Camp Blog: Week 2 Recap

Saturday, August 6

Working hard, staying positive: Najee Harris has missed almost a week of practice at training camp, and for the energetic running back who hates to miss a snap, it hasn't been easy, but he also has a positive attitude about it.

"It's been pretty frustrating," admitted Harris following Saturday's practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. "There's a lot of other guys who get to come in here and get to see their skill sets. It's a blessing in disguise in a way. Not to get hurt, but to see other younger guys get reps."

Those younger backs include Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland and undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren. Harris is working with the young backs, trying to teach them some things, and just overall liking what he sees from them.

"I am doing the best I can, some of the small stuff you wouldn't see out here," said Harris. "Maybe when we go into film, we can break down stuff.

"Benny and Anthony, especially Anthony, I think they took a big step. Especially Anthony. I think he's really controlling what role he has. He is making explosive runs. Benny being a veteran, that is some stuff you expect from Benny. He is a reliable guy. Benny has been looking great all camp. Anthony too. I think everybody in the running back room has been looking great in camp. They always keep me on my toes because there are other great running backs in the room. I feel like iron sharpens iron, that's what they say here. Benny and Ant are doing a great job.

"Everybody in the running back room is really good. Jaylen has been improving every day since he got here. Him being undrafted, coming here and showing what he can do. Him coming here and turning a lot of heads is good for the running back room."

Harris also felt good about the way camp was going for him prior to the injury but said he has work to do now that he has missed time in pads. Right now, that includes running after practice with pads on, swimming around 30 laps in the pool at Saint Vincent College nightly, treatment and working on the AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill.

"I think it was pretty good, but I got stepped on," said Harris of the injury. "It all went out the door when I got stepped on. Back to square one. I've got to re-condition myself with pads because I have been out for almost a week now."

Getting his feet wet: Heavy rain in the Latrobe area forced the Steelers to cancel their Friday Night Lights practice, as well as move Saturday's practice from Saint Vincent College to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

"You just go with the flow," said quarterback Kenny Pickett. "Coach (Mike Tomlin) always says you have to be light on your feet, react and be ready to go play. We made an adjustment, came down here and I thought we had a really productive day today."

Productive yes, but even a little strange weather hit during practice at the team's facility with rain and, yes, hail.

"I think it was," said quarterback Kenny Pickett. "It sounded a little loud hitting off the top of my helmet. It was weird. It was one period and then it cleared up for us. We played through it."

Pickett has played through a lot over the last two weeks, getting his feet wet in more ways than one in his first NFL training camp. But he is happy with how things are progressing.

"I thought I had a really good week, as an offense we had a great week and just building off of each day," said Pickett. "I feel a lot better (since the first week of camp). Being able to play with these guys for a little bit, I thought it was a lot cleaner this week. Being able to play at a much higher level. I definitely feel good going into week three."

Friday, August 5

**Update: Because of inclement weather, the practice was unfortunately cancelled.

Turning on the lights:** The Steelers will hold their annual 'Friday Night Lights' practice tonight at Latrobe Memorial Stadium, and for the players it's a chance to go back to their high school days, where it all began.

Players and coaches board school buses for the short drive from Saint Vincent College to Latrobe Memorial Stadium, riding over with their pads and jerseys just like they did in high school.

"It takes you right back to high school," said T.J. Watt. "You get on the school bus with your pads. It's a little unorthodox but I love doing it. You are giving back to the community, signing for the fans. There are a lot of fans there who don't always get to see us play in Pittsburgh. It's great to see the fans and have a relationship with the fans and the Latrobe community. It's really special."

There aren't a lot of players on the current roster who have experienced a Steelers 'Friday Night Lights' practice, but the ones that have appreciate the fact that the Steelers have kept the tradition alive.

"It brings back that high school mentality," said linebacker Marcus Allen. "The lights. The fans. The intercom. It brings you back to high school. Family is out there. Kids everywhere. The locker room is like Friday Light Nights the movie. It brings back a lot of memories.

"It brings guys down to earth. It takes you back to your younger days. You don't want to lose that part of the game. Once you lose that part of the game then it's not fun anymore. That is why I love that Coach (Mike) Tomlin and the Steelers organization make sure we go back there and touch base with our roots. I love it."

Linebacker Devin Bush smiled when he heard the words, 'Friday Night Lights.' Because the veteran linebackers can remember what the level of excitement was a few years ago.

"It's like high school again," said Bush. "Friday night football at the high school field. Riding on the bus. It really is like high school again. Any time you play under the lights, it's a different atmosphere, a different feeling. I really enjoy it."

Friday Night Lights details: The Steelers will hold their annual Friday Night Lights practice on August 5 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m., an annual highlight of camp for fans and players. All of the details for purchasing your tickets can be found below.

How to buy tickets: Presale tickets can be purchased at Greater Latrobe Athletic Office on the Greater Latrobe Senior High Campus (131 High School Road, Latrobe, PA 15650) beginning the week of July 5th. Please contact 724-539-4200, extension 25205 for more information about Athletic Office hours.

On Friday, August 5th, tickets will go on sale at Latrobe Memorial Stadium (131 Irving Avenue, Latrobe, PA 15650) at 12 p.m. and can be purchased throughout the day. Tickets can also be purchased at the booths as gates open at 5 p.m.

All concessions and ticket sales will be cash only.

Adults: $5 per ticket
Children Under 5: Free admission

Arrive early and experience Latrobe Fest from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm! This year will feature the Steelers Experience, outdoor activities, vendors, food, music, and fun for the entire family! Autograph signings by Steelers alumni will take place from 3:00 - 4:00 pm (Louis Lipps) and 4:00 - 5:00 pm (Max Starks). Admission is free to all for the Latrobe Fest.

*All profits will support Greater Latrobe Athletic Teams & Clubs, Greater Latrobe School Clubs & Groups, Booster Groups, and surrounding Latrobe Community Entities.

*Steelers alumni are subject to change.

Thursday, August 4

Making the right choice: Receiver Diontae Johnson was happy to be on the practice field on Thursday afternoon after signing a new three-year contract.

Johnson said going through the contract process was something different for him, filled with the unexpected, but he couldn't be happier to have it all completed.

"It was a relief for me, just to get it done and get back out there with my brothers," said Johnson. "It was a blessing. So, I'm happy."

Johnson said the most important thing for him was finding a way to stay with the Steelers because it's where he wants to be for his entire career.

"I love being a Steeler," said Johnson. "I love it here. I want to finish my career here. Just being around my teammates and being around the atmosphere, and the energy that they show every day. You want to be around a group of guys like that every day. I felt like I made the right choice. I want to continue to be here for a long time."

Update: Minkah Fitzpatrick returned to practice today and was taken off the NFI (Non-Football Injury) List.

Mental reps: If there is one thing Minkah Fitzpatrick wants right now, it's simply to practice.

Fitzpatrick was placed on the Non-Football Injury list at the start of training camp with a wrist injury and has yet to practice.

And he doesn't like it.

"It's killing me," said Fitzpatrick. "I love practice. I love the camp setting. I love the competition. I am trying to get my best coaching right now and learn and observe."

While he isn't practicing, Fitzpatrick is on the field for every practice, often in the middle of the field observing what his fellow safeties are doing while taking mental reps.

"I feel like I am still getting reps," said Fitzpatrick. "Even though I am back there not moving, mentally I am watching my position every single snap. I am watching the other guys. Staying on my toes. Mentally I feel really sharp right now.

"I am still learning. I am still observing. I feel like I am out there practicing mentally. I am staying on top of it."

Another thing Fitzpatrick is staying on top of during camp is his sleep. He admitted on Thursday he had a problem in college waking up multiple times during the night, something he then tracked to try and correct. It's started again, so he is wearing an Oura smart ring which helps to monitor sleep.

"I like it because I have a problem waking up a lot when I sleep," said Fitzpatrick. "I don't know why. In college I had the same type of problem. I was waking up 15, 16 times during the night. I was having a similar issue, so I wanted to get on top of it. It will tell me if I got a good amount of sleep."

For now, though, his sleep isn't bad.

"I get great sleep here," said Fitzpatrick. "I am in bed by 9:45 every night and asleep by 10."

A new approach: Receiver Chase Claypool has been sidelined from practice for part of camp with a shoulder injury but being sidelined doesn't mean he isn't working.

Last week Claypool admitted he was a bit naïve his first few seasons about the work equals success ratio needed in the NFL, but he is on track now.

"I just think compared to what I have done in prior years, in terms of prep, studying film, it's 10 times more than what I have done," said Claypool. "I was pretty naive in the past to think I could repeat success without preparation. I have really taken that preparation to the next step."

Receivers coach Frisman Jackson is in his first season coaching the Steelers receivers, but already likes what he sees from the approach Claypool brings.

"I would say just some of his habits off the field. He's in the classroom and he's taking notes," said Jackson. "He's asking questions. Questions that (assistant receivers coach) Blaine (Stewart), who has been in the receivers room for a couple years, told me a couple of times he wasn't asking those questions previous years.

"He has a better understanding of the offense. He asks questions. He's out there right now getting extra work in. He always is grabbing me during special teams period wanting to get work in. I'm starting to see that growth and maturity as a player and it's translating not just on the field but off the field as well."

That approach and growth not only benefits Claypool, but the bevy of young receivers the Steelers have, including rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III.

"It's invaluable," said Jackson. "Just for those guys to see an older guy work, an older guy that may have some limitations that's been talked about. For him to go put the work in for those limitations and try to improve some of those weaknesses. I think it's huge for the young guys to be able to see that and see this guy work and see the things that he does and say, 'Hey, man, if I'm struggling with this, I'm struggling with that, here's a way to work and get that fixed.'"

Take a look at photos from the Steelers 2022 media day

His team: Newly signed running back Master Teague III is excited to be in the black and gold, a team he grew up cheering for.

"Growing up that was my team. Waving Terrible Towels," said Teague. "I am excited to be here. It's a blessing. My parents were Steelers fans, so I grew up with that."

Wednesday, August 3

Setting the tone: It's hard to not notice T.J. Watt on the practice field at Saint Vincent College because he is always making a play, always in the middle of things on the defense.

But there is more.

Watt is bringing a ridiculous amount of energy to practice on a daily basis, whether he is making a play, mixing it up a little with those on the other side of the ball, or just encouraging younger defensive players.

Watt is setting a tone that you can't miss.

"Part of it is my role now being more of a leader, trying to set the tone," said Watt. "Understanding it's very hard to make plays. At the end of the day, we have to remember that we are having fun.

"I know a lot of the younger guys have so much going on mentally. If they're in the right spot, doing the right thing, you can't forget at the end of the day that's its very tough to make a play. When you make one you've got to celebrate. We just try to feed off the crowd."

Double the trouble: They are a rookie combo that has been the talk of training camp so far and for good reason. Second-round pick George Pickens and fourth-round pick Calvin Austin III have been making plays left and right during training camp, something that has receivers coach Frisman Jackson licking his chops.

"They've been able to show some of the down the field stuff that we saw on tape. George, Calvin showing that speed, that explosiveness to get down the field vertically and challenge the defense," said Jackson. "They've also shown that ability to make people miss in space. We saw some plays where Calvin has gotten the ball and outrun the defense or made some guys miss and get extra yards. They've pretty much been showing a lot of the things that we saw on tape that we expected to get out of these guys when training camp starts, when the season starts. So, I've been impressed with the way they've been working."

While both are bringing toughness, explosiveness, and the like to the passing game, they each have their own little niche as well, with Austin's speed creating havoc already for the defense.

"He gives us a threat with a guy with the ball in his hands as far as our jets and things of that nature," said Jackson. "He obviously gives that component down the field of being able to run. He's a 4.2 guy. So, when he's out there on the field, you got to respect his speed. I am so not saying we didn't have fast guys in the room before, but he gives the jet element of the game, the vertical push down the field element of the game. And he also does a really good job with the ball in his hands as a guy that can get us yards after the catch or yards after contact. I've been impressed with some of the skills that he's been able to showcase for us."

While Austin is a small guy in the receiver room listed at 5-9, Pickens brings height to the group at 6-3, and knows how to control his body at his height and weight (200 pounds).

"He has impressive body control," said Jackson. "You rarely see a guy his size be able to sync his hips coming out of the breaks and be able to push and get out of breaks. It's been really impressive to see. For him it's just gonna be the little, small detail things that we continue to hone in on."

Top-notch tips: Dan Moore Jr. admitted starting as a rookie at left tackle, one of the most challenging positions in the NFL, had its ups and downs last season.

"It was extremely difficult," said Moore. "To put it in words, it wouldn't do it enough justice."

But that was a year ago, and Moore has taken huge steps, including having a strong camp at Saint Vincent College.

"I knew I would make a big jump, based off it's kind of natural anyone would," said Moore. "You do something once, obviously the second time around you feel that much better. And if you don't, then you probably won't be there for a long time. So, I'm just taking that, grasping it and not letting that opportunity slip past me."

And while doing it, Moore is getting some tips along the way from those who have been there before. He has talked to former Steelers tackles Ramon Foster and Max Starks, who is at training camp this year as part of the Steelers broadcast team.

"I am talking to big Max a lot and just getting to know him," said Moore. "He blocked a long time for Big Ben (Roethlisberger). He is definitely helping me for sure.

"Not only Max, but Ramon Foster. They tell me keep improving, working technique, leading. Just doing what I am doing.

"It means a lot. It means they are seeing something in me. Guys aren't going to waste their time and help someone if they don't see the potential. When you talk about the Steelers tradition, and things being passed on. A young guy like myself you don't see that around in a lot of other organizations."

Starks said the relationship with Moore started to develop last season and has just continued to grow as he is watching the young lineman grow.

"I met Dan last season, by myself coming in as a new sideline reporter, I didn't know what I could or couldn't do," said Starks. "As the season went on, I introduced myself to him. He asked if I had any advice for him since I was seeing it live. I gave him a couple of tips. Tried to relay some of my experience. You have to show credibility. We developed that relationship where I can tell him you might want to work on this, here is a key for you. You are starting at one of the toughest positions in all of football having to block the best guy across from you. He is blocking Pro Bowlers, high sack guys, first rounders, week in and week out. It can be a lonely feeling. Being a fellow third rounder I felt something.

"Seeing his growth, his toughness is great. When you are playing that position, and so young, every experience is a new experience for you, something to add to your data bank. I told him don't lose the lesson in all of these encounters. You can get down on yourself on a bad play. I told him don't dwell on it but remember it. When you go back and watch film, where were your hands, where were your feet, what do you do wrong, what were you thinking. Replay that and take notes. I am trying to not be a big brother, but that person who sees it from afar and is trying to shepherd him."

Must see TV: The latest Grillin' N' Chillin' features Zach Gentry and Pat Freiermuth who grill quarterback Mitch Trubisky today. Want to smile, laugh and just be entertained, then watch the video below.

Tuesday, August 2

Staying put: Just minutes after the Steelers announced the signing of Chris Boswell to a new five-year contract, the kicker walked off the practice field at Saint Vincent College and was greeted by the media waiting to ask him what it feels like to have the deal done.

"It feels really good. I am glad we got it done," said Boswell. "We are still early in camp so it gives us plenty of time to get back to work. We have a lot more to do."

Boswell, who doesn't show a lot of outward emotion, said he called his family and girlfriend after signing the deal and, 'just moved on.'

"It was good. That is really all I can say," said Boswell of signing. "It feels good. The way I look at it is that is a contract earned in the past. Now I have to earn this one.

"I just got signed but I still have to come out here and perform. Every day I come out here and kick. Every game I am competing for my job. If I don't do my job, they will find somebody else to do it."

Boswell posted a picture on Instagram after signing the deal with long snapper Christian Kuntz and punter Pressley Harvin III, thanking the two for making his job easier.

"These two bring a lot to the table being so young in the league," said Boswell. "They have done a heck of a job perfecting their craft. They definitely make it a lot easier on me."

Fan frenzy: Fans have been turning out in large numbers for Steelers training camp, bringing energy the players truly appreciate.

"The fans, he energy, the atmosphere," said linebacker Myles Jack, who joined the Steelers as a free agent from Jacksonville this offseason. "I was telling guys, 'This is not normal where you go.' It's really cool to see people fill up the stands. People are so into it. This is like a game atmosphere every day."

Rookie Connor Heyward said it's been amazing to experience the fans, something he is familiar with after coming to camp when he was younger to see his older brother, Cameron Heyward.

"I don't take it for granted that we were once those kids," said Heyward. "I never saw anything like this at a practice. It's pretty cool to see all of the fans here and have all of that support."

Follow him: Coach Mike Tomlin has been giving a little bit of insight this training camp via his new Instagram account. Tomlin is explaining 'Tomlinisms,' as well as having some fun with players and fans.

Like father, like son: Former Steelers linebacker Kendrell Bell has been at Steelers training camp, but this time it's a family affair for him.

Bell's son Caleb is a sophomore at St. Francis in Milton, Ga. and is working with the equipment staff during camp. Bell has been enjoying time watching him in his old stomping grounds and seeing the team practice.

"It's great for me to have this opportunity," said Bell. "I wasn't convinced he was all in on football. I thought if he got a chance to come up here and see what some of the guys do. He is bigger than some of them.

"I am really happy the Steelers let me come back and bring him. I have always been a trophy guy, and this is like getting a trophy for me to bring him here. It's amazing."

Bell, who played for the Steelers from 2001-04 after being drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, said he felt right at home being back on campus at Saint Vincent College.

"I love being here," said Bell. "I see people who remember me. Everyone is so nice as usual. This is great. I was so lucky to be drafted here. It's like coming back home. People are genuine."

TVStory_Bell_Kendrell_TC_2022-07-30

Under the lights: The Steelers will hold their annual Friday Night Lights practice on August 5 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m., an annual highlight of camp for fans and players. All of the details for purchasing your tickets can be found below.

How to buy tickets: Presale tickets can be purchased at Greater Latrobe Athletic Office on the Greater Latrobe Senior High Campus (131 High School Road, Latrobe, PA 15650) beginning the week of July 5th. Please contact 724-539-4200, extension 25205 for more information about Athletic Office hours.

On Friday, August 5th, tickets will go on sale at Latrobe Memorial Stadium (131 Irving Avenue, Latrobe, PA 15650) at 12 p.m. and can be purchased throughout the day. Tickets can also be purchased at the booths as gates open at 5 p.m.

All concessions and ticket sales will be cash only.

Adults: $5 per ticket
Children Under 5: Free admission

Arrive early and experience Latrobe Fest from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm! This year will feature the Steelers Experience, outdoor activities, vendors, food, music, and fun for the entire family! Autograph signings by Steelers alumni will take place from 3:00 - 4:00 pm (Louis Lipps) and 4:00 - 5:00 pm (Max Starks). Admission is free to all for the Latrobe Fest.

*All profits will support Greater Latrobe Athletic Teams & Clubs, Greater Latrobe School Clubs & Groups, Booster Groups, and surrounding Latrobe Community Entities.

*Steelers alumni are subject to change.

Monday, August 1

Words of praise: George Pickens hasn't heard the comments from his teammates. He hasn't heard the compliments. Hasn't paid attention to any of that.

But the comments are coming from all over.

The Steelers selected Pickens in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the 52nd overall pick. The Georgia product finished his college career with 90 receptions for 1,347 yards and 14 touchdowns. Pickens missed some playing time in the 2021 season after suffering a knee injury in the spring, playing in just four games and finishing with five receptions for 107 yards.

But so far in his first NFL training camp you would never know he is coming off an injury.

"You can't even notice he was hurt last year," said quarterback Mitch Trubisky. "He has so much bounce, change of direction. You are going from a college system to an NFL system, but he is picking it up very quick. He has been making plays and turning heads out here."

Pickens smiled and didn't boast or brag that his quarterback was dishing praise his way.

"I hadn't really heard any teammates say anything," said Pickens. "They just keep telling me to do what I am doing. I feel like my first week went good.

"I just keep working. That is what I said at the combine too. I probably say that every interview. I just keep working."

Fellow receiver Chase Claypool has also been seeing what Pickens can do up close and personal, and he has high hopes for him in 2022.

"I think he's gonna be the best rookie receiver in the NFL," said Claypool.

Pickens reaction.

"I just tell him thank you Chase," said Pickens. "I am going to just keep working. I don't really look at the accolades. I just let it happen. It's going to happen naturally.

"My objective in camp is to show I am a nice route runner. Everyone knows I am big, fast, a deep ball kind of guy. But that is what I wanted to display."

Take a look at the Steelers training and preparing for the 2022 season at Saint Vincent College

A love for football: Gunner Olszewski smiled when he started to talk about special teams coordinator Danny Smith.

And you can understand why.

It hasn't taken long for Olszewski, the receiver and special teams standout who signed this offseason, to love Smith the way all his players love him.

"He knows everything about the game and he has a sweet personality to him," said Olszewski. "He loves football. It oozes off of him. It's fun working with a guy who loves what he does. He expects a lot out of his special teams unit and I am used to that and love it."

Knowing those expectations, and wanting to arrive at camp totally prepared, Olszewski moved to Pittsburgh during the offseason, spending time over the summer working at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex preparing, learning and just getting comfortable overall with the people and surroundings.

"Being new here I wanted to see how they run things so there were no hiccups when I showed up, that I am just one of the guys on the team," said Olszewski. "I didn't want to get my feet wet here. I just moved to Pittsburgh and started doing things the way the Steelers do things.

"I think you can talk to people better when you are around them more and more. It makes football easier when you know somebody."

Olszewski has a passion for what he does, and it doesn't take long to see how motivated he is.

"I think anybody that plays this game has to be self-motivated," said Olszewski. "It isn't easy physically on your body or mentally on your head. Everybody does it for their own reason. My reason is simple. I love playing football."

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Gillin' N' Chillin': Tight ends Zach Gentry and Pat Freiermuth are next level entertaining in their training camp feature, Grillin' N' Chillin', where they grill their teammates on all things ... not Steelers.

The questions are off the wall as they keep their teammates on their toes.

The first episode can be found right here, with long snapper Christian Kuntz as the guest.

Too cute: The Steelers teamed with Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh to help find homes for adoptable pets. The photo shoot was one that melted everyone's hearts, even tough football players.

In case you missed anything last week, check out the Training Camp Blog: Week 1.

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