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Practice Report: Hit and Run

Posted Aug 15, 2016

DL coach Mitchell emphasizes maximum effort, again.

LATROBE, Pa. - A breakdown of Practice No. 14 at Saint Vincent College:

HIT AND RUN: The defensive linemen hit the blocking sled and were then encouraged by assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell to “turn and run.”

And there was a great deal of encouragement, as it turned out.

“We’re going to chase the damn ball,” Mitchell barked.

Mitchell’s mantra became the soundtrack of the session.

“Chase the ball … that’s our job … It’s going to be just as humid Thursday night, maybe more … chase the damn ball.”

Attention to detail four days before Thursday night’s preseason game against Philadelphia was such that Mitchell had NT Daniel McCullers repeat a rep.

On the first try, McCullers’ head had been higher than the blocking pad on the sled.

On McCullers’ second attempt, the error in technique was corrected.

The message must have gotten through.

In 11-on-11 play, McCullers ran to the ball so hard on one rep that he blasted his way right through DE Ricardo Mathews, who hit the deck hard after becoming an unintentional victim of friendly fire.

“Way to run to the ball,” inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky screamed at McCullers.   

SEVEN SHOTS: The drill opened with QB Ben Roethlisberger hitting TE Xavier Grimble for a conversion, missing on a throw to TE Jesse James (LB Ryan Shazier was in coverage) and connecting with WR Antonio Brown, who hauled in the pass despite the close coverage of CB William Gay.

RB DeAngelo Williams was stopped short of the goal line.

QB Landry Jones hit TE David Johnson but S/CB Sean Davis came up and stopped the play short of the goal line. Jones next scrambled and found RB Le’Veon Bell for a conversion and threw incomplete for WR Cobi Hamilton (S Jacob Hagen had a chance to intercept the ball but didn’t).

The defense won the drill, 4-3.

SPECIAL CAT: “Special Category” work was devoted to honing the no-huddle offense and defending the no-huddle approach. It included WR Eli Rogers being knocked to the ground by a shot from S Shamarko Thomas moments after a Roethlisberger pass had eluded Rogers’ outstretched arms.

Rogers had previously been popped hard by LB Vince Williams just after hauling in a pass from QB Dustin Vaughan (Rogers held onto the ball).

Head coach Mike Tomlin’s reaction?

“Way to go, Vince.”

MEDICAL FILE: QB Bruce Gradkowski, LB Bud Dupree, LB Anthony Chickillo, OT Jerald Hawkins, OT Marcus Gilbert and DE L.T. Walton didn’t practice. WR Markus Wheaton, CB Artie Burns and LB Travis Feeney were among those who returned on a full or partial basis (Burns got some early work with the second-team defense in “Seven Shots” but didn’t do much thereafter). Head coach Mike Tomlin said Gradkowski has a “soft-tissue injury” and added, “I know it’s going to be a number of weeks,” before Gradkowski can return. Gradkowski left Friday night’s preseason opener against Detroit with what was announced as a hamstring injury.  

AUDIBLES: “I see you 2-8, way to work 2-8.” - DE Cam Heyward to nickel back Sean Davis (No. 28) during an 11-on-11 rep.

“Quit holding the ball.” _ Heyward to Vaughan, who appeared reluctant to release a pass as Davis and others were scrambling to maintain coverage in 11-on-11 work.