Pittsburgh Steelers: 2014 NFL Training Camp

Most significant move: The Pittsburgh Steelers gave offensive line coach Mike Munchak his wish and kept nine players up front. That still didn’t save Guy Whimper. The nine-year veteran was among the 22 players the Steelers released Saturday to get to the 53-man limit by 4 p.m. ET. Rookie fifth-round pick Wesley Johnson and guard Chris Hubbard, who spent all of last season on the Steelers’ practice squad, made the team over Whimper. Johnson could get a spot if the Steelers activate eight offensive linemen for games because of his versatility. If the Steelers only dress seven for games, Mike Adams will serve as the swing tackle with Cody Wallace the primary reserve along the interior of the line.

Hardly a crowd at outside linebacker: The Steelers kept just one outside linebacker, Arthur Moats, to provide depth (depth charts will be updated shortly) behind starters Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones. Neither fourt-year veterans Chris Carter nor undrafted rookie Howard Jones made the team as a fourth outside linebacker. Carter didn’t show the coaches he was capable of helping the Steelers beyond special teams, and Jones is simply too raw to put on the 53-man roster. Look for Jones to land on the practice squad assuming he makes it through waivers. This is a position to watch with teams tweaking their rosters Sunday and Monday. The Steelers could add another outside linebacker when teams are allowed to start signing players who were waived at noon Sunday.

What’s next: The Steelers are allowed to put together a 10-man practice squad at noon Sunday. The team should be mostly comprised of their own players who did not make the final cut. The Steelers can also start signing players who were waived by others teams at noon Sunday. The roster is anything but final as last year the Steelers signed Wallace and punter Zoltan Mesko after submitting their initial 53-man roster.

Steelers moves: OLB Chris Carter, OT Guy Whimper, CB Shaquille Richardson, WR Derek Moye, TE David Paulson, TE Rob Blanchflower, DE Josh Mauro, DE Nick Williams, OLB Howard Jones, CB Isaiah Green, WR Lanear Sampson, LB Dan Molls, RB Stephen Houston, RB Josh Harris, LS Bryce Davis, DE Ethan Hemer, DT Roy Philon, S Ross Ventrone, QB Brendon Kay, CB Dayonne Nunley, G Will Simmons, G Graham Pocic.

Steelers might be done with signings

August, 29, 2014
PITTSBURGH -- Finalizing the 53-man roster before 4 p.m. ET Saturday is the Pittsburgh Steelers' top priority.

It might also be their last major order of business before the start of the regular season.

Team president Art Rooney II told ESPN.com that there is a good chance that the Steelers won’t sign any more of their players to long-term deals before next year.

The Steelers have signed center Maurkice Pouncey, right tackle Marcus Gilbert and kicker Shaun Suisham to new long-term contracts since June.

Outside linebacker Jason Worilds and cornerback Cortez Allen remain the only starters who are candidates to receive new deals. The Steelers don't negotiate player contracts during the regular season, so it would be an understatement to say that the clock is ticking.

"There’s probably a chance we’ll do one more contract," Rooney said. "I don’t know if we will get it done or not, but we’re pretty much done with the signing process as we’re heading into the season."

Worilds is probably the odd man out even if the Steelers sign one more player to a new long-term contract before Sept. 7.

The fifth-year veteran will make $9.754 million in 2014 after signing the one-year contract the Steelers offered him when they used a transition tag on him in March, and the Steelers might not be willing to offer the kind of multi-year deal to make it worth it for Worilds to pass up making nearly $10 million this season.

The Steelers will still have some measure of control when it comes to Worilds’ rights even if they don’t sign him to a new contract before the start of the regular season.

They can tag Worilds again next year, which would prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent when the 2015 NFL year starts.

The Steelers appear to be content to see if Worilds can build on his strong second half from last season and then decide whether they are ready to commit to the former second-round draft pick long term.

Allen is the more likely of the two to sign a new contract becausee it might be more feasible -- and palatable -- for the Steelers from a financial standpoint.

Allen, whose cap hit is $1.529 million this season, is a promising young cornerback who has yet to put it together for an entire season. His signing a long-term contract would provide security for both Allen and the Steelers, who are thin at cornerback.

Given where the respective sides are coming from, it seems a lot more likely that Allen, not Worilds, and the Steelers find common ground on a new deal before the organization shuts down contract negotiations until next year.

Pittsburgh Steelers' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Examining the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster:


I felt going into the finale preseason game that Jones had to play his way off the roster. The second-year man didn't do that and the Steelers will give the 2013 fourth-round pick another season as the No. 3 quarterback.

Josh Harris and Stephen Houston each had a nice run Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. But neither got the kind of work that leads you to believe the Steelers are seriously considering one of them as a No. 4 running back. The question is which one will they keep for the practice squad.


Bryant's shoulder injury, which is signficant, clinches the Steelers keeping six wide receivers. Heyward-Bey really emerged in the second half of the preseason and I see the sixth-year veteran not only making the team but also getting a helmet on game days. Justin Brown is the odd man out here if the Steelers only keep five wide receivers.


Palmer isn't flashy but he blocks and is a solid contributor on special teams. Neither David Paulson nor rookie Rob Blanchflower did enough in the preseason finale to move past him. Blanchflower, a seventh-round pick, heads to the practice squad.


Offensive line coach Mike Munchak will push for nine here. If he gets his wish Guy Whimper makes it for another season. If not Johnson, a rookie fifth-round pick, beats out the nine-year veteran because of his upside and versatility.


McCullers, thought to be a project, has been a pleasant surprise. The rookie sixth-round pick is a lock to make the team. Defensive end Josh Mauro, an undrafted rookie, makes the 53-man roster if the Steelers keep seven defensive linemen. If not the Steelers will try to sneak the Stanford product onto the practice squad.


Jones is the surprise here, and the undrafted rookie makes it over fourth-year veteran Chris Carter because of his ability to play special teams and his upside. I really want to put Jordan Zumwalt on the 53-man roster and the rookie sixth-round pick is a candidate for short-term injured reserve, which the Steelers can use on one player. The guess is that the Steelers take the small risk of waiving Zumwalt, who hasn't played since the preseason opener because of a groin injury, and then signing the UCLA product to the practice squad.


Richardson only played 17 snaps in two games before hurting his knee, and the rookie fifth-round pick is in a similar situation as Zumwalt. The Steelers keep him because they desperately need to develop some young cornerbacks.


The Steelers have a tough cut to make if they only keep four safeties. Golden has more upside but Allen is a dependable veteran. Both are good special teams players. I think both make the 53-man roster.


Coach Mike Tomlin seems to be high on Wing, who has been the Steelers' only punter since the start of training camp. Consistency was an issue for him in the preseason and the Steelers could keep a close eye on the waiver wire even if Wing makes the 53-man roster. We also may have not heard the last from veteran Adam Podlesh, who has yet to report to the Steelers because of a family matter.
Most significant move: The Steelers cut a pair of players who appeared in games for them last season. In the process, their plans along the defensive line came more into focus. The team released defensive end Brian Arnfelt, who appeared in two games at the end of last season, and nose tackle Hebron Fangupo, who played in four games in 2013. Josh Mauro, an undrafted rookie, has the edge for the last defensive spot if the Steelers keep seven defensive linemen, and rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers, a sixth-round pick, is almost sure to stick on the 53-man roster. Defensive end Ethan Hemer may be the odd man out with defensive end Nick Williams and nose tackle Roy Philon likely grabbing spots on the practice squad. Arnfelt entered training camp with a good chance at making the team, but the second-year man fell out of favor with the coaches and Mauro passed him at defensive end. Williams still has a chance to unseat Mauro if he plays well in the Steelers’ final preseason game Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.

Running back shuffle: The Steelers are down to five running backs after releasing three at that position Tuesday, including Tauren Poole, who got a long look from the coaches. A roster spot is there for the taking if either Josh Harris or Stephen Houston seizes the final opportunity against the Panthers. The Steelers may go with three running backs and fullback Will Johnson even given the uncertain status of starter Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. Coach Mike Tomlin has said the team is considering all options as far as punishment following their arrest on marijuana possession charges. (Bell has also been charged with driving under the influence.) That includes a suspension -- and the Steelers can maneuver around the collective bargaining agreement by simply deactivating Bell, Blount or both for the Sept. 7 season opener against the Browns. I don’t expect the Steelers to sit either for an entire game, and a suspension from the NFL wouldn’t come until next season. That means Harris or Houston will have to play his way on to the 53-man roster, or the two could be vying for a spot on the practice squad. The Steelers will also keep an eye on the waiver wire to see which running backs become available at the end of the week.

Steelers’ moves: Arnfelt, S Jordan Dangerfield, C Chris Elkins, Fangupo, WR C.J. Goodwin, RB Jordan Hall, LS Luke Ingram, RB Miguel Maysonet, OT Emmanuel McCray, WR Kashif Moore, Poole, CB Devin Smith, OLB Vic So’oto, CB Lew Toler, TE Eric Waters
Examining the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster:

Jones' hold on his roster spot remains tenuous but I am keeping him on the team for now. This is one position though where the Steelers could go with one less if they want to keep an extra player at another position.


Tough week for LeBackfield, and the Steelers will need to carry an extra running back if they suspend Blount or Bell -- or both -- for the regular-season opener against the Browns. I don't see that happening so I will stick with three running backs and Johnson as the fullback. None of the other backs on the roster has emerged though Tauren Poole still has a chance to make the team. He needs to make a strong closing argument Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers after missing the Steelers' third preseason game because of a hamstring injury.


This is the first time in awhile that I have the Steelers keeping six wide receivers. Heyward-Bey is one of the few Steelers players who flashed in their 31-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he provides speed and a veteran presence to the wide receivers corps. Bryant is still a wild card and Justin Brown has been a disappointment so the Steelers may need Heyward-Bey to serve as their No. 4 wide receiver.


There is no change here, and rookies Eric Waters and Rob Blanchflower each have to play well in the preseason finale to thrust themselves into the discussion as far as the 53-man roster. Will Johnson plays enough tight end in his new role that the Steelers could go with Miller and Spaeth as the only players who are exclusively tight ends if they only want to keep those two at this position.


The first seven are set and I still have Johnson making the team over Guy Whimper because of the rookie fifth-round pick's versatility and upside. He is anything but a lock for the 53-man roster so the Vanderbilt product will have to make the most of his extended playing time on Thursday night.


The re-signing of Keisel adds an extra player here, and I still have Mauro, an undrafted rookie, getting the nod over second-year man Brian Arnfelt. Mike Tomlin likes to dress an extra defensive lineman early in the season when heat and humidity are a factor in games so it makes sense to keep seven up front.


I have switched back to Zumwalt making the team over Howard Jones even though the rookie sixth-round pick has missed the last two games because of a groin injury. If Zumwalt is unable to go against the Panthers he is headed for the practice squad, providing an opening for Jones or Vic So'oto. The Steelers could also play it safe here and keep Chris Carter for one more season.


No change here with rookie Shaquille Richardson missing the game last Thursday night because of a knee injury. His status for the preseason final is uncertain, and I think the fifth-round pick opens the season on the practice squad.


There is no change here as well. Golden's special-teams work and the improvement he has made at safety compels the Steelers to keep five players here.


I had the Steelers carrying two long snappers last week with Warren recovering from surgery that fixed torn meniscus in his knee. Warren's avaliability for the Sept. 7 season opener remains in question. But the Steelers could put either Bryce Davis or Luke Ingram on the practice squad and sign one of those players to the 53-man roster if Warren can't play against the Browns. Wing needs a good game against the Panthers to make the team and then hold onto his roster spot. His net punting average of 35.8 yards won't cut it and the Steelers went to the waiver wire last year to address their punting situation after Drew Butler initially made the 53-man roster.
Examining the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster:


Jones is a candidate to be waived and signed to the practice squad if he doesn't show significant improvement in the last two preseason games. The second-year man took a step back big last Saturday night despite getting work with the Steelers' first-team offensive line in a 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills. This could be a position that the Steelers try to upgrade after final cuts are made, depending on which quarterbacks are on the waiver wire.


I dropped Tauren Poole for now since the Steelers are going to have to carry an extra long snapper until Greg Warren returns from a torn meniscus. Poole has a chance because of his special-teams play but no running back has emerged behind Bell, Blount and Archer.


Justin Brown has to show more after catching just three passes for 15 yards in the Steelers' first two preseason games. He is safe for now but a player like Darrius Heyward-Bey still has time to make a move. Derek Moye seems to be losing ground in his attempt to make the 53-man roster for the second year in a row.


There is no change here but David Paulson and rookies Eric Waters and Rob Blanchflower are still in the mix. Palmer gets the nod for now because of his experience, blocking and ability to contribute on special teams. Will Johnson plays enough tight end in his new role that the Steelers could go with Miller and Spaeth as the only players who are exclusively tight ends.


I'm still sticking with eight here but the Steelers could go with one more player up front if they go with one less at quarterback, running back or tight end. Adams will be the No. 3 tackle, allowing the Steelers to cut ties with veteran Guy Whimper and keep Johnson.


Brian Arnfelt is ahead of Mauro at right defensive end on the depth chart only. Mauro has played with the second-team defense in both Steelers' preseason games, and the undrafted rookie helped himself against the Bills with a pair of sacks and a quarterback pressure. McCulllers is a keeper and has the potential to be one of the steals of the 2014 NFL draft.


Zumwalt needs to get on the field as the rookie sixth-round pick didn't play against the Bills and has been hampered by a groin injury. Assuming he can get healthy the UCLA product makes the team. Jones is raw and could probably use a season on the practice squad. But a couple of players make the team every year because of their special-teams work, and the undrafted rookie has stood out in that phase of the game.


McCain has been solid and appears to have moved past Blake as the fourth-best cornerback on the team. Rookie Shaquille Richardson is off the 53-man projection for the first time as I need to see more from the fifth-round draft pick to put him on the team. Richardson still has time though his status for the Steelers' third preseason game in Philadelphia is uncertain because of an undisclosed injury he sustained last Friday in practice.


Golden flashed against the Bills with an intercepton and two pass break ups and he is a known commodity on special teams. The third-year man is the odd man out if the Steelers only keep four safties and go with six cornerbacks instead of five.


Punter Adam Podlesh has yet to re-join the Steelers after missing all of training camp because of a personal matter but Wing hasn't exactly put a stranglehold on the job. His net average after two games is just 35.8 yards though three of his 12 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line. Ingram gets the nod over Bryce Davis as temporary long snapper until Warren returns.
LATROBE, Pa. -- He didn't qualify as one of the stars of training camp.

But he didn't look lost or overwhelmed either. That would have been pretty easy to tell since it's hard to miss Daniel McCullers when the 6-foot-7, 352-pound defensive lineman is on the field.

McCullers -- "Big Dan" to Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin -- has put himself in position to make the 53-man roster after a solid camp.

And probably the surest sign that McCullers, who turned 22 on Monday, is squarely on the Steelers' radar is how much attention he receives from veteran defensive line coach John Mitchell.

Mitchell, during a practice earlier this week, could not contain his excitement after watching McCullers help the defensive line string out a running play. Mitchell offered encouraging words seeing McCullers move so well laterally.

Of course, Mitchell is also never shy about telling his players what they need to do to get better, and McCullers is no exception.

He got a full dose of Mitchell at training camp.

"It doesn't matter if it's on the field, off the field, when you walk into the elevator, he's always going to be on you," said McCullers, who was the second of the two sixth-round picks that the Steelers selected in the 2014 NFL draft. "It did take a little getting used to but I had to adjust. That's just how he is. You need that in a coach to be on you and make sure you do everything right because he wants you to be perfect."

McCullers has been far from perfect.

But he does not appear to be as big a project as initially thought after the Steelers took the Tennessee product with the 214th overall pick of the draft.

McCullers did well enough during the first two weeks of training camp to receive a decent amount of playing time in the Steelers' preseason opener last Saturday night. McCullers logged 22 snaps -- Hebron Fangupo, who is ahead of him on the depth chart played just eight -- and was credited with a tackle in the Steelers' 20-16 loss to the Giants.

It will be interesting to see how much McCullers plays Saturday night against the Bills.

Steve McLendon, who missed the preseason opener because of a concussion, is expected to play against Buffalo and make snaps less plentiful for the reserves.

The Steelers, however, probably want to take another extended look at McCullers given the strides he made at St. Vincent College.

"He's doing a nice job of really working the techniques and really getting better from an assignment standpoint," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "He has a distinguishing characteristic -- he's an enormous man and one that's difficult to move. But I think day in and day out he's proven that he's more than that. He likes to play football [and] he comes to work every day. I like the progress that he's making but obviously he has some progress ahead of him."

Steelers Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
  • The Steelers final practice of training camp also marked the return of rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier. The first-round pick was a full participant in practice for the first time since bruising his right knee on Aug. 3. Shazier ran with the first-team defense in the Steelers’ joint practice with the Buffalo Bills and didn't appear to be hampered by his injured knee. Shazier's return bodes well for him playing Saturday night against the Bills at Heinz Field.
  • Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not give an indication of how long the starters will play Saturday night in the team’s second preseason game. Tomlin only said that the starters will play more against the Bills than they did last Saturday in a 20-16 loss to the New York Giants. Most of the defensive starters played an entire quarter last Saturday but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played just one series and logged six snaps. Running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount played seven snaps apiece. “Really haven’t looked at a snap allocation yet,” Tomlin said on how much the starters will play, “but rest assured we’re going to get more exposure to those guys in the football game.”
  • Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (groin) did not practice and is unlikely to play Saturday. The injury that has nagged Jones in camp could provide a big opportunity for Chris Carter. The fourth-year veteran has been playing right outside linebacker with the first-team defense in Jones’ absence. Also not practicing were fullback Will Johnson (hamstring), linebacker Vince Williams (concussion), left guard Ramon Foster (knee), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin), safety Will Allen (hamstring) and tight end Matt Spaeth. Center Maurkice Pouncey was given the day off.
  • Tomlin almost spoke a day too soon when he lauded the “etiquette” that the Steelers and Bills displayed during their first joint practice on Wednesday. A fight nearly broke out between the Steelers’ offense and Bills defense, and a few fists were thrown before the referees restored order.
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had a quiet camp, drew the biggest roar from the crowd when he scored an 85-yard touchdown after racing past Bill cornerback Sam Miller and catching a deep ball from Bruce Gradkowski. Markus Wheaton had a good practice with a handful of nice catches, including a beautiful over the shoulder grab in a one-on-one passing drill.
  • The Steelers added a long snapper when they signed Luke Ingram, who was with them in camp last year. The 6-5, 258-pound Ingram joins Bryce Davis as the Steelers’ healthy long snappers with Greg Warren out for the next months because of a meniscus tear.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 14

August, 13, 2014
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • As Mike Tomlin walked past a cluster of reporters during the Bills-Steelers joint practice Wednesday, the eighth-year coach made a comment about the media wanting to see a fight. "You guys are worse than ambulance chasers," Tomlin said with a laugh but also a bit of an edge. It later became apparent why he made the caustic observation. Tomlin is sensitive to the negative media attention generated by the brawl that broke out Tuesday between the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys during a joint practice. That is why he was so pleased that there were only a couple of minor incidents in the first of two joint practices between the Steelers and the Bills. "I thought it was great etiquette. I appreciate the restraint and professionalism by both teams," Tomlin said. "That doesn't get reported often enough. We look to turn on the TV and see gory, unfortunate incidents happen [like] between Dallas and Oakland. We're here to prove teams are capable of doing it in a productive and professional manner."
  • The Steelers may have suffered their first significant loss at training camp. Veteran long snapper Greg Warren sustained a leg injury that Tomlin said may be serious. The Steelers will know more about his status Thursday, Tomlin said. Warren joins quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Heath Miller, safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor as the only players on the Steelers who were on the Super Bowl-winning teams in 2005 and 2008. Bryce Davis is the only other long snapper in camp, and he also plays tight end.
  • Fullback Will Johnson and safety Will Allen each left practice with hamstring issues though Tomlin said neither is serious. Linebacker Vince Williams did not practice because of a concussion and left guard Ramon Foster watched drills with his left knee wrapped. Foster left practice early Tuesday with swelling in his knee. Also not practicing were outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt and tight end Matt Spaeth.
  • Wide receiver Derek Moye made one of the plays of the day when he caught a back-shoulder pass against Bills starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The grab came in one-on-one drills and Moye outfought Gilmore, a former No. 1 draft pick, for the ball.
  • Some personnel notes: Cody Wallace played left guard with the first-team offense with Foster out. Mike Adams played both right and left tackle. Chris Carter played right outside linebacker with the first-team defense with Jarvis Jones out and Markus Wheaton and Dri Archer returned punts.
  • The Steelers' ground game struggled as none of their backs found much running room. Archer was swallowed up by a host of Bills defenders on several outside runs. Josh Harris caught Tomlin's wrath after one run with Tomlin barking at him to hit the hole harder.
  • The Steelers added another running back to their roster when they signed rookie Stephen Houston. The 6-0, 225-pounder had been with the New England Patriots until getting released earlier this week. Houston rushed for 2,304 yards and 25 touchdown in three seasons at Indiana.
  • The Steelers finish camp Thursday with another joint practice with the Bills. It starts at 5:30 p.m. ET and it will be the last chance for fans to watch practice. The Steelers break camp Friday and play the Bills on Saturday night at Heinz Field.
LATROBE, Pa. -- Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor offered his unique take on the brawl that broke out -- and almost got really ugly -- Tuesday during a joint practice between the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.

“They should have paid per view that one,” Taylor said Wednesday as rain once again pelted Western Pennsylvania.

The Steelers hope nothing that would be worthy of charging people to watch on TV happens this afternoon.

The Steelers close out training camp with a pair of joint practices with the Buffalo Bills, weather permitting, this afternoon and Thursday, and they break camp on Friday.

The Raiders-Cowboys melee, which erupted right in front of a cluster of fans, served as a reminder that as happy as players are to practice against a different opponent tempers aren’t always kept in check.

“Going against someone else you always want to prove a point,” said Taylor, who will take part in his first joint practice at training camp. “The testosterone level is sky-high on the field.”

That is the case no matter who players are lining up against, making training camp fights are inevitable.

The Steelers nearly brawled among themselves on Aug. 1 after Le’Veon Bell and Vince Williams wrestled each other to the ground at the end of a back-on-’backers drill. And Tuesday Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown slapped rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson in the helmet and the two had to be separated.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gave his take on training camp fights Wednesday morning on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show.

“I think it’s one of those things where you like to see the aggressiveness,” Roethlisberger said, “but I don’t like it for the fact that I don’t want someone to get hurt, hurt a hand or something like that. That’s where I stand on it.

“I usually just keep my distance because I’m a little guy compared to those guys that are usually fighting. The crazy thing about a quarterback, he’s a lot like a goalie. When he starts a fight people always jump in. Your linemen always get in there before anything, so it’s kind of a nice thing.”

Steelers' Camp Report: Day 13

August, 12, 2014
LATROBE, Pa. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • Martavis Bryant stood out during one of the final practices of training camp even if he did not appear to impress his head coach. The rookie wide receiver caught a pair of touchdown passes in the red-zone drill, and he punctuated his day -- and that of the Steelers -- by hauling in a short scoring grab on the final play of practice despite coverage by cornerback Ike Taylor and strong safety Troy Polamalu. Bryant’s day, which also included a sideline catch that required him to get both feet down quickly, came just four days after the fourth-round draft pick was erratic with ball-control issues in the Steelers’ 20-16 loss to the New York Giants. “He made a couple of plays today but we know that he’s capable of that," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "I’m looking for him to grow in all areas and have the type of detail in his work where we can rely upon him. Like a lot of young guys he’s moving toward that. Not at a quick enough pace for us, not at a quick enough pace for him so we’ll continue to work.”
  • The Steelers’ punting situation remains a murky one even after the team placed Adam Podlesh on the reserve/did not report list on Tuesday. Podlesh has yet to practice with the Steelers since they reported to camp July 25 due to complications from his wife’s pregnancy. There apparently is no timetable as far as Podlesh re-joining the Steelers. “His status will remain (on the reserve list) until we hear otherwise,” Tomlin said. “Right now we’re working with Brad [Wing] and like the work that he’s doing.” Wing has been the only punter with the Steelers since camp started. When asked if the Steelers will bring in another punter with Podlesh’s status uncertain, Tomlin said, “Not that I’m opposed to it, but not as we stand here right now.”
  • Ben Roethlisberger unwittingly,picked the right defender to target when he unleashed his worst pass of the day. Roethlisberger threw a ball right at Taylor in an 11-on-11 drill and it sailed through the veteran cornerback’s hands. Tomlin, standing a few feet away, put his hands on his head and turned around to face the crowd at Chuck Noll Field for several seconds. Taylor’s drops have been well-documented and it has to be all mental at this point. He is too good of an athlete to consistently botch the easiest of catches.
  • Linebacker Vince Williams left practice with a possible concussion. Williams looked a little wobbly as two trainers walked him to a cart and then drove him off the practice fields so he could be evaluated. Left guard Ramon Foster (knee swelling) also did not finish practice. Tight end Michael Palmer, who had been out with an ankle injury, returned to practice and caught a touchdown pass in traffic during a 7-on-7 drills. Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) did not do much beyond individual work.
  • The Steelers’ final two practices of camp will be joint ones with the Buffalo Bills. The two teams will practice Wednesday at St. Vincent College from 2:55 to 5:30 p.m. ET.
LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers' Martavis Bryant could not have played the role of talented but raw wide receiver any better than he did last Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.

[+] EnlargeMartavis Bryant
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicDespite a roller-coaster of a first preseason game, Steelers rookie receiver Martavis Bryant continues to work on his development in camp.
Bryant botched the catch on a punt return and, fortunately for the Steelers, was able to fall on the ball. He wasn't as lucky when the Steelers were mounting a late drive.

Bryant caught a 14-yard pass that put the Steelers in New York territory, but when he got up to run after initially falling down he fumbled and the Giants recovered to seal a 20-16 win.

Bryant's missteps in the preseason opener were more glaring than any other player who suited up for the first time with the Steelers at the end of last week.

What also can't be overlooked, with the Steelers in their final week of training camp, is what Bryant potentially brings to a receiving corps that is lacking in size. He is 6-4 and 210 pounds and can run, and that blend allowed Bryant to draw a pass interference penalty on a deep ball in the fourth quarter against the Giants.

"He has the speed you can't coach, the size you can't coach," Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann said. "I think he's got a chance to help us, I really do."

And Mann is talking about this season.

Bryant is the wild card of a unit that is defined by youth as much as it is Pro Bowler Antonio Brown's individual brilliance.

The fourth-round pick could make an impact, particularly when the Steelers are near the end zone and his height really becomes an asset. Or Bryant, who is 22 and started only one season at Clemson, could need the NFL's equivalent of a redshirt year, one in which he makes the 53-man roster but rarely dresses for games.

"I think we're going through some growing pains with him but we knew that coming in because the guy hasn't played that much," Mann said. "He (started) one year in college and that's not an alibi but the truth."

Mann's task is staying on Bryant at practice and in meetings to accelerate his development while also staying patient with the player who left Clemson after three seasons to enter the NFL draft.

"What we've got to do is get him honed in, teach him how to do things. He's doing pretty good as far as learning it and having recall. He's just not doing it quite right all of the time," Mann said. "If we just keep on coaching him and spoon feeding him until we can get him to learn it, he does have the talent to be able to help us."

Steelers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • The Steelers' second preseason game will be Separation Saturday for players who are battling for roster spots. The final week of practices at St. Vincent College will also be critical for players who are trying to emerge at their respective positions and make the team. "If somebody's going to make a substantial move it's going to happen this week," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Monday after practice. Players will get plenty of opportunities to distinguish themselves this week. The Buffalo Bills will practice against the Steelers Wednesday and Thursday at St. Vincent. The two teams then play a preseason game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET, one day after the Steelers break camp. "We need to put an exclamation point on the remaining work here in Latrobe," Tomlin said. "We want to put them in as many positions as we can to evaluate them, give them an opportunity to show what they're capable of."
  • Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones followed up a one-sack showing in the Steelers' 20-16 loss to the New York Giants last Saturday night with a solid practice. Jones almost intercepted a pass when matched up against tight end Will Johnson in a one-on-one drill, batting the ball up in the air and nearly catching it. The second-year man also blew up a running play and batted down a pass in separate 11-on-11 drills.
  • Defensive Cameron Heyward appeared to practice angry, and it was no coincidence. Heyward blamed himself for the Steelers allowing a 73-yard touchdown run to Rashad Jennings in their preseason opener, and he played with an edge in the Steelers' first practice since losing to the Giants. Starting left guard Ramon Foster could attest to that. Heyward pushed Foster back so fast during a one-on-one pass-rushing drill that Tomlin had the two square off again. "What did you say Ramon?" Tomlin yelled after Heyward beat him badly. "You want another one?" Foster did a better job of standing his round the second time he and Heyward locked up.
  • Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Markus Wheaton teamed up for the play of the day. Wheaton ran a go route and caught a perfectly thrown ball after beating cornerback Antwon Blake down the right sideline. Roethlisberger got some work later running the no-huddle offense as the Steelers closed drills working on that attack.
  • Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) returned to practice for the first time since Aug. 3 but did not do anything aside from individual work. Shazier said he expects to play Saturday against the Bills. Tomlin said he held free safety Mike Mitchell and tight end Matt Spaeth out of practice because of "bumps and bruises." Both will practice Tuesday, Tomlin said. Tight end Michael Palmer (ankle) did not practice and wide receiver Justin Brown (thumb) was limited. Nose tackle Steve McLendon, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey each practiced after not playing against the Giants because of concussions.
  • The Steelers released running back Jawan Jamison on Monday. Jamison, who signed with the team after the start of camp, played just three snaps in the Steelers' preseason opener and did not get a carry.
  • The Steelers will practice from 2:55 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Chuck Noll Field.
LATROBE, Pa. -- Well I never thought I would hear it but Heath Miller -- better known as "Heeeaaath" to the legion of Pittsburgh Steelers fans who shout that any time he makes a catch, even during a training camp practice -- actually made a guarantee on Monday.

[+] EnlargeDri Archer
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsVeteran members of the Steelers, including Heath Miller, are excited for what rookie draft pick Dri Archer (No. 13) will bring to the team.
First, a little background on the veteran tight end: he is unfailingly accommodating to the media but his quotes are generally bland. Miller is many things; sustenance for a voracious news cycle is not one of them.

His understated nature gives even more credence to what Miller said about rookie Dri Archer, the Steelers' blur of a running back/wide receiver/return specialist.

"I guarantee you when he is out there the next time they're going to know who No. 13 is and where he's lining up and pay extra attention to him," Miller said at St. Vincent College. "It can be good for all of us. He can help our offense."

It took all of three plays in the Steelers' first preseason game for Archer to blow his cover.

Catching a short pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a bubble screen, Archer darted across the field and turned the corner with a host of New York Giants chasing him in vain. Archer gained 46 yards on the play, setting up an early field goal, and the 5-8, 173-pounder might have scored had he simply tried to run past Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara instead of first feigning an inside cut.

"I gave him trouble," Miller said with a laugh about Archer getting tackled by Amukamara. "I thought he should have scored."

Archer, the fastest Steelers' player, should get more chances to redeem himself.

Pittsburgh will try to get its third-round pick the ball in space as much as possible if its 20-16 loss to the Giants last Saturday night is any indication.

Archer served as the Steelers' primary kickoff and punt returner and also caught two passes for 50 yards against the Giants. He admittedly should have scored on the electrifying catch and run that still went down as the Steelers' longest play of the game.

"I made a mistake," Archer said. "I should have kept running straight."

Archer ran the 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds at the NFL scouting combine in February, and his speed and cut-back ability has been on display since the Steelers started training camp. Miller, having seen Archer practice in pads for two weeks, was not surprised that he broke a big play early against the Giants.

Nor did it faze Miller where he was on the field as the play unfolded.

"I was chasing him," Miller said.

He won't be the last one to do that.
Some leftover observations on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 20-16 loss to the New York Giants:
  • Jones
    It came in a game that didn’t count, but I’m thinking that Jarvis Jones' sack of Eli Manning in the first quarter had to be a nice confidence booster for the second-year outside linebacker. Jones, who managed just one sack in 2013 despite starting eight games, made a nice outside fake on left tackle Charles Brown and shot inside. Jones had such a clear path to the quarterback that he nearly overran the play, but he was able to trip up Manning for an 8-yard loss. It’s only August, but the Steelers would love nothing more than for Jones, their 2013 first-round pick, to build up his confidence by consistently pressuring the quarterback in preseason games.
  • Vince Williams continues to hit anything that moves. The second-year linebacker racked up five tackles, third on the Steelers, and he appears to be playing faster after starting 11 games as a rookie last season. There is no doubt the Florida State product is playing with more of an edge after getting supplanted in the starting lineup by rookie Ryan Shazier and taking umbrage to the notion that he is only a two-down linebacker. Williams’ improvement and the return of Sean Spence make inside linebacker the deepest position on the team. A really, really tough cut is looming at linebacker with second-year man Terence Garvin and rookie Jordan Zumwalt also in the mix inside.
  • Tauren Poole helped himself even though he only rushed for 17 yards on five carries. Poole stood out on the punt coverage team, recording a tackle and forcing the first turnover of the game. Outside linebacker Howard Jones recovered a fumble by Giants punt returner Charles James II, but Poole caused the muffed catch by getting down the field and putting pressure on James. Poole also had the presence of mind to slap the loose ball forward, allowing Jones to pounce on it. Poole has established himself as the early leader for the job of No. 4 running back if the Steelers keep that many at the position. Whoever wins that spot will have to be able to contribute on special teams, and Jordan Hall is another one to watch at running back after he played extensively against the Giants.
  • Landry Jones averaged less than four yards per pass attempt, but he showed something with the way he hung in despite getting battered by the Giants’ pass rush and also giving the Steelers a chance to win the game at the end. Jones completed 4 of 8 passes for 41 yards in moving the Steelers from their own 20-yard line into Giants territory late in the fourth quarter. One of those incompletions came on a pass over the middle that Derek Moye could have caught had he located the ball earlier. Jones’ final completion of the game was a 14-yard strike to Martavis Bryant that would have really put the Steelers on the move had the rookie wide receiver not lost a fumble after getting up and trying to run after the catch. Jones completed 11 of 21 passes for only 74 yards, but he played better than his statistical line reflects.