A tumultuous off season has ended. Training camp is closed. The first roster cuts have been made. Only one preseason game stands between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2013 season.
Its been an eventful summer at St. Vincents and on the South Side. Lots has been said and done, with stories answering questions relating to:
- Troy Polamalu’s return to health,
- Ben Roethlisberger’s relationship with Todd Haley,
- injuries and depth (or lack thereof on offensive line),
- the emergence of Shamarko Thomas and Marcus Wheaton,
- injuries, Lisfranc and other sorts, to the likes of Matt Spaeth, Isaac Redman, Plaxico Burress, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Jarvis Jones, and Le’Veon Bell
Live tackling and increased focus on conditioning and the role of emerging leaders have also been frequent topics of conversation.
But there are a few stories that seem to have fallen from the cracks, a few “less frequently asked questions.
Did Golden Miss an Opportunity?
The Steelers reputation of having an old defense continues to dog them. And while Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark aren’t the sole players dragging up that average, they certainly do their part.
The Pittsburgh Steelers liked Shamarko Thomas so much that they traded a future pick — something that they haven’t done since Chuck Noll was head coach and “Star Wars” a rejected name for a Hollywood game show pitting studios of various Hollywood competing against each other.
- And Shamarko Thomas has delivered thus far.
Yet one of the bigger untold stories of the summer of 2013 has been Robert Golden. Golden made the Steelers squad in 2012 as an undrafted rookie free agent, and while he did not play enough his development was strong enough that management felt comfortable saying goodbye to Ryan Mundy and Will Allen – leaving no veteran depth behind Polamalu and Clark.
There were even rumblings on the blogesphere the Golden could make a more outspoken member of the secondary into a cap casualty….
…That later move doesn’t seem likely to come to pass. While there’s no evidence that Golden’s been a “disappointment” or that he’s in danger of losing his roster spot but his name hasn’t been heard much this summer.
Ziggy Heyward vs. Cameron Hood
Hood’s trajectory since assuming Aaron Smith’s spot in 2010 has plateaued since then and many snap-by-snap analysis showed Heyward out performing him in 2012. Others found Heyward equally disappointing.
While the situation of both men got attention early on in camp, there’s been little discussion who is leading the pack. The reason for that could very well be because Hood is holding off Heyward, but that’s only an assumption, making this yet another unasked question.
The Atrocious Teams
Mike Tomlin hired Danny Smith to revive a special teams unit that had again regressed into a team liability.
His unit during the preseason would be more aptly named the Steelers atrocious teams. Throughout the preseason the special teams have been a painful constant.
Many have observed this fact, but few have explored its origin.