The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will you be watching the Steelers in the Pro Bowl today?
There isn’t much to be said for watching the Pro Bowl in and of itself. For those who follow teams that have few or no players participating in the exhibition scrimmage, there is very little incentive to actually tune in, though the league is trying to change that with pre-game skills competitions, in addition to trying to use the game as an incubator for new ideas.
The Steelers this season have eight players who are Pro Bowlers, the most of any team in the league, though two of them—Antonio Brown and David DeCastro—did not make the trip due to injury. Still, there are four players on the offensive side of the ball and two on defense to watch.
In spite of the fact that there are five Pro Bowl quarterbacks from the AFC, Ben Roethlisberger is not one of them in spite of the fact that the threw the most yards and the third-most touchdowns in the conference, but there is plenty of representation elsewhere.
Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncey will be representing the offensive line once again, while JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner will handle the skill positions. I wonder how often a team has sent two different running backs and two different wide receivers to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons. I’m guessing not very often. Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt will be playing on defense, or whatever it is that they call defense in the Pro Bowl.
Still, a part of me hearkens back to my youth, when I was very young and before I understood what I was seeing. The Pro Bowl was interesting to me to see two teams fielding matching uniforms, yet with different helmets. I always liked the black helmets, and there will be six out there today, so perhaps the little boy inside me will tune in after all.