete. Brian Allen covering.

13. Nice blitz pickup by Trey Edmunds. Dobbs finds Jones on a curl for eight yards against Layne.

14. Askew-Henry and Branch at safety. Spillane with another breakup, again on Wood, as he did on seven shots. Also came on a quick out route.

15. Sutton Smith/Tuzar Skipper the OLB pairing. Bullet over the middle caught by a leaping Tevin Jones, fighting Branch and going to the ground completing the catch. Gain of 21.

Fourth Team Session

1. Red zone work this session. Roethlisberger fires deep down the right sideline. Excellent coverage by Artie Burns and he breaks up the throw intended for Smith-Schuster.

2. Throw from Ben to Johnson is a little low but the rook makes the grab at the knees and explodes upfield. 12 yard gain, most of it coming after the catch. Working on Steven Nelson.

3. Checkdown from Ben to Grimble, Grimble releasing out of the backfield. But Bush gets in the way and breaks it up.

4. Bush/Williams at ILB. Throw down the middle of the end zone clips off McDonald’s hands, call it a drop, and incomplete. Nice swipe by Adeniyi to beat Feiler.

5. Snell sidecar to Ben. Hits JuJu on an over route against Chickillo, exploiting zone coverage I assume/hope, for a five yard touchdown.

6. Smith-Schuster/Johnson on the outside, Eli Rogers in the slot. 11 personnel. Screen right complete from #7 to Samuels. But Edmunds keys the ball and fights through the trash, stopping him short of the goal line. Three yard run.

7. Attempted checkdown in the right flat from Rudolph is dropped by RB Ralph Webb.

8. Washington and Tevin Jones on the outside with Ryan Switzer in the slot. Throw to Grimble from Rudolph is over his head incomplete. Don’t know who the LOLB was but Hawkins sealed him upfield.

9. Bunch set right. Nothing there for Rudolph, who takes off before being forced out of bounds short of the goal line.

10. Pony backfield. Samuels split out, Edmunds in the backfield. Jump ball right side for Washington but he trips over Layne and falls. Pass incomplete.

11. Busted coverage. Kevin Rader wide open right seam, five yard TD from Rudolph. Steelers were bringing a blitz. Maybe brought one too many guys.

12. Pony with Samuels/Webb the two backs. Fade from Rudolph for Washington falls incomplete.

13. 12 personnel. Spencer bursts away from Askew-Henry for a 20 yard touchdown. Banner helped keep a clean pocket.

14. Best play Christian Scotland-Williamson’s made in his two years as a Steeler. Diving catch in the end zone over the middle, a step on Ulysees Gilbert III. Great catch, an 18 yard touchdown.

15. Hodges’ throw to new WR Brandon Reilly is off his hand and incomplete. Scales pressured the throw.

Fifth Team Session

1. Bush/Vince at ILB. Rudolph in at QB. 12 personnel, Rader & Grimble. Good coverage. Cam Heyward tags Rudolph up as he pulls the ball down to scramble.

2. Conner carry left side. Hargrave works off a block, I think Pouncey’s, and tackles Conner to the ground. Three yard run.

3. Grimble split out wide right, Edmunds covering him. Johnson nice route on Steven Nelson, creating space on this dig and Rudolph hits him for the score. 14 yard reception.

4. Power left. Samuels follows Nix’s lead block. Bush does well to string the run out wide while Nelson meets Samuels at the sideline. Weak stiff arm has no effect. No gain.

5. Snell carry off right tackle. Pouncey with a lead block but Bush shows his sideline to sideline range, flowing across to tag him up. Snell runs through it, as he always does, and Stephon Tuitt came screaming in – late, honestly – to nail the back out of bounds near the goal line. Run of one.

6. Screen left. Rudolph wants to hit Ralph Webb but it’s well covered. Tuitt works hard and rips through DeCastro, charging hard after Rudolph – literally going full speed – and forcing the QB to throw the ball into the dirt.

7. Nice burst from Snell to turn the corner and outrun Sutton Smith before Dangerfield touches him up. Run of 10.

8. Dobbs playfake. Collides with Snell and the ball squirts out, one of the few miscuses of camp in that regard.

9. Samuels/Webb in the Pony look. Throw complete short left from Dobbs to Spencer. Dangerfield with the stop after a four yard reception.

10. Nice jump cut to the left by Webb for a 14 yard touchdown.

11. Empty set. 11 personnel. Dobbs throws incomplete to Tevin Jones in a lot of traffic.

12. Dobbs attempt right side is timed well and tipped by Casey Sayles. Intended for either Gentry or Rader. Almost picked but fell in the middle of a handful of defenders.

13. Hodges empty set. Nice play down the seam by Gentry, making a tough catch as he crosses the goal line for the score. Believe it came working over Askew-Henry. 15 yard touchdown.

14. Edmunds right side, cutting upfield. Call it a gain of five.

15. 11 personnel. Hodges flushed right and throws the ball away. Banner shoved Skipper upfield.

Final Thoughts

– The one thing Dobbs is doing well is driving the football downfield. Better than Rudolph overall. That does lend itself to more risks, a lower completion rate, though I still believe Rudolph has been better through the first six practices. This battle isn’t over yet. Long ways to go before those decisions need to be made.

– Does feel like we’re going to see some Pony sets this year. Will need to tally up the numbers but been done 7-10 times already.

– Zach Gentry is going win down the seam. Build-up speed player, long strider, use his size to be a big target for quarterbacks. That’s his game. If he has to break down and change directions, he’s going to struggle. Get him vertical.

– Trevor Wood has decent hands and made a few players but he rounds off his routes too much, especially on the quick out/in cuts. Needs to be crisper or linebackers are going to be undercut him, as what happened twice today.

– Jerald Hawkins is really struggling out there. Kinda hard to see. Either he’s not at 100% or he is as healthy as he’s going to get and it’s just not going to be good enough. Unless this is just rust, which it doesn’t feel like it is, he’s not making the team.

– Tweeted this out but love the tone the starting defensive line sets. Javon Hargrave is still going full tackles in the final team session. Tuitt is chasing the ball all over the field, Heyward is getting into it with Villanueva yesterday. They practice how they play and play how they practice and the rest of the group feeds off it.

– Overall, happy with how clean camp has been. The C/QB exchanges, no fumbles by any of the offensive players, the overall pace of practice. Not a lot of resetting the huddle, miscommunication, coaches needing to hold hands. Lets coaches evaluate their players and not waste reps.

– Devin Bush another good practice. Game maybe slowing down a bit. Making impact plays in coverage, contesting everything, and flashing his speed laterally. Picking it up.

– Robert Spillane keeps showing up in a positive way in my notes too. Not sure what his path is but I like how he’s done in run and pass.

– Artie Burns having an Artie Burns camp. Which is to say a good one. Justin Layne with a better day today, too.

– Couple of active days for Jordan Dangerfield. That’s been nice to see.


St. Vincent Snapshot

My view of the stretch line. Very pretty day on campus.

Twitter Camp Question

Answering two of them today because I totally forgot this section in yesterday’s report. By the way, my mailbag will go up tomorrow in the afternoon sometime. Not positive of the time but I’ll be around for a few hours with it being the night practice to answer some more camp questions.

I wouldn’t say that. But there is an emphasis on catching the ball. Why the guys are mandated to get on the JUGs machine. As they should be. What happened last year was simply unacceptable.

Nah. Just being cautious. I said when he went on PUP expect it to be a week, week and-a-half. Hamstrings are tricky, you don’t want to rush them or else they will be more serious, and there’s no real urgency for him to get out there. Just want to be smart. He’s too valuable to lose.

Steelers Highlight (You Probably Don’t Remember)

Allen Rossum with a kick return touchdown against the 49ers in 2007. Only time under Tomlin the Steelers have had a defensive player as a mainstay in the return game.

Bob Belcher Quote Of The Day

“Tina, if you’re going to lie on the floor, at least roll over so I don’t have to mop up spills.”


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