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Saturday, August 01, 2015

One week in

The Steelers on Saturday night traded for cornerback Brandon Boykin, former of Philadelphia

It's an interesting deal on several levels. First of all, Pittsburgh gave up a conditional fifth round draft pick next year - he's got to make the team. Secondly, the Steelers drafted a pair of cornerbacks - Senquez Golson in the second round and Doran Grant in the fourth round - who you would figure have this team made regardless of what happens.

And Golson has been out with a shoulder injury.

Antwon Blake has been up and down in this training camp because he is, after all, what he is - a player limited by his height.

Now, you have the 5-10 Boykin added to the mix.

In 48 career games, Boykin has seven interceptions, including six in 2013. That is significant.

The Steelers have 31 interceptions in the past three seasons. Cortez Allen has a team-high six of those.

Boykin would seem to be a perfect fit for the Cover-2, a player capable of making plays on the football.

Also, Boykin was also the guy that Antonio Brown called out to me in 2012 for being the "candy bar" of the Eagles defense.

Snickers or Milky Way, I asked. Snickers, Brown replied, His meaning was that Boykin was a sweet matchup.

Boykin was not happy about that. We'll see how those two make nice in the coming future.

It's hard to believe the Steelers have now been at training camp for a week, but that's the reality of the situation.

With that in mind, head coach Mike Tomlin gave a number of veterans off today and it added up to some interesting stuff.

Perhaps most interesting was that with defensive end Cam Heyward and nose tackle Steve McLendon sitting out, the first-team defensive line was Stephon Tuitt, Cam Thomas and Clifton Geathers.

Geathers makes sense since he's been running second team, but the oft-criticized Thomas leap-frogged Dan McCullers, who stayed with the second unit.

Perhaps it was a chance for the coaching staff to take a look at Thomas, who is scheduled to make $2 million this season.

Thomas spent a lot of time working with Heyward, McLendon and the rest of the veteran defensive linemen this offseason to get better.

And he did a nice job on the nose Saturday, blowing up a couple of running plays in 11-on-11. I know many fans won't want to hear that, but it's the truth.

You might not want Thomas around as a starter, but he does offer some flexibility as both a nose tackle and defensive end.

@ Ben Roethlisberger continued to sit out large portions of practice - not all, but some.

And Landry Jones continued to look good. He really seemed to be finding rookie Sammie Coates quite often. After practice, those two continued to work together.

Jones has turned it on, throwing a number of nice touch passes Saturday. He has solidified his grasp on the No. 3 job - not that he's being pushed hard by the other guys - and could be poised at making a run at the No. 2 spot if Bruce Gradkowski doesn't return soon.

@ With Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant both out today - knee and elbow soreness - Eli Rogers got some work with the top unit.

That's notable for an undrafted rookie.

Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to impress, making what Tomlin called some heavy-traffic catches.

I can't recall seeing the veteran drop a pass in this camp.

@ The team worked on backs on backers receiving today and it's just not fair for anyone to go against Le'Veon Bell in those situations.

Bell pretty much had his way with Lawrence Timmons, including making a leaping reception in the end zone over Timmons from Roethlisberger. Perfectly placed pass. Even better catch.

Likewise, Dri Archer turned Ryan Shazier - who later left with a minor lower back issue - in circles several times.

Archer is murder on linebackers who try to cover him. And he's showing some nice release at the line of scrimmage.

Fullback Roosevelt Nix also continues to show up. He got kudos for his route running from the coaching staff and has been one of the better blockers in the backs on backers blitz pickup drills.

I don't know if he'll beat out Will Johnson, but he's certainly opened some eyes.

@ Jordan Zumwalt has been somewhat underwhelming. I gave him a pass earlier in the week since he basically sat out all of 2014. But at some point, you want to see something from the young man.

That hasn't happened yet. Nix took him to school Saturday.

@ Catch of the day, outside of ones made by Bell and Heyward-Bey - who showed nice concentration on a perfectly thrown ball from Roethlisberger on the sidelines - went to rookie tight end Cam Clear.

Clear got open over the middle and initially juggled a pass from Jones. Shamarko Thomas came up and stuck him hard, but Clear re-caught the ball as he went to the ground.

@ Rookie running back Ross Scheuerman left early on a cart with an Achilles' tendon injury. But he was walking around later, so it doesn't appear serious.

Scheuerman took the hit of the day from cornerback Antwon Blake.

Scheurerman had back-to-back good gains around end, first to the left and then to the right, following his blocks nicely.

On the second run, just as he reached the sideline, Blake decleated him, blasting him into the air and out of bounds. It was a big hit, but not before Scheuerman had gained 10-plus yards.


Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

so much maligned guys by the fans are actually having their best camps- Cam thomas landry and archer- Shows how much better the team knows than us. Though yeah not even the team can deny thomas blew last year

Happy for Landry, if our fourth round pick from two years ago becomes our #2 QB then who can complain! But I still think if Ben went down for 1-2 games Gradkowski is the guy; if Ben is out for the season they give the reins to Landry!

Unknown said...

Do you know what we truly gave up for Boykins? I know it is a 5th, but you said it is contingent on him making the team. I heard it is a 5th but could move to a 4th depending on playing time and had nothing to do with him making the team. Do you know?

Anonymous said...

There's no way the Steelers will enter the season with Landry as our number 2. If Gradkowsky stays hurt they will pick up another veteran off the street and put Landry back as the #3, bank on that.

We'll see how impressive Landry is in the preseason. He's looked so bad it'll take more than camp to prove he's gotten better. Dude was aweful the last 2 years.

Anonymous said...

James Woods,

I read it becomes a 4th if he plays more than 60% of the year's snaps. Hopefully we start 14-0 and can sit him the last two games.

Dale, You said Shazier's back injury is minor. Any word on Jarvis' bicep injury or Shamarko's shoulder?

Anonymous said...

jarvis is practicing so he must be fine

Henigin said...

That's a lot to pay for Boykin in the last year of his contract. Hopefully they are already working on an extension if they like him that much to give a mid round draft pick for him

Anonymous said...

I would not be surprised if they were working on an extension with him if they in fact like him that much. If he was our 2012 4th round draft pick they would certainly be. Probably right after signing Beachum

though it likely means 0 chance Gay gets a new deal. But not impossible he resigns next year

Anonymous said...

Gay has been out there and seen how well he plays away from Pittsburgh. He might have realized his best bet is to stick with us, even if it's on a series of 1 year deals and bouncing around from #1 to #4 CB on the roster.

I think they'll see how Boykin does in camp and a couple preseason games, and if he really impresses, they'll extend him. But I don't think that extension will come easily.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Boykin wants to sign anything right now. He wants an opportunity. To start. And after empty promises from Chip Kelly, I'm guessing he would rather see how this year goes first before banking on another promise. Also guessing this puts Gay on the backburner too. Like Boykin, they can wait and see how the season plays out. And whoever ends up leaving (depending on what other FAs they lose and gain), might recoup that draft pick in the following year's comp picks. Lose a pick next year, but might just get it back in 2017.

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