LINEBACKER GROUP IMPRESSING
One star on the defensive side of the ball through one week of camp has been second year linebacker Vince Williams. He’s been practicing with a chip on his shoulder and has brought a nasty edge to the table from day 1 and got into an animated scrap last night with Le’Veon Bell which led to LeGarrette Blount in street clothes joining the pile before Joey Porter jumped in and pulled Blount off Williams. In fact all camp tempers have been flying with Maurkice Pouncey and Hebron Fangupo throwing a few punches at each other today. Can’t say that’s a bad thing for a team that has missed playoffs last two years.
Williams again today was a beast in drills, blowing up running back Josh Harris in a team drill, than on the goaline was throwing devastating hit after hit on young ball carriers Harris, Tauren Poole and Miguel Maysonet.
“Vince is one of those guys, he has that distinguishing characteristic,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “He had it at Florida State and it continues. It’s a good thing to build the rest of his game around. When you snap the ball he’s ready to play. He brings a great deal of emotion and intensity to his work.”
Williams sure has and the linebacker group as a whole has impressed greatly this week as the likes of backups Williams, Sean Spence, Arthur Moats, and Terence Garvin, among others, have made early impressions. James Harrison is not on speed dial, I can tell you that.
— Two offensive rookies, Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant showed flashes today and were impressive. Archer continues to impress and the coaches put him up against top competition today going head to head with Lawrence Timmons in a backs on backers passing drill. Archer got the best of Timmons 3-4 times in a row as Archer’s speed was too much for Timmons on the outside and Archer flashed his ability to cut back and breakaway from the defender. Archer, though, still has some ups and downs on catching the ball which draws Ben Roethlisberger to be a bit hard on him.
Meanwhile, Bryant has been plagued by a slow first couple steps at line of scrimmage and like Archer is inconsistent with his hands, but Martavis had his best practice of camp and used his height, size very well in getting some red-zone work today. One notable sequence was Bryant catching a corner TD over the 5-foot-9 Brice McCain. Bryant’s best catch of the day came against No. 1 CB Cortez Allen. Tomlin admitted afterwards Bryant made some nice plays but they are plays he is supposed to make. “He made a few plays today but he’s a big guy so we expect him to consistently make big guys plays,” Tomlin said. “I’m interested in him developing a complete game.”
— Towson’s Jordan Dangerfield has been an impact player in nearly every practice. Could he push Robert Golden for last safety spot? We’ll see. Long way to go but with Steelers lacking cornerback depth, possible they take five safeties this season if what Dangerfield’s doing on the practice field translates to stadiums in the preseason, which remains to be seen. We often see players like this shine in practice for a week or so than start to fade.
— One Steelers official told me Friday if Mike Adams wasn’t a second round pick, he likely wouldn’t be making the team. Thursday I’m told he had one of the worst practices Steelers coaches have seen in years for a lineman and again today I just see no improvement in the pass blocking department.
— Can’t find anyone in the organization who isn’t excited about Stephon Tuitt. Cam Heyward type but much better athlete. The Steelers believe he has a chance to be a good one and contribute much earlier into his career than Heyward, like right away. He ran first team today with Steve McLendon not practicing and Cam Thomas moving over to NT.