Today is the day Steeler Nation. Your Pittsburgh Steelers will report to Saint Vincent College for the 48th year to begin training camp for the 2013 season. Must be fitting that the area is experiencing unseasonably cool temperatures because all of Western Pennsylvania and beyond are ready for the fall and ready for some Steelers football!
Team-building starts today
Bob Labriola of the Steelers Digest reports how today is the day that signals a time of hope and unwavering optimism for fans as the training camp opens for the season. For players, it can be the difference in earning a job that they’ve worked for since they were children, and that can set up their children’s children with big pay days. For the Steelers specifically, camp means the now 90-man roster will be coming together to eventually form the 53 men who will put on the Black & Gold in Heinz Field on September 8th. There will be some familiar faces absent, and some new faces to the squad. What I want to know is if the Wendy’s in Latrobe is prepared to adjust for the lack of triple stacks sold this year since Casey Hampton won’t be there. The issues from last season are obvious; the defense didn’t take the ball away enough and the offense gave it up too much, the offensive line depth is lacking, the wide receivers are young and will be missing the speed of Wallace, and there’s always an issue of knowing which rookies can contribute and/or start right away.
10 musts for a winning Steelers season
Alan Robinson of the Trib describes what he thinks are the most glaring issues that must be corrected in order for the Steelers to turn their 8-8 record into a winning one this year. He first points out the turnovers and the parity between the amount the offense gave up and the amount the defense took away. Health is another issue Robinson describes citing that the Steelers had only 8 starters last year to play all 16 games. All eyes will be on Troy Polamalu to see if he can stay healthy the entire season. He also points out, as Dom has done as well here, that this is a pivotal year for both Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward. Robinson’s No. 7 issue and I think one of my top 5 issues would be the running game. One of the things I’m most looking forward to knowing out of camp is who will step forward as the potential starting RB, or if it will be a committee, and then of course just how successful can that starter or committee be come the regular season. Robinson also talks about the Steelers age, players like Ryan Clark and Brett Keisel, who are on the wrong side of 30 but still more than capable of playing at a high level. What are your biggest questions/issues to be answered for the Steelers to have a successful season?
Contract negotiations almost done for the year
Ed Bouchette of the PPG reminds us that with the start of the Steelers season means the end of the contract negotiation season between the front office and the players. The Steelers have a long-standing tradition of refusing to negotiate player contracts or extensions once the regular season has kicked off and there’s no reason to expect a change now. My biggest question mark would be to see if they are really able to sign Emmanuel Sanders to the extension that would justify their matching the tender the New England Patriots placed on him during free agency. Right now Sanders will get $2.5 million for the year but would be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. If they’re unable to sign him to a long-term deal and avoid him entering free agency, in my opinion, it would be a waste to have just rented him for one season. Of course that all depends on how productive he is. The two players not healthy enough to start camp practice on Saturday are Mike Adams and Heath Miller. Adams is still recovering from stab wounds from an attempted car-jacking a few months ago and Miller is still rehabbing from ACL surgery.
How excited are you for the start of training camp Steeler Nation? What do you think must be achieved in camp in order for the Quest for #7 to be a reality this season?