UNITY TWP, Pa. — Steelers safety Sean Davis had a new position as the Steelers took to the fields at St. Vincent College for training camp practice session No. 5 on Monday, and it’s not one he has a lot of experience playing: quarterback.
Davis, who dislocated the ring finger on his left hand in practice on Sunday, was limited in participation to playing quarterback as his fellow safeties practiced drop-backs during individual workouts.
During team drills, an interesting — an perhaps unfamiliar — player suited up in Davis’ vacated spot.
Kameron Kelly, a first-year defensive back, came to Pittsburgh the long way. A native of Wylie, Texas, he played his collegiate ball at San Diego State. He started at corner, moved to safety, missed a year with a bad knee injury, moved back to corner and ended up signing with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.
Kelly was released from Cowboys camp before the preseason started and didn’t catch on elsewhere until his hometown San Diego Fleet of the AAF came calling. They wanted Kelly as a wide receiver.
He started there before moving back to cornerback because the team ran into a string of injuries. When the league folded, the Steelers snapped him up. But where he would contribute was still up in the air.
It isn’t anymore, as Kelly jumped several more experienced Steelers on the depth chart to take Davis’ spot on Monday. The results were mixed, with a couple of big plays on his side of the field, but the fact that he was able to step up into the spot shows a lot about the confidence the coaches have in him.
“He’s shown good versatility,” Mike Tomlin said. “He’s played safety. He’s played some underneath sub-package positions. He appears to be a quick learner. He appears to have detail at multiple spots. That helps his cause and ours.”
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
After the running defense was gashed on the first day with pads on Sunday, the defensive line went back to basics, working on their run block get-offs out of various positions. Here’s a full set of them exploiting out of their stances from a 4i technique.
In addition to Davis, Donte Moncrief also left practice with a finger injury.
T.J. Watt (left hamstring tightness) did not practice for the fourth consecutive day and was once again replace at left outside linebacker by Anthony Chickillo.
Johnny Holton (left hamstring) did not practice for the second straight day after being injured on Saturday. Tomlin said both players are day-to-day.
Veterans Mark Barron, Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger returned to action. Ramon Foster was given the day off.
Roethlisberger and the first-team offense went 2 for 2. After drawing the defense offsides with a hard count, Roethlisberger found Moncrief on the right side of the end zone. On the next play, those two hooked up on a slant to the inside of Steven Nelson.
After that, Roethlisberger turned his attention to JuJu Smith-Schuster, but couldn’t hook up on a pair of attempts. Roethlisberger’s pass on a hitch was down at Smith-Schuster’s ankles and he couldn’t hang on and then a zero screen got tipped at the line.
In a change from Sunday’s practice, Mason Rudolph ran the second-team offense ahead of Josh Dobbs.
Rudolph hit on all three passes, finding Diontae Johnson on a crossing route, scrambling to his right to hit James Washington in the end zone corner, and throwing a strike to tight end Trevor Wood out of a bunch formation.
Wood had a second big day in a row. He handled Chickillo in backs on backers on Monday, caught a touchdown pass and then delivered a huge stiff arm and a big blow when Marcellis Branch and another Steelers defensive back tried to combo tackle him today.
Barron, in his first work in pads, lit up Christian Scotland-Williamson in the flat with the day’s biggest hit, showing his elite closing speed from the linebacker position.
Smith-Schuster gave rookie corner Justin Layne a welcome-to-the-NFL moment, driving him 40 yards down the field on a wide receiver/defensive back blocking drill.