Steelers face unanswered questions at camp
By Scott Brown
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not try to temper his excitement for the start of the team's 42nd training camp at St. Vincent College near Latrobe.
"I love the process of team building," said Tomlin, who guided the Steelers to a 10-6 record and an AFC North title last year, his first season. "I love going to camp."
The Steelers must answer several questions before they break camp Aug. 18:
• Can the players ignore the potential distraction of team Chairman Dan Rooney's effort to gain controlling interest in the team as his four brothers ponder selling their shares to an outside buyer? Each of the five Rooney brothers owns 16 percent of the team.
"They said that it's family business, Rooney business, so I'll let them handle that," Tomlin said. "The task that's before me is to prepare this team to play football, and that's what I intend to do."
• How will Tomlin respond to the pressure of a second season while playing the NFL's toughest schedule? Eight of the team's 13 opponents made the playoffs last season.
• Will the offensive line that allowed 47 sacks during the regular season improve? The Steelers start camp with Chris Kemoeatu replacing Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca, who left for the New York Jets via free agency. Max Starks and Willie Colon fight for the job at right tackle while free agent center Justin Hartwig attempts to unseat starter Sean Mahan.
The Steelers will trim their stay at St. Vincent to three weeks due in part to smaller roster sizes and Tomlin's familiarity with the players in his second year. The NFL has limited teams to 80 players in camp, down from 86 last year.
"Not to say that it will be easy," Tomlin said of training camp. "It will never be easy, but it will be different."