Inside the Ropes: Steelers’ Antonio Brown makes catch for ages

July 31, 2018

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown pulls in a one-handed catch against Coty Sensabaugh and Malik Golden during practice Thursday, July 27, 2018 at Saint Vincent.

After Antonio Brown made a catch on a route over the middle and sped away from defensive backs during an early team drill at Friday’s training camp practice, a fan yelled loudly, “Jerry Who!?”

The fan would explain through his screams that it was a reference to Brown being better than Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

About a half hour later, Brown made a catch that helped support that outrageous claim.

Brown made a one-handed catch with his left hand as Coty Sensabaugh and Malik Golden were dragging him to the ground along the left sidelines, the biggest highlight play of the second day of Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent.

Fans at Chuck Noll Field cheered loudly, and several members of the offense ran up to celebrate with Brown. But, many defensive backs sulked. Sensabaugh threw his helmet, took off his gloves, made a long walk behind some who were watching on the far sidelines and circled back to find Brown standing among the offense.

Shaking his head, Sensabaugh said, “Now, you know in a game, a safety would take you out and you ain’t making that catch, right?”

Both players laughed.

• Ben Roethlisberger had about a half-day’s worth of work, giving more snaps to backup Landry Jones and young quarterbacks Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph. Dobbs directed the final three “Seven Shots” plays to open practice, and Rudolph had a decent bounce-back after an inconsistent first professional training-camp practice.

• The highlight for Rudolph was a long pass to fellow rookie and college teammate James Washington, who beat Cameron Sutton for what would be a long touchdown. It was a reminder why Washington was a second-round pick on a day in which he had two early drops during team drills.

• The defense outshined the offense in the second day of “Seven Shots.” The only clear touchdowns allowed were to Justin Hunter and Vance McDonald when first-teamers were going head-to-head, both beating rookie Terrell Edmunds. On one second-teamers play, Dobbs couldn’t handle a shotgun snap from Parker Collins.

• Early in practice, fans were treated to a long passing drill along the sidelines in front of the main bleachers. On plays from Roethlisberger 30-35 yards down the sideline, one of the prettiest catches to watch was JuJu Smith-Schuster accelerating after Roethlisberger led him. Fans cheered loudly for that and for a catch by Brown -- but the most impressive catch might have been from Marcus Tucker, whom Roethlisberger surprised by barking out that he stop and come back for a 10-yard route. Tucker planted his foot, lunged himself backward and was able to corral a bullet of a throw.

• The kicker and punters had a rare day of several live kicks. Chris Boswell made seven of eight mid-range field-goal kicks, and Jordan Berry and Matt Wile boomed punts. The only players back to catch them were Quadree Henderson and Justin Thomas (though the rehabbing Eli Rogers stood with them). A rookie from Pitt, Henderson was an All-American returner in college; it appears he is being given the best shot of unseating Brown as the top punt returner.

• Christian Scotland-Williamson continues to work in his adjustment from high-level rugby player to NFL tight end. He has gotten limited practice reps the first two days of camp, and at one point in team drills Friday he was beaten cleanly by edge-rushing rookie Olasunkanmi Adeniyi for what would have been an easy sack.

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