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...
Throughout the offseason, the Steelers’ secondary has been through a lot. They lost Mike Hilton to the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, released Steven Nelson for salary cap purposes and retained Cam Sutton to a new two-year contract.
With Hilton and Nelson gone, the Steelers had to find a way to keep the secondary playing at a high level without breaking the back. Joe Haden is still the veteran presence, but who will fill out the other roles is to be determined. Antoine Brooks Jr. was given the first shot at the slot nickel position, but fans were wondering what about James Pierre?
Pierre is the player who turned heads throughout Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp, and in the early stages of training camp Pierre has continued to make plays.
On Thursday, it was Pierre who made a notable play by punching the ball out of Najee Harris’ hands, forcing a fumble.
James Pierre punched a ball out from Najee Harris after a catch. He doesn’t give up on play and has continued to build on his strong mini camp with a strong training camp. #Steelers— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) July 29, 2021
With Joe Haden getting the day off from practice Thursday, the Steelers got an extended look at Pierre, and he didn’t disappoint.
James Pierre is getting a lot of work on the outside opposite Cam Sutton with Joe Haden out today.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 29, 2021
Secondary coach Teryl Austin was asked earlier this week about what they will do with Cam Sutton if someone like Pierre proves worthy of a starting role.
“Right now what we’re working with is we know Cam can play nickel, but he’s playing outside now as a starter. We don’t know what we have inside at nickel, so we want to make sure of what we have there. And we know if James Pierre really has an outstanding camp, or if Justin Layne, who has been doing well, continues to do well – if those guys play lights out in the preseason – whoever the five best are, those are the guys we want on the field.”
Needless to say, the Steelers having too many quality defensive backs is never a bad thing, but how they plan to deploy them is anyone’s guess at this point.
Time to check up on other news from Thursday’s camp practice...
Head coach Mike Tomlin gave an update on the injury situation after practice. Eric Ebron missed with his elbow injury, and Cody White was held out with a hamstring injury. Here is a full update from Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
Coach Tomlin on injuries:— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) July 29, 2021
Eric Ebron (elbow) and Cody White (hamstring) held out of practice. Jaylen Samuels and Dax Raymond left practice before it was over. Still being evaluated.
Joe Haden given a day off, which gave James Pierre an opportunity to get first team reps.
T.J. Watt Update
Fans who have gone to training camp at Heinz Field have wanted to see T.J. Watt have been disappointed. Watt has been there, and working out, but has yet to participate in team activities. He has been working on hand usage and conditioning. When asked if he is injured, Tomlin chose the “I don’t have to announce injuries.” route.
TJ Watt hasn’t participated in a practice since the Steelers opened training camp a week ago.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 29, 2021
Asked Mike Tomlin when he anticipated Watt joining, and he said he’s “day to day.” I followed up asking if Watt was injured and Tomlin said he doesn’t have to discuss injuries right now
Thursday was the first time the Steelers did the famed two-minute drill. The Steelers’ first attempt saw the offense drive down the field, but fall short at the two-yard line. Mike Tomlin wasn’t happy with how the drill ended.
“At 15 seconds, we’ve got to take shots at the end zone. When Minkah [Fitzpatrick] tackled that guy on the field of play right there, the game’s over, and we’ve got to have that level of awareness. It was annoying, yes, but I also acknowledge that the learning process is part of this. It’s an opportunity to teach but some of those guys have been around a little bit, and so I expressed that feeling.” Tomlin said.
Steelers defense just stopped the offense at the 2 in a two-minute drill. Not because Mason Rudolph wasn’t leading the starters downfield, but because they ran out of time. Mike Tomlin seemed unhappy with the clock management but we can ask after practice.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 29, 2021
The Steelers’ second attempt, with Dwayne Haskins at the helm, was successful.
Mason Rudolph continues to get a lot of repetitions throughout training camp, and one pass he had on Thursday is probably one he wants back. His pass sailed over the middle and right into the hands of rookie defensive back Tre Norwood.
Bedlam breaking out at Heinz Field. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph just got picked off by OU rookie Tre Norwood. Nobody around Norwood, either.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 29, 2021
Tre Norwood just picked off a very high, very bad throw over the middle of the field from Mason Rudolph. OU on OK State crime. That’s Bedlam.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 29, 2021
Gotta finish, JuJu
Speaking of Rudolph, check out this beautiful pass down the sideline, right on the money for JuJu Smith-Schuster but goes directly off his facemask.
MUUUUUTH continues to shine
This is your daily reminder Pat Freiermuth can be a tremendous offensive weapon for the Steelers. But can he block?
Pat Freiermuth just had a nice catch down the sideline over Calvin Bundage from Haskins. Play-action, too.— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 29, 2021
The Dwayne Hype Train rolls on...
The Steelers’ ‘7 Shots’ to start practice has been a great way for Dwayne Haskins to show what he is capable of. He delivered two strikes Thursday, one which was dropped, and Wednesday even ran into the end zone for a touchdown. Let the Dwayne Hype Train continue to roll on.
Dwayne Haskins has looked pretty good in his 7 shots reps - got two more today. First was a beautiful throw to Tyler Simmons for a score. Next was on the money - or sounded like it was - for Dax Raymond but TE couldn’t grab it.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 29, 2021
7 Shots Update
Here is a complete update from the 7 Shots drill, per Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.
Offense wins 7 shots, 4-3. Nice catch by Claypool over Sutton from Ben. James Pierre had coverage on JuJu on an incompletion. Claypool motioned from right to left inside and caught an easy TD from 7, as well.— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 29, 2021
Punter Update...they’re battling
To the dismay of this writer, there hasn’t been a ton of talk about the punter battle between Jordan Berry and Pressley Harvin III. Tomlin was asked about the punting battle after practice Thursday, and he said the two are battling it out.
Thursday's practice provided a chance for the punters to get some work. Mike Tomlin: "Those guys have been battling. We respect all the battling going on out here. So are the snappers, they don’t get lot of a attention but we value it." He enunciated "it."— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 29, 2021