ShareThis Page
Steelers

Steelers notebook: TE Green doesn't say when he will start practicing

| Friday, July 29, 2016, 9:45 p.m.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown runs through the crowd on his way to practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown runs through the crowd on his way to practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown gets the crowd into practice during training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown gets the crowd into practice during training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers offensive linemen Alejandro Villanueva (left) and Marcus Gilbert take a water break during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers offensive linemen Alejandro Villanueva (left) and Marcus Gilbert take a water break during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown spins on his hand after a catch during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown spins on his hand after a catch during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers fans take in the first day of practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers fans take in the first day of practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
The Steelers' Senquez Golson defends on a pass intended for receiver Markus Wheaton during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Senquez Golson defends on a pass intended for receiver Markus Wheaton during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers receiver Sammie Coates makes an over-the-shoulder catch during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Sammie Coates makes an over-the-shoulder catch during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers running Le'Veon Bell makes a catch during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running Le'Veon Bell makes a catch during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers running back Brandon Johnson breaks into the clear during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Brandon Johnson breaks into the clear during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers receiver Sammie Coates likely will play a more prominent role in the Steelers offense as a replacement for the suspended Martavis Bryant.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Sammie Coates likely will play a more prominent role in the Steelers offense as a replacement for the suspended Martavis Bryant.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell breaks away from Stephon Tuitt during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell breaks away from Stephon Tuitt during practice at training camp Friday, July 29, 2016, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

• Ladarius Green smiled when asked what type of injury he had to his left ankle, or if he knew what the surgical procedure he underwent to fix it was called. “I'm not that smart,” Green said before the first full practice session of training camp. “I know I got some plates put in, I got a tendon (repaired).” Green was placed on the physically unable to perform list Thursday. Green declined to give a timetable as to when he might be cleared to practice.

• With Golson and returning starters William Gay and Ross Cockrell ahead of him on the depth chart, first-round pick Artie Burns doesn't have a clear path to play significantly on defense. So it's possible Burns' quickest path to make an impact is as a return man. Burns was fielding kickoffs in the first practice of camp Friday. “We're just in the phase of getting to return the ball and seeing the patterns of the blocking and stuff like that,” Burns said, adding that special teams coach Danny Smith has discussed a returner's role with him. Eli Rogers, Demarcus Ayers, Levi Norwood and Markus Wheaton also were taking reps returning kicks Friday.

Le'Veon Bell still might be suspended before the start of the regular season. But by all indications, whether he'll be healthy enough for it won't be an issue.Bell, the Steelers former All-Pro running back, practiced without any apparent restrictions during the opening session of training camp Friday at St. Vincent College. Bell ran with the first team during the first rep of the team practice-opening “Seven Shots” drill, and he consistently ran reps at regular intervals as if he was not being held back by the coaching staff. Most importantly, Bell appeared nimble and quick — albeit in a setting in which there was not full pads or tackling.Bell hasn't played since a Nov. 1, 2015, game in which two ligaments were torn in his right knee while being tackled by Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict.

Inside the ropes

• It was far from a perfect outing.It included at least two occurrences in which he mishandled the football, and he left practice early because of cramps. But Xavier Grimble emerged as a (very) early sleeper candidate for the 53-man roster during the first practice of camp. Not only did the first-year tight end take several reps with the first-team offense, he was targeted four times among the first dozen snaps of 11-on-11 drills.

• As expected and not unlike summer workouts, Alejandro Villanueva took first-team reps and new acquisition Ryan Harris was with the second team at left tackle.

Senquez Golson, at long last, made his training camp debut, and was playing as the slot cornerback right from the first drill of practice. In other position battles on the defense — neither of which was a surprise — Robert Golden was the top free safety and Daniel McCullers the first nose tackle to take the field. Golden, incidentally, also carried his usual heavy special-teams workload.

• While he still wore the gray sweatsuit that's been synonymous with him during recent training camps, James Harrison for this year's first practice wore a No. 92 jersey over top of it. He was a participant in team drills. Last year, it was more than a week before coach Mike Tomlin let the now-38-year-old take part.

Jerald Hawkins took regular reps as the second-team right tackle. That might not sound like much for the rookie fourth-round pick, but it can be taken as a positive sign of his standing. The early buzz surrounding Hawkins on draft day was that he was more of a long-range project. To be ahead of longer-tenured players on the first day of his first camp is a small victory.

• For the second time in three years, the Steelers have a 6-foot-9 converted defensive lineman they acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in training camp as a project offensive tackle. Brian Mihalik looks the part of Villanueva, too.You'd barely be able to tell them apart if they weren't wearing different jersey numbers.

Get to know ... Brandon Johnson

Position: Running back

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 228 pounds

Experience: Rookie free agent

College: Penn State

The release of veteran kicker Shaun Suisham opened a roster spot, buoying Johnson's hopes of making the team. However, he knows it won't be easy — even if Le'Veon Bell is suspended for the first four games of the regular season. Johnson, though, has beaten the odds. He made the Penn State roster as a walk-on. He participated in Steelers rookie minicamp before being released. Johnson will have to carve out a niche on special teams, considering he carried the ball only four times for 23 yards last season.

What did you do after the Penn State combine?: “They said they were going to work me out. I got signed, and it was exciting. I got a personal trainer and worked out twice a day during the summer.”

What are you trying to accomplish?: “Honestly, I'm just trying to find out where I fit. I'll play anything. I'll do anything to earn a spot on this team.”

Have you used your experience as a walk-on? “I'm used to being the underdog. I go out here every day with a chip on my shoulder because I have something to prove.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me