Top 5 Winners from Second Week of Steelers Training Camp
The Steelers are now through two hard-fought weeks of training camp and there have been several observations to take away from everything. The players, coaches, and weather have all been huge factors in the Steelers training camp up to this point.
Now, with the team having their usual scheduled day off on Sunday, it’s time to review who the top performers have been overall in training camp thus far. Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh goes through his top performers and a few players who may need to show some more heading into the first preseason game.
Here are the players who have both stood out in a good way and others who may have fallen flat in the second week.
If there has been a consistent drumbeat in Steelers practices, Calvin Austin is the one player who fits that bill. Whether it is taking a curl route 75 yards for a touchdown or consistently winning down the field, Austin has done it all. In both manufactured touches and deep balls, Austin’s big play ability has shone through all of training camp. It will be fun to see what becomes of a strong first two weeks for Austin, who could earn himself some serious playing time in the regular season.
Last week, this was Mason Rudolph, but this week, it is the rookie, Kenny Pickett. In fact, this is a complete reversal of Pickett’s ranking last week when he was on the ‘needed to show more’ part of the list. He looked sharp throughout the entirety of the week and was more willing to push the ball down the field this week. If his progression from Week 1 to Week 2 is any indication, Pickett’s got a late chance to push in this quarterback battle. Pickett was accurate, making the right reads, and looking like the Pickett that Pitt fans saw in 2021.
It is not every day that the undrafted free agent running back finds their way onto this list. However, Jaylen Warren earned that distinction with one of the more impressive weeks out of anyone on the roster. He is a 5-foot-8, 215 pound back who plays with a physicality that is infectious. Warren’s showcased soft hands, a willingness to pass block, and some high-level shiftiness all week. If it continues, Warren is going to make himself very hard to cut.
Levi Wallace’s injury has not been ideal for the Steelers, but in his place, James Pierre has stepped up in admirable fashion. Sure, there have been some moments when Diontae Johnson got the best of him later in the week, but he was largely competitive against everyone, including Johnson. In seven shots, Pierre registered three pass breakups throughout the week and he was a consistent standout in the one-on-ones. He only is solidifying his roster spot more with performances like this.
The left guard battle has been a war of attrition between Kendrick Green and Kevin Dotson. Still, these two guys have fought back and forth, but Dotson has looked the better of the two thus far. In week two, Dotson was moving bodies in the run game. That was what stood out in a positive light for Dotson. His run-game contributions were noticeable. Then, he got into the lineman one-on-ones and dominated every single day he was in there. He will need to continue that trajectory to win the battle.
Now the players who haven’t done enough to rise above the competition.
Bush lands himself here because there has just been an overall lack of impact from him throughout training camp. What can the coaching staff do with someone who has not registered a splash play in the first two weeks of training camp? At some point, Bush will have to showcase himself to be a part of this overall equation. He should win the starting job still, but Steelers coaching has to be wanting to see more out of him.
This is a surprising one to put on the list, but James Daniels had a rough week of practice. He was solid in the run game portion of team drills. However, when it came time for pass protection and the lineman one-on-ones, he seemed almost a bit overmatched. He will have to find some consistency with his hands in pass protection to have a better Week 3.
There was plenty of talk about Loudermilk potentially being someone who could have a breakout season, but thus far in training camp, that has not manifested itself. Similar to Bush, it is not that Loudermilk has been bad, and he has made some nice plays at the line of scrimmage. Rather, Loudermilk simply has been rather quiet and in the one-on-ones has been up and down at best. There is a period of learning how to use new moves and when, so that could be what is stopping Loudermilk from taking the immediate leap.
This is less about Wallace’s play and more about someone who needs to showcase themselves in a big way over the next few weeks. Wallace is in competition with Cam Sutton and Ahkello Witherspoon for who gets the starting outside cornerback spots, but an illness has taken him off the field for most of the week. That has caused Wallace to fade back into that competition, and even still, Wallace is not a full participant just yet. When he has been out there, Wallace has been up and down. His third week will be a big week for him.
This was not the finest week for Arthur Maulet. In coverage, it seemed like there were two or three times a practice where he was exposed. As always, he is a great blitzer and a big plus in the run game from the slot. However, he has to be steadier in coverage for the Steelers to give him valuable playing time come the regular season. In that regard, it was a down week for Maulet.