It was a hot, sunny day in Latrobe and Pittsburgh Steelers practice was full of competition. We got our first live look at multiple two-minute drills and the practice was focused on situational football. Below are some of my takeaways from an eventful afternoon of football.
Trubisky Won QB of the Day
During team drills, seven on seven and situational football, Trubisky was fairly conservative with the football. On one particular third and six, he pulled the ball down and sprinted towards the left side of the field for a first down. The majority of his day was much like the majority of his camp to date - decent but not overly exciting by any means.
That was before the two minute drill where Trubisky had the drive of the day as the offense marched down the field quickly for a score with time to spare. Overall, the day was fairly dull from a quarterbacks perspective but this was probably the highlight for the group. Trubisky seemed to be in full control of the offense and comfortable working in the no-huddle.
The drive began with Mitch hitting George Pickens on a curl route for a nice gain. His second completion was a throw underneath to Calvin Austin as he was touched up immediately. He found Austin again up in the seam for a big chunk play before using his lone timeout to stop the clock. On the final play of the drive, Trubisky stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure from Alex Highsmith to find George Pickens working in the back of the end zone. A perfectly thrown pass to hit his favorite target on the day.
Kenny Pickett With the Throw of the Day
Pickett threw a beautiful ball down the right side of the field, hitting Jace Sternberger in stride in a tight window. Pickett's ball placement stood out on a handful of plays today but this throw was on the money and the throw of the day in my book. I believe it was Robert Spillane who had good coverage on the route but the throw was just better.
Also worth noting that this throw was made in the pocket through the teeth of the defense instead of opting to escape and throw on the run. Overall, Pickett's day was solid as he didn't seem to make many mistakes in his limited opportunities.
George Pickens Continues to Be a Human Highlight Reel
With Diontae Johnson’s 'hold-in' ongoing and Chase Claypool on the pine due to an injury, Pickens has been the de-facto WR1 the last several days. He has not disappointed by any means. Wednesday was another example of his jaw-dropping talents as he won several impressive one on one reps against Ahkello Witherspoon. He also caught the lone touchdown in the 2 minute drill from Mitch Trubisky.
The highlight of the day was Pickens score against Witherspoon in red zone one on ones. He sold a fade route before breaking it off on a comeback. The ball was perfectly placed and he was able to sky and grab it with both hands away from his frame. Pickens ability to get in and out of his breaks along with his body control stood out all day.
Grady Brown’s Leadership and Emphasis
After being able to listen in on new Steelers defensive backs coach Grady Brown’s instructions during drill work, you see immediately what stands out about him. He repeatedly talked up physicality even during a day where the pads weren’t on. He took all of the corners through drills where they focused on punching the football out from ball carriers.
He repeatedly shouted “we got to get one today” as the players repped the drill several times over. Ultimately they didn’t force a fumble in practice on Wednesday but we shall see if they get one on Thursday.
Arthur Maulet and Cam Sutton Set the Tone
Grady Brown asked for physicality from his corners and his veteran starters delivered. Maulet was matched up with Calvin Austin for several reps in one on ones and was physical at the catch point, even knocking the rookie down to the grass after a completion towards the sideline. Some jawing between Maulet and the receivers in the lines ensued as they were simply sticking up for their teammate. This continued throughout the drill with a high level of intensity.
Sutton is one of the few guys in the room with experience here in Latrobe. The veteran had himself a really solid day in coverage. His best work came in the team drills and 2 minute situation. He touched up Benny Snell after a completion in the flats and was talking trash all period to the offenses sidelines. His best rep was against Cody White as White tried to hit him with a stop and go but Sutton wasn't fooled one bit. He did an excellent job pinning White up against the sideline and playing the catch point to force an incompletion.
Devin Bush Is the Starter As of Now
Bush continues with the starters in camp but you get the feel that Robert Spillane will be in the mix. Whether it be as just depth or in a rotation remains to be seen at this point in time. Bush had a fine day from what I could tell. Zach Gentry did beat him on an out route underneath for a catch early in practice.
However, there were a couple times where Bush was able to quickly close on check downs to the flats. I thought he looked more explosive with quicker reaction time than we were used to seeing last season. With Bush being a year removed from his ACL injury, hopefully that is a sign of things to come.
Dan Moore Jr. Winning the Battle Against Alex Highsmith
Dan Moore Jr. had a very impressive day yesterday as he was matched up with Alex Highsmith all afternoon. Moore reacted well to stay balanced against several Highsmith spin moves, none of which resulted in any significant pressure.
When Highsmith would try to win with speed, Moore did a nice job quickly getting out of his stance and running him up the arc. Highsmith did have a really pretty “ghost” move on the edge where he was close to sacking Trubisky on the final play of the 2 minute drill. Aside from that rep, Moore won that matchup from what I saw.
Chris Steele Flashes on the Boundary
As an undrafted free agent, Steele is quietly starting to generate some buzz here in Latrobe. The quarterbacks didn’t try the deep ball much but the first real attempt was neutralized by Steele as he ran stride for stride with his man down the left sideline.
The ball from Trubisky was on accurate and on target but it was perfect coverage as Steele had his man blanketed. Nice job locating and high-pointing the football for the pass breakup. He’s got an upfield battle to make the roster but if he can showcase himself as useful on special teams, he might have a shot at the 53 man. Currently, he’s a favorite for the practice squad.
Watt and Heyward Get a Vets Day Off
There was pretty much no involvement on Wednesday from either of the Steelers star pass rushers. Watt and Heyward received vet days off per Head Coach Mike Tomlin.
It was a multi-layered coaching decision. Coach Tomlin explained that they don’t require nearly as many reps to get game ready as the younger players do. Without Heyward and Watt in the fold, others were able to see increased reps against better competition. Especially with Heyward turning 33 years old just a couple months ago, it makes sense to keep him as fresh as possible.
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