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lamberts-lost-tooth 07-27-2008 08:08 AM

Camp first test for Steelers rookies
 
Camp first test for Steelers rookies
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, July 27, 2008

Steelers offensive tackle Tony Hills asked veteran players his share of questions during offseason practices. He also inquired about training camp, which opens today when the players officially report to St. Vincent College.
"They've pretty much been telling me it's going to be a grind," Hills said last month.

Indeed, Hills will find out soon enough that training camp is about as far from summer camp as Latrobe is from Latvia.

The grind includes dealing with, in no particular order, constant fatigue as well as aches and pains, pressure that can be as stifling as the August heat and humidity and a roommate in cramped living quarters.

There is no official list detailing what first-year players such as Hills should and shouldn't do over the next three weeks. But rookies only have to seek out the players that are not far removed from their initial training camp if they are in need of a little guidance.
"Get all the sleep possible," second-year outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said he would tell the rookies. "Study your playbook. Listen, ask any questions. No question is a dumb question."

One question rookies should not ask: whether they belong in camp.

That may be easier said than done considering they are sharing playing fields, meeting rooms and a dining hall with established NFL players and may find themselves a little bit in awe.

But, as third-year offensive tackle Willie Colon said, "Don't back down, no matter who is in front of your face, always show them that you're meant to be here and play hard."

Colon did not back down when he was a rookie.

He mixed it up with Clark Haggans after the veteran linebacker ripped off Colon's helmet during a blocking drill. The two had to be separated and their skirmish went down as one of the more memorable moments of the Steelers' 2006 training camp.

"I was just trying to establish my dominance and tell them that I'm not a weak link," Colon said. "They smell a weak link and they're going to get after you."

While standing up to veterans on the playing field is a good thing, steering clear of them away from it is apparently not such a bad idea either.

The reason: most veterans do not have to spend nearly as much time studying their playbooks as rookies do.

"You see a lot of players in their free time kind of messing around or doing this and that, playing cards or whatever, but they can afford to do that because they know everything," second-year tight end Matt Spaeth said. "As a rookie, there's so much more to learn, and I'd say avoid all that and just stay in your playbook."

"Don't do what the veterans do," said veteran defensive end Aaron Smith. "You're hanging out with a vet and they might not have to study when you should be studying."

Ultimately, rookies can help themselves most during training camp by applying common sense to whatever decisions they make.

As second-year wide receiver Dallas Baker said, "Do things a young guy is supposed to do like pay attention, and work as hard as you can."

stillers4me 07-27-2008 08:16 AM

Re: Camp first test for Steelers rookies
 
I was at training camp last year........what a great experiance! Doggone gas prices are keeping us home this year.

It's an exciting time to be a Steelers fan.....our rookies this year look to be potential future probowlers and last years rookies need to break out and show what their made of. Will TheTroy of old return to form and will our gunslinger, sumo wrestling QB live up to his cushy contract? Can the o-line hold together and can can special teams....do anything???

.........anything is possible in the rolling hills of Latrobe! :tt02:


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