On Monday (8/5) I attended Pittsburgh Steelers training camp and got to see first-hand what the team had to offer at another day of practice. There was no hitting or pads on this particular day, it was what Coach Mike Tomlin calls “football in shorts.”
The Steelers are continuing to get ready for the upcoming season as camp rolls on. However, not every player was out there participating on Monday. Some key players who did not practice included safety Troy Polamalu, who stood on the sidelines and watched practice. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tells me the safety was out with “contusion of the birth certificate.” This means Polamalu’s old and is given time to rest up when needed. His fellow teammate, Plaxico Burress suffered from the same contusion on Monday too.
Cortez Allen continues to be sidelined with a knee injury. Allen had minor surgery done to his knee and has begun the rehabbing process.
Other significant players included rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones, running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, defensive tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
From where I was watching I was given a great view of the work the offense was putting in. David DeCastro looked sharp during drills; he’s clearly the most athletic linemen on the team and is in tremendous shape. Kelvin Beachum looked to be struggling and was being coached quite a bit. Beachum looks so young compared to the rest of the linemen but I do think he’ll be capable of being a solid player with time.
The first team offense was putting a lot of focus on screen passing. It seems the screen game will play a big role again this season in Todd Haley’s offense. Isaac Redman was the running back who was catching the screen passes from Ben Roethlisberger, followed by Antonio Brown. You can’t really evaluate too much during this non-live-drill but the offense did seem to be clicking and running the plays well. All the receivers looked great during passing drills, this could easily become a tight race between the likes of Markus Wheaton, Justin Brown, J.D. Woods and Derek Moye to see who can earn a roster spot.
The team went into live drills (with no tackling, as mentioned) toward the end of practice. Redman again was the first back to take reps with the first team and he looked great. The team didn’t do any running plays, it was all passing as they were working on their two minute, no huddle offense. Redman made a stellar catch from Roethlisberger in the end zone for a touchdown; he continues to make his case for the starting running back job. Roethlisberger looked as good as ever, it’s amazing to see how easy he makes it look. The offense looked solid during the no huddle but the defense didn’t look spectacular. Either the defense was lackluster or the offense was just that good.
A player who really stood out to me on offense was tight end Jamie McCoy. McCoy made several good grabs during the passing drills and is a big target. He could make a compelling case to help fill the void of an injured Heath Miller if he can continue to do big things during camp and preseason games.
As far as the kicking game is concerned, Shaun Suisham connected on a 59-yard field goal. This is encouraging, we can only hope he doesn’t fold under pressure and can connect with long, clutch kicks all the time. In the punting game, to me it’s clear that Drew Butler is the right choice. Brian Moorman has a big boot but lacks consistency compared to Butler.
A significant injury to report is defensive back Curtis Brown. Brown appeared to have hurt his ankle during the live play. He was carted off the field. Sideline reporters indicated it didn’t seem to be major but Tomlin told the media it will be evaluated further.
It was exciting for me to see Steelers training camp up close and personal and I recommend all Steeler fans and NFL fans alike to get out and watch their favorite team practice if they’re able to. It’s an interesting and fun experience. The Steelers are looking good so far and the training camp battles continue to be exciting to watch. The Steelers first preseason game is Saturday (8/10) against the New York Giants and will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
I also want to thank a good friend of mine, Bobbie Jo Julian and her wonderful family for allowing me to join them in going to watch Steelers training camp. I very thankful and appreciative for all they did for me.