On a bright, sunny Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers took to the field for their eighth training camp session. This time they were back in pads.
Today was a more spirited day than usual, which presented the following storylines: the return of Diontae Johnson; a running back quietly putting together good performances; and a tight end that is quickly rising.
So Steelers fans, let's go!
Camp Injury/Participation Report:
DL Tyson Alualu (knee)
S Miles Killebrew (pectoral)
WR Chase Claypool (shoulder)
LB Marcus Allen (lower body)
TE Pat Freiermuth (Hamstring)
RB Jeremy McNichols (Injury reserve)
RB Najee Harris (ankle/toe)
CB Cam Sutton (lower body)*
*denotes injured during practice session
Both linebacker TJ Watt and defensive lineman Cam Heyward were present but did not partake in any of the team drills.
The biggest news of the day involved receiver Diontae Johnson, fresh off a new two-year contract extension. On this day, he was not just a spectator on the sidelines, he was heavily involved in both one-on-one and team drills, according to reports.
Also, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick made his training camp debut after being sidelined with a wrist injury.
( Picture of Diontae Johnson, courtesy of @NoahStrackbein )
Camp Notes And Highlights:
Diontae Johnson Is Back
To say the least, Diontae Johnson dominated everyone he faced in his return to action. It was clear that time on the sidelines did not diminish his route running or playmaking abilities. If anything, he was seemingly better than he was before. The team got a huge boost from his participation in this afternoon's session.
Anthony McFarland Jr. Continues To Impress
Don't look now, but running back Anthony McFarland Jr. has been making his presence felt the last few sessions. Today was arguably his best, as he stood out in one-on-ones and made seemingly difficult receptions from throws by Mason Rudolph. His most notable moment was a 65-yard touchdown off a jet sweep sequence, as described by Steelers analyst Nick Farabaugh.
Jace Sternberger Is Rising
In the last few practice sessions, tight end Jace Sternberger's ability to make catches has garnered a good amount of attention. Today's practice may have been his best, as he registered wins in one-on-ones, notably against defensive back Donovan Stiner and linebacker. Additionally, he registered a touchdown reception in "seven shots" from Rudolph. During his days with Texas A&M, Sternberger had, at one point, the highest receiving grade of any tight end in the country. His hands have helped him so far during this training camp.
Jaylen Warren Promoted To First-Team Offense
After a string of strong camp performances, UDFA running back Jaylen Warren finally had his chance to run behind the first-team offense. This promotion likely gives Warren a leg up on making the roster.
Kevin Dotson Keeps Moving People
In the battle for the starting spot at right guard, Kevin Dotson took a big step forward with his performance during team drills. With the need to improve their run defense, Dotson played his part by moving opposing defenders such as Montravius Adams and creating holes. After a rough outing in one-on-ones by fellow guard Kendrick Green, Dotson may have taken the lead.