UNITY TWP, Pa. — On Wednesday, the Steelers completed their final full contact practice of the week leading up to the start of preseason Friday night against Tampa Bay. For the second straight day, practice featured an intermixing of playbook install and gameplan preparation for the Buccaneers – a first for the team during camp.
Both sides of the ball experienced their fair share of ups and downs, and Joe Haden left practice with what initially sounded like a serious injury.
During an 11-on-11 segment, Steelers team reporter Missi Matthews tweeted that cornerback Joe Haden was carted off the field and into the locker room with an injury, subsequently sending Steelers Twitter into a frenzy.
Not a good sight: Joe Haden is being carted off the practice field.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 7, 2019
Sounds bad, right?
Matthews wasn’t wrong. Haden indeed suffered an injury, but it wasn’t a dramatic cart-on-the-field type situation. After breaking up a pass on the first rep of the team segment, Haden reportedly had his foot stepped on during a play, limped off the field, and hopped on to the front seat of a cart that took him to the locker room to be evaluated. But it’s important to note that the team’s locker room is located up a hill from the field. So, it wouldn’t have made sense for Haden to hobble all the way up on his own power and risk further injury.
Take a deep breath. Haden’s likely OK.
In an official statement, the Steelers said Haden was being evaluated for an injury and it would be addressed after the first preseason game. During practice, Adam Schefter reported that Haden suffered a minor ankle injury that wasn’t serious.
Steelers’ CB Joe Haden, who was carted off the practice field today, suffered what is being described as “a minor ankle” injury, per source. Looks like major injury averted.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 7, 2019
In Haden’s absence, Cameron Sutton took first team reps at corner opposite Steven Nelson during team drills with both Artie Burns and Justin Layne out of practice.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
It was a particularly nice day for the wide receivers. Johnny Holton hauled in a pair of impressive catches on deep balls, one of which he took for a touchdown on a nicely placed ball by Josh Dobbs.
Here’s a video of the group going through individual drills highlighted by a one-handed toe-tap grab by Ryan Switzer.
Per usual through camp, practice No. 11 featured another win for the offense in the team’s highly popular red zone drill, but it wasn’t by way of a dominant performance like Tuesday. Led by an efficient Ben Roethlisberger, the offense ultimately won, 4-3.
1st play: Donte Moncrief dropped a pass from Roethlisberger. Steven Nelson was there in coverage.
2nd play: JuJu Smith-Schuster beat Devin Bush on a five-yard out route and caught a laser from Roethlisberger for the score. Bush was visibly frustrated after allowing the conversion.
3rd play: Roethlisberger found Jaylen Samuels, who motioned out of the backfield, for a touchdown on a quick slant.
4th play: Roethlisberger connected with Vance McDonald across the middle to score.
5th play: Mason Rudolph delivered a ball on the money to Diontae Spencer in the right corner of the end zone.
6th play: Rudolph forced an errant throw that fell incomplete.
7th play: Kameron Kelly intercepted Rudolph and took it back for a would-be pick-six
With the preseason approaching, the Steelers placed a heavy emphasis on special teams preparation. Chris Boswell continued his strong camp performance with a perfect 6 for 6 mark during a field goal competition against Matthew Wright. He connected on attempts from 51- and 52-yards out, while Wright went 4 for 6 in the drill with misses on 33- and 52-yard attempts.
Boswell and Wright will split reps against the Buccaneers, Mike Tomlin announced Wednesday morning.
The Steelers also practiced a fake FG scenario, where Jordan Berry took the snap, rolled right and threw a 15-yard pass to defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux. They repped it twice, and Mondeaux caught both.
Sutton, Holton and Diontae Spencer interchanged returning kicks during the team’s kickoff return segment.
Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, Jerald Hawkins, Artie Burns, Justin Layne, Brian Allen, Bud Dupree, Vince Williams and Diontae Johnson all didn’t practice.
Cam Heyward was not present at practice, likely due to his wife just having a baby.
Alejandro Villanueva, Sean Davis and T.J. Watt were all back in action. Villanueva was seen with an ice wrap on his right elbow.