Well after five days of training camp Monday is the Steelers first complete day off as stipulated by the new CBA signed last summer. I thought this would be a good time to address all the reports coming out of camp. I will address the major news as well as who is really having a great camp and who might as well start to pack their bags.
Day 1- Players reporting but no Mike Wallace
Pretty self explanatory every player reported but Mike Wallace who has yet to sign his tender.
Day 2- Weeding out the fat from the slightly less fat
The first day of training camp was just the conditioning test. Nothing really of note and it was closed to the public. The only people Tomlin specifically mention were the three rookie linemen and the fact that they were in great shape. This can be taken as a good sign that their heads have collectively been in the right place. There were six players who started on the PUP for camp. Rashard Mendenhall, Max Starks, Casey Hampton, Jason Worilds, Damon Cromartie-Smith, and James Harrison.
Day 3- Locking up Brown, Buzz Lightyear and non-padded practice
Biggest news on day three was the five year $42 million dollar Antonio Brown signed locking him up until 2017. We found out David DeCastro is being called Buzz Lightyear by his team mates and the Steelers ran their first offensive practices. Marquis Maze impressed with some great catches. Drew Butler boomed some punts 70+ yard but also shanked at least four of them. Toney Clemons had the case of the Sweeds as John Stephens put it. Willie Colon looked fast and ran out of his pants and Chris Rainey looked faster.
Day 4- Backs on Backers, and Freeing Willie down field
The much anticipated backs on backers was held on Saturday. Despite what the public would like to believe Baron Batch struggled a lot. Actually the two players that did shine were David and Will Johnson. The best battle of the drill was Redman on Timmons, the score was 1:1 by the end of the drill. Ta'amu was still absent for a mysterious foot injury. Keenan Lewis had a nice practice and Allen was still the nickel CB. The highlight of the day was Willie Colons play in 11-on-11. Colon checked to see if Pouncey had McLendon, once confident he was he went downfield. He then met Lawrence Timmons, put he helmet in his chest, picked him up and slammed him to the ground. Starting a small scuffle between offense and defense. Colon showing his nastiness.
Day 5- Carter's time to shine, rookie hazing gone wrong and more pads
On Sunday we learned how Ta'amu hurt his foot. Apparently he was ask to walk to Wal-Mart by the veterans and was told it was only a mile. Somewhere on the three mile trip (not a mile) he hurt his foot bad enough that he thought he broke it. He was back Sunday and looked good. In 11-on-11 drill he gave Legursky all he could handle then on his first ever 1-on-1 against Legursky he drove him five yards back. Chris Carter had first team reps because of the Harrison and Worilds injuries and he shined. He look good in TE on backers drill show casing new strength but really shined in 11-on-11 making a big hit, blowing up Adams and pressuring Ben against the first team. Keenan Lewis sprained his shoulder and oddly enough Curtis Brown took his spot and the team left Allen at nickel. Kelvin Beachum got into a few scuffles. Marquis Maze had his third day in a row of making plays, watch out for this roster sleeper.
Best Tomlinisms of training camp-
After a couple good offensive plays and a couple of defensive mistakes;
"Somebody is a dead Indian in my cowboy movie tonight!"
"On not putting Rainey in backs on backers drill;
" I'm not going to pull my boat with a Ferrari"
On what is Willie Colon mad about;
Who is Shinning-
- Willie Colon- A lot had been mad about Willie Colon's contract extension and pay despite being on the injured reserve for the last two years. This off-season the Steelers did what a lot of fans had been screaming to do and moved Willie tot the left guard spot. Specualation then came about would Colon be able to pull. Well on the first full day of practice Colon answered that. He pulled well on runs, got out in front of screens and looked athletic. Then there was concern if he could return to the same old nasty Willie Colon after two injury riddled years. Well pancaking Lawrence Timmons is one way to prove that your nasty is back. Colon looks has by all accounts looked like an All-Pro though that may be a slight exaggeration because of how bad the player he is replacing did. It isn't just Colon though the entire line has looked phenomenal. Pouncey is looked stronger and moving well, there have been reports of Gilbert pulling and blowing up defenders and Mike Adams has been praise but then he will be criticized. Not much has been said on Decastro but that isn't a bad thing he is only getting half the first team reps.
- Chris Rainey- Rainey impressed at Florida with his speed but his size caused him to fall in the draft. In minicamp Rainey's speed was showcased and he brought awes. However there was still the question of can he do it in pads. Well so far the answer is yes. He has still looked just as fast and can take a couple hit even give one out. He got the ball a lot in the running game off tackles, sweeps etc. but also between the tackles which is surprising as the team finds out if he can carry the ball in the NFL. He also looks the part as the only Steeler wearing his football pants in full uniform and sporting a colorful visor on his helmet. Spoiler Alert don't expect him to be pass blocking anytime soon.
- Kelvin Beachum- Beachum has not only been praised for learning multiple positions but he has looked good. He has already got time in as the second team LT and the second team LG. He has looked relatively good and shown some fire of his own. He got into a scuffle with Cam Heyward and into one after owning big Ike Ingobinosun. I know Tomlin likes the fire Beachum is showing.
- Alameda Ta'amu- Though Ta'amu hazing kept him out until Sunday he looked good in his first action today, In 11-on-11 drills he apparently gave Doug Legursky all he could handle and then some. In 1-on-1 drills against Legs he drove Legs five yards back. Not bad for first day of practice. Ta'amu was described as immovable and the perfect NT build simialr to Casey Hampton. Nick Richetta called him an animal. I was a huge supporter of drafting Ta'amu and I am glad he is showing his stuff. McLendon is having a great camp as well reports are he looks bigger and stronger but also faster.
- Cortez Allen- Allen has been getting consistent nickle CB reps and looked good. In fact he has been in position for interceptions but has dropped the ball. Don't read too much into Brown coming into Keenan Lewis' spot when Keenan got injured. They actually switch both player in and out of starting spot and nickel. I believe the team wants Allen as the nickel in the slot because he is the only DB who can cover the TE and they want him to become as comfortable in the slot come the first game. Brown is built as a nickel corner already he needs to learn to play outside. I guarentee you Allen see more snaps then Brown this year and does well as the nickel and on the outside. Lewis has had a good camp as well despite the injury on Sunday. The injury should give Brown some value reps to learn the defense at least a week. Cortez Allen has looked great in the press, doesn't let guys over top of him and plays the trail position well. Allen has a bunch of potential still untapped and for a guy playing so well already that is scary.
- Marquis Maze- Maze is having the best training camp of any of the rookies. He has practiced as a kick returner, punt returner and as a WR. In 11-on-11 drill he has made some amazing catches that wowed. In position drills he needs to work on routes but the hands are still there. Maze's 5'9" 180lbs frame is small but he is making the fight for the fifty-three and winning against incumbent Toney Clemons.
- Chris Carter- The injuries to James Harrison and Jason Worilds have given Chris Carter valuable first team reps. Carter says he has gained about eight to ten pounds of muscle and showcased his increased strength. He has really impressed on first team defense making big plays, dominating the rookie Adams and pressuring Ben. He looked good in both backs on backers drill and tight ends on backer drills as well though he could have looked better in both as sometime he was beat. Overall Carter still has his speed but has easily been setting the edge better than last year. I'm betting Carter has at least 4 sacks this year.
Who Should Pack their Bags-
- Jason Worilds- This may be my bold prediction but I think Worilds should be really worried. He has missed all of camp because of injury and Chris Carter is playing exceptionally well. Then rookie UDFA Adrian Robinson has also looked very good in both team drills and backs on backer earning praise, All that needs to happen is Johnson needs to show up and Worilds should be as good as gone. As an asterisks Stevenson Sylvester looked good in TE on backers drill and the team has said they are going to try him at OLB, and try Johnson at ILB sometime in camp to see how he does.
- Jeremy Kappinos- Kappinos and Drew Butler are in a dead heat. Butler clearly has him beat in leg strength but Kappinos has him in consistency. However Kappinos has been out with a back injury so Butler has taken over holding the ball in the field goal unit as well as gotten all the special teams snaps. Look for Butler to win it and Kappinos to be heading home.
- Ramon Foster- At first I said that Doug Legursky might lose his job because of Beachum people asked me who is going to back up at center. Right so far only he and Pouncey have taken center snaps. Lets look at who has received what snaps then. Trai Essex has got first team LT snaps, and second team right tackle, Kelvin Beachum has got second team LT and LG snaps and looked good. Ramon Foster has looked unimpressive with the first team RG snaps and he has received second team RT snaps. My point is if Beachum and Essex can play your spots your not needed. Expect next off season Legs to be gone. This is a team that knows what low round rookie linemen can be and they take Beachum because of it.
- Toney Clemons- The rookie has looked good in position drills but three days in a row he has had drops in team drills. That is not how you make the team at WR. Then you have another rookie coming out and making great catches, looking fast and providing special teams play. Mr. Clemons say hello to the PS. Hell even Jimmy Young had some good grabs today.
- David Paulson- Paulson has looked goo in his routes, Paulson's problem is Heath Miller is Heath Miller, Wesley Saunders has been the best blocking TE in camp so far and looked better in routes then last year and Jamie McCoys is having a very good camp making plays. It is a numbers game and Paulson doesn't have the numbers in his favor right now.