The Pittsburgh Steelers held their first padded practice Sunday, and fans were in for a treat as they didn't just watch drills like '7 Shots', but they got to see active offensive line vs. defensive line, and the most popular training camp drill -- backs on 'backers.
Let's take a look at all that went down at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA as the Steelers continue to march towards the 2016 season.
'Backs on 'Backers'
For those who don't know, or have never heard of this drill, let me explain. A running back, or tight end, is placed in the backfield while a pass rusher tries to get around him. Sounds like a finesse drill, right? Wrong. This drill is all about brute strength and physicality. Sure, there are pass rushers who will use their agility to go around a blocker, but what makes this drill so popular is the sounds of the pads popping and players getting blown up.
Every year there are a few people who stand out in this drill, and they aren't always pass rushers. Baron Batch made a name for himself in this drill by standing up pass rushers who were twice his size. Anthony Chickillo turned heads last year, but this year it is a player who doesn't need to make a name for himself -- Ryan Shazier.
Shazier dazzled with both power and speed to abuse potential blockers. See what was said about him during practice live:
Backs on backers. Shazier a beast— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) July 31, 2016
Shazier TRUCKS stingily. Wow— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) July 31, 2016
Think we might see Shazier blitz a little more this year. Got some moves.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) July 31, 2016
Needless to say, Shazier, entering his third year, is wasting little time letting everyone know what he is capable of in 2016. This should be wonderful news to Steelers faithful everywhere, as Shazier could be one of the most dynamic players at his position across the NFL.
No PED talk from Deebo
As expected, when James Harrison was asked about the NFL's request to interview him, he simply turned and walked away. Harrison is relying on his agent, but also the NFLPA, to handle the proceedings of what he has described as a "joke". Nonetheless, it seems the media now know questions like that are off limits.
Roosevelt Nix and Brandon Johnson were both "shaken up", as Mike Tomlin put it, and will be evaluated, and Xavier Grimble again left practice with heat-related illness. Tomlin stated all players will be evaluated before possibly re-joining the team for practice.
Ben Roethlisberger was given a scheduled day off, and no player listed on the PUP list has yet to be activated for practice.
Just say 'No' to Camp Fights
During Mike Tomlin's media session he was asked how there were no fights for the first day in pads, a rarity for the Steelers. Tomlin spoke of how this is setting the tone of 'professionalism' which he wants the team to abide by not just in camp, but throughout the season.
Some could say this is a direct link to the ridiculous games against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015, but the team suffered several personal foul penalties which hurt the team in 2015 in games not against Cincinnati. Don't be shocked too if this doesn't also tie in with the new NFL rule of a player getting two personal foul penalties being ejected from the game.
Tomlin is setting the tone early.
The defense was again on top in this first session with pads. The Steelers gave Landry Jones all of the reps as the defense stopped the offense on all but one play in the 7-play series. In fact, the defense dominated several sessions today after '7 Shots', including the short yardage series.
Depth Chart Update
Alejandro Villanueva was back with the starters at left tackle today, and it looks like he and Ryan Harris might be swapping days working with the starters until a decision is made who will be the starter heading into Week 1.
On the other side of the football, the starting trio of defensive backs seems set in stone: William Gay, Ross Cockrell and Senquez Golson in the slot, along with Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden at safety. Things can change, but those haven't in the early stages of camp.
Mike Tomlin Media Session
Photos and Videos
In advance of Sun. practice, here’s Mike Tomlin coaching flavor watching TEs. "Hitting back on you, young man!" pic.twitter.com/9Biwf579og— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 31, 2016
John Calipari, pride of Moon Twp, taking in practice today pic.twitter.com/E9dXvT6ZPx— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) July 31, 2016
Antonio Brown talks about his contract pic.twitter.com/RW7VdsEUuK— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) July 31, 2016
Antonio Brown loves the love he gets at camp, and he gets showered with it every day. pic.twitter.com/QsVBmWuJwI— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 1, 2016
Ben Roethlisberger didn't do much Sunday after chatting up his top two running backs. pic.twitter.com/LZweAvBVcl— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 1, 2016
DeAngelo Williams and Le'Veon Bell like to work closely together. pic.twitter.com/8RShym6mn2— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 1, 2016