While every year the fan complaints about “the drudgery that is preseason football” get louder, one inescapable fact remains unchanged:
- Every summer the much maligned rite of “preseason football” gives 45 young men a shot at a lifetime dream.
Think about it. With the exception of a handful of highish round draft choices, and NFL gives young rookies a brief, four game window in which the dream of “playing in the big leagues” becomes possible.
- And then that dream is over. And for most of the kids its over forever.
Heck Willie Parker and James Harrison set records in Super Bowls XL and Super Bowl XLIII respectively. Players like Dan Kreider, Ramon Foster, and Nate Washington show that the Steelers have found contributors at nearly every position area via the undrafted rookie free agent pool.
But for every Steve McLendon and every Kaydrick Vincent there are 44 or 45 Kyle Clements. (Clement was a member of the Steelers 2008 undrafted rookie free agent class, and his shot at NFL glory ended in injury after a few series in the Steelers first preseason game in ’08.)
While the Steelers Saturday night match up at Heinz Field vs. the Giants is key for many of these nameless NFL wanna bes, its also critical for other, higher profile aspirants.
- Earlier, Steel Curtain rising profiled 5 Steelers fighting for their NFL lives this summer in Latrobe.
Of those five, perhaps no one faces a more daunting task than the Steelers 2012 4th Round Draft Pick Alameda Ta’amu.
- Alameda Ta’amu’s story is well known to Steelers Nation — for all the wrong reasons.
The Kevin Colbert traded up to get Ta’amu in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL draft, explaining that the move was necessary because Alameda Ta’amu was the true nose tackle in the draft.
Its gone downhill since then for Ta’amu. First he struggled in 2012’s training camp, gaining far more noteriety for his walk to Walmart than anything he did on the field.
Then came Ta’amu’s drunken rampage on the South Side.
Since then Ta’amu has done all the right things (save for a boneheaded rewetweet).
- But now he’s facing a rather unenviable situation.
Opening training camp on the Steelers PUP list, Ta’amu was activated only to learn that in a year he’s gone from promising 4th round draft pick to 4th on the depth chart.
Yet, the Steelers preseason game vs. the Giants could change all of that.
- And the irony is that Ta’amu might not even get to play
Ta’amu began Steelers training camp with a hamstring injury and was only activated days ago, and no word has been given on whether or not he will play.
- If he does, he needless to say he’s got to put in a strong performance.
If not, he find himself in the perverse position of hoping that Al Woods and Loni Fangupo prove that they’re not NFL nose tackle material.
Regardless of griping from some fans, the position battles that will occur in the final three quarters of the preseason game vs. the Giants are very important to the futures of these young men and the Steelers line itself.