I had my first experience at Steelers Training Camp yesterday and I have to say, even though I got there after practice had started and missed the prime autograph opportunities, it was amazing. There were a massive amount of people there for the Steelers Friday Night Lights practice, this year at Saint Vincent instead of Latrobe Memorial High School. Reportedly around 18,000 Steelers fans packed the campus for all the activities and, of course, to watch the Steelers practice.
Tomlin’s review of practice
The crowd at Saint Vincent was very excited for their Steelers and excited for every snap of the ball. Tomlin was asked in particular if he put any stock into the reaction that rookie running back Le’Veon Bell got from the crowd for his runs.
“The crowd reacted to every ball we snapped today. He has some moments. He has some good moments as did some others. He is working hard and trying to do what we ask him to do, and that is a great place to begin for a young guy.”
Remember how I was just saying how the Steelers have been relatively fortunate injury-wise for camp? Well unfortunately Cortez Allen, who hasn’t been practicing since the first day of practice, had minor knee surgery Friday morning. Coach Tomlin said that the surgery went well; they decided it was time to clean it up as opposed to Allen continuing to deal with the discomfort or sit out without the surgery and all signs so far are pointing to a quick return for Allen. While I was waiting for autographs and watching the players walk up the hill into their dorm I noticed that Curtis Brown had his hamstring wrapped with an ice pack and walked with a limp. Dom has already pointed out how Brown is on the “Training Camp Hot Seat” this season after spending his first two years contributing sparingly and mostly on special teams but now with the opportunity Keenan Lewis left behind and Allen’s surgery, we’re going to see a lot of Brown and William Gay early on.
Keisel only focused on this season
Brett Keisel has the distinction of being the Steelers oldest starter as he turns 35 in September. Also, he’s in the last year of his contract with the Steelers. As Alan Robinson from the Trib reports, Keisel isn’t looking ahead too much this season.
“I haven’t really thought about what is going to happen in the future. I’m focused on this year, leading this team this year and getting us back to where we belong.”
In watching the D-line practice last night, you can see that Keisel is unquestionably a leader on the team. You would have thought he was on the coaching staff, if it weren’t for his uniform, by the way he stopped after each drill to instruct and demonstrate.
Polamalu shines in two-minute drill
While the crowd at the stadium last night was reacting to just about every play, there was clearly one player that makes Steeler Nation cheer more than any other. Mark Kaboly of the Trib discusses how Coach Tomlin had the team practice their 2-minute drill Friday night late in practice, much to the delight of the crowd. The undeniable star of that drill was safety Troy Polamalu, who had two outstanding pass break-ups that had the crowd excited. Polamalu is coming off of what seems like an eternity of injury-plagued seasons so if there’s anyone that Steeler Nation is excited to see back to their old form it’s him.
One of the things I learned after my first experience at training camp was that I suck at getting autographs. While the blogger in me wanted to really watch and study practice and get a sense for how this team is looking, the fan in me wants more autographs on my Terrible Towel and pictures of my favorite players. I had to work Friday so I was unable to get to the campus until after the practice had started, so I missed the prime autograph-getting opportunities. If you don’t have any kids and you want to go to camp and get some autographs, I’d suggest borrowing some for the day. They seem to be able to get the most players to stop for an autograph or picture. I didn’t have anyone available to go with me and I couldn’t stand the possibility of missing the Friday Night practice so I decided to go by myself. Well, I wasn’t exactly by myself. I wore my charm necklace which contains some of my father’s ashes so it was just me and my Dad on the hill in Latrobe watching the Steelers practice. It was bittersweet because I never got the chance to go to training camp with my dad in person, but it was still some good father-daughter bonding time.
Steeler Nation, share some of your favorite training camp experiences in the comments section.