It’s something that you notice before and after every Steelers practice during training camp this year.
The defensive backs, from rookies to veterans, are catching footballs from the jugs machine.
It’s a daily ritual, one instituted by Teryl Austin, the team’s new senior defensive assistant/secondary coach. Austin has made it mandatory for the defensive backs to work on the machine, catching 15-20 footballs a day.
“That is mandated by me,” said Austin. “I said every day we are going to be on the jugs machine, before or after practice, you have your choice, but this is not a choice.
“It’s part of our job. We’re not just here to knock the ball down or bat it up in the air. We want to catch it and turn it over because those are big in terms of helping our offense and our team.”
It hasn’t been difficult for Austin to have the players buy in, as he has a strong group in the secondary of veterans who are willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better.
Austin broke down several members of the secondary, giving his thoughts on what he has seen so far in camp.
On third-year cornerback Cameron Sutton, his versatility and how he fits into the defense:
“He is a very versatile guy. He has done a really good job inside. He has done a really good job outside. He is super smart. He has tremendous hands. I think he is playing really well right now, the things I have seen from him in camp. I think all of that stuff will shake out as we move forward, and guys get a chance to play in a preseason game. But I have a lot of confidence in his ability to play multiple positions for us and that helps.”
On how Steven Nelson, who was signed as a free agent this offseason, fits in with the secondary:
“He has been great. He has fit into the room really well. He is a good professional. A good vet. Comes to work every day. He is not an up and down guy. You are going to get the same work effort, habits, every day. He has done a really good job in terms of some of our press coverage stuff we are doing. He has been a solid tackler in our live drills we have out here. He really competes well. He is a good solid pro and I am glad he is on our team.”
On second year safety Terrell Edmunds and his first impression of him:
“I like him. I really like him. Good guy. Really loves football. And I think he is only going to get better.”
On Artie Burns and how he has responded to adversity:
“I think Artie has been doing well. He bought into a couple of technique changes I have been working with him on and different things in terms of how we are playing certain coverages. He has done a really good job of buying in, has been competitive and has really been around the ball. When there has been a play made against him, everybody is going to have a big one on them, he has bounced right back and competed really well. I like the way he is with his mindset. I like the way he is working. If we can get him to bounce back and be the player we know he can be that is going to be really positive for us.”
On having a veteran like Joe Haden:
“Joe is a really good player. Joe Haden is a very good football player and I am glad he is on our team. He will talk to young guys. That is when you know you have a good room when veterans embrace the younger guys and they all are working together. We want it to be a collaborative effort and work together. Our success is determined by how all of us do in that room.”