Pittsburgh Steelers: 2014 NFL Training Camp Report

Steelers Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
8/14/14
8:55
PM ET
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
8/13/14
7:35
PM ET
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.

Steelers' Camp Report: Day 13

August, 12, 2014
8/12/14
7:10
PM ET
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.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
8/11/14
7:00
PM ET
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.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 11

August, 7, 2014
8/07/14
7:00
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • Martavis Bryant continues to look like another rookie who will make an immediate impact for the Steelers. Bryant added another strong practice to his body of work on Thursday, catching a pair of touchdown passes, including a 24-yarder from Brendon Kay during a two-minute drill. The rangy and speedy Bryant also caught a perfectly thrown deep ball from Bruce Gradkowski during a sequence in which he made three consecutive receptions. Gradkowski had extra time to throw because linebacker Terence Garvin, who had a bead on the veteran quarterback, pulled up because there was no hitting. Gradkowski still led Bryant perfectly and the fourth-round pick beat cornerback Antwon Blake for the score.
  • It has been a tough camp physically for one of the young players who has been the talk of it. A week after Justin Brown broke his nose while blocking Shamarko Thomas, the second-year wide receiver appeared to hurt his left shoulder after getting dragged down by cornerback Brice McCain following a short reception. Brown resumed practicing after getting checked out by the trainers and made a couple of catches. But his shoulder appeared to be bothering him as the Steelers were winding down their final practice of the week.
  • No. 3 quarterback Landry Jones flashed the talent that made him a fourth-round pick in 2013 but also the inconsistency that hasn’t quelled questions about the former Oklahoma star. Jones threw a perfect spiral on a pass that hit Derek Moye right between the numbers during an 11-on-11 drill. A couple of plays later, he held on to the ball too long before taking off, causing offensive coordinator Todd Haley to say, “Throw that, Landry.” Jones also looked terrific at the start of the two-minute drill, completing three consecutive passes and moving the offense 27 yards to midfield. But the promising drive quickly fizzled and stalled on the defense’s 47-yard line.
  • Defensive end Cameron Heyward did not practice for the second consecutive day. With nose tackle Steve McLendon still out because of a concussion, Hebron Fangupo played nose tackle with the first-team defense with Cam Thomas at right end and rookie Stephon Tuitt at left end. Rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers made a nice play during 11-on-11 when he crashed through the line and batted down a Kay pass.
  • Strong safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Antonio Brown were given the day off. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not address reporters after practice since he held a news conference Thursday morning, so there was no injury update. Tomlin, however, has said virtually nothing about injuries except when pressed about specific players. Even then, he has taken vague to a new level. Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, whom Tomlin has twice said has a “boo boo,” missed his third consecutive practice since limping off the practice field Sunday with a right knee injury. Sean Spence again played weakside inside linebacker with the first-team defense in place of Shazier.
  • The Steelers will hold a walkthrough Friday morning and leave for the New York area in the afternoon. They play the New York Giants on Saturday night in East Rutherford, N.J. Kickoff for the preseason opener for each team is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Steelers' Camp Report: Day 10

August, 6, 2014
8/06/14
7:00
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • The Steelers had their worst practice of training camp and coach Mike Tomlin did not gloss over the fact that the drills were lacking in both energy and urgency. "A little sloppy, some pre-snap penalties on defense, too many dropped balls on offense," Tomlin said Wednesday. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton and tight end Heath Miller were among those who dropped passes that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger put right on their hands. Cornerback Ike Taylor dropped an interception that Roethlisberger threw right to him. "I acknowledge from time to time that you're going to have those days but you can't like it and you can't stack them one after another," Tomlin said.
  • The Steelers play their first preseason game Saturday night and their uninspired practice came a day after the players were off. Not that Tomlin wanted to entertain the notion that the timing of Wednesday's practice, sandwiched where it was, may have contributed to its drop in quality. "I don't care what created it. The issue for us is not to stack those days, to make sure that we come out here with the mentality that we're going to thrive and not survive," said Tomlin, whose team visits the New York Giants on Saturday. "I think we had too many survivors today, guys just looking to get through it. We're going to challenge this group to come back out and have a more productive today tomorrow."
  • Nose tackle Steve McLendon did not practice again Wednesday as he is recovering from a concussion. Tomlin did little to address inside linebacker Ryan Shazier's injury. Shazier missed his second consecutive practice and he watched drills with his right knee wrapped. Tomlin again called it a "boo boo." Shazier limped off the field near the end of practice Sunday and he still appeared to be walking gingerly. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (groin) did not practice, and he has only practiced just one time since last Friday. Defensive end Cameron Heyward and right tackle Marcus Gilbert left practice Wednesday with what Tomlin called minor injuries. Both, Tomlin said, will practice Thursday. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey returned from a concussion that had sidelined him
  • Sean Spence again played weakside inside linebacker with the first-team defense in place of Shazier. Rookie Stephon Tuitt played left defensive end with Cam Thomas moving to nose tackle to cover for McLendon's absence. Mike Adams played first-team right tackle after Gilbert got hurt.
  • The Steelers made a roster move, signing wide receiver James Shaw and putting wide receiver Danny Coale on the waived/injured list. Shaw just finished playing for the Pittsburgh Power and their season ended earlier this week when they lost in the Arena Fooball League playoffs. Shaw spent parts of last season on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 9

August, 4, 2014
8/04/14
7:00
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked sharp in leading a nine-play, 58-yard touchdown drive in the 2-minute drill that highlighted the Steelers’ sixth consecutive padded practice. Roethlisberger completed 6 of 8 passes and he capped the drive with a 5-yard scoring toss to Antonio Brown with no time left on the clock. The signature play of the drive, which came against the first-team defense, was a 27-yard catch by Markus Wheaton down the left sideline. The scoring drive may have received some assistance from Garrett Giemont. The Steelers’ conditioning coordinator negated a turnover when he ruled an incomplete pass instead of a fumble after safety Will Allen hit Dri Archer following a catch and jarred the ball loose.
  • Archer continues to flash his extra gear as well as his ability to cut and make people miss. Archer caught a ball in front of linebacker Lawrence Timmons in a one-on-one passing drill, put on the brakes as Timmons flew past him and then accelerated up the field. Later, in the same drill, Archer caught a pass in front linebacker Terence Garvin and showed such a burst in racing past Garvin that it seemed like one of those video games where there is a button for a turbo charge.
  • Shaun Suisham banged a 57-yard field goal that had more than enough leg and he may not have been the most impressive special-teams performer on Monday. Brad Wing, who is trying to win the punting job over eighth-year veteran Adam Podlesh, registered excellent hang time with some of his kicks. A handful of Wing’s punts were in the 5-second range as far as hang time. Anything over 4 1/2 seconds is generally considered quality hang time. Wing, who signed a futures contract last January, is still the only punter in camp. Podlesh has yet to report to St. Vincent College with the birth of a child imminent.
  • Rookie Stephon Tuitt played left defensive end with the first-team defense for the second consecutive day as Cam Thomas bumped over to nose tackle. Thomas has been filling in for Steve McLendon, who has missed the last two practices with what coach Mike Tomlin said was a minor injury.
  • Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who appeared to hurt his right knee near the end of practice on Sunday, was held out of drills. Tomlin said the injury isn't serious. Also not practicing were center Maurkice Pouncey, cornerback Ike Taylor and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion). Taylor was given a rare day off by Tomlin.
  • Starting free safety Mike Mitchell practiced for the first time at camp. Mitchell took part in drills the same day the Steelers took him off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Mitchell had been on the PUP list since July 25th because of a groin injury. Returning to practice from their respective injuries were linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin) and tight end Rob Blanchflower (ankle).
  • The players are off on Tuesday. They return to work on Wednesday and will practice from 2:55 to 5:30 p.m. ET.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 8

August, 3, 2014
8/03/14
7:10
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier limped off the field at the end of practice but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dismissed it as “a little boo boo.” Shazier, the Steelers’ first-round pick in May, hurt his lower leg after making a nice stop on running back Le'Veon Bell in a red-zone drill. A Steelers trainer appeared to be looking at his right knee but Tomlin sidestepped a question on whether Shazier had indeed hurt the knee. Tomlin said the Steelers came out of practice with “just normal bumps and bruises.”
  • Dri Archer, as fast as he is, is not just a straight-line speedster. The rookie proved that with one of the most impressive plays of camp. Archer flashed through a hole on the left side during an 11-on-11 tackling drill and turned around several defenders with sharp cuts on the way to a long gain. “Uh-oh, Danny Smith!” Tomlin said after the run to the Steelers’ special teams coordinator. Archer will return kickoffs, and his big-play potential could allow the Steelers to use Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown only as a situational punt returner.
  • Tauren Poole also ripped off a long run during the 11-on-11 tackling drill, and the overall success by the Steelers’ ground game during that period left veteran defensive line coach John Mitchell fuming. “They’re knocking our [butts] back,” he said to his players at one point.
  • Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was given his first day off at camp, providing more work for Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones. Jones made a bad throw early, waiting too long to pull the trigger on a pass to a wide-open tight end Bryce Davis and then throwing it behind him. Jones rebounded with several nice throws later when he had time to go through his reads. The No. 3 quarterback was also part of the most impressive play of the day after Archer's run. Jones threw a pass that a leaping Justin Brown caught in the back corner of the end zone. Brown, who practiced for a second consecutive day with a visor protecting his broken nose, received a shout out from Tomlin for the catch in the red-zone drill. Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant also made a superb grab, showing his speed and length by tracking down a long Gradkowski pass down the left sideline and reeling it in with outstretched arms.
  • Rookie Stephon Tuitt played left defensive end with the first-team defense with Cam Thomas playing nose tackle for the second consecutive practice in place of Steve McLendon. McLendon was given another day off by Tomlin. Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin) and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion) did not practice. Rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson returned to practice after sitting out drills Saturday because of groin tightness.
  • The Steelers practice Monday from 2:55 to 5:30 p.m. ET. The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 7

August, 2, 2014
8/02/14
7:15
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • The offense and defense battled to a draw in one of the most anticipated drills of training camp. The offense scored three touchdowns in six attempts from the 1-yard line in the goal-line drill. Ben Roethlisberger threw an easy touchdown pass to tight end Matt Spaeth off play-action to start the drill. The play call didn’t sit well with the defense and might have contributed to cornerback Ike Taylor and LeGarrette Blount later jawing at each other from across the field. Tauren Poole and Josh Harris each scored on 1-yard runs, but the defense held its own, stopping three runs other short of the end zone. Inside linebacker Vince Williams blew up Poole short of the end zone, putting an exclamation on an impressive day. Williams had delivered a monster hit earlier in practice when he obliterated running back Miguel Maysonet in an 11-on-11 drill.
  • Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant had his best practice of training camp. The fourth-round draft pick made a handful of difficult catches. None were more impressive than when Bryant twisted his body while on the run to catch a Bruce Gradkowski pass that had sailed behind the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Bryant in the end zone. “He’s a big, so we expect him to consistently make big-guy plays,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Bryant. "I’m interested in him developing a complete game.”
  • Tempers flared again a day after the first fight of training camp broke out and nearly turned into a brawl. Outside linebacker Chris Carter and left tackle Kelvin Beachum had to be separated at the end of one play during a red-zone drill. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and nose tackle Hebron Fangupo went at it during goal-line drills and punches were thrown before the two were separated.
  • Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey missed his second consecutive practice after sustaining a concussion last Thursday and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt remains out with groin tightness. Tomlin gave tight end Heath Miller and nose tackle Steve McLendon the day off in part so he could look at some of the younger players at those positions. Safety Mike Mitchell did some work, Tomlin said, and he might be close to returning. Mitchell, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Steelers in March, has been on the physically unable to perform list since reporting to camp with a groin injury.
  • Rookie running back Dri Archer showcased his speed in one-on-one passing drills. Matched up several times against Lawrence Timmons, Archer made an over-the-shoulder catch after separating from Timmons on a wheel route. Earlier in the drill, Archer caught a pass in front of Timmons, stopped and then ran right past him.
  • The Steelers practice Sunday and Monday from 2:55 to 5:30 p.m. ET. The players are off on Tuesday and practice will resume on Wednesday.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 6

August, 1, 2014
8/01/14
11:30
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • Friday night under the lights almost turned into Friday night at the fights. Spirited competition during the backs-on-'backers drill spilled over when Vince Williams and Le'Veon Bell wrestled each other to the turf at Memorial Stadium. Running back LeGarrette Blount, who wasn’t even practicing, dived at Williams in an attempt to help Bell, and players from both sides of the ball jumped into the fray. Order was quickly restored, but not before Blount and defensive assistant Joey Porter jawed at each other as Porter tried to get Blount away from the scrum. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who eventually led Blount away from the end zone where the drill had taken place, later said, “it’s an emotional game. They do lose that element of it sometimes. All of it is part of team development even if it is a little negative. They do it in a brotherly way. They understand what we’re going in the grand scheme of things.”
  • Williams said there aren’t any hard feelings between him and Bell even though their tussle nearly set off a brawl. "We’re just two fierce competitors going at it. It’s all love man.” Williams didn’t appear to be stewing over the incident on the bus ride back to St. Vincent College. He was more preoccupied with locating his cell phone, which outside linebacker Jason Worilds found for him as the team buses were making their way back to campus.
  • Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones did not practice because of an groin injury that Tomlin said is not serious. Wide receiver Justin Brown was also out after breaking his nose Thursday in practice. Rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson left practice early because of groin tightness, according to Tomlin. Rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt remains out with a groin injury.
  • An estimated crowd of more than 7,000 people packed into Memorial Stadium and were treated to one of the more intense practices of camp. Special-teams coordinator Danny Smith experienced the physicality of the drills when he fell to the ground hard after Antonio Brown was tackled out of bounds following a short reception. Smith popped right back up after getting taken out near the benches.
  • The Steelers waived running back Alvester Alexander and signed running back Jawan Jamison. Alexander, who spent all of last season on the Steelers’ practice squad, arrived at camp last Friday with a groin injury, and the Steelers placed him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. That injury doomed him as the Steelers brought in Jamison, who was taken in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins but did not make the team. Jamison made a favorable first impression as Tomlin praised him several times during the backs-on-'backers drill.
  • The Steelers return to their regular schedule today following their first night practice of camp. They will practice from 2:55 to 5:30 p.m. ET at St. Vincent College. Admission is free.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 5

July, 31, 2014
7/31/14
7:30
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • The Steelers safeties were active and feisty during the practice in which the offenses worked on the no-huddle attack for the first time at training camp. Shamarko Thomas knocked over Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey when the latter tried to block on a wide-receiver screen. Thomas also delivered several hard hits on running plays even when the Steelers weren’t tackling. Jordan Dangerfield, meanwhile, continued to draw attention to himself in a good way. Dangerfield, who spent last training camp and preseason with the Bills, intercepted a pass during a 3-on-3 tackling drill and twice brought down running back Miguel Maysonet with jarring tackles.
  • Maysonet, who signed a futures contract with the Steelers last January, has to be sore after getting extensive work -- and absorbing his share of shots -- with Le'Veon Bell limited because of hamstring stiffness and LeGarrette Blount not practicing. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he held Blount out of drills so younger backs like Maysonet could get more work. “I want to give those guys opportunities. They’re taking advantage of it.”
  • The Steelers are a little beat up at tight end. Eric Waters, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, hurt his lower back and left the practice fields on a cart. Rob Blanchflower, a seventh-round pick in May, watched practice with his left foot in a boot after sustaining a high-ankle sprain on Wednesday. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey left practice Thursday with an undisclosed injury Tomlin said. Heyward-Bey appeared to take a knee to the helmet during a passing drill and he was noticeably wobbly after eventually getting up with the help of trainers.
  • Assistant equipment manager Pat Noone had one of the hazards of the job run into him. Noone, who stands in as the quarterback when the linemen go mano a mano during a pass rushing drill, got swallowed up by Stephon Tuitt after the rookie defensive end couldn’t stop while chasing Noone. The hit left Noone with a cut on his knee but didn’t stop him from laughing it off. Tuitt, meanwhile, is drawing attention for the strong start he is off to, the misstep in the pass-rushing drill notwithstanding. “He’s doing well,” Tomlin said. “He’s highly conditioned, he’s chasing the ball. He’s developing the skill associated with the position. He’s got a ways to go, they all do. But I like his attitude and approach to it.”
  • Offensive tackle Mike Adams has struggled during the first week of camp. Adams, who got bowled over by rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers on Wednesday, allowed rookie outside linebacker Howard Jones to run right past him in a pass rushing drill. Adams has been alternating practices when it comes to playing left and right tackle, and the third-year man needs to pick up his play.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 4

July, 30, 2014
7/30/14
7:30
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • The competition has started. The separation has not. “One unit will have a good day and piss the other unit off. They’ll come back and win the next one,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday following the second padded practice of training camp. “There’s ebb and flow.” With the first preseason game still more than a week away, Tomlin is using the practices to pit different players against each other and have them hone their technique in the crucible of competition. “We’ve got some guys that have the proper energy and urgency but are still growing in technical areas,” Tomlin said.
  • Troy Polamalu drew a roar from the crowd at St. Vincent College when the veteran strong safety intercepted a pass that would have easily gone for a touchdown had it been an actual game. Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier nearly intercepted a pass when he arrived at the same time as a short pass over the middle to tight end Matt Spaeth. There was just enough contact between the two to keep Shazier from hanging on to the ball. The first-round pick looked a little gimpy after the near interception, but Tomlin said Shazier did not get hurt on the play.
  • Rookie tight end Rob Blanchflower suffered a setback when he sustained a high ankle sprain. The seventh-round draft pick will miss “at least a week,” Tomlin said. Running back Le'Veon Bell (hamstring), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin) and wide receiver C.J. Goodwin (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday.
  • Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant flashed his talent a couple of times Wednesday after a quiet start to camp. The fourth-round pick caught a deep ball early in practice after beating cornerback Lewis Toler in one-on-one drills between the wide receivers and defensive backs. Bryant caught several passes Wednesday and nearly made a spectacular sideline grab of a ball that was slightly underthrown and was ultimately broken up because cornerback Antwon Blake had done a good job of establishing inside position. Bryant did have a bad drop near the end of practice.
  • There were several highlights from the pass-rushing/pass-protection competition. Nose tackle Steve McLendon knocked Cody Wallace on his wallet after bull-rushing the reserve center and rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers ran over tackle Mike Adams later in the drill. The offensive line, however, appeared to hold its own as a group in the drill.
  • It’s tough to get a read on how much progress second-year quarterback Landry Jones is making. The 2013 fourth-round pick completed consecutive passes after showing nice pocket awareness and good footwork during an 11-on-11 drill. The former Oklahoma star, however, took a sack and threw a bad interception on the next two plays. He is still very much a work in progress.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 3

July, 28, 2014
7/28/14
7:15
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp:
  • What a difference the popping of pads makes. The Steelers held their first padded practice of training camp between the rain drops produced Monday by a sobbing sky and everyone, it seemed, turned the intensity up. Way up. You expected to hear new defensive assistant Joey Porter early and often during practice. It was a surprise to see even-keeled defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau also yelling as he did several times during an 11-on-11 drill. Running backs and linebackers collided ferociously during the popular backs on 'backers drill and there was tackling as coach Mike Tomlin had promised. The practice looked totally different from the non-contact drills that the players had taken part in May and June and for the first two days of camp.
  • Rookie Ryan Shazier stood out during the backs on backers drill, showcasing the speed that helped convince the Steelers to take the inside linebacker with the 15th overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft. Everyone was anxious to see Shazier in full pads, and he made a strong first impression, especially when he twice blew past LeGarrette Blount. "He did some nice things," Tomlin said of Shazier. "He was elusive. He was playing to his assets with his speed and agility."
  • Outside linebacker Jason Worilds turned in the play of the day when he intercepted a pass thrown to rookie running back Dri Archer on a wheel route. When asked what was more impressive, Worilds making a play on the ball down the field or his running with the ultra-fast Archer, Tomlin said the interception and laughed. "That's the first time Jason Worilds has caught a ball in any fashion out here in practice. I know he can run. I'm going to paint that ball and give it to him."
  • Rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson made a diving interception of a Bruce Gradkowski and the defense seemed to be ahead of the offense on the first day of pads and contact. Not that Tomlin saw it that way. "Battles were fought and won on both sides of the ball," he said.
  • Starting running back Le'Veon Bell (hamstring) didn't practice, and Blount, his backup, didn't have his best day. Blount struggled in backs on 'backers and also dropped a pass. Bell is "day-to-day," Tomlin said, after experiencing hamstring tightness on Sunday.
  • In other injury news, rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt left practice with groin tightness and wide receiver C.J. Goodwin was held out of drills after landing on his shoulder during practice on Sunday. Ramon Foster will not in camp due to the death of his mother, so Chris Hubbard played left guard with the first-team offense for the second consecutive practice. The players are off on Tuesday and resume practice on Wednesday.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 2

July, 27, 2014
7/27/14
6:30
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
  • Le'Veon Bell left practice Sunday afternoon after experiencing tightness in his hamstring but the second-year running back may not miss any additional practice time, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. The Steelers ended Bell’s day early as a precaution, giving more repetitions to LeGarrette Blount and rookie Dri Archer. Archer, the fastest player on the team, drew one of the biggest cheers from the fans at St. Vincent College when he made a nifty cut and flashed through a hole. Archer has been every bit as fast as advertised and he has lined up in a variety of different positions.
  • In other injury news, wide receiver Martavis Bryant did not practice because of a groin issue while wide receiver C.J. Goodwin left practice early after falling on his shoulder. Neither player is dealing with a significant injury, Tomlin said. Center/guard David Snow broke his foot Friday during the Steelers’ first practice and he will need surgery.
  • Tomlin may as well as be a kid the night before Christmas. The non-contact practices in shorts are behind the Steelers as the team is allowed to wear pads and hit for the rest of training camp. Per the collective bargaining agreement all teams are required to conduct two non-contract practices at the start of training camp and the Steelers completed their second one Sunday afternoon though storms forced Tomlin end practice a little bit early. Tomlin said the Steelers will tackle in practice on Monday and that the players who are competing for jobs and roster spots will start to separate themselves. “It’s not football-like. It’s football,” Tomlin said of the practices that will largely take place the rest of training camp. “I’m always excited about who ascends in those situations and who shrinks in those situations. It’s a big step in the process.”
  • Wide receiver Justin Brown continued to catch everything thrown in his direction though the most notable grab during the Steelers’ second practice of camp may have been turned in by tight end David Paulson. The third-year man stopped a Bruce Gradkowski pass with his outstretched right hand and then pulled it in for a catch in the middle of the field. Paulson needs to have a strong camp as he could be the odd man out at tight end if rookie Rob Blanchflower makes the 53-man roster.
  • Cam Thomas played left defensive end with the first-team defense on Sunday. Chris Hubbard, who spent last season on the Steelers’ practice squad, played left guard with the first-team offense in place of Ramon Foster. Foster has yet to report to camp because of the death of his mother.

Steelers Camp Report: Day 1

July, 26, 2014
7/26/14
8:10
PM ET
LATROBE, Pa. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
  • Martavis Bryant broke inside as a pass sailed over his head during the Steelers’ first practice of training camp. “Don’t come in that way!” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yelled Saturday afternoon to the rookie wide receiver. Roethlisberger proceeded to gesture to Bryant how he should have retraced his steps and run back toward the quarterback instead of cutting toward the middle of the field. No other sequence better epitomized how hands-on Roethlisberger was with a young receiving corps that has to replace two of its top three wideouts from last season. Expect the on-field instruction and dialogue with his receivers to continue during camp and throughout the preseason. “He has full control over the whole team, really, and he doesn’t take that lightly,” veteran tight end Heath Miller said of Roethlisberger. “He takes a lot of pride in that. He’s the unquestionable leader of this team.”
  • The wide receivers looked really good as a group during the first practice. The caveat, of course, is that the Steelers won’t hit or wear pads until Monday. But the wide receivers drew oohs and aahs from fans who watched from the hillsides or the bleachers at Chuck Noll Field. Darrius Heyward-Bey made an over-the-shoulder grab of a Roethlisberger deep ball during a seven-on-seven drill. Justin Brown made a leaping catch of a pass that Roethlisberger delivered with some serious heat. Markus Wheaton made a handful of nice catches. Wheaton and Antonio Brown were the starters at wide receiver when the Steelers went 11-on-11 and Lance Moore was the No. 3 wide receiver.
  • Roethlisberger wore No. 99 for the first part of practice in honor of his former teammate and good friend Brett Keisel. Keisel, who played for Pittsburgh from 2002-13, remains unsigned and is hoping to return to the Steelers. “That’s my boy,” Roethlisberger said. “We were suitemates, he’s been one of my closest friends, been in my wedding. I miss him.” The Steelers could bring Keisel back if it is determined that the defense misses player who started the previous eight seasons at right defensive end. Cameron Heyward played mostly at right defensive end during the Steelers’ first practice. Cam Thomas, Brian Arnfelt and Stephon Tuitt all received repetitions with the first-team defense at left defensive end.
  • Coach Mike Tomlin started to address the one injury that occurred during the Steelers’ first practice when he realized he had referred to center/guard David Snow by the wrong name. “I call him Jon Snow because I’m a ‘Game of Thrones’ guy,” Tomlin said of the popular TV series. David Snow suffered an ankle or foot injury on Saturday, though Tomlin said he did not know the extent or severity of the injury. Other than Snow’s injury, Tomlin said, “We got through [practice] pretty clean and I liked the effort.”

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