Steelers fans should not put too much stock into training camp
By Eric Hassel
The Steelers will commence the 2021 training camp shortly, but fans should not put too much into it
So let me clarify something right out of the gate. When I say that Steelers fans should not put too much stock into training camp, that does not mean we should not put ANY stock into training camp. There is a plethora of useful information that can be gleaned from any training camp, most notably information about how the rookies may acclimate themselves to life in the NFL.
First-year players as well will, most likely, benefit from training camp, but, for the veterans, it’s probably more of the ‘same old, same old’. Not that the ‘same old, same old’ is necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think Steelers fans are going to be able to decipher much from training camp.
Training camp this year presents a unique challenge on the offensive side of the ball. As we know, Matt Canada, our newly promoted Offensive Coordinator, will undoubtedly use this year’s training camp as an opportunity to not only implement his offensive scheme but to evaluate how he will be able to utilize Najee Harris, the Steelers first-round pick in 2021.
Harris is only one player Canada will be evaluating but I think it’s not a stretch to say that the most important player on offense for Canada will be evaluating, for lack of a better term, is our franchise and future Hall of Fame QB, Ben Roethlisberger. Canada will not so much be evaluating ‘Big Ben’ as he will be leaning on him for the veteran leadership a new OC needs.
The Steelers 2021 training camp will not be a ‘blast from the past’
So when I said that Steelers fans should not put too much stock into training camp what I really mean is this: Training camp these days is not like training camp of yesteryear. I apologize upfront for this terrible analogy but I think you will understand the point I am trying to make. I only played football through my Junior year of High School, but I dreaded camp because it was two weeks of two-a-days in full pads at full speed.
NFL training camp used to be the same way, but it has evolved into an almost unrecognizable entity. Tackling has become something of a lost art. I attribute that to the lack of consistent padded practices, this from the official website of the NFL.
So for the first three days of training camp, there is ZERO contact. Think about that for a minute. For a team like the Steelers who play a physical style of defense, the lack of contact hurts us and it has for years. This is only part of the reason fans really cannot put too much stock into training camp.
Another reason fans cannot put too much stock into training camp is this: Because there is so much time dedicated to position meetings and because there are several practices that are not in full pads, it’s tough to evaluate how ‘tough’ a runner Harris will be, for example. Frankly, we need to see how ‘tough’ a runner Harris will be since he will probably get four-hundred carries this season.
Steelers fans will, unfortunately, have to wait until the regular season commences to be able to gauge how things will unfold, so let’s sit back, relax and enjoy training camp for what it is, well-orchestrated practice sessions that certainly do not hearken back to the ‘Steel Curtain’ days.