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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Steelers July 29th notes

I finally got to sit and watch - OK, stand and watch - an entire practice Sunday for the first time at this camp without having to hustle somewhere else or have things abbreviated by the threat of rain.

I saw some pretty good things out there.

Second-year linebacker Chris Carter looks physically bigger on the field and his functional strength is improved. Once just a guy who could beat you with his quick first step, Carter can now lock onto somebody and force them where he wants to go instead of the other way around.

He did this in the backs on tight ends drills against David Johnson, then handled Leonard Pope.

Carter told me after practice that he's added eight to 10 pounds of muscle.

Being that he's starting opposite LaMarr Woodley with both James Harrison and Jason Worilds on the PUP list, it was a good move for Carter.

@ The Steelers had a physical pads practice and had some players dinged up at times.

Starting running back Isaac Redman took a shot early and sat out a few plays, but the most serious injury was to cornerback Keenan Lewis, who suffered an injury to the AC joint in his right shoulder during a sideline collision.

He could be sidelined a while, with Cortez Allen moving into his starting spot.

Offensive linemen Trai Essex and David DeCastro also suffered minor ankle sprains, but are not expected to miss any time.

Tight end Heath Miller (ankle) and punter Jeremy Kapinos (back) were joined on the sidelines Sunday by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was given the day off by head coach Mike Tomlin rather than have him practice on field turf.

As for good news on the injury front, safety Damon Cromartie-Smith is expected to be activated from the PUP list on Wednesday. He has been out with a shoulder injury.

@ Funny moment of the day came when offensive tackle Max Starks was working with the other PUP list players on his conditioning.

After running back Rashard Mendenhall completed a cone drill with the ball in his hands, Starks did the same.

I told the guy next to me that if Starks had the ball in his hands on a play, something had gone terribly wrong.

Starks came to his senses on the next drill and declined the ball when Mendenhall offered it to him.

@ The catch of the day belonged to first-year receiver Jimmy Young.

Working against Ike Taylor, Young went to the ground down the sideline on the final play of practice to snare a perfect pass from Byron Leftwich, hanging onto the ball as his helmet popped off upon contact with the ground.

@ While Carter looked improved, both Johnson and Leonard Pope disappointed in the backs on tight ends drill.

The clear star was LaMarr Woodley, which is why they are paying him the big bucks. Woodley whipped everyone in sight.


Anonymous said...

Good news about Carter. Worilds seems good, but not much of a pass rusher. Hits you with intensity but doesn't really move around the tackles

we need that speedy guy behind Woodley and James. Woodley, if healthy, should be aiming for DMVP once again from all I'm hearing

bruinmann77 said...

Dale how the battle for the 5th WR looking?
Any update on Saunders appeal becuase he will be needed.

Tim said...

Seems to me like in the FB battle between the Johnsons, Will has a huge upper hand in all things athletic. He's fast, can run routes, can catch, can run with it, all things David can't do. The only thing he's untested with is blocking, which is of course the most important part. With David, we know what we're getting with his blocking. It's not good at all, but it could still be better than a converted wide receiver, which is basically what Will is.

How did Will look blocking? I'd love updates on that because I am dying to get rid of David.

alexrkirby said...

That's gotta leave you a little worried about the state of Sander's foot if the Steelers hold him out of practice on turf.

He mustn't be completely confident that it's healed.

Good to hear Carter is stepping things up.

Dale Lolley said...

It was a maintenance thing with Sanders, per Mike Tomlin. They had to practice on the turf a lot, so they were just being careful.
As for Saunders' appeal, no news.

kyle said...


I read one camp account that had Will Johnson looking quite good, not just at catching out of the backfield or yac but in blocking as well. I believe it was a fan account though so that guy, like most of us, may have been viewing Will through a hopeful haze. One plus is he was converted to TE from WR before the Steelers got him so the jump from TE to FB may not be too tough.

And from the reports of all the catching the ball out of the backfield and DJ's usual drops, I think your prayers might be answered.

Anonymous said...

How does Cameron Hayward look? I think he will be their best D-lineman (along with Keisel)

Hood sucks

Tim said...


Thanks, I'm glad to hear that. I know he went from WR to TE, but I still can't think of another FB that was at any point a WR. Lead blocking is a long way from where he started, although I'm not saying he doesn't have it in him.

At the rate he's going, maybe he can replace Foote at ILB next year.

I read both Hood and Heyward were playing well so far. I only saw pictures, but Ziggy sure looks different from years past.

kyle said...

I'd understand your concern. The worry is somewhat lessened by remembering how many big WR become TE. I looked up once and found that like a third of the Offensive Guards who were named to the pro bowl over a 2 or 3 year span didn't play G in college. Sure, plenty were Tackles but a few were Tight Ends, and some were DL. Hell, the Dolphins just used a top 10 pick on a QB who played WR for a few years, not that I think the Steelers should be taking their personnel cues from Miami. College football is nutty it seems.

Tim said...

My concern isn't really just the position he used to play. It's his experience level with lead blocking, which I consider vital to success running the ball (if you're going to use a lead blocker, which we do all the time).

I checked some of his highlight videos, and his blocking was suspect at best. On his highlight videos. Of course it's possible that he can be coached up. He's clearly a good athlete and has decent enough size. But as we learned with David Johnson, not everyone can be coached up to do that successfully, and he was making a much smaller transition from H-back to FB. Right now I'm feeling confident about Will. I can't wait for the preseason. I hope he gets at least as many snaps as David does, considering we already know how that chicken tastes.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that Will Johnson is just another camp body considering he hasn't played football in almost 2 years.

Don't forget about the "Frank the Tank" experiment fresh out of college HB to FB and now a hybrid WR/TE is supposed to make that transition?

David Johnson is a much better blocker than a lot of you claim.

kyle said...

Oh, I knew what your concern was and I share it. DJ has two things going for him: experience and strength. His experience, I think, is not a big deal because it's a new offense and he wasn't exactly top-notch in the old one. Strength might be a factor but that's dependent upon Will. If he's strong enough and can get enough of the technique down or if the Steelers brass decide that his blocking is passable given what he adds in the other elements of the game he'll get the spot.

Tim said...

You are smart, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

long time readers of this blog may recognize the user "Tim" as long time troll "Patrick"

Tim said...

First of all, Patrick isn't a troll, he's just "prickly," to put it in polite terms. He's here for a reason.

Second of all, either you don't know who Will Johnson is or you don't know what camp body means. He's here to push someone off the roster and they'll give him the job if they can justify it.