this one is even better
-The new turf has odd markings in each corner of each of the three field’s end zones. It’s a half circle with another half circle outside of that one, about ten yards wide and ten deep. Gotta be boundaries for some sort of drill.
-McLendon, the rookie tackle gets the nod as the first player down on the field. Undrafted rookies from Troy need to show the coaches they’re hustling, kudos to him for the effort.
The plyers are in shoulder pads and helmets, and shorts. No full pads today, means the linemen won’t be working on run stuffing and blocking. We’re gonna be working predominantly on passing today. The tight ends and receivers begin warming up by having balls shot at them out of the two-wheeled machine at ten yards away. First they take a couple while standing squared up to the machine, then they turn to one side, then the other. The idea is to keep both feet planted while they make the catch (like dragging the toes on the sideline)
-Spaeth is first up. He looks a little thinner to me than he did last year. He catches three or four smoothly, absorbing the balls velocity and pulling it in. He’s wearing gloves in this heat? He bobbles one, then catches the rest.
-McHugh takes a turn and the ball hits his hands a little harder. He gets a little slap on it when he catches it, and he doesn’t really absorb the balls velocity. But he doesn’t drop or bobble any.
-Johnson takes a turn. He’s very stiff when he tries to turn his body to snag balls that go off to the side. He’s much more muscular than the other TE’s. But the hand eye coordination isn’t there. He catches on one the forearm instead of the hands.
-Miller takes a turn and shows them how it’s done. While he absorbs the velocity, he doesn’t let the ball carry his hands six or eight inches like Spaeth does, and that allows him to tuck it in quicker. That’s key since a lot of his catches are in traffic. Well, I guess for the money he’s getting paid, he better know how to catch it.
-Sherrod takes a turn and drops one.
-Sweed comes over and showboats. Pulls the ball in effortlessly and in one smooth motion tosses each one behind his back to the coach. It’s nice that he caught every ball cleanly, but I’d rather see him do on the practice field what he’s going to do in games. Hopefully he doesn’t make catches and then toss the ball behind the back to the opponent.
And we have the first scrimmage of the day!
1st play- Ben hits McHugh on a quick slant for 5-10.
2nd play- Kemoeatu stuffs Paxson, Ben overthrows Spaeth on a 15 yd skinny post, #21 has the ball in his hands and dropsn the interception. (I assume #21 is Clark wearing Taylor’s number again, so I’ll say Clark whenever 21 shows up from now on.)
3rd play- Ben hits Parker in the left flat, Polamalu is right there to hold it for a short gainer or loss.
4th play- Ben hits Ward, who manages to get Mundy isolated in a deep zone. Sweed has Townsend absolutely beat like a drum on the play. In fact, there hasn’t been a play yet that Sweed wasn’t open on. I don’t know how many catches he’ll have, but Sweed will be open a lot IMO. He’s really working off the line nicely and when he gets into full stride, forget about it.
5th play- Ben hits McHugh on a quick slant to the left, but Woods is right there to keep it to a very short gainer.
6th play- Parguet stuffs Eason on a stunt, giving Batch time to throw. Batch throws way low and behind Wallace, but Wallace twists around at full speed and picks the ball up off his back ankle on a deep crossing pattern where he’d beaten the corner and Cater deep.
7th play- Sweed beats Deshea on a 10 yard curl, uses his body well to shield him off and Batch hits him in the hands.
8th play- Hood tries a fake inside on Parquet then tries to swat him in as he jumps outside, but Parquet picks it up nicely. Batch has time and hits McDonald in the hands on a ten yard out, but McDonald drops the ball. After the play, Tomlin give Hood an earful about the weak swat.
9th play- Batch throws a quick out in Sherrod’s direction, but Sherrod never turns around. He was running the wrong route.
10th play- Capizzi does a nice job blocking Woodley (I don’t think Woodley looks like 100% to me. Maybe he’s till hung over from the offseason or something) Batch throws to Mendenhall in the right flat, throws it high and behind him, but Mendy makes a nice catch and immediate juke, then takes it up field.
11th play- Dixon can’t find anyone open, checks down to Davis in the right flat, but throws a sinker at Davis’ feet.
12th play- Dixon looks at McDonald too long, but McDonald never breaks open, so Dixon tucks it under his arms and takes off for what would be a hug gain.
13th play- Dixon hits Nance, leading him perfectly on a 7 yard slant. Nance drops the ball.
The team breaks into punt coverage and blocking drills. Looks like the first time they worked on this, so a lot of this was just instruction. But at one point, Arnold Harrison is giving Johnson fits for the third time in a row, and Tomlin gets involved to put a flame under Johnson’s butt.
Play #1- Silverback picks up Starks and gives him a ride into the backfield, Ben throws in that direction, trying a check down to 38 because Ike has Holmes covered and Gay has Ward covered, but Silverback is right in his face and knocks it down.
Play #2- Ward drops down to the slot, Ben hits hit on a quick turnaround. The play is unremarkable in that it’s just a quick hitter designed to get a couple yards. But what is remarkable is how quickly Gay reads the play, comes off his man and comes up to meet Ward. I can’t remember a Steeler corner reacting that quickly. Gay gave up no completions that I saw. Now, they played him about 6-8 yards off the line when he was lined up against Sweed, and, as I stated earlier, I thought Sweed was open on a bunch of plays, but now I’m not so sure. If Gay reacts that quickly to a ball thrown toward Sweed, it’s a good chance he picks it off. As far off as he plays, and as quickly as he reacts, I’m betting Gay gives Troy a run for the team INT title this year. He’s already a better cover back than McFadden ever was.
Play #3- Ben hits Mendenhall in the left flat, Mendenhall jukes Clark out and takes it up field but not in the direction that would get him the most yards.
Play #4- Arnold Harrison blows by Hills. Batch does a nice job sidestepping and throws low and too far out front on a deep out to Wallace. Wallace makes a nice two-handed grab off the top of the grass (these two don’t seem to be on the same page. I’m saying Batch throws low and outside, but it’s more likely that Wallace isn’t running the route correctly since he’s a rookie)
Play #5- Batch hits Mendenhall in the right flat, Mendenhall immediately doubles back. Mendenhall looks like he did as a rookie. He’s reverted IMO, to not hitting the line hard. I don’t know if that’s because of the shoulder, but nobody’s hitting him hard here, so he should be hitting the primary hole, and he’s dancing around back there like Barry Sanders. It’s not that he doesn’t have nice moves, but he’s not running hard and smart IMO. Parker on the other hand looks great. He’s running strong and looks to be at top speed. I really had high hopes that Mendenhall would come into this camp polished up.
Play #6- Korte beats Hills with a speed rush, forces Batch to rush his throw to Baker over the middle. Batch never sees Fox and Fox intercepts and takes it to the house. Nice read by Fox, and nice pressure by Korte, whoever the (bad word) that is.
Play #7- Dixon hits Vincent in the short left flat, but Hoke blows by Shipley and is there as the ball arrives to drop it for a loss.
Play #8- Shipley stuffs Hood and gets his hands down so Dixon can hit Williams on a 7 yard slant. I thought Hood would play the backside DE, but I only saw him there once. They’re lining him up inside, and he’s not having a lot of success. I think they may be grooming him to be the strong side down lineman when they go to the two down linemen set on 3rd and 4th and long. That's probably the best chance of him contributing this year.