Steelers notebook: WR Justin Brown back after broken nose
Receiver Justin Brown returned to practice Saturday despite breaking his nose Thursday in a collision with safety Shamarko Thomas. Brown, who had surgery Friday, wore a protective visor and a bandage. Brown went through the entire practice Thursday before realizing his nose was broken. Coach Mike Tomlin joked that Brown looked good with the nose bandaged. “I need to get me one of those,” he said.
•Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion) didn't practice. Taking the day off were tight end Heath Miller and nose tackle Steve McLendon. “Sometimes I give guys the day off to see others,” Tomlin said. Safety Mike Mitchell (groin) still hasn't practiced, but Tomlin said he got in off-field work. “He's getting closer, and we'll see what it looks like (Sunday),” Tomlin said.
•Younger backs Tauren Poole and Miguel Maysonet carried during the first goal-line drill of camp. “One thing about the National Football League is that backs explode onto the scene every year, and they come in different forms, free agents and so forth,” Tomlin said. “What better way to get to know them than put them in a situation like that and see what they're capable of?”
• Rookie receiver Martavis Bryant made several catches during his best day of camp. “He's a big guy (6-foot-4), and we expect him to make big guy plays,” Tomlin said. “We're interested in him developing a complete game.”
• Outside linebackers Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds are changing sides more often than last season, when Worilds played the left side almost exclusively after LaMarr Woodley was hurt midseason. “The way our defense is set up, our outside linebackers can play either side,” Jones said. “(But) we show a lot of stuff. Just like offenses do, we do a lot of window dressing, showing different looks.”
• Vince Williams was forced to start 11 games as a rookie following inside linebacker Larry Foote's season-ending injury in Week 1. Now, he finds himself backing up Lawrence Timmons and rookie Ryan Shazier. “I feel like we're extremely deep,” Williams said. Linebackers coach Keith Butler said, “Losing Larry Foote was like losing the quarterback of the defense,” but that Williams was more than adequate despite being rushed into service.
• The Steelers are delivering on the physical camp Tomlin promised. Williams and running back Le'Veon Bell fought during the backs-on-backers drill Friday night, with LeGarrette Blount jumping in to help Bell. Williams said Saturday there were no hard feelings. “Me and Le'Veon are cool. When you're competitors things are going to happen,” Williams said. “It's not that me and him don't like each other. When you get in a heated drill like that, he wants to win, I want to win. Things like that happen.”
• It's more than a week away before the Buffalo Bills come to St. Vincent for two days of joint practices, but the training camp staff is doing everything it can to prepare for what might be a jump in attendance. The security staff will monitor the number of fans who come onto campus to get a better count of the number of people watching practice. The Steelers had unusually large crowds during the first week and are unsure how many more people to expect when the Bills are on campus Aug. 13-14. The Steelers haven't had a scrimmage or joint practice with another team since the early 1990s with the Washington Redskins.
• The Steelers want to run with power in situations in the red zone and at the goal line so, of course, the first play of their first live goal-line drill of training camp was a play-action pass. Ben Roethlisberger hooked up with wide-open tight end Matt Spaeth — much to the chagrin of defensive assistant Joey Porter — as the offense and defense split the six-play period on Saturday. Top runners Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount did not participate. Miguel Maysonet was turned away on an inside run on the second play of the drill. Tauren Poole bounced outside for a touchdown on the third play. Maysonet was drilled in the backfield by Vince Williams on the fourth play before Josh Harris snuck his way over the goal line on the fifth play.
Harris got tripped up short of the end zone on the final play on a counter in which David DeCastro pulled.
• Dri Archer is fast. Lawrence Timmons showed that he is almost as fast as the speedy rookie. During one-on-one drills in which linebackers cover running backs out of the backfield, Timmons was matched up against Archer. Archer released through the line of scrimmage and caught a short pass over the middle. Archer sprinted down the sidelines, and Timmons was with him step for step. Timmons never caught him, but he didn't lose ground, either.
• The Steelers shuffled their defensive line around a little by having rookie Stephon Tuitt take first-team snaps at defensive end and sliding Cam Thomas from end to nose tackle. Tuitt stayed in on sub packages with fellow defensive lineman Cam Heyward.
• Williams continued to play with a chip on his shoulder. A day after getting into a fight with Bell and Blount, Williams made the biggest hit of practice when he clobbered Harris.
• Defensive back Jordan Dangerfield didn't make a bone crushing hit like he has during the majority of the practices, but he made a big play. Dangerfield made a sliding interception of a poorly thrown Landry Jones pass.
• For the first time in camp, Antonio Brown was grouped with the punt returners. That doesn't mean he's going to return punts. Brown caught punts during obvious fair-catch situations.
• There were two more scrums Saturday. Kelvin Beachum finished off a block by sticking linebacker Chris Carter in the back when he was on the ground, starting pushing and shoving. During the goal-line drill, center Maurkice Pouncey and nose tackle Hebron Fangupo exchanged roundhouse rights before being separated.
• During a team red zone drill, linebacker Vic So'oto intercepted a Brendon Kay pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. So'oto ran through a line of players who were watching from behind the line of scrimmage into the open field for the score.