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Steelers Sights and Sounds: Camp Day Four

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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.

INJURY UPDATES

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.

SEVEN SHOTS

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.

CAMP STANDOUTS

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.

PHOTO GALLERY

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Steelers

Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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