The Pittsburgh Steelers just wrapped up another week of training camp. After their Friday Night Lights practice, I made my way to Saint Vincent College for the weekend to observe training camp first-hand -- taking notes along the way.
After intently observing practices, some things really stood out to me. Many of my findings were encouraging, while other observations left me wanting to see more. Here are my six biggest observations from being on hand at Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
Darnell Washington is a beast in pads, but looks limited as a receiver
There's no question that Darnell Washington improved once the pads came on. There's a reason he called himself the sixth offensive lineman. Washington is enormous when you see him in person, and he more than holds his own at the point of attack.
One thing that really stood out to me was the way that he handled T.J. Watt in the 'backs on backers' drill. It's hard enough to ask any tight end in the league to block Watt one-on-one, but Washington rose to the challenge thanks to his quality mobility, long arms, and excellent core strength. The rookie tight end did as well as you could imagine.
As a blocker, there's no question that Washington is going to be solid. However, I have to admit that I wasn't overly impressed with what I saw from him as a receiver. Though his 6'7'', 270-pounds frame is prototype for an in-line 'Y' tight end for blocking purposes, Washington was a bit lumbering in his movements.
During both team sessions and seven-on-seven drills, Washington didn't show much ability to create seperation at the top of his routes. This may have been why he was rarely targeted in this portion of practice. In terms of lateral movement skills and fluidity, Washington is worlds behind Pat Freiermuth, and he may be somewhat capped out in terms of suddenness and change-of-direction ability due to his massive frame. I'm really excited to see what he brings this year, but temper expectations in the receiving game.