The Pittsburgh Steelers held their second day of practice in pads today at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. Day one in pads was a solid showing for the defensive side of the ball as they demonstrated what you would expect from the highest paid defensive unit in the NFL against the lowest paid offensive unit. The offense struggled yesterday, especially after Najee Harris was held out of practice after a minor foot injury.
The unit took the field today minus Harris and they were not in the mood to be pushed around again today. Multiple Steelers insiders and our own Managing Editor at SteelerNation.com, B-Wall relayed first-hand reports of multiple fights between the offense and defense today. Training camp fights are normal and occur fairly often in the NFL when roster spots are on the line. Major skirmishes involving Steelers star players occurred on back-to-back plays and the Steelers young offensive play-makers took on two of the biggest names on the Steelers defense.
The first skirmish that occurred in practice was a renewal of previous hostilities between Benny Snell and Cam Heyward, the Steelers defensive captain. Apparently after the play, Snell said something to Heyward that caused the Steelers leader to become irate, and it took multiple defenders to hold him back. Veteran Steelers reporter, Josh Rowntree tweeted out immediately after the play.
Fight breaks out after a run play. Benny Snell vs Cam Heyward.
— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) August 2, 2022
Snell and Heyward have been involved in multiple skirmishes during Snell’s brief career with the Steelers and when it comes time to face each other in pads, they seem to find a way to get under each other’s skin. However, the real surprise came on the following play when a spirited defense led by T.J. Watt managed to bring down Calvin Austin in the backfield. Watt, who is known for only having one speed, made a fantastic play to stop the rookie speed demon, but then according to observers, took it a bit too far.
“Watt as he was getting up pushed his head into the turf,” Jeff Hathhorn reported on 93.7 The Fan. “That’s when Austin got ticked off and kind of jumped up. It almost had that feeling of, I [Watt] am going to push this guy’s buttons and see what he does. This little guy rookie wasn’t afraid to stick up for himself.”
Austin is only 5’8″ and opposing defenses are going to push and test him at every turn. Watt is an imposing figure, and it remains to be seen if the bigger, stronger George Pickens will get a physical test from Watt or another member of the defense. Austin’s reaction is highly encouraging for the Steelers offensive spirit, but it did happen on a tackle for loss and the offense overall struggled under Mitch Trubisky in one’s versus one’s scenarios.
Later in practice, reserve offensive tackle, John Leglue squared off against another Steelers rookie, DeMarvin Leal in the nastiest fight of the day. Reportedly Leal and Leglue exchanged multiple punches and the rookie defensive lineman had a firm grasp of Leglue’s facemask during the fight. The veteran offensive lineman who is battling for a roster spot as a reserve, and the Texas A&M newcomer’s reason for coming to blows is unclear at this point.
The first team offense is currently missing Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool which is not doing the unit any favors against the Steelers first team defense that is only missing Minkah Fitzpatrick. The fighting spirit and willingness to mix it up with what we believe will be a top tier defense is admirable, but they need to start moving the ball. The offense and Trubisky specifically are facing the first adversity of the season and how they handle it will be key to the success or failure of the upcoming season.
Trubisky has been in firm control of the starter reps thus far in camp, but in pads, they have had more personal fouls than big plays on the first unit today. Kenny Pickett had his best day of camp and moved the ball with the second unit. If tomorrow’s practice looks more like the WWE’s Royal Rumble than football, maybe it is time to see what the young Pitt Panther can do with the first unit.
What do you think, Steeler Nation? Are you happy to hear things got heated or do you just want them to settle down and play some football? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.