The Pittsburgh Steelers completed their sixth straight day of padded practices on Monday August 4th under sunny skies at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.
Sitting out practice with what head coach Mike Tomlin described as “minor issues” were nose tackle Steve McLendon (for the third straight day), rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, center Maurkice Pouncey, and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones also missed with a groin issue, and cornerback Ike Taylor was given a rare day off.
The team’s offseason free agent safety signee Mike Mitchell came off of the PUP list to practice for the first time at camp, working alongside Troy Polamalu and others with the first team defense.
After practice Mitchell told me, “My legs are just jelly right now. There’s a big difference between just doing a lot of conditioning and just playing football. There’s a big adjustment. I’m making that today, getting [my legs] back under me and I’ll be ready for the season. The cutting and playing with the extra weight of the pads kind of throws you off a little bit but I’ll be fine.”
Mitchell, to whom Tomlin gave the nickname “M&M” after Mitchell made his first tackle of the day, said he and Polamalu have been able to develop a nice rapport despite Monday being their first padded practice together.
“I think it’s good,” Mitchell said. “Me and Troy, we talk a lot. We spend a lot of time off the field together. He’s just a good guy to be around. I think we’re developing a good relationship. We made some plays out there today. Good to be out there working with him”
Without several starters practicing, new faces getting first-team reps were Cody Wallace at center (with rookie 5th round pick Wesley Johnson taking 2nd team center reps), Arthur Moats at right outside linebacker, Sean Spence at inside linebacker, and Antwon Blake at cornerback when the team was in the nickel defense.
Wide receiver Justin Brown also ran with the first team all day, with Lance Moore running 2nd fleet. It’s pretty clear the coaches wanted to see what Brown could do working as the slot receiver. Brown told me the other day he is responsible for learning every position at wideout, including split end and flanker.
Of note in drills during the day:
Rookie running back Dri Archer had some ball security issues as he was violently spun around twice on an interior run and then stripped of the football, and then later dropped a pass on a crossing route during the team’s two-minute offense.
2nd year NFL’er running back Miguel Maysonet put his body on the line to violently pick up a blitzing linebacker Terrence Garvin during team drills. This drew big time praise from Tomlin who exclaimed, “I see you Miguel! Way to stick your nose in there!”
3rd year NFL’er Tauren Poole had a few nice runs between the tackles and looked generally spry; however, it may be tough for both Poole and Maysonet to make the final-53 man roster barring an injury to Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Archer, or Will Johnson.
Speaking of Will Johnson (and no surprise based on the past few years’ usage), he is an extremely important member of the team’s offense, being continually used as both a back and tight end in many of the team’s offensive sets. It’s obvious the coaches trust him and value his flexibility.
Speaking of tight ends, undrafted rookie Eric Waters was back at practice and looked good. He and 5th year man Michael Palmer may be battling it out for the team’s third tight end spot. David Paulson is also in the mix but seems to be falling out of favor, and rookie 7th round pick Rob Blanchflower just hasn’t played enough yet to make a good assessment.
On the offensive line, Guy Whimper has become the backup left tackle with Mike Adams working strictly on the right tackle side. However, this could obviously change if starting left tackle suffered an injury. Beachum and Marcus Gilbert, thought, have a solid hold on the starting tackle spots.
Another day, another missing punter Adam Podlesh who continues to be absent for a personal reason of some kind. Brad Wing has the obvious default edge right now on the team’s punting job.
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