The Pittsburgh Steelers concluded their schedule of offseason workouts this week. The next time they assemble as a team will be July 25th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for Training Camp. Until then the team has about five weeks off to relax and gear up for the official start of the 2014 NFL season.
Some of the main observations around the block coming out of minicamp are:
- Getting to know each other
The Steelers signed a whole heap of new free agents this offseason but none is more anticipated as far as how he will work on the field with his new teammates than free safety Mike Mitchell. It wasn’t until the minicamp started on Tuesday that Mitchell had the chance to work with Troy Polamalu, who was previously working out in California during the voluntary workouts. From here on out the two are looking to form a bond that will carry them onto the field in the way that Troy bonded with Chris Hope and then with Ryan Clark in the same positions. Shouldn’t be a difficult task for Mitchell to bond with Polamalu because, according to all accounts from anyone close to the team, Polamalu is a genuinely nice guy. What will be more important, however, is how well they work together on the field.
- Speed, speed, speed
The main theme so far still seems to be “speed” for the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers team. While, all this is still related to “football in shorts”, it’s definitely the impression that many people got while covering the team for the offseason workouts. From top draft pick Ryan Shazier to Dri Archer, to Mike Mitchell the team, by all accounts so far, is fast fast fast.
- No-huddle is no joke
The Steelers definitely saw what the no-huddle did for them offensively at the end of last season and have incorporated it into their training pretty early on this offseason. The team has practiced no-huddle in various different scenarios, being able to run or pass from the no-huddle for the optimum advantage. It seems to be more than just talk, at least at this point in the preparation for the season that the no-huddle will be in big play this season for the Steelers.
One of the main objectives the Steelers had this offseason was to improve the running game and with the addition of LeGarrette Blount, they really think they’ve put together a “beefier” and more balanced rushing attack. Even the PPG’s Ed Bouchette thinks that the combination of Le’Veon Bell, Blount, Dri Archer, and fullback Will Johnson could provide the Steelers their most balance rushing threat since Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker in 2005.
- Staying healthy is the key
The Steelers broke for the remainder of the offseason without any major injury problems on the 90-man roster. What that means is it’s up to those 90 players to keep themselves in game-condition so that every last one of them can pass the conditioning test when camp opens and there won’t be anyone starting camp on the PUP list.
Keep in mind along with all this positivity that this was still “football in shorts”, as Mike Tomlin puts it. The real first test of this team will be putting on the pads in Latrobe. And, coming off of consecutive 8-8 seasons, that’s just the first of many tests for the 2014 Steelers.