Day 7- No Huddle, the Rainman, and the unblockable McLendon
Monday August 6 is the complete day of rest for the Steelers as stated by the CBA. It also brings to end the second week of the Steelers training camp. This posting will attempt to bring together the news throughout the week of training camp. Bellow the jump will be a recap of what happened each day in Latrobe then the recap will be followed by whose stock in camp is rising and whose is falling.
- Day number seven of Steelers training camp feature the installation of the no huddle offense. It feature Ben Roethlisberger in the shotgun for all the snaps and numerous short throws. During the no huddle drill we also got to see the versatility of Chris "Rainman" Rainey as he was lined up in the slot and had a few passes thrown his way. Marquis Maze had another couple of nice catches but still struggles to get separation and Toney Clemons can get separation he just can't keep the ball in his hands. On defense Cortez Allen was with the first team as the nickel defender and has looked very good. Ta'amu was back at practice and despite looking slow off the ball he was immovable. However Tuesday was highlighted by Steve McLendon in the Oklahoma drill. He and Maurkice Pouncey reportedly went against each other three times and McLendon gave Pouncey all he can handle. Mark Kaboly reported McLendon was unblockable in the drill. Others have reported that he looks to be better than Casey Hampton was at this time last year.
Day 8- Brown the beast, Ben's slight tear...
- Day eight didn't feature much new in the training camp battles. On offense Antonio Brown showed why he was paid reportedly making some nice catches and even going Demaryius Thomas on Ike Taylor in one of the drills. Will Johnson had some really impressive blocks out of the FB position in team drills. On defense Cam Heyward continues to abuse Kelvin Beachum. However the biggest story of the day was Ben Roethlisberger telling reporters he suffered a slight tear in his rotator cuff after the first Ravens game last year.
Day 9- The Two Minute Drill, Cortez making his statement
- Thursday Day Nine was highlighted by the two minute drill. In the first drive the offense was asked to go 62 yards in 1:52 with one time out. The first drive for the starters Ben went 5-11 for 47 yards and had a 13 yard scramble. He wasn't helped by Sanders who dropped a pass and he over threw Brown for a TD. The drive stalled on the one yard line due to an error by Brown not getting down fast enough to give the offense enough time to spike. The second drive of the first team offense against second team defense Brown beat Keenan Lewis for a 36 yard TD. On the second drive of the second team offense Cortez Allen jumped over Toney Clemons to pick off Charlie Batch and end practice. In other new Cam Heyward was still abusing Beachum, Ta'amu was chewed out by Mitchell for not fighting through a block on double team drill and Cortez Allen not only had the pick but was only beat once all day in drills.
Day 10- Friday Night Lights, Adams the starter, more backs on backers
- Friday Day Ten was highlighted by the Steelers annual Friday Night Lights event. It started with the retirement send offs of some great Steelers in Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, Willie Parker and Joey Porter. The practice was considered a good one. The biggest story of the day was Mike Adams getting all of the first team reps. In backs on backers the David vs. Will battle got murky as David had an excellent day. Baron Batch also looked nice in the drill. Defensively Timmons and Carter had a very good drill as well. In linemen one-on-ones it was Pouncey who came out victorious over McLendon on Friday though it wasn't easy to do. Rainey has still been getting a lot of carries which is some what surprising.
Day 11- Goal Line drill, another Ben "injury"
- Day 11 was the goal line drill. The goal line drill was a drill most Steelers fan get excited about. However Saturday's rendition was cheapened by the excessive amount of backups on both starting squads. With Bryron Leftwitch in at QB, and Ramon Foster at LG for offense. The defensive had the most subs with Carter and Robinson in at OLBs. Mundy and Allen in at Safeties. The drill didn't have the same vibe it did back in 2009 when a rookie UDFA Isaac Redman scored on the starting defense and then spiked the ball. The defense won the gaol line drill 4-3 and won the 3 and 1 drill 4-2. Cris Rainey again got a lot of carries and impressed on a carry where he bounced it outside around the corner for a 13 yard TD. On an injury note Ben's foot was stepped on and the whole world made a huge deal of it. Mike Tomlin confirmed that Mike Adams has earned his starting reps.
Day 12- Rain no coverage, Ben sat out
- It rained at Latrobe so there was no live tweeting because the Steelers went to their practice facility and closed practice. Ben sat out the day and again the world speculated on it. Mike Tomlin said overall he was pleased with what the team showed in different circumstances but added they need to improve.
-Who is Rising-
- Chris Rainey RB/WR/PR - Coming out in the draft, every analyst questioned Rainey's size, so far in camp the Steelers have given him the ball a lot. It is an understatement to say he is fast on the field but Rainey has also impressed in the slot where he burned a couple of back up DBs for the Steelers. He has be given all different run opportunities from outside to inside and has been noted for being able to squeeze into some very small holes. He has also been fielding punts and on the kick return team. Did I mention he has already blocked a FG attempt in practice something he excelled at Florida in. In some way or another Rainey will be positively affecting the Steelers this season. I can not wait to see Rainey against Philly to confirm or deny these reports in camp.
- Adrian Robinson OLB - LaMarr Woodley sat out a couple of practices as a precaution because of some tightness in his groin, as a result Adrian Robinson the UDFA out of Temple has been on the first team at LOLB. He has looked good in some areas, he beat MArcus Gilbert for what would have been a sack and made a couple plays in the back field. He has also looked great at times in the one on one drills. He has a ways to go but I think Robinson has already guaranteed a practice squad berth and is now fighting for a spot on the 53. At 6'1" 251lbs Robinson is what the Steelers look for in a OLB. He has a great motor, a good first step but isn't overly athletic in any area and he is a smart football player. Look for number 46 in Philly to make an impression.
- Steve McLendon NT - Last week I wrongly didn't include McLendon. Steve has had the best camp of any Steeler by far. He has told Mike Prisuta that he is 325lbs and he looks every bit of it. However McLendon is still fast off the line and violent with his hands. In one on one drills he was reported to be almost unblockable. Steve is already better at this point in camp the Casey Hampton was last year at this time. I think it is very plausible to see Hampton as the back up when he returns, spelling McLendon or going in on goal line or short yardage situations. It is going to be fun to watch just how good McLendon will be this year. If I am the Steelers and Steve has had a good first six weeks I sign him to a deal before his asking price gets higher in the off season as a RFA.
- Mike Adams OT - Mike Adams had first round talent prior to the draft. His red flags had teams and analyst taking them off their board. Hell I even said the Steelers shouldn't consider him in the first. When he was their in the Steelers knew they were getting this talent as a steal. Adams has come into camp and worked his butt off. He has shut down people at time and been beat badly. He has had his inconsistencies but each day he is getting noticeably better. He has done enough to earn the starting LT reps in camp and I am excited at what this line can be if he lives up to his potential. I watch him in the Senior Bowl numerous times and he shut down Upshaw and Ingram, I watch his Ohio State tape and in his Junior year he shut down J.J. Watt. Adams has some major talent and Mike Prisuta put it best, "When Adams is on...man is he on."
- Cam Heyward DE - Brett Keisel has not played a full season since 2007 yet that doesn't scare me because of Cam Heyward. he looked good in limited snaps his rookie year but reports from camp are he looks even better. He has been destroying Essex, Beachum, and Legursky in 1-on-1s. Against Mike Adams and Gilbert he won most of his battles. Heyward has been looking great. He has a non-stop motor, he looks even stronger and is pushing to show he deserves playing time in this defense. He has even gotten on the nerve of Willie Colon a couple of times. I guarantee you he will get some playing time.
-Who is Falling-
- Brandon Johnson OLB - After not making an impression at all in the first week in camp, and for a majority of the second week Johnson topped it off with getting an ankle sprain keeping him out of the last three days of practice. Not good for a player looking to make the roster. Especially when an UDFA is impressing at your position instead.
- Jeremy Kappinos P - Despite Drew Butlers inconsitent play in practice he still has a major leg competing against Kappinos. Kappinos also hasn't practice in training camp since the first few days because of a back injury. Mike Tomlin has already bump Kapp from day-to-day to now week-to-week. The more reps Butler gets the better he is going to be, and it is only going to take a couple really good preseason games from Butler for him to lock that roster spot up. Remember "You can't make the club, from the tub." It sounds cliche but it is so true just ask Terry Carter.
- Trai Essex OG/OT- Essex just lost his starting reps at LT. Ramon Foster after a unspectacular first week of camp has looked really good at RG, LG and held his own in his snaps at RT. Essex is versatile and can play multiple position but he just can't play them well enough. Foster and Legursky contracts are already guaranteed so that counts against Essex as well. Legs, Foster Beachum and Essex are fighting for 2 roster spots. The first two have guaranteed contracts and can play multiple positions, Beachum has impressed but is not ready and needs to get stronger but will definitely be on the PS leaving Essex the odd man out.
- Chris Scott OT - Chris Scott's days in the Black and Gold are numbered. He has reportedly looked very bad in his second team snaps at RT. If last year was any indication, he likely is slow out of his stance, poor at recognizing blitzes and playing with bad fundamentals. The fifth round pick can't say he hasn't received a chance though. He was cut last year and signed to the PS after given a chance to make the team at both second string RT and starting RG. This year his PS spot is going to Kelvin Beachum. Scott will not be with the Steelers much longer. I wish him well with the rest of his career.