On Sunday, it all starts again
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
By Bob Labriola
How will the NFL respond to Ben Roethlisberger in his second season as a starting quarterback? How will Roethlisberger respond to that response? Will it be Antwaan Randle El or Cedrick Wilson starting at wide receiver with Plaxico Burress now with the New York Giants? Will any of the young cornerbacks ? Ike Taylor, Ricardo Colclough or Bryant McFadden ? make a serious push for playing time? How is Heath Miller going to fit into the passing game? Is Max Starks ready to be a starter?
It?s training camp season in the NFL, and for the Steelers it begins with all players having to report to St. Vincent College by 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 31.
Training camp is the place a team goes to find answers to these kinds of questions, it?s the place a team goes to remember how to be competitive.
During their 26 days in Latrobe, the Steelers will find most of the answers to the questions of personnel and playing time, all the while trying to build the foundation they hope will allow them to achieve their goal, which is to win a championship.
One of the two of the most laudable characteristics of the 2004 Steelers was their ability to have players step in for injured teammates with little or no drop-off in performance, and the other was the way in which the team navigated the 17-week regular season with a one-game-at-a-time tunnel vision. Both of those characteristics were formed at training camp.
?Where you start is so much based on where you finished the previous year, because that?s the reality of where you are,? said Coach Bill Cowher. ?But starting that way doesn?t mean you don?t still have to build that foundation. This is going to be a tough camp. It?s going to be very demanding. It?s going to be very competitive. It?s going to test their focus. We?re not trying to live up to a 15-1 record and the idea of, how do you do better than that? The bottom line is we were 1-1 in the postseason, and we have to do better than that.?
Cowher has promised a competitive training camp, and based on the success the team had last season following just such a camp, the players can be sure he?s not going to break his promise.
In a lot of ways, the Steelers go to their training camp with fewer issues than most of their competition. Cowher?s entire staff of assistants returns intact, and all 11 defensive starters (at least the starters over the second half of the season and the playoffs) return. The offense has to replace Burress, plus Keydrick Vincent and Oliver Ross on the right side of the offensive line, but Vincent was a replacement for starter Kendall Simmons in the first place, and Starks came along nicely at right tackle as his rookie year progressed.
But all of that?s on paper, and very little in the NFL transpires according to the way it?s originally drawn up. The Steelers are going to have issues arise, and they?re going to have to resolve them; they?re going to have adversity, and they?re going to have to overcome it. Just as they did so well last year, starting with Simmons going down with a season-ending knee injury, which happened during a training camp practice.
Rest of the article:http://secure2.steelers.com/article/55019/
The way guys stepped up last year was something that definitely stood out with this team. It would be nice to see the same this year. There are going to be a lot of position battles this training camp which makes it even more interesting. I am excited to see our new draft picks and how they look at camp. Cowher is right the expectations are high and the Steelers have one very large bullseye on their backs.