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  • Steelers Camp Notes Include Heyward-Bey, Eric Waters Injury News

    Heyward-Bey_Darrius_Pittsburgh_Steelers_2014

    In what has been an interesting positional battle thus far for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their 48th annual training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the wide receiving corps has been battling – hard.  Darrius Heyward-Bey came into camp looking for redemption after spending the 2013 season with the Indianapolis Colts.  Heyward-Bey was expected to bolster a group that includes Antonio Brown, Lance Moore, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Justin Brown and Derrick Moye.

    On Thursday, Heyward-Bey was shaken up on a play during the Steelers’ second practice of the day, leading to speculation amongst several members of the media at camp:

     

     

    No one likes to hear that there are injuries at training camp.  And all the hard play may be taking a toll.  Tight ends Matt Spaeth, Rob Blanchflower and Michael Palmer were all non-participants on Thursday. Joining them were Alvester Alexander, Jordan Zumwalt and Mike Mitchell.   Then another tight end went down – Eric Waters – who apparently injured his back per head coach Mike Tomlin.

    Other News:

     

    *Mike Adams had his rear end, almost literally, handed to him by Shamarko Thomas and then by Daniel McCullers in two practices, demonstrating that Adams has a long way to go to improve his play.  Adams claimed the play by Thomas on Monday was a result of a “slip”, but it is hard to come up with excuses when you are trying to win the right tackle spot.

    *McCullers is an active man and is showing monstrous potential.  During linemen pass blocking drills, McCullers was able to get leverage on Cody Wallace and then enveloped Dri Archer on an 11-0n-11 live tackling drill.  William Gay told TribLive Radio’s Ken Laird that teammates call McCullers ‘Big Dan’ after a character in the movie “The Longest Yard.”  McCullers appears to be the quiet giant, however, and teammates are encouraging him to keep moving people out of the way.

    * Although the no-huddle was used a lot on offense during OTAs and camps, it has been mysteriously absent in the first four days of official training camp.  Landry Jones continues to struggle to find a rhythm and consistency as the No. 3 quarterback.

     

     
  • Steelers receiver Justin Brown using offseason mentoring to stay in play

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to sort out their training camp roster, including a bevy of potential wide receivers who have the potential to garner new recognition in 2014 as only Antonio Brown has thus far appeared to have wrapped up a starting spot at the position. While Justin Brown (no relation) struggled in 2013, he spent part of the offseason working out with the ‘other’ Brown in the hopes of securing a spot on the final 53-man roster.

    (J) Brown was selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and at 6-3, 209, the former Oklahoma Sooner receiver was expected to give a vertical addition to a smaller group of wide receivers.  Brown spent all of 2013 n the practice squad, however.  His desire to improve motivated him to undergo training with his teammate who has a regimen that is known to be nearly insane.  Daily sled pushes, pass-catching drills, sprints and wearing weighted vests while running ladders was just part of the preparation for camp.

    “Just knowing more has allowed me to play faster,” said Brown.  “It still comes down to going out and making plays and that’s what I’ve got to do.”

    His training partner and mentor, Antonio, says that the kid is “motivated and hungry.”  Those are two words any Steelers coach, trainer or fan should be licking their chops over.

     
  • Arthur Moats: The Outsider Working His Way Into The Steelers Rotation

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    Aurthur Moats has not been discussed much this off season. However, in the Pittsburgh Steelers 49th training camp in Latrobe, Moats is creating a lot of talk with his play.

    Over the past several seasons the Pittsburgh Steelers have had little depth at outside linebacker. The team lacked a pass-rusher with off the edge consistency and acquired Moats from the Buffalo Bills as a free agent. Outside linebacker coach Joey Porter continues to work his magic on Moats as he transitions to a 3-4 outside linebacker. As Moats continues to show his pass-rush ability it will work wonders for the defense. The former defensive end in college showed he had a knack for rushing the passer.

    Along with proven pass-rushers Jason Worlids, Lawrence Timmons and up-and-coming linebacker Jarvis Jones, Moats will give the defense an extra push. Most offenses can not block four established pass rushers. In the 3-4, Moats will continue to be challenged by the offense tackles. If Moats continues to show improved skills he could very well pass Chris Carter on the depth chart.  Carter has been a disappointment so far with zero career sacks for the Steelers.

    Moats never had a chance to shine with the Buffalo Bills but things are shaping up pretty well for Moats so far in Pittsburgh. His development will be crucial for the defense on 3rd down. His other competitors, Jordan Zumwalt and Terrance Garvin, have performed well so far but neither are at the current level of Moats. It’s very simple – the ability to get after the quarterback will get and keep Moats on the field.

     
  • Joe Greene and Sean Spence top “feel good” stories for Steelers this week

    Joe Greene

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have never been a team in the National Football League that has been short of heroic and impressive stories of triumph over defeat, comebacks and players with unquestionable talent and personal achievement.  This week, during the Steelers’ 49th annual training camp at Saint Vincent College, two stories about extraordinary men have come to the forefront as the type that are not only heart-warming, but well deserved by both men; legendary Joe Greene and linebacker Sean Spence.

    According to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Mean” Joe Greene was asked for a meeting with Steelers team chairman Dan Rooney and president Art Rooney II earlier this year, but  what he was about to hear in the office was nothing the former ‘Steel Curtain’ defenseman, scout and coach expected.  Joe Greene had been around the organization for 27 years and the sudden meeting caught him off-guard.  “I was sitting down and I got weak in the chair,” Greene told Fittipaldo in a phone interview.  The news: that Greene’s No. 75 jersey would officially be retired this season by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  “I was flabbergasted when Dan and Art mentioned it to me.  I know what it means to the Steelers when they do something of this magnitude.  I say that because they haven’t done it in a long time.”  So long, in fact, that the last time a player’s jersey was officially taken down as an option for any other Steelers player to wear what in 1964 at Pitt Stadium when Ernie Stautner, another defensive tackle, saw his No. 70 jersey given the honor.

    While Steelers trivia nuts have spent years going over what jerseys did or did not get pulled from the ranks of future wear, only Stautner’s and Greene’s jerseys will be ‘officially’ retired as of 2014.  One reason more haven’t is because there have been so many great players that were deserving, especially from the 1970s teams.  While decisions may yet be made on numbers in the future, Joe Greene chose to have his jersey retired on Nov. 2 when the Steelers host AFC North divisional rival Baltimore (Ravens) at Heinz Field.  “It was not a difficult decision as far as we were concerned because of what Joe was,” said Dan Rooney.  “This doesn’t take anything away from (Stautner).  Joe is something special.  What he did, the way he acted.  He is much deserving of this honor.”  The only other numbers the team does not issue to players are: Terry Bradshaw‘s No. 12, Franco Harris‘ No. 32, Mike Webster’s No. 52, Jack Lambert‘s No. 58 and Jack Ham’s No. 59.

    Sean_Spence_Miguel_Maysonet_Steelers_Training_Camp_2014

    Who doesn’t like a comeback story?  Well, Steelers linebacker Sean Spence is one in the making (No. 51 above seen blocking Miguel Maysonet, No. 30).  On Monday, Spence didn’t hesitate before sprinting forward once the whistle blew and finding immediate contact with fullback Bryce Davis, essentially making a statement that he’s ready to distance himself from a career-threatening knee injury in a 2012 preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.  The injury was so traumatic that Spence doesn’t even like to revisit it in his mind, straining to remove himself from the pain and heartache that plagued him in two years of uncertainty.

    Spence, 24, was ready to put all of the agony and doubts behind him when he put on the pads Monday.  “I was chomping at the bit,” Spence admitted about getting into actin in the “backs on backers” drill.  Spence throttled forward, winning some battles and losing others.  The key battle won was that Spence appears to have made it back to the game he dreamed may be lost to him forever.

    Spence will continue to compete with rookie Ryan Shazier and veteran Lawrence Timmons for playing time, but he’s more than willing to do so.  In fact, he’s happy to do so.  “(The Steelers) could have given up on me a long time ago,” said Spence.  “I’m just thankful.”


    Team notes: 

    Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team has some money to play with under the salary cap and could sign one of its impending free agents — including linebacker Jason Worilds or cornerback Cortez Allen — to a long-term deal before camp breaks.  This could also indicate the Steelers have the money to bring in a player like Brett Keisel, who has been on the hot-cold list for potential return for several weeks.

     

     
  • Brown Lays Into Sanders – Calls Comments Towards Roethlisberger “Terrible”

    Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns

    Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were teammates for four seasons with the Steelers and remain good friends, but Brown took issue with Sanders calling Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning a “far better leader” than Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger earlier this week, Scott Brown of ESPN.com reports.

    “That was terrible,” Brown said Wednesday. “You don’t throw your quarterback under the bus, the guy who makes you who you are.”

    Roethlisberger and Sanders played together from 2010 to 2013 and the latter signed with the Denver Broncos last March as an unrestricted free agent.

    Sanders told 104.3 The Fan Denver on Monday that Manning works tirelessly with the wide receivers after practice and that he doesn’t have to “chase down” the five-time NFL MVP to put in extra time together.

    Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who played two seasons with Roethlisberger, defended his former quarterback during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier this week.

    “It’s not that Ben doesn’t lead. He just leads differently than Peyton does,” said Bettis, who is an ESPN NFL analyst. “I think [Sanders] misunderstood what leadership is and he misspoke it and I think it was a little bit of a jab. I think if he had a chance he’d take it back.”

     
  • So Far So Great For Steelers’ Archer and Jones

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    Dri Archer and Jarvis Jones are already turning heads in training camp. With speed, power and athletic moves, both are showing their teammates why the coaches see so much potential in them. It’s still early in Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, but as of now Jones and Archer dont look like players who will spend much time on the sideline this year.

    Early in training camp offensive coordinator Todd Haley has already compared Archer to the All-Pro running back Jamal Charles.  Archer is showing he has running skills that expand further than just being a running back that would only run the ball on 3rd down. Archer’s speed is rare but he is showing he is more than a speed guy. Archer spent Monday working with the wide receivers. It’s expected that Archer will also work in special teams further as well. With Archer showing the ability to catch the football as a receiver, it will allow Archer to see more playing time this year. Usually with a speed guy like Archer teams run just special plays, but so far Archer is showing he is more than a gadget player. Barring injury there is no sign Archer will regress as training camp goes on.

    One of the main goals for Jones in the off season was to become more physically stronger. Monday in training camp, Jones beat left tackle Kelvin Beachum with power inside moves as well as quick outside moves. Outside linebacker coach Joey Porter is already working his magic with Jones. If Jones can power through tackles as he has so far with a veteran lineman with the skills Beachum posesses, the sky is the limit when Jones will be blocked by tight ends and running backs who will not have the strength to hold a block on Jones long enough. Jones showed his quickness in his rookie season but already looks quicker this year

     
  • Between the Hashmarks: Steelers ready to take training camp to next level

    Roethlisberger_Keisel_Steelers_JerseyBewteenTheHashmarks_Logo

    Every year I get a bit antsy around the middle of July into early August.  That football bug starts biting me.  I cover the Pittsburgh Steelers 365 days a year, but there is something special about training camp at Saint Vincent’s in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, that seems to get that black and gold blood pumping through my veins just a bit quicker.  Steelers fans love training camp.  It’s their first opportunity to really get an up-close look at the team, the new draft picks, the type of offense and defense the organization will put into battle against rivals like the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.  Like flocks of geese looking for a nice place to graze before the chill enters the air of autumn, Steelers faithfuls migrate to get a glimpse of what they can only hope will be yet another great team in a dynasty that was created when the Steelers finally found their glory days and gave the city of Pittsburgh and fans around the world a blue-collar workhorse they could saddle up and ride to victory.

    It really doesn’t need to be said that the past two seasons have left some sour grapes among the ranks and the wine just didn’t sell well.  It didn’t age well, either.  Before training camp even got started, the Steelers organization determined it was time to improve the quality and thus the vintage.  Training camp is like pressing the new fruit to see what the final product will become – something worth selling to their fans or something that will take time to become a favored nectar.

    Yes, a sports writer can wane poetic.  What will be true poetry will be what is witnessed on Chuck Noll field.  Triumph versus tragedy.  Cinderella story versus dark-horse emergence.  It plays like Shakespeare.

    Here are some of the things that have me the most excited about camp thus far:

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has an ornery side to him in the irony he chooses in camp attire  (see the photo above).  Roethlisberger donned the #99 jersey, and we all know why – he’s petitioning in his own way for the Steelers organization to bring back defensive end Brett Keisel.  Roethlisberger is a leader and by silently displaying his intentions on his sleeve, or rather his chest, he is sending a message he wants everyone to see.  The likelihood that Keisel would return to the Steelers during training camp, thus far, has been hashed-over by nearly every media site that covers the NFL and Pittsburgh.  Stephon Tuitt is a rookie who could use some mentoring.  If the Steelers were to bring Keisel into camp, they’d likely only sign him to a one-year contract at veteran’s minimum pay to teach Tuitt the ropes.  We could posture about the possibilities to infinity, but it shows moxy that Roethlisberger has chosen Keisel as his project this year in camp.  In the past, Roethlisberger wore the jersey of Max Starks – and the Steelers ended up bringing Starks back.

    Safety Mike Mitchell is determined that a groin injury isn’t going to keep him on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).  Groin injuries are often nagging, painful aggravations that take time to heal properly.  The injury didn’t happen at camp – it was something he suffered during offseason workouts this summer.  Instead of beating himself up over a frustrating situation, Mitchell has plans to keep learning and be ready to get back on the field.  “There’s still plenty of ways for me to get better,” said Mitchell.  “I can sharpen myself in the film room; take every single mental rep which I couldn’t do if I was practicing.  Now I pay attention on every rep.  There are a lot of other things I can do for my body.”  Mitchell wants the time to be well-spent so that his return will be an even great improvement to what has been predicted to be an outstanding season.  It is exciting to see such a positive attitude and having Mitchell shadow defensive backs coach Carnell Lake as teammates were given instructions, tucking away those mental notes.  “If he corrects (my teammates) it’s like he is correcting me at the same time,” admitted Mitchell, “because I literally just saw what the other guy did.”

    Monday, Monday.  The day the pads come out and the two day “acclimation period” mandated by the CBA ends.  And how does Coach Mike Tomlin see Monday – as football day.  “It’s not football-like, it’s football,” said Tomlin after rain pelted Pennsylvania on Sunday.  “I’m always excited about who ascends in those situations and who shrinks…It’s a big step in the process, one that I’m sure we’re all excited about taking.”  All I know is that once the pads go on, the intensity level goes up, up and up.  Tomlin likes to get the guys pumped and if he’s excited – then we should all be excited.  This is the coach that we’ve often seen smiling quietly on the sideline during an NFL game.  I want to see the players playing and coach ‘T’ completely elated.  Don’t you?

    Due to a death in his family, Ramon Foster was excused from camp on Saturday.  From me and all of us at SteelersGab – we wish Ramon the best.

    Get ready to see what LeGarrette Blount is ready to dish out!  Tomlin admitted that Blount had a “very good spring” and some are anticipating that Blount will return to the best days he’s ever had in the NFL this season.  Who doesn’t want to see a 250-pound running back daring everyone to hit him during live tackling drills?  I haven’t been this excited about a trio of running backs in Pittsburgh in a long time.  Everyone has been raving about Dri Archer‘s seemingly magical appearance at every position possible, although he “only” set camp on fire while catching, running and returning kicks.  Only.

    The only thing I am bummed about so far is that there are some minor injuries to players that could be critical, so I will be keeping an eye on the injury updates.

    David Snow (Center/Guard) has a fractured foot that will require surgery to repair and the schedule has not yet been set.  Snow signed with the Steelers in December 2013 after being released by the Buffalo Bulls.  In 2013, Snow spent four weeks on the Steelers’ active roster as a backup option when Maurkice Pouncey was injured but was inactive during all four contests.

    Rookie receiver Martavis Bryant has a groin injury.  Bryant was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round (118th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft and was expected to give the offense some vertical advantages.  Hopefully he’ll have a talk with Mitchell  and figure out how to rehab and mentally practice at the same time.

    Le’Veon Bell did not finish practice due to hamstring tightness.  Remember, this is the beginning of camp.  Those muscles aren’t necessarily used to the heavy load their being called upon right now.  Notify Shaquille O’Neal and get our boy some Icy Hot and let’s get to it.  Notice to Shaquille Richardson – keep your hamstrings warm so you don’t have to do the same (pat on the back).

    Long-shot undrafted rookie free agent C.J. Goodwin took a hard fall on a shoulder, but it doesn’t appear to be a serious injury.  In fact, coach Tomlin doubted that Bryant, Bell or Goodwin would miss much practice time, “if any.”

    And finally…

    #LETSGOSTEELERS

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    You can get all the latest training camp buzz, rumors, injury reports right here at SteelersGab.com, but we’d like to invite you to also join all of the Gab sites at GridironChatter.com to discuss training camps across the NFL.  Just select the team you want to catch up with or add your own insights. 

    If you’re at Saint Vincent’s, we’d love to have you post in a Steelers thread on the forum so everyone else can keep up.

    If you like the ‘Between the Hashmarks’ feature – please leave a comment below.  We enjoy the feedback.  Follow us on Twitter @steelersgab and on Facebook.

     
  • No real antics as new faces fill Steelers’ 49th training camp Friday

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    For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the arrival of annual training camp at Saint Vincent College means football is just around the corner. At times, the arrival of players has taken on a surreal air, but not this year. With so many new faces entering camp, the Steelers players appear to have the season on their mind rather than headlines. Saturday marks the first official day of camp.

    Turnovers on the roster has been key during the off-season. With the departure of many of familiar and veteran faces, Steelers fans are getting their first glimpse in person of what the 2014 team may look like during the regular season. The lone departure from the ‘norm’ was an appearance by 34-year-old Ike Taylor who came wearing a camera that allowed him to take video of the media who had their cameras aimed at him.

    When asked about camp and the upcoming season, Taylor said, “It’s a good feeling. From the OTAs, to the mini camp, to right now…this team with all these young guys and the energy, it’s like the 2004, 2005 feeling.”

    One of the first players to check in on Friday was center Maurkice Pouncey. After missing the 2013 season with a knee injury, Pouncey expressed excitement over being back in Latrobe. “It’s like my rookie year all over again. I woke up this morning with more jitters than ever.” Pouncey went on to add, “I missed the whole (2013) year. I am excited to be back out there…after so much success at the beginning [of my career] and it’s all taken away from you. It’s like your first day back on the football field. To get back out here with the guys is a great feeling for me.”

    During the offseason, young safety Shamarko Thomas spent time training with Troy Polamalu, and it started with a text according to Thomas. “I texted him and told him I want to be great,” said Thomas. “He explained what it takes to be great. He said you have to show by actions first, by being mature and how you carry yourself off the field.” Thomas got an experience many haven’t had in that Polamalu typically works out on his own during the offseason. “It was an amazing experience,” admitted Thomas.

    Linebacker Sean Spence is nearly ecstatic to be back at training camp after missing the past two seasons with a knee injury that was serious enough to leave many, including Spence, wondering if he’d ever play in another football game. “Last year was full of a lot of down moments, sad times,” said Spence. “I was away from football for my second year in a row. This year I am full of job, around the guys, taking advantage of every opportunity.”

    Monday will be the first day in which the Steelers players will put on pads in practice.

    Note: The Steelers announced Friday that safety Mike Mitchell and running back Alvester Alexander have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List (PUP) to begin camp.

    maurkice+pouncey+steelers+training+camp+2014

     (Article originally posted on Examiner.com under a different headline)

     
 
 
 
 
 

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