Inside the Steelers: Wheaton, Bryant ease back into practice
• Wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant spent the past two days easing themselves back into practice. On Wednesday, Wheaton had a sensational practice. The third-year receiver made several difficult catches look easy, including a diving grab along the sideline with cornerback Antwon Blake pinned to his jersey. The Steelers are trying to get Bryant more involved in the deep-passing game. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Wheaton hooked up a couple of times. Wheaton pulled away from two defensive backs on perfectly executed fly routes. Bryant, who missed 10 days of practice after surgery on his elbow, wasn’t as active. “You know (Roethlisberger) won’t let other guys make throws,” coach Mike Tomlin said after Landry Jones connected with receiver Shakim Phillips. “It’s like, ‘I got this.’ ”
• Linebacker James Harrison ran a almost a mile of sprints before the Steelers ran their 2-minute drill. Perhaps it affected his hands as he let an errant Jones pass slip through his fingers. Ultimately, cornerback B.W. Webb polished off a solid defensive effort by intercepting Jones two plays later. It was an uneventful practice for Harrison, the former NFL Defensive PIayer of the Year. The 37-year-old struggled, too, in pass coverage. Jones dropped a perfectly lofted pass over his head and ahead of cornerback Kevin Fogg, drawing the ire of coach Mike Tomlin, who shouted, “Come on, Deebo.”
• The Steelers offense worked its first 2-minute drill to near perfection, except for linebacker Jarvis Jones and defensive end Cam Heyward breaking through to sack Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown connected four times on a drive that ended with Brown catching a touchdown pass with rookie cornerback Doran Grant in pursuit and linebacker Sean Spence closing fast.
• Cornerback Kevin Fogg continues to impress in training camp. Again, he was good in man coverage. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey appeared to have on a step on a deep sideline pass from Landry Jones, but Fogg had the speed to reel in Heyward-Bey and the ball for interception.
• The Steelers didn’t waste any time getting their new players on the field. Running back Braylon Heard and 6-5 wide receiver David Nelson spent much of the two-hour practice sessions going over the playbook with their position coaches.
• Linebacker Ryan Shazier wore No. 98 during practice to show his support for injured linebacker Vince Williams. Williams, who hasn’t practice because of a hamstring injury, isn’t expected to play in Friday’s preseason game in Jacksonville.
• Rookie linebacker Bud Dupree showed signs of being more aggressive than he was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Vikings. He kept his motor running as he chased down the ball several times. He flashed speed and quickness in blowing by offensive tackle Mitchell van Dyk en route to Jones.
• Rookie wide receiver Sammie Coates made a diving catch, but the ball popped loose when he landed on the ground. He came up limping after jamming his left leg in the turf. He was in on three more plays during 11-on-11 drill but still was laboring some.
• Linebacker Lawrence Timmons didn’t practice along with defensive tackle Daniel McCullers. Again, safety Mike Mitchell spent much of practice watching from center field with defensive backs coach Carnell Lake.
OUTSIDE THE ROPES
Getting to know … Jesse James
A tight end from Glassport taken in the fifth round of the draft, James joins guard Miles Dieffenbach (Fox Chapel) as rookies from Penn State who grew up in the Pittsburgh area. The 6-foot-7, 261-pound James is competing with two other rookies to be the Steelers’ No. 3 tight end this season.
How did you get your name?
My dad gave me a name that he wanted people to remember. My brother’s name is Rick James, my dad’s name is Rick James, so he kept it going with a name people will have some recollection of, so Jesse James, the outlaw, is what he went for.
How often do you get asked about your name? Do people ever give you grief for it?
It’s a name people notice; just a good name to have, I guess. People remember it. I get stuff for it every once in a while but it hasn’t been too bad lately.
Are you a video game guy at all?
When I was training for the combine I was because there was nothing to do. But usually, I just hang out with my friends, be around my friends and have a good time.
A menu of their own
Steelers training camp long has been known for the quality of food they provide players, whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late-night snack.
Even so, a few Steelers have decided against the cafeteria, instead opting for a catered meal, three times daily.
Offensive linemen Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, along with Antonio Brown and a handful of defensive players have their meals provided to them by a local establishment that offers catering.
“She makes breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it makes it convenient to us,” Pouncey said. “You don’t have to get up. They bring it right into your room.”