Steelers Training Camp Injuries: Too Much?

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If you’ve been following the Steelers training camp you may have noticed a few things. Jesse James is the 3rd tight end now. Brandon Boykin is a new addition to corner. Le’Veon Bell is really good at running routes. And, oh ya, everybody is injured.

Sure, not literally everybody is injured, but so many players have gotten some injury or another that it would not be mathematically irresponsible to just round it up and call it everyone. So what’s the deal?

Well, one possibility is mere caution. Some injuries like Martavis Bryant have been fairly small or precautionary. This is perfectly understandable. If you can fix a little thing in camp to prevent the possibility of a big injury during the season then that’s exactly what the Steelers need to do. There’s been so many injuries however, some of which have obviously not been precautionary, that caution does not seem a sufficient answer.

Tomlin runs hard practices, famously so. He expects his players to be in great shape and he’s not afraid to put on the pads and hit hard in camp. Steelers players are often in great shape. Recall the total transformation Le’Veon Bell made after his first year.

On the other hand, recall how Le’Veon Bell started his career on the injury list. It’s hard to say what the usual amount of training camp injuries should be but it’s starting to feel like the Steelers regularly exceed that number.

The question has to be asked, are the players being pushed to hard at camp? You hear about backs on backers, and there seems to always be a couple fights. With injuries, particularly this year, it’s reasonable to wonder if this is doing more harm than good to push this hard, this early. And with the 5 game preseason it’s maybe especially unnecessary to be going this hard at this point.

On the other hand, to be fair, this far out from the season maybe it gives time for injuries to heal. On the other, other hand, with rookies and new players it doesn’t really matter if you’re back in time for the regular season because by then it will be too late.

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Thus far, the following players have had some injury or another: DE Clifton Geathers, ILB Vince Williams, WR Markus Wheaton, QB Bruce Gradkowski, S Robert Golden, WR Martavis Bryant, TE Rob Blanchflower, RB Ross Scheuerman, S Gerod Holliman, OLB Jarvis Jones, ILB Ryan Shazier, CB Senquez Golson, S Mike Mitchell, S Ross Ventrone, OT Mike Adams, RB Josh Harris, CB Antwon Blake, C Maurkice Pouncey, S Shamarko Thomas, RB DeAngelo Williams, OG Ramon Foster, WR Eli Rogers, S Will Allen, OLB Shawn Lemon, OG Chris Hubbard, and DT Steve McLendon.

That’s 26 players. I’m not even assuming that’s all of them. But camp started out with 5 players dealing with injury and in less than 2 weeks that number has swelled to more than 500% of it’s original size.

The injuries vary. Some, or 5, like Adams or Gradkowski happened before camp started. Others, like Bryant are minor or precautionary. Some occurred to players Steeler nation was eager to see play, like Shawn Lemon or Clifton Geathers, neither of whom will be wearing the black and gold again.

Some occurred to stars or players essential to the team’s success like Jones, Shazier, Pouncey, Mitchell, and McLendon. Losing any of those players would be a big blow to their unit.

Some have already made a depth chart changing impact on the team, like Golson for example. Golson, thankfully btw, may not need surgery, but the reps a rookie like him or Holliman, or free agent like Lemon lose just cannot be made up for.

Tomlin recently said of the injuries during a press conference, as reported by Steelers.com, “A lot of other bumps and bruises associated with camp. Nothing to speak of of any significance from that standpoint. Hopefully we’ll get some of these guys back as they get well.”

Hopefully indeed. It’s certainly important to hear the pads pop and shake off the cobwebs but for those players it’s more important to learn your reads and responsibilities, the plays and techniques, and they cannot do that from the sidelines.

This is not the first time the Steelers have dealt with injuries during camp under Tomlin. Drills like backs on backers are hard drills but likely have helped a player like Bell become a solid pass blocker. So there are certainly some benefits, but there are obviously some consequences.

Is it all worth it? Is it too much? Are the injuries too much, and is the practice too much? It’s difficult to say, but at this point it’s certainly a question worth asking. We just might have to wait until Week 1 to get a definitive answer.

Next: Steelers Preseason: What to Watch

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