What we learned in the first weekend of NFL Training Camps:
- Camps open with brutal injuries
- Shockingly, Tebow unimpressive in Patriots camp debut
- Johnny Manziel out partying in a Tebow jersey
- Ben Roethlisberger admits frustration with Haley offense last season
- Steelers employ former players as coaching interns for camp
This time next week the Hall of Fame game will remind us that while we miss football with every fiber of our beings, preseason football is painful to watch. But for now let’s still rejoice in the fact that camps are open and we’re well on our way to Sundays filled with football, snacks, and screaming at the television.
Sometimes the biggest concerns of training camp aren’t how well the new coaching staff will adjust or how well the rookies will perform but how well the players can go through it without any serious injuries. The Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens aren’t so lucky. Just after the first weekend of training camp the Eagles have lost WR Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL and the Ravens have lost TE Dennis Pitta to a fractured hip. Both are done for the season. I’d say this puts the Ravens in quite a quandary, who have already signed Visanthe Shiancoe to a one-year contract to replace Pitta, but their receiving corps to quite a hit with the mass exodus of players following Flacco’s giant contract extension. Pitta was one of Flacco’s most reliable targets during their Super Bowl campaign along with Anquan Boldin, who was traded by the Ravens.
Watch 10 minutes of ESPN or the NFL Network and you’re going to hear about the New England Patriots. Whether it’s the ass-kissing of Belichick following his first press conference or the nonstop questions of how each player avoids directly commenting on Aaron Hernandez, it’s a whole lot of coverage. Then there’s the Tebow factor. Tebow got nonstop coverage as a backup quarterback for the New York Jets last year and it’s looking a lot like he’ll get the same circus as the 3rd string in Foxboro. Now, playing 3rd string quarterback means you don’t really get a whole lot of snaps in practice, and even fewer the first few days of training camp but that didn’t stop the major networks from reporting the mind-blowingly shocking news that Tebow looked crappy in the few passes he took. It’s going to be a long season.
Last year all of college football just about crapped their pants over “Johnny Football”, the freshman Texas A & M quarterback, Johnny Manziel. Manziel went on to win the Heisman Trophy and has since spent the remainder of the time partying like a…like a freshman in college that just won the Heisman Trophy. Not sure why he keeps making news like this but this picture began floating around over the weekend. It’s Manziel at a Texas frat party in a Tim Tebow Jets jersey. Must have been a “wear you’re most embarrassing football jersey” themed-party because if you look closely in the front of the picture is a dude wearing a Steelers Limas Sweed jersey. Wow. The fact that a Sweed jersey not only still exists, but is still in circulation just blows my mind. I could give a crap what Manziel does with his summer vacation but someone seriously get that kid in the Sweed jersey some help.
Ben Roethlisberger surprised everyone in June when it was released that he had minor knee surgery to relieve some “discomfort”. He surprised everyone again this weekend by starting camp free and clear and not on the PUP list. What is not surprising is Ben coming out to say that last year there was some frustration adjusting to the Todd Haley offense. While Ben was having very impressive numbers to start the season, he made several comments regarding how plays were being called, the “dink and dunk”, and his wanting to run more no-huddle. Ultimately, the offense kind of tanked towards the end of the season and Ben threw some critical interceptions in playoff-berth-possible games. Ben says that this year the frustration is gone and the team is on board with Haley’s playbook and everything is awesome. I sure hope so, buddy. I realize the Steelers were 12-4 the year before Haley arrived but their red-zone offense stunk something awful so it’s not like Haley came in and tore apart a well-oiled machine or anything. Ben said that there is a good working relationship with his coordinator now and he has met with offensive leaders such as Maurkice Pouncey and Heath Miller in the offseason as well as adjusting the playbook to include terms more familiar with everyone.
“We’ve come up with what I think is the best of all of us, the best of the offense and what we can do together. I think our relationship has grown, mine and Todd’s and Todd’s has grown with every player and every coach. You have to evolve and learn, and that’s why I’m excited about this year, because I think it’s going to be good.”
With the number of issues facing this offense this year, an evolving and improved relationship between Ben and Haley is definitely a good thing. Another good thing this training camp, in my opinion, is the inclusion of several former Steelers players attending camp as coaching interns. The Steelers have brought in Rod Woodson, Chris Hoke, Aaron Smith, and Willie Parker as coaching interns for camp. First, for the Steelers secondary to be trained and coached by Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson this summer just excites me to no end. It’s not always a guarantee that players make great coaches so it’s not like these guys are guaranteed to be great in spite of how well they played, but I respect the organization for giving these guys the opportunity to contribute to the team again.
What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation?