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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Steelers open final week of camp

The Steelers opened their final week of training camp the same way they started it, hot.

It was so hot today that head coach Mike Tomlin, who usually wears long-sleeved shirts, was just in a T-shirt today.

Today also marked the first day - by my reckoning - that the Steelers had both starting safeties on the field together since the opening week of practice as Mike Mitchell returned from sitting out with a hamstring issue.

Shamarko Thomas came back last week after sitting out with a shoulder injury and defensive coordinator Keith Butler told me today that the team needs both starting safeties on the field together to start building some rapport.

Mitchell, while agreeing with that, also gave me this little nugget. He felt he played better with Will Allen last season than he did with Troy Polamalu because he and Allen practiced together all offseason. Polamalu typically worked out on his own in the offseason, attending only the mandatory workouts.

“I think with anything, the more you do things, the more you rep them, the better they get,” Mitchell said. “It’s important for us to get some reps together. But we worked a whole lot together this spring. We took pretty much every rep together. It was kind of like me and Will Allen last year. I worked with him all spring. I think me and Will had a little better rapport last year. I think me and Shamarko will be similar.”

Butler had planned on giving both safeties extensive playing time together in the preseason because they are not only new to each other, they are being asked to do some different things now as well. But that hasn't worked out.

"It’s extremely important for those guys to get out there," Butler said. "It’s easy to sit back there and draw it up on the board and stuff like that. When you get out there and things are happening fast, they need the experience of doing that. This is Mike’s second year in the system. First year, you’re kind of looking around, figuring out what’s going on. This year, he should grow in the aspect of knowing what we’re doing and what offenses are trying to do to us."

* With Lawrence Timmons, Vince Williams and Jordan Zumwalt all sitting out Sunday, the Steelers took a look at safety Ian Wild at inside linebacker.

That won't necessarily be a long-term move, but it does show added value for Wild, a linebacker at Mercyhurst and in the CFL. That might be the difference for him earning a spot on the practice squad.

* I don't see fullback Roosevelt Nix beating out Will Johnson for a roster spot this year, but he seems like he's sewing up a spot on the practice squad as well.

One caveat to that is that Nix also is showing up quite a bit on special teams. That could force the Steelers to keep him around.

At the very least, the Steelers might have found a diamond in the rough. An undersized college nose tackle who looks to be just a solid football player.

* Bruce Gradkowski was activated off the PUP list today but didn't do a whole lot in practice. He did take some snaps in the inside run drills and also took one snap of 11-on-11.

As he barked out signals in 11-on-11, linebacker Shayon Green jumped offside. Gradkowski made sure he pointed both hands at the young linebacker in a "gotcha" moment.


Anonymous said...

Every time I go to practice, it's usually hot as hell out and there Coach T is, in a black long sleeve shirt and long black pants. How does he do it? I'm baffled every time I see it.

Anonymous said...

From 2007 -

"Wardrobe warfare

Tomlin has worn black every day of training camp, but for the past two days he's at least in shorts and not the long pants he wore last week. He's still wearing long-sleeved black shirts, though, as temperatures hover around the 90s at Saint Vincent.

Finally, yesterday, he let on why.

"It's part of the mental warfare. I don't want guys coming up to me and talking about how hot it is because they know I don't care. And that's part of it. I hope it gets hotter."

Marc said...

training camp hamstring injuries are a bad sign. i'll be very surprised if Mitchell doesn't miss a few games at some point during the season for the same reason.

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