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Steelers Sights and Sounds: Kicking It into Gear

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UNITY TWP., Pa. — The Steelers wrapped up training camp with a light and short workout on Thursday that was brought to an abrupt halt after just about an hour and 20 minutes with lightning in the area.

The quick hook on practice meant that one of the final practice periods at St. Vincent College was the team’s field goal units, and it’s a fitting way to finish things up, as this camp seemed to secure at least one player’s job for the 2019 season: kicker Chris Boswell.

Boswell pushed a 52-yarder just wide to the left during practice on Thursday. It was just the second live kick his missed during the entire training camp. He also made both kicks in the first preseason game.

Rookie Matthew Wright, brought in to provide competition, has also been good, but it’s clear that Boswell has about an extra 10 yards on his maximum range when compared to the youngster.

But that’s just part of it. Everyone has known Boswell has the leg. It’s why he’s been a Pro Bowl kicker. The accuracy, though. That’s been the key. Boswell has been perfect from under 50 yards in training camp, and that’s all anyone could ask him to do. It seems nearly a lock that the veteran’s job is secure.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

First-year Steelers running backs coach Eddie Faulkner has continued to come up with new and innovate drills for his unit. In this one, he used three players to screen a fourth on a passing drill, simulating a back getting an unexpected and hurried dump-off pass from a quarterback.

INJURY REPORT

Three Steelers made their return to the practice field on Thursday, albeit in a pads-free fashion. Linebacker Devin Bush, center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker Sutton Smith all worked out in at least some capacity, with Bush and Pouncey working with their respective first-team units.

Veteran linebacker Mark Barron had the day off. It’s unclear if it was due to an injury. Ola Adeniyi missed his first practice session.

David DeCastro (soreness), Zach Gentry (upper body), Joe Haden (foot contusion), Christian Scotland-Williams (soft tissue) and Vince Williams (hamstring) all remain out.

CAMP STANDOUTS

During the first-team two-minute drill, JuJu Smith-Schuster made a spectacular catch down the right sideline to move the offense to the 10-yard line, but the defense held on to win the drill as the offense ran out of time to score.

Later in the day, Diontae Johnson beat fellow rookie Justin Layne over-the-top for a long touchdown in one-on-one coverage.

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.

Do you still believe in Zach Banner?

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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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