After practice was moved up due to weather, it was time to strap the pads back on. Some players shined, others struggled, but there was no lack of excitement for those of us watching in the stands. Below, I have listed the many observations that I made while I was at camp on Wednesday.
In the beginning of practice, it is the most non exciting because of warmups, but this was when I looked around to see who was and wasn’t practicing. It was good to see Le’Veon Bell and Jarvis Jones back after they both missed several days. Terry Hawthorne and Curtis Brown were unable to practice once again, but middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons was back after missing several days due to the death of a family member. Troy Polamalu also returned after having two veteran days off to heal some type of minor injury that was not disclosed.
Plaxico Burress was back in pads, but I saw him doing some type of physical therapy while other wide receivers were doing other warmups.
Next were return warmups. Reggie Dunn did not have the best session after dropping one punt and fumbling around with another. For a guy that was relying heavily on his ability to return in order to make the team, he is not excelling in this area at all. Markus Wheaton is pretty much a roster lock, and the good news is, he could be a punt returner if needed. Right before the session ended, Antonio Brown caught four punts, but couldn’t come down with the fifth.
Once all position groups broke into individual work, I had a chance to watch the offensive lineman. Tomlin joined to watch the session as well, and I felt like this made the offensive lineman all that more intense. We all know how good Pouncey is, but he really is a guy that likes to get angry when he plays. Tomlin had several quotes that were worth taking note of.
Let’s run with some linebackers today men, nobody in the backfield.
No backers in the back field today Mike. Choke their a**** up.
Two players that I came out impressed with were John Malecki and Justin Cheadle. John Malecki look very confident in what he is doing and he plays aggressive. Justin Cheadle has great speed reach blocking, and with his versatility of playing center and guard, I feel like he has a very good shot at making the roster. It will be very interesting to watch him play in the preseason.
After the QB bucket drill, it was time for defensive backs covering receivers one-on-one, but there wasn’t anyone that would throw the ball. Antonio Brown struggled against Ike Taylor, but Emmanuel Sanders did a very nice job. Antonio Brown had no trouble against William Gay, beating him on the double move. Shamarko Thomas did a great job on Derek Moye, but the player that really struggled in this drill was Damon Cromartie-Smith. He struggled with man coverage a lot, but he is very good as a center fielder, sitting back and reading and reacting.
During the next team session, several players impressed me. Below is basically the play by play of what happened.
-One of my main focuses in this team session was to watch Jarvis Jones. During one of the first plays, Jarvis Jones gets pushed inside and the running back made a cut to the outside.
-Ramon Foster had a very nice blitz pickup when the defense did a cross blitz.
-Mike Adams is looking very solid at left tackle. He made a pancake block on Brett Keisel, and his pass set looked very solid.
-Damon Cromartie-Smith once again looked very solid playing deep safety, coming down with another interception.
-Not to long after, Antonio Brown got Ike Taylor on the double move, getting wide open for a long touchdown.
-In the past, Jonathan Dwyer hasn’t had the best hands, but he made a nice catch on a bubble screen.
-Markus Wheaton looked sharp as usual, and he beat Josh Victorian for a 15 yard pass on the sideline.
-Hebron Fangupo is looking solid at nose tackle, and I thought he did a very nice job at holding off the double team at the point of attack.
-Jarvis Jones comes free as a rusher, but he struggles to get off a tight end. A coach yelled “get off him Jarvis!”
-Larry Foote had great coverage on David Paulson, deflecting the pass.
-At the end of the session, Ben threw a pass right over Jason Worilds to Antonio Brown for a 20 yard gain.
At the end of practice, Jarvis Jones looked excellent in coverage, deflecting three passes. He is very athletic and flows very nicely.
Practice was very productive today, and the team is looking very solid. I will be at camp on Thursday live tweeting once again, so follow me @NicktheSteelman. There is a lot to look forward to this upcoming season with the Steelers.