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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Breaking camp

I broke camp Friday night, but the Steelers stayed until Saturday morning. I thought it only right that I wait to post my final camp thoughts until the team actually ended its 50th training camp at Saint Vincent College.

I've been there for 23 of those camps and have seen it grow greatly. I thought about that again - for about the 500th time in the past month - as I looked out over campus Friday while doing my final radio show - the 32nd show I did from this year's camp - sitting in the Chuck Noll Press Box above the Chuck Noll bleachers overlooking Chuck Noll Field.

* The players finished up camp sans shoulder pads on Friday. I wonder what Chuck Noll would have thought about that.

* Funny moment in practice Friday came as Mike Tomlin had a light moment when he wandered over to a young reporter who has been busting the coach's hump with questions about every player signed when another guy has been Waived'Injured in this camp - and there were a lot of them.

The questions always went, "So how does Joe look?" No last name. No further hint to Tomlin who the reporter, whom Tomlin dubbed, "Obscure guy question guy," was talking about. It led to some awkward moments.

Tomlin stepped over to OGQG and said, "You gonna ask me all about No. 2?" Number 2 is now rookie receiver Jarrod West, a Syracuse grad, who not only took Tajh Boyd's roster spot, but his number as well.

OGQG replied, "I went to college with him."

Of course.

* I graduated from Pitt-Johnstown, which doesn't field a football team, but there was one guy from UPJ with the Steelers when I started covering the team in 1993, Carlton Haselrig.

He was better than any Syracuse guy the Steelers have had since I've been around.

* That's what worries me a bit about Shamarko Thomas. Is he a player or is he the next Anthony Smith?

He wasn't on the field enough in this training camp for anyone to figure that out.

I've said numerous times on my various radio broadcasts that with so many new faces or young guys on the defense, odds are that one or two will become stars, one or two will become solid starters and one or two will fail.

If I had to put odds on it right now, I'd say Ryan Shazier will be the star, Stephon Tuitt, Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones will be solid starters and Thomas might be the guy who flames out.

I'm not including Cortez Allen or Mike Mitchell on that list, though I think both will be solid starters. They both started last season as starters.

I think both of those guys will be fine.

* My expectations of the Steelers defense have really gone down over the years.

I look for this group to be middle of the pack again. But if Keith Butler can cobble together 20 sacks from the outside linebackers, 15 from the defensive line and five to 10 from the rest of the group, it will be a marked improvement from the 33 they had last season.

* Same goes for turnovers. Anything above 15 interceptions is a marked improvement.

* Are those things doable? I think so. One thing for sure, the defense is younger and more athletic.

* With this offense, that might be all that's needed. As good as the Steelers were last year on offense, they are even better this year.

This defense has to get better practicing against that group every day, doesn't it?

* Alden Darby, Kevin Fogg, Roosevelt Nix and Ian Wild are the guys who have really helped themselves with strong training camps. But I don't know if more than one of those guys will make the final roster.

* The problem is that none of those guys play defensive line. The Steelers' No. 3 defensive end might be on somebody else's roster right now.

Cam Thomas has been OK as a nose tackle. But he showed last year that he's not athletic enough to play defensive end - especially if Butler is going to turn the ends loose more this season.

The Steelers are an injury away at that position from catastrophe.


Anonymous said...

If all those become solid and Shaz a star indeed then that's a very good outlook even if Shamarko sucks. His previous two preseasons he was a star though, so just hoping he shows something the next two games. That's a good sacks outlook too. 40 is mine, way lower than yours and still looks good compared to the last two years.

Hopefully Walton keeps impressing and makes the roster, I think his chances are high, but yeah there's no way they let him be the #3 DE that early into his career. Not even Tuitt got that luxury and he was a 2nd round pick

Christy Caldwell said...

Sucks that Tajh Boyd was never even given a chance to show what he could do during a preseason game! And L Jones was not impressive! The Steelers lost a great athlete and a great guy when they cut Boyd!

Dale Lolley said...

Tajh Boyd couldn't take a snap properly at training camp. Fumbled them time and again. Good guy, yes? Good football player? No.

Anonymous said...

Would be nice to still have Josh Mauro around.

Bobby Gust 'drazl' said...

Stephon Tuitt - You think he has more of a chance to see the limelight with the possible changes to our "D" over the next few years? A traditional 3/4 D/E isn't getting much love from the highlight reel and we all know how darn good Aaron Smith was. Also do you think he has the athleticism to make that work (getting after the QB). From what I've heard its a yes but I would love to hear your opinion particularly comparing his play to Aaron Smith's

Anonymous said...

Still would've have taken Henry Anderson DE, Stanford in the 3rd round. Think he will be a steal for the Colts. Would've provided nice depth at the position instead of taking a 5th WR in the 3rd round (Coates). DL depth is very thin.

Mark said...

Coates is a 5th WR this year.

My guess is that the team will find a way to keep Brown on a 3rd contract, DHB will be gone in a year or two, and they'll be lucky to keep either Bryant or Wheaton (given how much other teams will pay for a quality WR). In a season or two, Coates could be the 2nd WR, which is decent value for a 3rd round pick.

Anonymous said...

Still think Henry Anderson was better value in the 3rd for a team desperate for defense.

Could've found a WR in the 4/5th round in a deep WR class. Coates has hit or miss potential. Hands are a big question mark. Kenny Bell, R Greene, Justin Hardy, Diggs wouldve been solid choices in later rds.

marc said...

I don't think a team should draft for 2nd/3rd string dline depth in the third round. Coates is a potential starter with significant upside, imo

Anonymous Brian said...

Based on the look of it, hopefully what I just saw w/ #53 was only a high ankle sprain.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Coates can fill in for Tuitt now

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