2017 Camp Questions: How Do You Balance Injury Risk With Game Game Reps?

The journey toward the 2017 season is now in full swing with the Pittsburgh Steelers having reported to Latrobe for their annual training camp at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their camps for over half a century now.

This is surely the time more than any other in which we find ourselves full of questions that we are looking to get answered, and this also tends to be the best time to get answers to those questions that have been building up over the course of time since the 2016 season ended.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the training camp and the preseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: How big of a factor is the risk of injury in considering preseason playing time for more valuable players?

I’m guessing this is going to be a topic that is discussed a lot today following the injury that we witnessed to Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman last night. As of this writing, it has not been definitely confirmed, but New England believes that the veteran suffered a torn ACL during a non-contact evasive move following a reception in their game against the Lions.

At least this was the Patriots’ dress rehearsal game. The Packers a couple of years back lost Jordy Nelson on, what was it, the first drive of the first preseason game against the Steelers?

It should be obvious at this point that Pittsburgh has elected with certain players to approach the preseason with great caution. Generally, that applies to their three star players on offense primarily, even with one of them not currently under contract.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are supposed to play tonight. It hasn’t been predetermined going into the game how much they will play—it depends on the in-game circumstances—but it would not be surprising if they come in for just a couple of drives.

For others, however, there is a greater balance that comes into play between needed experience and chemistry and the threat of suffering an injury in a game that is otherwise meaningless. Where is that balance between the status as a quality veteran and the need for on-field experience?

The Steelers have three—perhaps four—young starters on defense who need the work, yet some of them have already been banged up and missed time.

At inside linebacker, you have a new starter in Vince Williams, and Ryan Shazier has hardly practiced this training camp. Not only does he need the reps, the two of them need the experience working together on the field. So how do you find the balance?

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