In what was a picturesque day in Latrobe, PA, the Steelers had a very energetic practice. Mike Tomlin was barking on the sidelines more than usual after his absence Friday night due to being on hand to celebrate Ronde Barber’s Hall of Fame enshrinement, and it seemed to motivate every group to sharpen one another.
The wider receivers put on a show
This receiving core has the potential to be one of the best in team history. Diontae Johnson and George Pickens were their usual selves. Johnson made several catches in team drills, and Pickens made his daily “Oh my God in Heaven” catch, going over a defender and toe-tapping in the back of the end zone during red zone scrimmage.
This has also been a great camp for Allen Robinson, and it feels like he landed in the perfect spot. He made a spectacular back shoulder catch today, spinning back toward the sideline and getting his feet in bounds. He also hauled in a touchdown from Kenny Pickett during seven-on-sevens.
Calvin Austin also made a nice grab in team scrimmage, which resulted in an audible “Good S*** my boy!” from Dionate Johnson on the sideline. Cody White had himself a day as well, hauling in a jump ball for a huge gain downfield in team drills.
Not only are these guys talented, they seem to genuinely love being around one another. That type of comradery is what makes good units great, and this Steelers receiving core has all the potential to be one of the best in the league.
The defense had a nice bounce back day
This isn’t to say the defense was bad on Friday, the offense was just head-and-shoulders above them in terms of production and how in synch they were. Nick Herbig has arguably been the Steelers’ most impressive player in camp thus far, and he continued to stick out in pass rushing drills, as well as team drills.
Herbig was far from the only guy in the front seven making plays. Elandon Roberts busted a gap during a scrimmage and laid a hit on Najee Harris that got a an audible reaction from his teammates. Keeanu Benton did the same, busting through and getting a tackle for loss on Anthony McFarland.
The defense also looked sharp in seven shots. They pulled out to a 3-1 lead. After two scores from the offense, the defense tipped a pass in the end zone and won 4-3. It was a physical day for the defense, who looked like they had something to prove.
Kendrick Green’s H-Back resurgence
Entering camp, there were legitimate questions about the future of third-year center Kendrick Green. It was evident that he was not an NFL offensive lineman at his size and stature, but the Steelers seem to have found a new role for the Illinois product. Over the last two practices, Green has lined up as a fullback, and just off the line of scrimmage in an H-back type-role.
The offense ran a play in which they sent Green in jet motion on a play action bootleg and threw it to him in the flat. It has worked both times, and each reception has resulted in a decent chunk of yards and a huge pop from both the crowd and the sidelines.
This decision to make a position switch could save Green’s career. Having a guy his size in a fullback-type role will help the run game that much more, and his ability to move in space is something the Steelers may have found a way to take advantage of.