Highlights from practice No. 19 of training camp:
- The search for a nickel-cornerback continues.
- CB Antoine Brooks Jr., the front runner for the sub-package position vacated by CB Mike Hilton's departure via free agency, returned to practice today but CB Arthur Maulet continued getting first-team reps when five-defensive backs were required.
- And Maulet wasn't the only one.
- "I'm not ready to discuss that," head coach Mike Tomlin responded when asked if Maulet was making a move at the position. "We got guys working, got a lot of guys working there.
- "We got options there that haven't been working there, to be quite honest with you."
- The Steelers explored one of those today when CB Cam Sutton lined up at nickel-cornerback in a "Defense-7-on-7."
- Sutton was replaced outside by CB James Pierre, an option that has been contemplated and discussed as a possible alternative to replacing Hilton, most recently by defensive coordinator Keith Butler on Tuesday.
- Sutton played the nickel in a unit that included CBs Pierre and Joe Haden, SS Terrell Edmunds, FS Minkah Fitzpatrick and LBs Joe Schobert and Devin Bush.
- Maulet played the nickel with the second group in 7-on-7.
- The Steelers followed the same rotation in an 11-on-11 "Defense-Team Drive."
- Undrafted rookie CB Shakur Brown lined up at nickel in 11-on-11 "Offense-Team/Third Down."
- Brooks worked there during 11-on-11 "Offense-Team."
- "What you're looking at might not be the only candidates," Tomlin said.
Take a look at the Steelers training and preparing for the 2021 season at Heinz Field
OFFENSE: QB Ben Roethlisberger hit WR James Washington and WR Diontae Johnson for touchdowns in "Offense-7-on-7/Red Zone." TE Pat Freiermuth couldn't get both feet down in bounds to complete what would have been a touchdown reception from QB Mason Rudolph in the drill … WR Cody White got some first-team reps again in 11-on-11 and came up with a leaping, toe-tapping sideline catch at the expense of Sutton and Pierre in 7-on-7 work … Rookie OT Dan Moore Jr. replaced RT Zach Banner midway through 11-on-11 "Offense-Team."
DEFENSE: OLBs Melvin Ingram III and Alex Highsmith repeatedly gained penetration and disrupted plays in the offensive backfield during defensive periods … CB Mark Gilbert intercepted an under-thrown deep ball from QB Dwayne Haskins intended for WR Anthony Johnson in 11-on-11 … SS Miles Killebrew, Edmunds, Maulet, LB Robert Spillane and Bush were among those assigned to rush the passer in a blitz period … Killebrew intercepted Roethlisberger on an under-thrown deep ball to Johnson … Maulet had a pick-six against QB Josh Dobbs, who was trying to hit WR Tyler Simmons, in 11-on-11 "Defense-Team Drive." Haskins wasn't involved in the play but chased Maulet into the end zone.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Christian Kuntz and Kam Canaday alternated the snapping chores … Roethlisberger held briefly, as he has done occasionally over the years … WR Ray-Ray McCloud and RBs Anthony McFarland, Pete Guerriero and Tony Brooks-James worked as kickoff returners.
MEDICAL FILE: Among those who either didn't participate or only took part in position drills or individual work were WR Chase Claypool, OLB T.J. Watt and DE Stephon Tuitt.
X's & O's: Claypool, injured near the end of Tuesday's practice, was on the field today … LBs Schobert, Buddy Johnson and Ulysees Gilbert III had a green dot on their helmets … Fitzpatrick spent some time during special teams work catching passes in the far end zone from Haskins and Dobbs … Johnson was knocked to the ground by a shoulder from NT Tyson Alualu, who was standing on the sideline out of bounds at the time, on what became the abrupt conclusion of a jet sweep in 11-on-11 … C Kendrick Green left briefly and took a knee away from the acton during "Offense-Team/Third Down" but returned before the conclusion of the period.
HE SAID IT: "The ball-security was rather solid, I thought. I saw some people not trusting their hands in the passing game, body-catching and going down to make catches when they could stay on their feet, and so it did provide some opportunities to teach. But largely, the ball-security itself was above the line." _ Tomlin on how the offense reacted to practicing in the rain.