Nov 25, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) blocks for tight end Heath Miller (83) on a pass play in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Steelers players are starting to return to Pittsburgh and get ready for the trek to St. Vincent’s in Latrobe. I wonder how much the daily population increases during Steelers training camp?
Cromartie-Smith’s Make or Break Preseason
Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette starts his article by telling about Cromartie-Smith’s recent visit to encourage kids to stay in school and get good grades. He knows what he is talking about because his poor grades and low SAT scores held him back from attending a school in a major football conference. Cromartie-Smith is one of those players who just wants a chance to play and he knows that there are two very talented veterans ahead of him on the roster – Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Interestingly, Fittipaldo notes that every snap of Cromartie-Smith’s career has come on special teams. Cromartie-Smith is quoted that the new special teams coach, Danny Smith, has brought a different energy to the team and the players are responding to it. I like hearing that.
Questions at the Tight End Position
Ray Paulk, of the Tribune Review discusses the uncertainty at the Steelers Tight End position due to Heath Miller’s injury late last season. Miller’s return date is still TBD and he may not be ready for the start of the season. Paulk looks at David Johnson as the more likely fill-in for Miller’s reception duties while Matt Spaeth takes on blocking duties. My heart sank when I watched Miller come off the field last year because I always think of Miller as the unsung hero among the offense. Paulk quotes Johnson that he and Miller have this injury in common, but Johnson’s came in preseason last year so his recovery is ahead of Miller’s. Miller tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL – the alphabet soup of the knee I guess. Don’t even begin to compare him to Adrian Peterson because (I’m not medical expert – I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn last night) it sounds like Miller’s injury may be more extensive. Johnson also says that he and Miller are working together, comparing recovery information and helping each other with getting healthy.
Le’Veon Bell – A Rookie Rarity?
Alan Robinson, of the Tribune Review, begins his article talking about the Hall of Famer Franco Harris who is the only Steeler to rush for 1000 yards as a rookie – forty-one years ago. I thought, wow, Bell is in Franco Harris’ category? Robinson then goes on to acknowledge that Bell doesn’t have the starting job yet but if given the opportunity, Bell has the ability to have a break-out season. Robinson quotes Todd Haley who is waiting to see how everything goes when they are allowed to practice in pads. Robinson also notes that Isaac Redman looks in “superb condition” and Dwyer could end up the odd man out. The running back competition is just one of many that will be interesting to see get sorted out during training camp and preseason.
Dwyer Versus Redman
Neil Coolong, who blogs for Behind the Steel Curtain offers this for the running back competition:
"He who runs fastest and longest is the most likely to win. He who doesn’t is likely to be cut.”"
While I don’t think it is quite that simple, it made me chuckle. The Steelers also need someone who can protect the ball too and I think that will be part of the competition. Realistically, neither Dwyer nor Redman are earning the kind of money that would signal the Steelers see either as a “Mendenhall-like” running back much less a “Bettis-like” of “Harris-like” one. Coolong notes that they both had impressive moments last year amid less-than-stellar ones. I think that is a fair assessment. Coolong sees the real competition to be between Dwyer and Redman for a roster spot. Bell was just drafted and Stephen-Howlings was just signed, likely to shore up special teams, and Baron Batch is nowhere on the radar even though he is still on the roster along with UDFA Curtis McNeal. I wonder if there is a surprise left within this running back competition because everyone seems to have it solved except for a few minor details. I hope so. I like an underdog story.
Key Defensive Players for 2013 Steelers
Jason-Jayden Robinson, who blogs for If It Ain’t Steel discusses 5 players who need to dominate this season. He supports his opinion with players quotes from previous articles where some of the five speak of their own confidence in their ability. Robinson discusses Steve McLendon, Ziggy Hood, LaMarr Woodley, Cortez Allen, and Troy Polamalu and he sees them as keys to the success of the team. He also agrees with Dejan Kovacevic of the Tribune Review that the Steelers Defense needs to get some of their snarl back. I agree with most of what Robinson says and I think he words it well. It’s an interesting read.
That’s it for Today
Let us know what I missed and what I got wrong. Are you looking forward to training camp starting?