Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where things stand

In the numerous radio interviews I've done over the past month while the Steelers were doing OTAs and mini-camp, I've been asked time and again what we've learned from the whole experience.

The reality is that we really haven't learned a lot other than who the Steelers figure will be in their starting lineup come September.

Yes, Martavis Bryant looks like a beast.

Of course the offense is expected to carry the team. It did so last year as well.

There's no doubt the defense, which will be considerably younger than the group that opened last season, will also be faster.

But there's plenty we still don't know, some of which we won't truly be able to get a handle on until sometime in mid-October.

Will a younger and faster defense equal a better defense?

How will Keith Butler's defense differ from the one run by Dick LeBeau?

Where will the sacks come from?

Can the offense become even more dynamic?

Training camp and the preseason will give us a slight glimpse at some of those questions. But they won't completely answer them.

Butler's play calling and style, in particular, will be a work in progress. The Steelers aren't going to tip their hand too much in the preseason. They would be silly to do so.

After all, why show New England or anyone else is on the schedule early any new wrinkles Butler has up his sleeve?

So we can all speculate about this package or that package, but the reality is that if the Steelers' coaching staff is smart - and I believe it is - this preseason will be more bland than a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal.

* The same thing can be said of offensive and defensive linemen. We can see who is in shape and who is not. But when it comes to actual play on the field, there's very little blocking and no tackling in the offseason workouts.

That won't kick off for real for another month.

* While the veterans might not like it, the fifth preseason game this year that the Steelers will play is invaluable to young players hoping to make this roster or one elsewhere.

An extra preseason game might be of no benefit to the starters, who don't figure to play more than an extra series or even quarter in August than they usually would.

Those other three quarters have to be played by someone.


Anonymous said...

Much has been said about the weight McCullers and Geathers have lost. Bryant added some muscle. The linebackers have been working out with Harrison.

But who's not in shape?

datruth4life said...

Cam Thomas. The team could use his $2M salary for extensions a lot more than they could use his lack of talent on the field. Dude is garbage.

Dale Lolley said...

Look, they're all in shape. They're football players, obviously.

But you can see the guys who really put a lot of work into this offseason, reshaping their bodies, etc.

Even Cam Thomas, for as poor as he played last season, is in the shape he needs to be to play where he does.

Marc said...

we need speed. speed's what we need. greasy fast speed!

datruth4life said...

Dale, would you agree that Cam's $2M salary is more valuable to this team than his presence on the field at that amount?

Dale Lolley said...

He's not going to be with the team in 2015. But they're not going to cut him until they have to. What if they release him and have a rash of injuries on the defensive line?

Anonymous said...

Makes u wonder why a guy like cam thomas, who likely sees the writing in the wall, does not outright ask for his release and look for a chance elsewhere. Of course, he could also think he has no chance elsewhere..

datruth4life said...

Dale, now you are talking. What are your thoughts on getting an extension done with Kevin Beachum before the season? I kind of see his situation as being similar to Cortez Allen last year. I think the Steelers will try to get him wrapped up before the season starts because they don't want to see him enter into free agency with no other LT options on the roster. A transition tag or a franchise tag for a LT would be a substantial hit on the salary cap next year and the team also has to focus on deals for DeCastro and L. Bell next year.

I think something gets done with Beachum. I'm not caught up on the size thing at LT as many people are. Antonio Brown has shown me that size doesn't matter as long as you can get the job done. That's also why I feel Golson could end up being a really good slot CB for this defense over the next few years. It's been awhile since this team has had a playmaking quick-twitch CB on the roster. Thoughts on Villanueva and Mike Adams this year? Could Adams make a Keenan Lewis jump this year, his second under the tutelage of Munchak, with the thoughts of FA dollars dancing around in his head. And can Munchak take that 6'9'', 345 lbs of clay and turn him into a solid NFL LT/RT? I guess we'll get the answers shortly.

Anonymous said...

"this preseason will be more bland than a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal."
well said. Please save that off and restate it many times through the preseason for those fans that go into panic mode about pre-season performance.

Dale Lolley said...

I thought Adams did OK at right tackle last season when he filled in. Not great, but OK. And the team went 3-1. The question is, can he do the same on the left side? That, we don't know.

Villanueva is almost a complete unknown at this point. That will be something that sorts itself out in training camp.

Thomas played a lot last season and these guys have supreme confidence in themselves. He's scheduled to make $2 million. Why would you ask for your release?

As for Beachum, he's in line behind Heyward in terms of getting a new deal.

deljzc said...


With it looking like Heyward and Tuitt getting 85%+ of DE snaps this year, are we heading toward only keeping 6 defensive lineman on the roster? The last three seasons we've kept seven but this is the first year the ends are young and seem entrenched in their snap counts.

If we only keep 6, then Thomas could be the odd man out like you say with McCullers/Geathers being in the 5-man rotation and Leterrius Walton as a game-day inactive 6th man backup.

I think Thomas' roster spot really comes down to whether Walton flashes enough as a rookie to play all over the line in a pinch. He's got the size to play both NT and DE for us if he had too. But we'd be thin if we lost one of the starters for an extended time period to injury without Thomas.

Dale Lolley said...

It might be a stretch for Walton to make the regular roster. He could be headed to the practice squad unless he really, really flashes.
One of the other young linemen or Thomas could wind up as the sixth guy. And my guess is that they only keep six.

Dawn L. Young Young said...

The excitement and thrills of NFL game day action are commonplace along with you. Watch Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers football game live is usually a unique beast of its own.