Steelers Bad Luck with Offensive Line Injuries Continues: Nik Embernate Goes Down….

The Pittsburgh Steelers began their 2013 training camp with Steelers Nation crossing their fingers that dice would have memories – namely that the horrendously bad luck the team has endured with injuries to offensive lineman would end.

Its still early, but those hopes already appear to be in vain, as offensive lineman Nik Embernate of San Diego State went down at St. Vincents. Dan Gigler of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described it form the scene:

UFA Embernate from SD St. carted off w/ serious potential leg injury
— Dan Gigler (@gigs412) August 1, 2013

During the Mike Tomlin era no position has been the subject for more turmoil for the Pittsburgh Steelers than offensive line. In and effort to change that, the Steelers have invested heavily in rebuilding their offensive line in the 2010, 2011, and 2012 NFL Drafts, with the picks of Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, and David DeCastro.

  • Alas, by mid-season 2012, Mike Tomlin again was forced to play plug and patch, and musical chairs on offensive line again became the norm as the team’s playoff chances faded away.

In spite of that, the Tomlin along with Kevin Colbert chose to risk the wrath of the injury gods and did not select a single offensive lineman with their 9 picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.

They did however, include quite a few offensive lineman in their 2013 undrafted rookie free agent class. For other franchises that might be a ho-hum observation, but not in Pittsburgh.

Kevin Colbert has had an uncanny knack for striking gold in the undrafted rookie free agent pool. And Colbert has done particularly well with undrafted rookie free agent offensive lineman, with Darnell Stapelton, Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster starting in Super Bowls for the Steelers.

While Mike Golic Jr. grabbed everyone’s attention when joined as rookie free agent, many felt that Nik Embernate had better long-term prospects.

If the reports of the injury’s severity are confirmed, those prospects might have to wait until another summer…..

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Steelers Cut Luke Ingram, Sign Buddy Jackson

On man’s tragedy is another man’s opportunity in the NFL and the Steelers are no exception.

Training camp is not yet a week old and the Steelers have already cut Nigel Malone and Omar Hunter, and today they made additional cuts, parting ways with long snapper Luke Ingram. As “Paper Champions” of Behind the Steel Curtain observed, veteran Steelers long snapper Greg Warren will sleep soundly tonight.

The Steelers waived Ingram to claim former Pitt DB Buddy Jackson off of waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs. Jackson made it into the league as a undrafted rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts, but got waived in camp. The Washington Redskins carried him on their roster for the last 7 games of the 2012 campaign.

Jackson is the second defensive back the Steelers have added this week, when earlier they signed Ryan Steed, who spent time in 2012 with the New Orleans Saints.

Things change quickly in the NFL. Just one week ago when the Steelers began training camp, defensive back was not considered a need, but rather one of their deepest positions. However, cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke, himself fighting for roster spot, is out with a mild-to serious knee injury and Cortez Allen is out with an injury thought to be more minor. 5th round draft pick Terry Hawthorne is also out with an injury.

Presumably Steed and Jackson were brought on to be training camp bodies, but Mike Tomlin and Carnell Lake will give both men a fair shot at earning a roster spot.

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5 Steelers Fighting for Their NFL Lives this Summer

Steelers Nation finds its hallowed ground on the fields of St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe. Since the mid-60’s the Steelers shifted their home from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium and to Heinz Field but, through it all, St. Vincent’s has remained a constant.

  • Every summer dreams are born at St. Vincent’s.

In 1969 Andy Russell saw Joe Greene toss a veteran aside like a rag doll in his first Oklahoma drill and knew the franchise’s fortunes had changed. 20 years later Bubby Brister earned jeers of from the press for scrawling “Playoffs 89” on a St. Vincent’s chalkboard, later that January after the 1989 Steelers story book season, it was Brister who was laughing.

But if St. Vincent’s is where the Steelers have forged their dynasties then it is also the venue where NFL dreams end:

Dwayne Woodruff, the last of the Super Steelers, drove to Latrobe to call it a career in the summer of 1991 on the first day of what would be Chuck Noll‘s final Steelers training camp. David Little got cut in 1993 when it was clear Levon Kirkland, Jerry Olsavsky, Chad Brown and Reggie Barnes had played him out of a roster spot.

  • Woodruff and Little were lucky.

Their dreams came to an end at St. Vincents only after long careers. Others have not been so lucky, nor will several this summer, as the Steelers first training camp cuts have reminded everyone.

While few players, other than first and second round draft picks, hold down roster spots on merit alone, others make it because they can play a role and for what they will contribute, not what they can contribute.

But there comes a time when the proverbial “Future is now” when players must transform potential in to production, or else get a visit from The Turk.

Steel Curtain Rising now takes a look at 5 Steelers fighting for their NFL lives they work their way into training camp.

Baron Batch
The Steelers drafted Baron Batch in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and during his first training camp he impressed the press, his teammates, and his coaches before tearing his ACL. Batch’s work as both a writer and an artist also gave him a connection with fans.

Batch dutifully went about his rehab and in the Steelers 2012 Training Camp was to be Batch’s time to shine.

  • The good news? Baron Batch was the second leading Steelers running back during the 2012 pre season.
  • The bad news? Despite getting 45% more carries than the next highest back, Batch only managed 3.0 yards a carry and didn’t catch a pass.

Batch made the final regular season roster, at least in part by virtue of the fact that Rashard Mendenhall was recovering from a torn ACL, and Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were both injured. During the regular season Batch gained 49 yards on 25 carries and had 4 catches for 31 yards.

Having played in 12 games with the Steelers, Batch has no practice squad eligibility left and with the acquisition of Le’von Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and LaRod Stephens-Howling in free agency, Batch is facing now or never time.

Stevenson Sylvester
The Steelers picked Stvenson Sylvester in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft, that year he did what rookie linebackers are supposed to do – he excelled on special teams. Big things were expected of Sylvester in 2011, and injuries to James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and James Farrior would seemingly have been a blessing to Sylvester.

Training camp injuries to several linebackers in 2012 likely saved Sylvester’s spot in 2012. During the year he saw little action at linebacker, and the attention he called to himself on special teams was generally for penalties (ok, we can say that about just everyone last year).

The Steelers chose not to protect Sylvester as a restricted free agent in 2013, yet no one showed an interest (in contrast to Emmanuel Sanders and Steve McLendon) let alone made an offer.

Sylvester’s biggest asset in making the cut in 2012 was his knowledge of Dick LeBeau’s system. This year Marshall McFadden and Adrian Robinson both have a year under their belts.

Clearly Stevenson Sylvester is going to need to do something both special and unexpected to make this roster.

Demarcus Van Dyke
The Steelers thought enough of Van Dyke to commit to his salary for the 2012 season by signing him to prior to their opener vs. Denver. The Steelers had looked at Van Dyke in the 2011 draft, and Van Dyke had the bad luck to be caught in a roster purge in Oakland.

Early on Van Dyke made his presence known, showing off his speed by getting down field on punt coverage. But those flashes faded quickly, and were replaced by special teams foul ups.

  • Corner is one area where the Steelers are deep in, and Van Dyke probably entered camp as the odd man out.

Alameda Ta’amu
The Steelers thought enough of Ta’amu to trade up to get him in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft, declaring him as the last pure nose tackle on the board. Pundits quickly declared him as Casey Hampton’s heir apparent, and predicted he would push Steve McClendon, if not Hampton himself, for playing time.

Ta’amu barely got playing time in the pre-season. And of course there was his drunken rampage though the South Side in October. During mini camp he found himself behind Al Woods on the depth cart – despite the fact that Al Woods had never played nose tackle.

Ta’amu entered camp on the PUP list with a bad hamstring, which could leave his already precarious hold on a roster spot hamstrung (pun fully intended)

Ziggy Hood
OK, this one is a bit of a misnomer. Barring injury, Ziggy Hood land a spot on the Steelers 2013 opening day roster.

  • But then what?

Ziggy Hood was a first round pick in 2009 and Steel Curtain Rising singled Hood out in 2010 as one player whom the Steelers needed to ascend for Pittsburgh to contend. Hood stepped in after Aaron Smith’s injury and, after a slow start, caught fire late in the season and during the playoffs, helping spark the team’s appearance in Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, however, little has been seen of Hood. Statistics indicate that on a snap-per-snap basis, fellow first round pick Cameron Heyward out preformed Hood in 2012.

  • Word is that the coaches will give Cameron Heyward a chance to unseat Ziggy Hood as a starter. As well they should.

As Hood enters his 5th summer at St. Vincents the questions he faces are whether he becomes the first bust in a long line of Kevin Colbert first round draft successes, and whether he proves himself worth of a second NFL contract with guaranteed money measured in 7 figures, or a series of contracts for around the veteran minimum….

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Steelers Cut Nigel Malone, Omar Hunter; Sign Ryan Steed, John Rabe

It is barely 24 hours after the Steelers first 2013 training camp practice in full pads, and already the NFL dream appears to be over for two youngsters. Ed Bouchette is reporting on PG Plus as is that the Pittsburgh Steelers have waived defensive tackle Omar Hunter and cornerback Nigel Malone.

This of course does not mean that Malone’s difficulty cost him his dream, but clearly he did not help himself. Malone was originally signed to replace fellow cornerback Justin King. King fell victim to the Steelers infamous June curse, and was placed on injured reserve in June for undisclosed reasons.

But if the dream ends for some, for others it takes on new life. To take their places, the Steelers signed tight end John Rabe from Minnesota and cornerback Ryan Steed from Furman. According to Pro Football Reference, Ryan Steed spent time on the New Orelans Saints roster in 2012, although he accumulated no stats and did not appear in any games.

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Steelers 1st Day at St. Vincents: Roethlisberger’s Knee and PUP List

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened their 47th training camp at St. Vincent’s college in Latrobe to a subdued atmosphere as the franchise attempts to retool, recalibrate, and refocus after a disappointing, inconsistent, injury-plagued 8-8 finish in 2012.

The first day’s agenda consists of little more than players moving and Mike Tomlin’s run test, but there was a little news for Steelers Nation to consume.

Big Ben Sits Out Run Test, Gilbert Carted Off

Ben Roethlisberger had minor knee surgery in early June and while the quarterback reported the he felt fine, Mike Tomlin held him out as a precautionary.

The quarterback spoke about the infamous Roethlisberger-Haley relationship, and admitted to being “frustrated” with Todd Haley’s offense last season, although he confirmed that most frustration lay in new terminology.

While Roethlisberger downplayed the absence of former locker room leaders like Hines Ward and James Farrior, he said he planned to take a larger leadership role this season, and had asked Maurkice Pouncey and Heath Miller to follow suit.

In what might not be so good news, Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers projected starting tackle, passed the Tomlin’s run test but had to be carted off the field after that. Given the utmost important role that the offensive line will play for the Steelers this season, this is not encouraging news.

Miller, Johnson, Spence and Ta’Mau Head Steelers PUP List

The Steelers also began camp with four players on the physically unable to perform list, or PUP list. As expected Heath Miller and Sean Spence headed the list. Reporter Dale Lolley indicated “…[Miller] looks closer to a guy who intends on playing from the get-go than he does somebody who will be out the first six weeks.”

Sean Spence stated that his goal is to make the active roster by mid season.

The other two players starting on the PUP amount to somewhat of a surprise. David Johnson is one, who reportedly is still working his way back to health from the ACL tear he suffered last year in preseason.

The other is Alameda Ta’amu, who reportedly has a hamstring issue. This is very bad news for Ta’amu. The Steelers traded up in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft to get Ta’amu and he has done nothing but disappoint since then.

Adams, Cleared to Play

Steelers Nation did get good news on the injury front. Starting tackle Mike Adams, who was stabbed last month on the South Side continuing what has become the Steelers “June Curse”, has been fully cleared to participate in all activities.

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Back to School: 3 R’s to Guide the Steelers at Saint Vincents: Retool, Recalibrate, and Refocus

It is fitting that the Pittsburgh Steelers still hold training camp at a college, because this franchise needs to concentrate on the 3 R’s while at St. Vincents.

Of course the 3 R’s in question are not reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic but Retool, Recalibrate, and Refocus. While each of the Steelers “3 R’s” represents an area of individual urgency, all of them are interrelated.

Steelers First “R” for 2013 Training Camp:  Retool

The Steelers personnel philosophy since opening Heinz Field has been simple:  Keep the core together.

But a shift away from this philosophy began after 2009 (see the departures of Willie Parker and Deshea Townshend) and has continued in fits and starts (see the return of Foote and Randle El in ’10) since then.

  • Now the Steelers strategic personnel pivot has reached its end-game.

Whether the draftees and rookie free agents of 2012 and 2013 can win starting jobs and roster spots is now a moot question. They will win them because there are no veterans left to hold them back. Max Starks is in San Diego, Willie Colon is in New York, James Harrison is in Cincinnati.

The question now is can players like Jason Worilds, David DeCastro, Cortez Allen, and Mike Adams produce at high enough level for the Steelers make a Lombardi run while Ben Roethlisberger retains some youth (and health).

  • The Steelers have been here before.

Precisely 30 summers ago a fair contingent of the Super Steelers had retired, and Pittsburgh found itself with some aging, yet viable, stars mixed with untested youth.

We now know that there were too many Keith Gary’s, Walter Abercrombie’s and not enough Tunch Ilkin’s, Brian Hinkle’s and Louis Lipps for the Steelers to snatch the elusive “One For the Thumb.”

But in 2013 Mike Tomlin has two advantages that Chuck Noll lacked in 1983:

  • Terry Bradshaw was 35 and Ben Roethlisberger is 31
  • Free agency, yes, free agency

The benefit of a younger franchise quarterback is self-evident. Free agency’s is not, but perhaps it should be.

Historically Steelers Nation has had a hate-hate relationship with free agency, viewing it has a force that has robbed Pittsburgh of talented players as they reach their prime. And that of course has happened.

But free agency also gives the Steelers the ability to divest itself of players who are not up to par or might be good but don’t fit their system. In practical terms this means that Mike Tomlin can get rid of Ryan Mundy whereas Chuck Noll was stuck with Lupe Sanchez.

The story of the Steelers 2013 off season was Kevin Colbert’s attempt to get the most bang out of the Steelers salary cap buck.

They made hard choices, saying good bye to tenured veterans and promising youngsters alike. At St. Vincent’s this summer Mike Tomlin’s challenge is to simultaneously develop and mold that talent into a winning roster.

Steelers Second “R” for 2013 Training Camp:  Recalibrate

We all know the story of the Steelers 2012 season.

  • When the offense was effective, the defense lacked
  • When the defense began shutting down opponents, the offense imploded

Injuries were at the core of some of this ineffectiveness and inconsistency in 2012, but not all of it.

On offense Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley kept denying friction existed between the two of them until the Steelers Digest itself outed them, labeling the improvement of the Roethlisberger-Haley relationship as the off season imperative.

  • On defense the issues are both trickier and more challenging.

Statistically the Steelers have fielded a dominating defense each of the last two seasons. But statistics can deceive. For as strong as the Steelers were in limiting yards, taking away the big play, and winning on third downs turnovers and sacks remained in short supply in both ’11 and ’12.

And this was also the case for the Steelers in 2009.

  • There’s a pattern here, and one that reveals a deficiency that Dick LeBeau must rectify.

It won’t be an easy task, and a single example suffices to show this.

The Steelers defense has been predicated on stopping the run. Casey Hampton took away the middle of the field almost single handedly, and James Harrison, for all of his hell raising in the backfield, was phenomenal vs. the run.

Stopping the run has been cited as a weak point for both Jason Worilds and Cam Heyward – two potential starters on the front seven.

Dick LeBeau has a delicate balance to strike.

Steelers Third “R” for 2013 Training Camp:  Refocus

Friend and Behind the Steel Curtain scribe (full disclosure I also write for BTSC) Ivan Cole recently submitted were that were it not for a fumble in Oakland and one in Dallas that the Steelers would have finished in a three way tie for the AFC North crown.

  • That’s a tantalizing hypothetical, as success or failure in an NFL season often does boil down to a handful of plays.

But the picture in Pittsburgh in 2012 was far more complex. Several times in 2012 in the comments supporting the Steelers post-game report cards it was observed that coaches shouldn’t be held responsible for fumbles and inopportune penalties.

  • And that’s true.

Neither Mike Tomlin nor Amos Jones forced Antonio Brown to fumble in Dallas, just as momentum swung to Pittsburgh.

But Brown’s fumble wasn’t an isolated incident. There were myriad lapses vs. Oakland. The Cleveland road game was a comedy of errors, and vs. Chargers nearly everyone wearing black played just like they’d exited shock treatment. (Heck Mendenhall didn’t even grace the team with his presence that day.)

It is ironic, but not coincidental that the Steelers followed their best game of the season, the backup-powered road victory over Baltimore, with their worst, at home against San Diego where they did their best to make Norv Turner and Philip Rivers look like a modern day Air Croyle

  • Such erratic performance generally boils down a lack of focus.

Fortunately focus is something that can be taught, practiced and bred into a football team. Chuck Noll called it “Singleness of Purpose.” Neither Greg Lloyd nor Merril Hoge were gifted with natural athletic talent. But both men became household names in Steelers Nation because they with competing on every play in every practice, did extra reps and always put in the necessary physical and mental preparation.

A generation later, Hines Ward and James Harrison followed their example.

  • And so it must be with 90 men the Pittsburgh Steelers have brought with them to Latrobe.

Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher both referred to training camp as the time to lay a team’s foundation. Mike Tomlin is no different. The summer the Steelers spent at St. Vincient’s in 2013 needs to be a time where they lay a foundation based on fundamentals and focus.

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Steelers Training Camp Preview: A Closer Look at Mike Tomlin’s New Assistants

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 NFL Draft class won’t be the only new faces feeling their way through their first training camp at Latrobe. So will three new assistant coaches. And that’s unusual.

  • Unlike his predecessor Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin isn’t trigger happy when it comes to firing assistant coaches. 

So it’s understandable that Mike Tomlin’s coaching shake ups in after the Steelers 2009 and 2011 seasons captivated Steelers Nation’s attention. Yet Tomlin’s coaching changes in the wake of 2012’s disappointment’s barely raised an eyelid.

  • Perhaps that shouldn’t be the case – at the very least some patterns appear to be replicating themselves…

Let’s take a closer look.

Bill Cowher to Mike Tomlin, From Trigger Happy to Trigger Hesitant on Assistants

In his first season Bill Cowher assembled a team of coaches who’d never worked together before. Dick Hoak was the lone hold out from Chuck Noll’s staff. Cowher had cold called offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt out of the blue.

  • Skeptics wondered if it could work and 1992 Steelers 11-5 take the league by surprise season shows it did.

But unity did not last long. The day after a blocked punt in a wild card game at Kansas City ended the 1993 Steelers playoff run Bill Cowher fired, in summary execution style, special teams coach John Guy, receivers coach Bob Harrison and defensive line coach  Steve Furness (Furness, a veteran of the Steel Curtain, dismissal was the most surprising, and friends said he never recovered.)

Assistant coach firings became the norm for the Cowher years as Ron Erhardt, Ray Sherman, Kevin Gilbride, and Tim Lewis all got the boot and that’s only counting the coordinators. Other coaches such as Bobby April left because they found Cowher difficult too work for.

In contrast, Mike Tomlin went two years without firing any assistant. Word is that he resisted pressure (who knows why) to fire Bob Ligashesky after special teams disasters sabotaged the Steelers 2007 season.

Tomlin likewise went to the mat in 2009 to defend Bruce Arians job, but he did nonetheless make other coaching changes.

A Closer Look at Tomlin’s Coaching Changes

Although he saved Arians job (with Ben Roethlisberger‘s help), Tomlin fired Larry Zierlin and Bob Ligashesky. Ken Anderson retired as quarterbacks coach creating another vacancy.

Back in 2010, to fill those vacancies, Tomlin hired:

  • Al Everest to coach special teams
  • Sean Kulgler to coach the offensive line
  • Scotty Montgomery to coach the wide receivers 

The vacancy at the quarterbacks coaching spot was filled by Randy Ficthner, who’d served as receivers coach.

Fast forward to 2012. Art Rooney II again pressured Tomlin to fire Bruce Arians, and this time Tomlin declined to stick his neck out for his coordinator, even though he’d already invited Arians back.

Despite the Steelers 8-8 finish, Tomlin fired no assistant coaches, but there’s been plenty of turnover nonetheless. Amos Jones followed Bruce Arians to Pittsburgh West (aka the Arizona Cardinals), Sean Kugler left to coach UT El Paso, and Scotty Montgomery returned to Duke University.

Those departures resulted in Tomlin hiring:

So, in two years time Tomlin has replaced the exact same set of position coaches…

…Does that mean anything? Perhaps not but it’s a coincidence that deserves recognition. Jack Bicknell has no ties to the Steelers or Tomlin, but the same cannot be said for Danny Smith and Richard Mann.

Danny Smith is a Pittsburgh and Central Catholic graduate. He coached at William and Mary, Tomlin alma mater and also coached in Detroit while Kevin Colbert was there.

Richard Mann has worked in the NFL long enough to coach for the original Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. He also happened to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just when Tomin was breaking into the NFL.

So while Tomlin might have shuffled some assistants some, not all of them are exactly new faces. Perhaps that will turn out to be a good thing. Time will tell.

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Steelers Announce 2013 Training Camp Schedule

Breath easy Steelers Nation. We are about to exit “The Void.” Thanks to free agency, the draft, and the miracle of the internet, true NFL off season runs from mid-May to mid-July.

  • But even the darkest night is broken by the dawn.

And the first signs of dawn came yesterday as the Pittsburgh Steelers announced their 2013 training camp schedule.

Those fortunate enough to think of traveling to St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe for a chance to shake Ben Roethlisberger’s hand, tell Troy Polamalu you love him, time yourself in the 40 against Lawrence Timmons or Ike Taylor, and see if Cortez Allen is the the real deal check on LaMarr Woodley’s weight, you can now begin to make plans.

The Steelers begin training camp on Friday, July 26 and fans can begin attending practices the very next day, although you’ll have to settle for watching Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders playing “football in shorts.”

It won’t be until July 29th that you’ll see Jason Worilds and Steve McLendon strap on full pads to justify their status as heirs apparent to legends like James Harrison and Casey Hampton.

As always, the Steelers will hold two night practices. The first at at 7 p.m. Friday on  Aug. 2 under the lights of Latrobe Stadium. The second will be 12 days later on fields of St. Vincents and that will start at 5:30 p.m.

The Steelers will break camp on August 18th, and conduct the balance of preseason preparations on the South Side.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 full training camp schedule is as follows:

Friday, July 26 — Players report; campus closed
Saturday, July 27 — (Helmets and shorts)
Sunday, July 28 — (Helmets and shorts)
Monday, July 29 – Full Pads
Tuesday, July 30 — Players off; campus closed
Wednesday, July 31 – Full Pads
Thursday, Aug. 1 – Full Pads
Friday, Aug 2 — Night practice at Latrobe Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 3 – Full Pads
Sunday, Aug. 4 – Full Pads
Monday, Aug. 5 – Full Pads
Tuesday, Aug. 6 — Players off; campus closed
Wednesday, Aug. 7 – Full Pads
Thursday, Aug. 8 – Full Pads
Friday, Aug. 9 — Campus closed
Saturday, Aug. 10 — Steelers preseason opener vs. N.Y. Giants at Heinz Field
Sunday, Aug. 11 — Players off; campus closed
Monday, Aug. 12 – Full Pads
Tuesday, Aug. 13 — Players off; campus closed
Wednesday, Aug. 14 — Evening practice at SVC, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 15 – Full Pads
Friday, Aug. 16 – Full Pads
Saturday, Aug. 17 – Full Pads
Sunday, Aug. 18 — Steelers break camp, return to South Side; campus closed

The Steelers afternoon practices are open to the public, unless indicated above and they run from 3-5.

Just Do It – If You Live Close Enough, Go to Latrobe

Once upon a time I habored fantasies of making a pilgrimage to the fields of St. Vincients. I had the flexibilty in my work schedule (and then some) to make the trip. Could have even driven up and back in a day as budget for a hotel would have been tight.

  • For one reason or another, I didn’t go.

That was when I lived in Maryland. Now of course I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Going to see Steelers training camp really is a fantasy now.

Granted, the two summers in question were that of 1998 and 1999 – two of the Steelers worst seasons of the post-Chuck Noll era. By that point ‘90’s studs like Kevin Greene, Yancey Thigpen, Greg Lloyd and Rod Woodson were gone, and other stalwarts like Dermontti Dawson and Carnell Lake were on their way out.

  • Still, I would have liked to have gone and regret passing on the opportunity.

This may be your last chance to see the likes of Ryan Clark and Brett Keisel up close. So if you get the chance, take it.

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