It’s a big week for Steelers fans, as their beloved black and gold are settling in at their annual training camp. To say there is much anticipation in the air is an understatement, as the team makes its way to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe this week, a spot they’ve called home for camp since 1967.
For many football fans, myself included, training camp brings along with it the indistinguishable excitement of the upcoming season. Despite its still (far too) lengthy time frame away from the actual start of the NFL season, camp is an imperative part of the entire football package, as veterans and rookies alike are able and encouraged to bring their best to the field each day.
With so many changes to the Steelers roster during the off season including the loss of imperative team leaders like Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke and James Farrior, as well as the addition of a new offense coordinator Todd Haley, many analysts are already giving the Steelers their walking papers.
Still, we can only assume the players’ attitudes going into camp are nothing short of confident, prepared and ready to move forward into a season designed to trump the lingering errors of last season’s Playoffs. With so many young additions to the team, the Steelers are no longer one of the NFL’s oldest team…a factor that should work in their favor this season.
Things to look out for during this year’s Steelers training camp are:
Rookies: David DeCastro and Alameda Ta’amu are both expected to be stand out performers right away.
Veterans: Although the Steelers lost a few major key players in the offseason, overall the team still boasts a solid backbone of veterans who should be able to help the rookies blend well. The continual presence of key veteran players is sure to continue to contribute to the team’s already concrete foundation.
Defense: Coach Dick LeBeau and his defensive line have most likely placed the not-so-grand exit of last season behind them, have moved on, and are looking to improve. Although the defensive line may look a bit different with the loss of James Farrior, Aaron Smith, cornerbacks Bryant McFadden and William Gay, as well as Chris Hoke, key defensive players like Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Cortez Allen, Walter McFadden and Ryan Clark remain ready.
Offense: The team’s new offense coordinator Todd Haley will surely have his hands full deciphering a good balance between an exceptionally young offensive line including rookies Mike Adams, David DeCastro, second-year Marcus Gilbert and third-year pro Maurkice Pouncey. Offensive tackle Max Starx will also return. Starx has stated he is ready to lead what is now a young but promising offensive line.
Injuries: Last season wasn’t the best in terms of injuries for the Steelers. However, the team is expected to remain exceptionally competitive, as long as they can avoid injuries that seemed to overshadow key players last season.
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