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Monday, August 04, 2014

After six days of hitting, it's time to rest

Ryan Shazier said his injured right knee is OK. But he was limping around on it pretty noticeably Monday afternoon during practice.

After six consecutive days of live hitting, this team needs a break.

Mike Tomlin will begin to scale things back a little now that the first preseason game is now in sight at the end of the week. I don't expect the Steelers to go quite as hard when they return to practice Wednesday after taking  Tuesday off.

@ Ike Taylor kind of questioned Mike Mitchell's hitting ability when I spoke with him today. Not so much questioned it, but said they haven't seen it yet since Mitchell had missed the first week of practices with a groin injury. (Read more about it in Tuesday's Observer-Reporter. Shameless plug)

Mitchell was activated off the PUP list Monday and promptly made the first tackle of the live running drill, dropping Le'Veon Bell in his tracks.

Later, he leaped high above Markus Wheaton at the goal line to knock down a Ben Roethlisberger pass.

He should be a welcome addition to this defense.

@ In addition to Shazier, Jarvis Jones (groin), Steve McLendon (illness) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion) sat out with injuries Monday.

Taylor and Pouncey were given the day off for maintenance.

It's probably the first time in his career that Taylor has been made to take a maintenance day. He's only ever missed practice when he's been injured.

@ McLendon being out might be the worst thing that happened to Cam Thomas.

He's been at the nose with the first team the last three days and rookie Stephon Tuitt has been at defensive end. Tuitt looks right at home there opposite Cam Heyward.

In fact, you often have to look very closely to figure out which one is which. They are about the same size and body type and Tuitt's No. 91 is awfully similar to Heyward's No. 97.

They're making very similar style plays, as well. Tuitt drove down the line on one play today and held off a blocker with one hand while tackling a running back with the other.

@ Give running back Miguel Maysonet the gold star for taking on the big hit of the day, courtesy of Terance Garvin.

The linebacker came on a blitz up the middle at full speed and Maysonet (5-10, 210), stepped into the void and picked him up in what was a hellacious collision.

@ With Shazier out, Sean Spence moved in with the first team, while Jones was subbed for by Arthur Moats.

@ I feel bad for veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons. He's been tasked in this camp of working against rookie Dri Archer in one-on-one passing drills.

The speedy Archer has just had his way with Timmons. Today, he caught a ball in the flat, came to a complete stop to freeze Timmons and then burst inside, flying right by him.

Later in the drill, when they had two backs and two backers, Garvin went outside with Archer, yelling, "I got it, I got it." When Archer caught the ball and stutter stepped, Garvin didn't have it any longer. Archer burst down the sideline by himself, leaving Garvin to grasp at air as he yelled obscenities.

@ Archer did put the ball on the ground today in a run drill. He went into the hole, turned and ran completely around some linemen and then burst upfield, only to take a big hit that knocked the ball loose.

I didn't see who hit him thanks to the mass of humanity that was there.

@ The Steelers finished things off with a two-minute drill. Working with Ben Roethlisberger were Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, Archer, Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown. Will Johnson was also in there early on.

They went 63 yards in 1:50 to score on a 4-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown.

Bruce Gradkowski led the second unit that included Kashif Moore, Lance Moore, David Paulsen, Derek Moye and running back Tauren Poole.

They reached the 2 after starting at their own 37 with 1:51 on the clock. But Gradkowski's final pass intended for Moye was knocked away.


Hampwood said...

Good stuff Dale.

Really excited about Tuitt. Hope he keeps giving you things to write about.

The guy I'm most worried about is Mike Mitchell, easily. He's young and athletic (compared to Clark) but he missed something like one in every four or five attempted tackles last season. Not really someone to run up and make a stop in the running game either, was bottom of the safety bunch in that regard as well. With that said if our front 7 can get back to Steeler run defense then those weaknesses shouldn't be that important.

Feel bad for Vince Williams. I've been reading he's having a good camp and here Spence is leaping him with Shazier out. If Timmons has to miss any time who do you think would play in his place?

Dale Lolley said...

Williams is now the primary backup to Timmons

Hampwood said...

Better question, how was Ryan Clark viewed when he was first signed by the steelers. what kind of pedigree did he come in with compared to Mike Mitchell. Was he expected to become as good as he became?

kyle said...

I wouldn't worry too much about Mitchell's run tackling numbers. When you're on a defense with a tackling machine like Luke Kuechly, you aren't going to get a ton of run tackles.

Hampwood said...

Mostly worried about the missed tackles but good point

Dale Lolley said...

Clark was viewed as a smart safety who would pair well with Polamalu. Wasn't going to make a ton of plays, but wasn't going to get out of position. With Mitchell, they were looking for a playmaker.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dale - Great job as always! Look forward to your feedback regarding Mike Adams - with Munch and Hartings both in camp, I'm sure they know whether he has a future or not.

Also, any chance you'll be doing an early 53 before the first preseason game - would like to track against their performance.

Dale Lolley said...

I'll feature some guys to watch. It's too early to start picking a 53. I could probably give you the top 45-50, but those finals spots will be determined in these games.

Anonymous said...

What did you mean about Cam Thomas not want to sub for McClendon?

Did he struggle badly?

Whatever the case, Thomas was only a depth signing. I don't think the Steelers wanted him to end up starting.

adamg said...

I think the point is that Thomas was slated for DE, but having to sub at NT, Tuitt is having a great chance to show his stuff at DE and push Thomas out of the starting job.

Anonymous said...


What's up with McClendon?

Thanks for all the reports!

Anonymous said...

Dale, interested in your comparisons between this draft class and previous ones in regards to Tuitt vs Heyward, Bryant vs wheaton etc. Thanks for all the great info.