Steelers Training Camp Observations After Two Weeks

The Pittsburgh Steelers have Monday off before getting back on Tuesday and starting their third week of training camp. Now is as good of time as any for me to post some things that have stuck out to me through the first two weeks of training camp based on all of the news, reports and interviews.

  • If you would have told me that Mike Adams was having a better camp and looking more starter ready than David DeCastro after 12 days of camp, I would have demanded that you put your money on the table to back up that statement. DeCastro reportedly told Ben Roethlisberger that it is the physical part of the game that is giving him the most problem early on, but at least that can be fixed. For now, though, it appears Ramon Foster will be the week one starter in Denver. Hopefully the good reports of Adams continue so Max Starks does not have to be rushed along as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired knee on the PUP list.
  • Another rookie that received a lot of accolades during the offseason was linebacker Sean Spence, but those glowing reports seem to have slowed down now. This is not to say that he is or isn\’t having a bad camp so far, as much that it confirms that you can\’t put too much stock into offseason practices when the players are in shorts. Spence figures to get a lot of playing time Thursday and I can\’t wait to evaluate where I think he is at.
  • Ziggy Hood received quite a bit of hype for his workout program this offseason, but there really hasn\’t been much reported about how he has looked so far in camp. Once again, this is not a bad thing, as the media just are not focused in on him. Perhaps this is because he is just handling his business like he should. Not getting reports on an individual player blowing it up in camp is not a bad thing as sometimes no news is good news. Thursday night we will all be able to see first hand where exactly Hood is at.
  • You have to tip your hat to Keenan Lewis and his toughness. I thought for sure he would be out at least three or four days after suffering an AC joint injury to one of his shoulders last week. He toughed it out and didn\’t miss a practice and that says a lot about where he is mentally as he heads into his fourth season.
  • With Rashard Mendenhall likely to start the season on the PUP list, you have to like what you are hearing about the other five running backs on the roster right now. We all know that Chris Rainey is going to be an exciting player to watch, but Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay and Baron Batch all appear to be having solid camps so far.
  • Watch Leonard Pope close during the preseason. I warned after he was signed that he was not as good of a blocker as many writers, most of whom never broke down film, claimed he was. Yes, he his a large man, but that size makes it hard for him to keep his pad level down as a result. It is easy for him to get bull rushed if he does not win the war with his arms. Some of the camp reports I have read state that Pope is just as poor in the blocking department as I billed him as. Now I am not saying that he will not make the 53 man roster, but when Weslye Saunders gets back after the bye week from his suspension, Pope very well could be the odd man out if David Paulson starts the season on the practice squad.
  • Yes, it is unlikely that that the Steelers will keep both David Johnson and Will Johnson on the 53 man roster, but this battle appears to be living up to the billing I gave it all offseason. Mike Tomlin singled out David Friday night for the work he did in the backs on backers period and he is not one to just throw compliments around. The media also has had positive reports on Will as well. Let\’s see who does what on special teams Thursday night in Philadelphia.
  • Damon Cromartie-Smith is off the PUP list now and apparently was ready to hit. Reports indicate that he was laying some pops during the goal-line drill on Saturday. He is another player that needs to step up big in the special teams department Thursday night and he should get a considerable amount of safety work after Ryan Mundy exits the game.
  • Drew Butler very well might win the punting job by default. Jeremy Kapinos continues to have problems with his back and it does not appear that he will practice any time soon. Do the Steelers really want to enter the season with Kapinos being an injury concern like they did last year with Daniel Sepulveda?
  • Undrafted free agent linebacker Adrian Robinson is a lock for the practice squad and still not out of the running to make the 53 man roster. He was the first team left outside linebacker on Saturday opposite Chris Carter with LaMarr Woodley sidelined Saturday, and although it is hard to read too much into that due to the thin numbers outside, it is hard not to read at least a little something into it.
  • Cortez Allen continues to be the player that I thought he would be. I predict a solid showing from him Thursday night against the Eagles. Rumblings are that the coaches are finding out that he is not as raw as they thought he was and that is understanding of the defense is ahead of schedule.
  • Toney Clemons is the most physical of all the young wide receivers battling for a roster spot and reportedly can get separation in short areas. However, it would be nice to have a practice or two go by without hearing about him dropping a few passes. This was a knock on him coming out of college and most likely one of the reasons he fell to the seventh round. It is expected that rookie wide receivers will be inconsistent at times, but catching passes is their job. Focus, focus, focus.
  • Keith Butler is one hell of a coach and unafraid to tell it like it is. Can you imagine if the Steelers would have let him get away this offseason?
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