The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their 2019 mandatory minicamp on Thursday and all things considered, it sounds like the team has had a great set of offseason practices to date and with the start of training camp now on the horizon. Even better, according to head coach Mike Tomlin on Thursday, it certainly sounds like the team escaped their 15 total on-the-field offseason practices without any serious injuries.
“I’m extremely happy that we were able to keep everybody healthy, not that I worry a lot about it,” Tomlin said after Thursdays practice. “Injury is an element of play. We work our tail off to make sure we create as safe of an environment as we can and then we don’t spend too much time dwelling on it.”
Obviously, this is great news and the team seems to be in even better shape than they were a year ago at this same time from an overall health standpoint. Last year, Steelers tackle Jerald Hawkins and tight end Jake McGee had both already been lost for the entire 2018 season due to injuries they suffered during OTA practices. Speaking of Hawkins, who suffered a torn quad just over a year ago, he reportedly is still trying to get back to 100% full-health at the close of mandatory minicamp.
“This whole OTAs (and minicamp) helped to show me a lot,” Hawkins said on Thursday, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I like where I am at with (the knee), the mental aspect and what I can do with it and what I need to work on.
“Honestly it did better than what I expected; I knew I was back strong and I knew it was stable. But now being able to anchor down and be able to take bull rush, just being able to run on screens, I feel good with it all. Still not where I want to be, but I will say I am like 75% right now, so doing pretty good.”
According to the Thursday story by Adamski, Hawkins indicated that he estimates his quad would be “80 or 90%” by the time the Steelers start training camp six weeks from today. If that’s the case, then there is a decent chance that Hawkins will start off training camp on the Steelers Active/PUP list until he’s back to 100%.
“Right now I am focusing on just making sure I am back to the best of my ability,” Hawkins said.
‘Two players who reportedly missed time at the start of OTAs with minor ailments, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and safety Sean Davis, both were able to get back on the practice field in some capacity over the course of the last month. In short, it sounds like both will be able to be full participants once training camp gets underway.
So, are there any other candidates for the Steelers Active/PUP list six weeks from today? It certainly doesn’t sound like it, but as we’ve seen in past years, a surprise name or two could certainly be in store. That said, take solace in the fact that the Steelers are a very healthy team as they now exit into what’s left of their summer time off.