View Full Version : Profootballtalk.com goes to steeler camp

08-16-2006, 12:43 AM
The guys from profootballtalk.com are at Steeler camp and here are their thoughts...


It was a wild day in Latrobe on Monday, and (as always) we've emerged from the experience with 10 of our trademark takes on what we saw and heard during our time in Steelers camp.

It's never nine or eight or 11. But always ten. What a strange coincidence. . . .

1. Up Close and Personal.

The most intriguing aspect of Steelers practice is the proximity of the press to the players. As seen in some of the photos snapped with the official PFT Sprint phone (scroll down for more), we were close enough to smell stuff that, well, we would have rather not smelled.

The media is stationed in a strip of grass between the team's two primary practice fields, through which the players repeatedly migrate, at varying speeds. It was a huge difference from Ravens camp, where the media stands along a sideline that abuts the fan viewing area -- and results in the members of the media blocking the view of the folks who buy the tickets and the jerseys. At Latrobe, the media is as close as the media can get to the action.

2. "Hello, Santurdio."

At one point on Monday, the Poobah got a little too close to the action. Early in the practice session, the receivers were running different patterns, one man at a time. They would move methodically through each pattern, one after another, and then they all would switch to a different route.

When it was time for the out patterns, the guys were catching the ball, heading out of bounds . . .

And coming right for me.

In fact, yours truly nearly got flattened by the guy whom we lovingly call Santurdio.

Seriously. Holmes was coming right at me, stumbled a little, and brushed by my shirt. If he'd known who I was and what we've said about him, he could have knocked me out cold and it would have looked like an accident.

3. Tough Decisions at Receiver.

When the time comes for the Steelers to trim the roster, some of the toughest cuts might come at the wideout position. Hines Ward, Cedrick Wilson, Santurdio, and Willie Reid are locks. After that, it's a toss-up. Nate Washington is having a solid camp, and Walter Young is the biggest target by far (unfortunately, he at times moves like it, too). Veterans Quincy Morgan and Lee Mays could be in trouble when Turk time comes along.

4. Omar Could Be Going Homar.

Last year, Omar Jacobs was a dark horse Heisman candidate at Bowling Green. In April of this year, he was a fifth-round draft pick.

Now, he's in danger of getting cut.

Shane Boyd got more reps than Jacobs in the first preseason game, and word is that he's having trouble picking up the offense. Though some in the organization view Jacobs as a better long-term prospect, the thinking is that Coach Chin prefers Boyd. Since there's a chance that Cowher won't be around to reap the benefits of Omar's upside, Jacobs could be finished in the 'Burgh before he even gets started.

And if you think that the Steelers won't dump a fifth-round pick, run that one by Fred Gibson, a fourth-round receiver who was sent packing last season.

5. "Hey, It's LenDale."

We got an eyeful of running back Duce Staley before he put on his shoulder pads prior to practice. And one thing was clear to us.

Duce likes pie.

Seriously, he's a big boy. And not in a good way. We wouldn't be surprised to see him lose his roster spot to rookie Cedric Humes.

Alternatively, we'd be on the phone with the Jets right now to swing a deal. If, after all, Staley stands close enough to well-apportioned coach Eric Mangini, they might not notice the size of Duce's caboose.

Another benefit to moving Staley would be that it bumps Verron Haynes up a notch on the depth chart. We're hearing that Haynes is getting frustrated with his status. The only problem is that there's no way the team can justify running Staley at No. 3, given his $1.5 million salary for 2006. Thus, if Haynes goes up, Duce goes out.

Our guess? Staley won't be with the Steelers on September 10.

6. We Are The Champions.

Though we'd never been to a Steelers practice, we got the impression that the team is very loose but at the same time very confident in their approach to the 2006 season. Where the Ravens training camp practice we attended on July 29 seemed to be very structured and regimented, the Steelers practice was more chaotic than controlled. The players got to where they were supposed to go and knew what they were supposed to do, but there was plenty of standing around, knees on the ground, and butts on helmets.

It could be that the rosters are too big, or that the burgeoning offseason workout programs are making it less important to squeeze the maximum out of every preseason practice session. Still, to the extent that NFL training camps have a reputation for presenting extreme physical challenges, we just didn't see it in Latrobe.

Will it be a problem? Who knows. One league source has told us that there was a sense of complacency during the team's performance in the first preseason game at Arizona. But there's still plenty of time to snap out of it.

7. Harrison Is Ready To Start.

Though it's possible that third-year linebacker James Harrison will get a chance to play if/when one of the starting linebackers gets hurt, we're thinking after getting a look at the team that it's time for Harrison to be a starting linebacker.

Of course, for Harrison to get there one of the current starters would have to be knocked to the bench . . . or to the curb.

It might not happen this year, but it's coming. Harrison is too good, and is getting better. Plus, the incumbents are getting older every year -- James Farrior is in his tenth season, Joey Porter is in high eighth, and Clark Haggans is in his seventh.

8. Garocki Could Be In Trouble.

We heard some talk at camp -- and we later confirmed -- that veteran punter Chris Gardocki could be in danger of losing his job. Though the only other competition in camp is Mike Barr, don't rule out the Steelers hitting the waiver wire for a punter if they're not happy with Gardocki's play.

Gardocki entered the NFL way back in 1991, and he has punted for the Bears, Colts, and Browns. He was added to the Steelers roster in 2004, enabling the team to part ways with veteran Josh Miller.

9. Ben Looks Fine. (More Than Fine, Actually.)

The star of Steelers training camp, without question, is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And he clearly is the leader of the offense, especially with Hines Ward nursing a hamstring injury that put him out of practice early in individual drills.

The motorcycle injury is a distant memory. Hell, it's like the thing never even happened. (Contrast that with Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who genuinely seems to be messed up in the head regarding the possibility that he'll re-injure himself on the field.)

One thing that impressed us was that Roethlisberger rounded up the wideouts and the quarterbacks after practice and ran through some quarter-speed, four-receiver sets for roughly 15 minutes. There was a lot of short passing and timing patterns, reminding us of the quick-release attack that the Patriots have perfected over the past few years.

After practice, members of the "real" media (and, you know, us) waited for Ben to come over and chat, but he specifically avoided the press, hopping into an oversized golf cart after signing a few autographs, and disappearing.

10. Learning On The Job.

The highlight of the day in Latrobe was hanging around with Peter King of Sports Illustrated. The guy is a machine -- he worked the NBC game on Sunday night, polished off his MMQB column in the wee hours from the Queen City, flew to Pittsburgh early Monday morning, and then drove to Latrobe.

Meanwhile, he was wrapping up a story for the magazine regarding new NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on a Monday afternoon deadline, hobnobbing with Dan Rooney and Art Rooney, snagging an impromptu one-on-one with Coach Chin after he peeled off of his short session with the media, talking with any assistant coach who crossed his path, and getting ready for a Monday night trek to Seattle.

And we were humbled by the fact that, with all of the stuff that he was doing, Peter spent plenty of time talking to yours truly about football, and about the business. I picked up more from watching him and talking to him than I've learned during six years doing this, and hopefully the PFT readers will be the eventual beneficiaries of our on-the-job training session.

08-16-2006, 07:18 AM
Ugghhhhh on reports of Staley being a fat ass and cant move... This is disapoointing to me because i dont see any reason why the guy would not be in tip top shape ????? NOt only this article but you could see it in the pre season game as well. Not happy about this cause i really do think he will be needed this year.

08-16-2006, 07:26 AM
Keep in mind this is PFT we are reading here. You might as well send Skip Bayless to Steelers camp and have him give us updates. Same difference.

08-16-2006, 07:42 AM
And why does he keep talkin about the damn Ratbirds...

08-16-2006, 08:23 AM
No doubt Cowher is going to have a tough decision at the WR slot with all of the talent there. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. I have no problem with Lee Mays getting the hook, but I think Quincy Morgan could be an asset to the offense - he was coming on strong at the end of last season before his injury. I don't know - it's going to probably come down to the wire there. Isn't it a great feeling to say we almost have too much talent at WR? :cool:

I enjoyed the positive comments about Ben and how good he looks out there on the field.

I'm going to take the wait and watch attitude - these guys attended just one camp practice and the Steelers have played only one pre-season game. I think it's a little too early to be making such bold predictions. Just mho.

08-16-2006, 10:01 AM
I'm going to take the wait and watch attitude - these guys attended just one camp practice and the Steelers have played only one pre-season game. I think it's a little too early to be making such bold predictions. Just mho.

I completely agree

08-16-2006, 11:31 AM
Although i cant stand Skip Bayless and have no use for him, but i love going to the PFT website and checking them out... they usually have interesting stuff on there and go beyond just reporting what someone else did. I dont know if you have noticed, but alot of writers are now using what they write and getting info from them. I like the site and dont have any problems with it.

08-16-2006, 04:21 PM
Keep in mind this is PFT we are reading here. You might as well send Skip Bayless to Steelers camp and have him give us updates. Same difference.

Thanks for the insight because I mumbled multiple WTF's while reading this. Duce a doughboy? Omar getting run already?

Maybe P. KIng was doing a shell game on him. There'd be one difference with Bayless - mannequin with audio included.

08-16-2006, 04:27 PM
Duce is fat, it was noticeable in the preseason game.. i am dissappointed cause i really thougth he would be in good shape to start camp.