At the end of each practice, Coach Tomlin makes a short statement, answers questions, and runs down the injury report. Injuries from training camp are common, but we are left to wonder how the lockout will affect the season given the fact that there were no OTA’s or coaching sessions, limiting the amount of preparation time each team has. The good news is it that the lack of preparation is across the board and affects all teams, not just the Steelers. The bad news is, as fans we might be about to watch a sloppy season riddled with injuries and untidy play.
One thing I think all Steeler fans can rejoice in is the fact that for the first time in I don’t know how long, Casey Hampton isn’t on the PUP list with a hamstring after the first full week of camp. Hampton has been notorious for showing up tocamp super-sized and pulling a hammy after the strength and conditioning test. While it’s no secret that Hampton is not a big fan of practice in general, I certainly appreciate his effort into starting the season off injury free. Way to go “Big Snack”.
The Steelers are less than a week away from their first preseason game against the Redskins and because the CBA wasn’t ratified until Thursday, the veterans with newly signed contracts were unable to practice until the league year had officially begun. That’s awful dicey for some teams, but the fact that the Steelers are returning so many players from last year’s team definitely should play and advantage in their preparation.
The other downside of the lockout hindering teams’ preparation is the rookies. With the brief lifting of the lockout the day after round 1 of the draft, some players were able to show up at the facilities and receive their playbooks. They were then locked out again before they could say, “No what do I do on this play?” Training camp is going to play a more vital role in those players’ chances of contributing to the team this year than ever before. The more repetitions and coaching sessions the rookies can get the better.
The injury report from camp has become a “laundry list” as Coach Tomlin puts it. Saturday’s practice, the only starter on the O-line not in the training room was Willie Colon. Limas Sweed, who has spent each year since he was drafted in 2008 suffering one injury after another, is also out with a shoulder injury. Polamalu and Harrison have both enjoyed days off to rest their nagging injuries but both players are notorious for playing hurt throughout the season so no one should be worried about that. Good news coming off the Twitter timeline from players like Hines Ward and rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert is that they will be taking the field for the first time for practice on Monday.
As much as we as fans are starved for football, we should be prepared for some of the lamest of the lame preseason games that we can remember. These players have not been practicing that long, their offseason was not structured, and the camp is a lot lighter than it has ever been before. Preseason is hardly ever an indication on how the team will play during the regular season, but it is a showcase for several players to display their talents for their chance to make the roster. The best thing we can do is hope for no injuries and enjoy the fact that you can turn on the TV and see the Black & Gold on the field in a live game.