The Steelers held a two-hour rookie mini-camp session on Friday that was open to players who have three or less credited games to their resume. (Check out video of Landry Jones talking to the media http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGu25r_ymSU)
Now, that left guys out like John Parker Wilson and Larod Stephens-Howling, but the Steelers were able to get a look at all of their draft picks, undrafted free agents and workout guys.
So here is what jumped out to me:
*First, Ben Roethlisberger was in the building. I just wanted to get that out of the way.
* Forty-one players participated in the first day of rookie camp.
* The Steelers had eight guys in for tryouts who took part in the camp — RB Ryan Clarke (WVU), LB Terrance Gavin (WVU), S DeShawn Grayson (UTEP), CB Isaiah Green (Fresno), CB Jarred Holley (Pitt), DT Antoine Hopkins (Virginia Tech), S Andrew Taglianetti (Pitt), QB Caleb Terbush (Purdue). Don’t look for any of them to be asked back.
* My initial thoughts with the group players on the field was this: Boy they are small. Now, maybe that’s because I am used to seeing mammoths like LaMarr Woodley and Ziggy Hood, so that’s to be expected. But still, first-round pick Jarvis Jones looked tremendously undersized especially compared to Woodley and Jason Worilds. Now, his speed, that’s just fine. Jones showed that off a couple times in getting around tackle Mike Farrell, but my goodness he needs to put on some girth. That goes for them all — Landry Jones, Markus Wheaton, Curtis McNeal, Reggie Dunn, and so on and so forth.
* Go ahead and keep calling Le’Veon Bell a big back. It just makes you look foolish because Bell isn’t anything near being a big back (when I think of big back I am thinking Jerome Bettis, Michael Turner, Isaac Redman, LaGarrett Blount, Brandon Jacobs, Steven Jackson). Bell is listed at 6-1, 244 but said he is more around 230 but you sure can’t tell that by the way he looks. Bell showed some of his nimble nature that he was known for in college during the first day, but please, please don’t call him a big back. To me, Bell looks like Matt Forte.
* Landry Jones doesn’t throw a good ball. Or at least he didn’t throw a good ball on this particular day, in my opinion. Caleb Turnbush, a rookie out of Purdue, threw a much better ball.
* I can see why John Mitchell was so excited about seventh-round pick Nick Williams. Sure, he is a little raw, but of all the people, he was the most physically mature guy out there.
* Safety Shamarko Thomas is going to be a stud. He just passes the eye test. Now, if we can just get him to stop saying “man” about 37 times during a five-minute interview … man. Just kidding. I talked to him for a while and he’s a nice kid with even a better story.
* The one draft pick that looks like he has it all is fifth-rounder Terry Hawthorne, a cornerback out of Illinois. He appears to be an early candidate for sticking to the 53-man roster come September.
* Who drew the biggest crowd Friday? Try new special teams coach Danny Smith. While Smith was going through special teams drills with the players with the enthusiasm you expect from a special teams coach, virtually the entire coaching staff gathered around to watch including Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, Carnell Lake and Dick LeBeau.
* Markus Wheaton is a fast version of Antonio Brown.
*Curtis McNeal is small … wait, I already said that, but wow. He is small.
The Steelers will hold their second day of rookie camp/orientation on Saturday.
– Mark Kaboly