Steelers: Five things to know
By Mike Freeman
CBSSports.com National Columnist
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LATROBE, Pa. -- Observations from Pittsburgh Steelers camp:
1. If anyone believes the sexual assault lawsuit against Ben Roethlisberger is distracting his camp, they're wrong. Roethlisberger looks, well, quite good.
It's only camp and many quarterbacks look good in camp, but Roethlisberger looks lighter and is in good spirits. One Steelers official said he believes Roethlisberger is using the allegations against him as motivation to get better. The belief among some of the Steelers players is that Roethlisberger will have the best season of his career.
2. Rashard Mendenhall is one of those players that when two people look at him can see different things. When I saw Mendenhall, he looked brilliant and explosive. To others, he’s had an ordinary camp, and still must prove himself. "The key for him, like all young guys, they have to play," Kirby Wilson, who coaches the Steelers' backs, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "He's still trying to develop a style -- who he is, what kind of runner he's going to be in this league, his style, and the whole key." When I look at Mendenhall, he seems like a player who could replace Willie Parker sooner than later but there still appears to be some significant doubt about his abilities.
3. Dennis Dixon, the second-year quarterback out of Oregon, will have a legitimate chance to challenge 34-year-old Charlie Batch for the backup spot behind Roethlisberger. The problem for Dixon is that Batch continues to be physically ready and highly cerebral. Batch has at times shown his age in camp, but his maturity and smarts will help him keep his job.
4. The Steelers are one of the top two or three drafting teams in the NFL and players like Joe Burnett are the reason why. He's a fifth-round selection, so his chances of making the team remain slim but he's impressing the Steelers coaches. He has three interceptions in camp so far.
5. More proof Steelers fans are among the most dedicated in all of sports. At the very end of one Steelers practice, a vicious thunderstorm went through the area. Hard rain and driving wind pounded the field. Players, coaches and media scampered away but -- literally -- about 200 fans stayed behind a marked-off area, begging the running players to stop for autographs. Some players did, some players didn't, looking up at the lightening in the sky. After about 20 minutes of staying in the downpour, the fans finally ran off to their cars.
Out of Nowhere Man
Michael Freeman selects Mike Wallace for the Steelers' Out of Nowhere Man Mike Wallace is a rookie third-round pick and maybe the fastest player on the team, but don't think he's just a speed guy. Wallace has shown some serious toughness in camp. If he can stop some of the drops the Steelers might have found themselves another serious deep threat.
Steelerboyz77 picks P Daniel Sepulveda
Watching Paul Ernster and Mitch Berger might have been some of the most painful moments of my black and gold life. Let's not forget he averaged around 43 yards per punt net when he was with us two seasons ago prior to his injury.
Who is your Out of Nowhere Man?