Although I'm sitting for over two hours each day at camp, you all will be happy to hear that my binocular holding muscles are getting an excellent workout. Those things get heavy! So what did I see through them? Check it out, after the jump.
The first thing I noticed through my faithful binoculars was that all of the coaches and many of the "old" players were wearing a shirt that said "That was then... but now Jack Kearney is 50." A bit of Googling has clarified the mystery - apparently he is the team security director. (The number shirts went on after warmups.)
There was an alarming moment during the warmups. I saw Ben spit on the grass, and it looked like someone in the press tent was reporting it to TMZ. Great, thinks I, now this is going to be all over the news, and once again Steeler Nation has to to hang our collective heads in shame. But it turns out the reporter was just calling to remind his wife to put some more beer in the fridge, and apparently the incident passed without capturing the attention of the press. Whew!
There was a good bit of special teams work. During one drill Sepulveda was sending various sorts of punts - long, short, high, and ground balls, I suppose you could call them, to see how the guys responded. Later on Reed was doing kickoffs, and Logan looked terrific again today as the return man - he seemed to find little holes to squeeze through and keep going. Joe Burnett took a couple of kicks as well - he looked okay, but not as good as Stefan.
The RBs were running cone drills - the cornerbacks were catching balls tossed to them as they ran past - I'm happy to report that even Ike was catching them. I didn't see anything that really stood out. Once again they had the TEs bursting out of the cage against the training sled. This time it was close enough that, with the help of my trusty binoculars, I could mostly tell what MT was saying to each guy (although he didn't always have anything to say.) More to the point, I could see his expression. Both David Johnson and Sean McHugh got a nod or a quick word of encouragement. Coach seemed distinctly underwhelmed by Eugene Bright, and didn't have much to say to Spaeth. I really liked the way Johnson burst out of the cage - it looked quite powerful, whereas most of the others took a second or so to get their bearings and get the sled really moving.
They did a couple of sets of snaps. Adams was used quite a lot, and mostly looked fine (at least to me.) He got definitely beat by Aaron Smith once - no shame in that, Aaron is awesome - but there were a couple of plays where he managed to keep two guys under wraps on his own, or so it seemed. Rashard was blocking well, and also had a nice long run where he got down and got through the press.
Ben seems to me to be getting rid of the ball a bit sooner than I'm accustomed to - he just looks really definite, if you know what I mean. It seems like in the past he mostly looked that way when the chips were down, but he seems really alive and engaged the whole time. The O line seems to be buying him a reasonable amount of time. There were a few of his signature scramble plays, including an extended play that resulted in a long bomb straight to Randle El. On the other hand, Crezdon Butler broke up a similar pass a little while later, also to Randle El.
#43 and #56 were like two dogs after a bone in a pass that didn't stand a chance (I couldn't see who it was meant for, because the psychic conjunction of Troy and LaMarr temporarily fogged my binoculars...)
Dixon extended a play and made a nice long throw to Antonio Brown. I also noticed them running a bit of a trick play, I suppose, in which he discreetly handed off to an RB and took off running towards the sidelines, drawing several defenders after him. One Dixon snap quit practically before it started, when Nick Eason suddenly appeared in his face, seemingly an instant after the snap. Everyone seemed surprised, maybe even Eason...
Since I made a negative comment yesterday about Isaiah Williams, I want to be sure and mention that he looked much sharper today, although he didn't do anything spectacular. In fact, there weren't a lot of spectacular moments today, but I thought there was a lot of good solid football. Randle El seems to have heated up today as well - he had several impressive catches.
William Gay is really working hard. In the DB drills he was really putting his heart into it. He did get stumped by Will Allen once, though. Memo had a couple of great running plays.
Tyler Grisham looked fast and determined in the blocking drills. He looks about half the size of the guys he's up against...
Sorry - today seems to be a lot of random thoughts - I'm not sure why. But here's the rest of them:
The "ooh" factor wasn't as great with Sanders today, but he still had some nice catches, and I don't think I've seen him miss anything yet.
David Johnson had a big miss today, but mostly seems to catch well - it would sure be nice to have another catching and blocking TE.
Larry Foote took down a Dixon pass - I couldn't see who it was intended for.
Mikey made a nice jumping catch and then squeezed right between several guys to take it downfield.
I have to note that Byron does get rid of the ball fast. I can see that if the coaches are at all concerned about how much time the O line can manage to give the QB, Byron would be the guy to go with.
I thought that Gibson and Renauld Williams were showing some promise.
Ambassador Rooney was at practice again today. He spent most of yesterday's practice on the phone. Things must be going awry in Ireland without him.
I didn't notice to many amazing Redman moments, but then found out that he was called over to the autograph crowd to perform an emergency appendectomy. That explains why I thought I saw Chuck Norris on the field in a 33 jersey at one point, which had me greatly mystified...
Sorry, I made that last part up. I don't know what any of us are going to do if Redman is actually on the roster this season - I'm afraid that BTSC is going to spontaneously combust...
Well, until tomorrow, in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, "That's all, folks!"