What an exciting day for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steeler Nation as the team took to Heinz Field Wednesday morning for the first day of training camp in full pads (and with fans in the stands)!
All eyes were on 2021 first round draft pick, Najee Harris, and he did not disappoint. He had an early run that highlighted his vision and strength, along with a few other first down runs.
We also had a great opportunity today to get a preview of what new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada‘s offense would possibly look like come September as well. We saw a lot of motion, two-back sets, and different formations than we’ve seen in previous years.
One of the big things today (aside from the types of motion we saw) was the usage of 2 RB sets. There were a lot more than I was expecting, and from multiple alignments.
— Nick Farabaugh (@Nick_Farabaugh) July 28, 2021
As far as the “new and improved” offensive line goes, rookie center Kendrick Green had a few mishandled snaps with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger today, but nothing that seemed too overly concerning. Green met with Steelers reporter, Missi Matthews immediately after practice and spoke on his first day in pads.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) July 28, 2021
Other notable standouts on offense included:
- Dwayne Haskins – Displaying his physical talents and throwing ability, only proving to naysayers that under the right coaches and system, he just may very well be capable of being a franchise QB.
- Kalen Ballage – Who held his own as he was able to show great pass blocking abilities.
- Chase Claypool – Improved route running and hand separation.
As for the defensive side of the ball, two names that really stood out were Alex Highsmith and James Pierre — two players who are being asked early in their careers to be huge contributors to these franchise. Highsmith seemed to most that he’s developed an extraordinary package of “secondary” moves when getting after the quarterback, while Pierre looked far more superior in coverage than his counterpart, Justin Layne.
The only downer today seemed to be a few (what appears to be) minor injuries that took place on the field including OT Anthony Coyle, and tight end Eric Ebron.
Injury update from today's @steelers practice includes OT Anthony Coyle, who has a stinger, and TE Eric Ebron, who left practice with elbow discomfort. Both players will be evaluated further, but Coach Tomlin hopes they won't miss much time.
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) July 28, 2021
All in all, what a great first day in pads. Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin expressed his enthusiasm to have the crowd back in the stands as well. He discussed his first impressions on Harris, favorite moments of the day, and much more.
“Really excited about continuing this process and getting familiar with some of these new guys.”
“Obviously the backs on backers is important because it’s more of an attitude drill. It’s an opportunity to get to know some of these people. I think we all saw that Najee [Harris] likes competition and he doesn’t run away from it, he runs to it. That was something about the drill that was exciting from my perspective today.”
“It’s just great. They [Steeler Nation] energize us. It’s just been a tough year for all of us and so their presence is a signal for us that maybe we’re moving on and out of it, and that’s exciting.”
Check out the full recap here:
— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) July 28, 2021