Steelers Notebook: Another Safety Goes Down

Robert Golden left this most physical Steelers practice with a "significant" leg injury.

LATROBE -- One by one they're falling from the ranks of the Pittsburgh Steelers' safety position.

Robert Golden is the latest safety to be sidelined after he injured his leg during the final team scrimmage.

Golden writhed in agony on the ground and was helped off the field. He was able to walk but Mike Tomlin called the injury "significant." Tomlin had no other details.

Golden had been working the first-team free safety since Mike Mitchell took to the sidelines July 29 with a shoulder injury. With strong safety Shamarko Thomas also injured, Golden had been paired with Will Allen.

Ross Ventrone is also injured, so the only healthy safeties remaining are Allen, Gerod Holliman, Alden Darby, Isaiah Lewis and Ian Wild. Only Allen has NFL game experience.


Holliman, the nation's leading interceptor last season, has a reputation for shying away from contact, but Wednesday he and inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt set the tone for the day with a loud tackle of one of the biggest loads the Steelers have on offense: rookie fullback Roosevelt Nix.

A former defensive lineman at Kent State, the 260-pound Nix caught a short pass during a run-heavy drill and turned it upfield as he began gaining momentum. But the locomotive was stopped in its tracks by Holliman and Zumwalt, who caused fans, media and even the players to form a collective "whoaaa" in admiration.

"It was one of those where you get off and it's like 'sweet', it's the sweet spot," Zumwant said. "He's a big dude."

Did Zumwalt feel the hit?

"Definitely," he said. "And it felt good."

Zumwalt's making rapid progress of late after sitting out his rookie season with a groin injury and undergoing surgery in the offseason. He struggled early in camp but the playcalling, third-team inside linebacker is looking like the guy the Steelers drafted last year out of UCLA.

"Yeah, it's definitely starting to come back. I'm definitely starting to have more fun," Zumwalt said. "My feet are starting to be under me again, and mentally I'm starting to pick it back up again. Yeah, I'm having fun."

The play before the hit on Nix, Zumwalt had fought through the block of massive tackle Alejandro Villanueva to bring down Jawon Chisolm for a loss.

The physical play by the linebackers continued Wednesday until the very end when Vince Williams teed off on running back Cameron Stingily after Landry Jones had led the back right into Williams' violent tackle.

"Yeah, it was a very physical day. It was a very fun day," Zumwalt said. "We had a day off, and you come back from a day off and either there's a lull or we're getting after it. I think the team kind of made a silent decision to have a beast day."


* If Ben Roethlisberger isn't finding Antonio Brown for a completion after a pump or a step or a signal that only they understand, Roethlisberger's doing it with Le'Veon Bell. The triplets were in fine form yesterday and could probably fill up this entire highlights checklist.

* Brandon Boykin is one tough, nasty and physical cornerback who's giving receivers plenty to fight through. Shakim Phillips had to fight so hard to get one step on Boykin that he dropped an easy touchdown pass.

* Undrafted rookie tight end Cameron Clear caught a short pass from Landry Jones at the 2 and turned and bulled over a defender to score. Clear later scored a touchdown with the help of a Roethlisberger pump fake that confounded Allen and Lawrence Timmons.

* Third-round rookie WR Sammie Coates had a tough day. On one rep he slipped and was so discouraged he just stopped and walked back. He then beat Kevin Fogg for an out in the end zone but dropped the low pass. Two plays later Coates hurt his right shoulder when he was shoved out of bounds by Antwon Blake after the ball had sailed past him.

* Fogg intercepted a pass to end the CBs-on-WRs one-on-one drill, and later intercepted Landry Jones to end the second-team two-minute drill.

* Dri Archer caught a checkdown pass in the open field and began sprinting for a long gain, but inexplicably ran into a wide receiver as he was blocking a safety and Archer fell down.

* Arthur Moats and Sean Spence had sacks. Moats broke up a pass to Coates 20 yards downfield.

* Ever since Tomlin complimented Darrius Heyward-Bey's practice work, it's been downhill for the veteran WR. He dropped two touchdown passes Wednesday, one from Roethlisberger after breaking open deep down the sideline in the two-minute drill.

* Stingily, who took a pounding all day, broke off a 20-yard run and ran over Darby at the goal line during red-zone work. Darby came back the next play and took out his frustrations with a blast of Archer at the line of scrimmage.


Missing the full Wednesday practice were: James Harrison, Heath Miller, Rob Blanchflower, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Mitchell, Ventrone, Daniel McCullers and Josh Harris.

Jarvis Jones made a tackle-for-loss early but left practice. Guard Chris Hubbard left in the front seat of the golf cart.

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