Steelers notebook: Special teams coach Smith toughs it out
• Sh aun Suisham can't believe special teams coach Danny Smithhasn't missed a practice despite being badly shaken up while being rammed into a bench during a night practice last Friday. “He practices what he preaches. He took a real good shot, but he loves being out here,” Suisham said. “He's just like a player.”
• Mike Tomlin on what the Steelers need from Ben Roethlisberger in his 11th season: “Much like myself, Ben is going to be what this team needs him to be. I think we both embrace that responsibility.”
• Suisham's new contract runs through 2018 and is worth $12,575,000 at full value, including a $2.85 million signing bonus. His 2014 cap number of $1,722,500 remains the same, according to figures on file with the NFLPA. His base salary would be $2,595,000 in 2015, plus a $500,000 roster bonus, and $2.4 million each of the next three seasons.
• Smith on rookie punter Brad Wing, who will make his Steelers debut against the Giants: “You've got to have hang time, distance and placement. The good ones get two out of three, the great punters get three out of three and those guys who get one of the three are watching at home on TV.”
• The 2013 draft class played unevenly, with Jarvis Jones getting only one sack, Le'Veon Bell producing after finally getting healthy and Markus Wheaton sidelined for much of the year with broken fingers. “We expect those guys to be much better. It's the second lap around the track, if you will,” Tomlin said.
• Antonio Brown's work ethic is legendary among Steelers players, and for good reason. Long after every other player left the practice field Wednesday, Brown caught passes from a mechanical throwing machine, which normally is set at 40 mph. These appeared to be slightly faster.
Brown mimicked pedaling to his left, to his right and then backpedaling, catching 10 passes in quick succession each time. He then caught 10 with only his left hand while going to his left and 10 with only his right hand going to his right. He finished up with least 20 passes straight on. He didn't drop a single pass out of the dozens fired his way, perhaps why he allowed himself a big smile. “Sometimes I have to pull him off the practice field,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.
• You have to have a fresh cut before the game, right? Coincidentally, fresh cut day for the Steelers also fell on the day CBS was on campus at St. Vincent taking head shots of players to go along with their weekly telecast of games. The Steelers have an unofficial barber who comes in a couple of days before games to give out haircuts. Last year, the barber was arranged by Ryan Clark. With Clark off to Washington via free agency, the onus of providing the barber fell on William Gay. Incidentally, Gay used the same barber Clark used last year. A number of players including Gay, Ike Taylor and Lawrence Timmons opted for the fresh cut in Rooney Hall on Thursday afternoon before the final practice before Saturday's game against the Giants.
Mike Tomlin didn't give an indication of how he will use his quarterbacks during Saturday's preseason game against the Giants. However, it appears Landry Jones will be quarterback in the game if the Steelers find themselves in a two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Jones was at quarterback for the two-minute drill Thursday that had 1:42 on the clock and the ball on the 23-yard line. Jones was able to move the offense (with Justin Brown, Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye at receivers) to their own 46-yard line before the drill ended. Jones was 5 of 8 for 30 yards and two first downs with a pair of completions to Moye and one each to Eric Water, Jordan Hall and David Paulson. Rookie Brendon Kay led the second unit to a touchdown.
• Martavis Bryant continues to have a solid second week of training camp. Bryant showed he can be a red zone threat earlier in the week and now showed he can be a deep threat as well. Bruce Gradkowski threw a deep ball down the middle of the field that Bryant hauled in over Antwon Blake for a touchdown during 11 on 11. One thing — linebacker Terence Garvin shot the A-gap and pulled up to let Gradkowski throw the ball. In a game, it was a sack.
• With Steve McLendon and Cam Heyward out of practice, the defensive line got shuffled around. Cam Thomas bounced back out to right defensive end after a couple of days at nose, with Loni Fangupo at nose and Stephon Tuitt at left defensive end.
• Will Johnson has been playing tight end, but he hasn't forgotten how to block from the fullback position. During a team competition period, Johnson filled the hole on a lead block that sprung LeGarrette Blount for a sizable gain.
• Dri Archer ran a couple of plays against the first-team defense. It didn't fare too well for the diminutive rookie. Vince Williams brought Archer down behind the line of scrimmage once, and Thomas shoved Archer violently to the ground with one hand on a stretch play later in practice.
• Typically, the last practice before a preseason game is the mild variety. Thursday was the first practice all training camp that no live tackling took place.
• With Antonio Brown sitting out of practice (coach's decision), Justin Brown moved into his slot. Justin Brown has played all three receiver positions in camp so far.
• Tomlin wasn't happy when Moye dropped a pass during no-huddle 7 on 7. Even though the pass was a little behind him as he came across the field, Tomlin barked: “Come on D. Moye.”
• Todd Haley was not happy when running back Miguel Maysonet failed to pick up a blitzing Garvin. “You are going to get the quarterback killed. You can't play if you can't protect him,” Haley screamed. Incidentally, Bryant hauled in the pass by Gradkowski.
• Rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers showed some athletic ability when he bulled through two would-be blockers and slapped Jones' pass to the ground.
• The first kickoff coverage unit for the Steelers was Justin Brown, Brice McCain, Antwon Blake, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Vince Williams, Shamarko Thomas, Isaiah Green, Robert Golden and Shaun Suisham.
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