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Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday madness

Stephon Tuitt and Steve McLendon did not practice today and the coaching staff made an interesting move - at least for those who are starting their cutdown looks - to replace them.

At nose tackle, as had been the case when McLendon sat out earlier, was veteran Cam Thomas, ahead of second-year player Daniel McCullers, who was back at practice today. McCullers had been out the past week with a sore hamstring.

At defensive end in place of Tuitt was rookie L.T. Walton, a sixth-round draft pick.

I haven't seen much in the way of standout play from Walton other than a flash here or there. But it appears the coaching staff likes him more than the other young defensive ends on the roster.

Whether that adds up to a roster spot for Walton, or whether team team rolls the dice and goes with McCullers and Thomas as the only backup defensive linemen on the roster remains to be seen.

* Bruce Gradkowski hit the ground running today in terms of throwing the ball. He was the only quarterback to successfully throw the ball into a trash can from about 25 yards away prior to practice today.

* Every day to start practice, the coaches have the linemen and linebackers practice staying onsides while the ball is snapped.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler was admonishing some young guys for not watching the ball and said, "I'm going to start making anyone who jumps offsides run a lap."

The next guy to do it was James Harrison.

"92, you owe me a lap," Butler said.

* In seven shots today, Markus Wheaton had a couple of TD catches working out of the slot, much the same we he got open in the preseason game at Jacksonville over the weekend on a two-point conversion play.

Wheaton should really be a weapon working out of the slot. He seems to have a nice feel for it.

The offense won today, 4-3, getting a nice pass breakup by Will Allen against Jesse James and a batted pass from Landry Jones by Anthony Chickillo.

Jones did have the session-winning TD pass to tight end Ray Hamilton. Hamilton was getting some extra looks today because Cam Clear, one of the other rookie tight ends, was walking around on one crutch today.

* Mike Tomlin seemed to take some extra interest in the punters today and this might actually be turning into a battle between Brad Wing and Jordan Berry.

Wing shanked a kick today and Tomlin yelled," Get him 4 (Berry's number). Put pressure on him. Show me what you got."

The two are very close in terms of kicking skills. Consistency might be the deciding factor.

But you also have to beat the incumbent convincingly, in my opinion.

* In one-on-one work against the receivers, corner Antwon Blake was consistently lauded for his footwork.

Brandon Boykin did pick off a poor throw by Ben Roethlisberger and then chucked the ball back over to the quarterbacks quickly.

Roethlisberger appeared a little ticked off about that, saying, "That's the way it's going to be?"

He then kept telling the receivers after catching TD passes to chuck the balls at the defensive backs - in a joking fashion (I think).

* Another cutdown clue: Chris Hubbard got work at center for the second consecutive day and Alejandro Villanueva worked at right tackle.


* Catch of the day went to tight end Matt Spaeth at the end of practice. Spaeth made a leaping, fingertip catch down the middle from Roethlisberger behind linebacker Sean Spence and in front of Robert Golden, who was back in action today.

He went to the ground as he pulled in the pass and landed on the football, knocking the wind out of himself. But it was a very nice grab.


Anonymous said...

Has Walton played NT at all? His weight indicates he might play it, but of course he's a rookie (6th rounder at that) so they may not want to place much burden on him. He certainly looks the part as someone who cam back up tuitt and heyward AND McLendon, though of course McCullers is the main backup NT this year, 2015 Walton can fill the role completely like Al Woods and Hoke did! Plus dont have to give cam thomas any more money, even if he has improved

Dale Lolley said...

Walton has not played nose tackle here that I have noticed.

Zeke R said...

Sounds/looks like we might have a new swing lineman from the big man...

datruth4life said...

Dale, do you see Mike Adams starting off the season on the PUP list? And is this the year that the team keeps 2 QBs, 10 LBs and 4 safeties?

Scott Szakovits said...

Let me be the first to say that letting Mike Adams go would be highly stupid. He's had his times good and bad, but his run blocking has been outstanding since he's been a Steeler. He doesn't merit a big contract, but he should stay on this team.

Anonymous said...

agree Scott. He's nothing special, but there is "nothing special" either on the street that can replace him. At the least he's on the PUP to start the year and wont cost us a spot the first 10 weeks or so, so that's good. But if we suffer an injury or two at OT it's better to have him back eventually than never. Certainly better than picking up timmy the undrafted free agent tackle who knows nothing about our playbook and would be put in a position to protect our franchise qb and open lanes for out franchise rb

get a return on the 2nd round investment. But yeah no one is saying give him a a new contract next year, but right now he's relatively important

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