It isn’t Saint Vincent College, but it hasn’t been Latrobe, PA since 2019. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in their 2021 Training Camp between Heinz Field and their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside of Pittsburgh.
What went down during the latest training camp practice? That is where this article comes in. Check out all that was said, as well as photos and videos from the day’s workouts.
Here we go...
The 2021 NFL Draft class for the Steelers has been talked about a lot in the early portions of camp, but one player has gotten the majority of talk. It just so happens that player isn’t Najee Harris, but second round pick Pat Freiermuth.
The former Penn State tight end has been turning heads from both the local and national media during the Steelers’ ramp up period of training camp.
This from Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:
Steelers rookie TE Pat Freiermuth has been really good all summer including past 4 days of camp. He’s passed that test but a big one awaits next week when the pads come on.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021
This from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated:
5 from Steelers— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 25, 2021
1) Najee Harris is CONSTANTLY working. Noticeable the time he's spending—every down minute—with coaches. At 230, he's flashing as a receiver too.
2) TE Pat Freiermuth was a monster Saturday. Catches everything. The rookie's trending towards a real role.
Speaking of Sunday’s practice, there was one play which caught the eye of media, and it was a nifty toe-tapping touchdown grab in the back of the end zone.
One of the standout plays today — Pat Freiermuth ran a fade in to the back of end zone and made an impressive toe tapping grab.— Nick Farabaugh (@Nick_Farabaugh) July 25, 2021
When asked about his impressions of Freiermuth, Mike Tomlin says he’s been impressed and Freiermuth has been readily prepared each day.
I mean, just look at this grab caught by the Steelers official photographer:
Freiermuth is turning heads, but the real test awaits when the Steelers don pads for the first time. This will take place Wednesday, and will be the next challenge for Freiermuth. Everyone knows his ridiculous catch percentage in the red-zone. Everyone knows he is athletic and physical with the football. But can he block at the NFL level?
Only time will tell, but as for right now Freiermuth is putting his best foot forward.
Now time to get into the rest of the news which took place during the latest practice session...
Ben’s still got the arm
Remember in 2020 when everyone was critical of Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to throw the deep ball? It didn’t matter he had a complete elbow reconstruction the previous season and no preseason. He lost his deep ball. Well, when Teryl Austin met with media Sunday he was asked about Roethlisberger’s deep passes, his response was telling.
Steelers DB coach Terry Austin couldn’t help but be impressed by Ben Roethlisberger’s deep passing today. “Oh he’s still got an arm.”— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 25, 2021
Sutton staying outside, for now
Speaking of Austin’s media session, he was asked about how they plan to deploy Cam Sutton. Keep him on the outside, or allow someone else to play outside and move Sutton back to the interior of the nickel and dime sub packages? As of right now, the plan is to keep Sutton on the outside, but that isn’t etched in stone.
Teryl Austin wants to keep Cam Sutton at outside corner for now and see how the slot position pans out with Brooks and Maulet. Didn't rule out a significant jump by Pierre or Layne changing those plans and putting Sutton inside.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021
The Steelers were without J.C. Hassenauer Sunday, but B.J. Finney and Kendrick Green were all at practice and contributing.
The Steelers’ starting center* walking with head athletic trainer John Norwig at practice today— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 25, 2021
*-per the official depth chart pic.twitter.com/Y0f9vL3dm0
The only other injury which took place was Antoine Brooks Jr. who left practice with something labeled as minor by head coach Mike Tomlin. Zach Banner, who hasn’t dressed yet this training camp, is expected to return to the team this week as he continues his road back from ACL surgery last season.
Mike Tomlin said Antoine Brooks leaving practice early today was nothing major. Also said that J.C. Hassenauer is day-to-day. I asked about Zach Banner not dressing the last three days, Tomlin hinted that could change when the pads come on. #Steelers #dkps— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 25, 2021
Trai Turner wasn’t in Pittsburgh last season. He didn’t play for Randy Fichtner. He has nothing to compare this training camp to, but he likes one thing about Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm’s mindset — aggressive.
Trai Turner likes what he’s seeing out of an aggressive o-line so far pic.twitter.com/B86Bqzo1UZ— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021
A new era along the offensive line
Turner, who met with media Sunday, talked about replacing David DeCastro, and he showed a tremendous amount of respect to the All-Pro guard, while also making his statement clear. He is here to help the Steelers win football games and help catapult him to his next contract. He isn’t there to replace DeCastro, he is there to play football. His style of football. The Steelers hope he returns to the form he showed when in Carolina.
Trai Turner on replacing David DeCastro: " I just look at it like it’s a new era, a different time, different places. Everything has an expiration date at some point.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021
"DeCastro is a great player, and I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m replacing him, I’m just the new right guard."
Nothing but respect
Most may not know this, but Turner came from LSU, and he knows all about another Bayou Bengal who is getting enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. That would be none other than former Steelers guard Alan Faneca. Faneca was in the NFL well before Turner reached LSU, but Turner knew all about Faneca and hopes he can meet him at a Steelers game sometime this season.
New Steelers RG Trai Turner called Alan Faneca a “living legend” and hopes his fellow LSU Tiger will come see him play. “I have nothing but a ton of respect for Mr. Faneca. I admire his game. Been knowing about him since I got to LSU in 2011 … hopefully I can make him proud.” pic.twitter.com/RSp5skZM0b— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 25, 2021
Creativity on offense coming up
Maybe it was just one play, or maybe this is just one of the wrinkles Matt Canada is developing in his new offense. The never used Derek Watt was sent on a wheel route during practice Sunday, something which never would have happened under Fichtner. The play wasn’t completed, but the fact they are using Watt in unique ways is not just a sign of what’s to come, but a positive sign.
My favorite play today: Ben Roethlisberger hit Derek Watt on a fullback wheel route. Steelers offense doesn’t often utilize the fullback as a pass catching option.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021
Asked Tomlin if Matt Canada’s offense will feature fullbacks more often: “to be determined.”
Part 1 complete, pads coming up
The Steelers’ ramp up period is officially over, and now the team prepares for practice on Tuesday at Heinz Field after a day off Monday. Wednesday is the first practice with pads, and is the first live practice for fans at Heinz Field. Part 1 complete, with real football upcoming.
Steelers have concluded their first part of camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. They will move the operation to Heinz Field starting Tuesday. First open practice will be Wednesday.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021
BTSC Training Camp Recap Podcast
Big Ben throwing while chatting with the new OC pic.twitter.com/ssnW0E5nHZ— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 25, 2021