Although the players will be doing little more than checking in and taking their run tests, tomorrow marks the opening of the 2015 training camp season for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they embark on their quest to improve upon a 11-5, division winning campaign from a year ago.
Much of the legwork in rebuilding the roster has, of course, already been done, from letting players go, to re-signing other players, to drafting rookies and adding key potential via futures contracts and undrafted rookies. Through rookie minicamp, OTAs, and finally minicamp, all of the work already put in has led to harnessing all of that potential in training camp.
Part of that legwork involves raising the necessary questions that need to be answered during the course of the season, and training camp is where the answers really start to coming, which culminates in the finalization of the 53-man roster at the end of the preseason.
Even though the Steelers managed to make significant strides last season, improving upon two consecutive 8-8 seasons to return to the playoffs with a division crown in their back pocket, it is clear to even the outside observer that Pittsburgh is not quite yet a finished product.
There remain plenty of questions about this 2015 team, and over the course of the training camp and preseason period, we will be looking at some of these questions, as well as checking in on the progress being made in terms of providing satisfactory answers.
In what has seemingly been an eternal game of patience, the offense finally emerged from the shadows last season, stepping into the spotlight by commanding one of the most successful units in the league.
Boasting Pro Bowlers at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, and center—with the latter three all first-team All-Pros—the Steelers could possibly be the most stacked with talent on the offensive side of the ball that they have ever been in team history. Potentially. The process of harnessing that potential and answering the necessary questions that stand in the way of doing so, will be pivotal to the team’s success in the immediate future.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers chose to part ways with some key veterans this offseason in their quest to get younger and faster. They’ve gotten so young, in fact, that the defense is now younger than the offense, both of which are surprisingly youthful overall.
But with such youth is also a number of unknowns, and unknowns are simply questions awaiting answers. Can they improve the pass rush? Will they be able to produce more turnovers? Will they improve their tackling efficiency? What about the mental errors and miscommunication that led to a number of big plays in recent years?
This offseason has produced as many variables as any in recent memory for the Steelers, and that is what makes training camp, in many ways, as exciting a period of the football calendar as any other—barring, of course, a Super Bowl appearance. It’s time to celebrate that by relishing the unknowns that this time on the calendar presents.