Jul 27, 2013; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers player helmets line the field during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Good morning Steeler Nation. Saturday’s training camp was a bit damp, but Steeler Nation was still represented according to Nick Veronica of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. There are tons of articles, blogs, and tweets to pick from for the Morning Huddle. I tried to pick an interesting sampling.
“I feel like this year could be one of my best”
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger is coming into training camp with a much different outlook. Last year, Ben was, in my opinion, a bit chippy – like the big dog on the block who resents a new dog moving into the neighborhood and peeing on his turf. Roethliberger’s quotes this year sound about 180 degrees from where they were last year. He’s positive about the season. The above quote really stood out to me because I want Roethlisberger to be hungry and confident. His quotes sound like they aren’t from the stock sports cliches either. Roethlisberger also spoke to the team atmosphere:
"I’ve seen more cohesiveness among these guys right now than I have in a long time.”"
That’s possibly the best news. Despite all the denials (what else were they going to say?) that everything in the locker room was fine, we all knew it wasn’t as good as it needed to be to have a good season. You just can’t underrate team chemistry. Read the article and see if you the vibe gives you hope or if you think it’s the same old thing and Roethlisberger’s saying what he’s been told to say.
Alan Robinson also posted an interview with Roethlisberger that goes over much of the same stuff, but comes from a one-on-one interview with the quarterback. This one goes into a bit more detail about the off season meetings and how Haley worked to change or restore the terminology that the offensive veterans were more comfortable with. I’ll bet that was a big learning experience for Haley – it can’t always be “my way or the highway” or things can fall apart around you if the players or employees don’t buy into your system. I’ve seen that happen for myself in a previous workplace.
Running Back Competition and Willie Parker’s Coaching Internship
I saw Parker’s Tweets and Facebook posts and was excited to see him back in the Steelers family. Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did an article about the RB’s and Parker’s internship. Parker, whose 6 years with the Steelers seemed to go by in the blink of an eye, is back just when the younger running backs could use a recent good RB example among them. Mendenhall, who should have been a veteran leader last year, was a disaster in the role. He was still very self-focused. I don’t blame him, but it wasn’t what the team needed. Parker’s presence could be just what running backs coach Kirby Wilson needs to help spark them. The word is that Isaac Redman showed up in a different body this year. This is going to be fun to watch. I hope they all stay healthy and it’s not a selection by injury attrition.
Ralph N. Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review also posted an article about the competition and has quotes from Dwyer and Redman. One of Dwyer’s quotes shows a team focus:
"It’s good to have a good group of guys up front consistently, game after game, but it shouldn’t matter who’s up there,” said Dwyer, who led the team in rushing with 623 yards on 156 attempts. “Whoever is running the ball has to make positive yardage.”"
Absolutely. I don’t care who has the ball as long as they are adding to pushing the offense to the next down or the next score. This week should be exciting.
Wide Receivers Warming Up
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review focused on the wide receivers during the first day of training camp and sees Emmanuel Sanders as a key to opening up some down field receptions for the Steelers. He also addressed the “fuss” about Mike Wallace’s departure that has, frankly, frustrated me:
"So, why fuss over Wallace’s departure at all, much less consider it critical to replace what he did?Simple: He stretched the field, maybe better than anyone in the NFL.His deep routes dragged one defensive back, usually two, with him and opened underneath routes for Sanders, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. All concerned would emphatically praise Wallace for that, even when — no, especially when — he’d manage no more than a couple of catches.”"
Kovacevic sees Brown as the bigger WR threat but that Sanders can help draw off some coverage and “keep the defense honest.” Take a look at how Kovacevic sums up the article with his conversation with Antonio Brown. Gotta love AB!
Both the Tribune Review and the Post-Gazette beat reporters put tidbits from camp that didn’t develop into full articles into “Notebooks.” There are quotes from Heath Miller, Ziggy Hood, Marcus Gilbert, and Markus Wheaton. There’s nothing surprising in any of them, but you can get a quite bit of the feel from the quotes and tidbits.
Tweet of the Day
There are tons of awesome tweets now that camp is going and I’m going to start ending with a great tweet that I’ve spotted over the last 24 hours. Who better to highlight than Mike Tomlin. You know we’re going to get some good tweets from him! Here ya go:
That’s it for today. Here we go Steelers! Here we go!