I talked about the notion of ‘camp bodies’ earlier this morning, which is a term that many throw around to refer to players considered to be on the ‘bottom’ of an offseason roster during training camp, those who are there, or so it seems, simply to have enough ‘bodies’ at every position to carry out a full practice.
I talked about that term and the reason that some of us have an issue or two with it. There is another similar term as something of its opposite, though, and that would be the ‘camp darling’. A camp darling is usually a player who might otherwise be considered ‘just a body’ if not for the fact that he is actually performing and making headway. Or at least a player who’s performing above expectations.
Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was recently asked to name his predictions for camp darlings of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp in a few weeks earlier this week during a chat session. I don’t think either of the names that he singled out will be found particularly surprising by our regular readers.
I know he was a camp darling last year, but I think Ola Adeniyi can take another big step this year. I’m expecting that out of him because he has tons of potential. You’ll see some receivers emerge because there will be opportunities. That player last year was Damoun Patterson, who ended up on New England’s practice squad after the Steelers cut him. So keep an eye on Diontae Spencer, who played in the CFL the past four years. He was impressive this spring.
I think it’s fair to say that both of these players have already been on a lot of readers’ radars this spring and into the summer. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi has been a favorite for a while now—it doesn’t hurt that he looks something like a mini James Harrison, and he solidified that with a three-sack preseason a year ago.
The second-year outside linebacker didn’t get the opportunity to have an impact during the regular season, however, because he spent most of the year on injured reserve, only activated for the final month of the year. Even then, he only played in one game for about a dozen or so snaps with little tangible impact.
As for Diontae Spencer, I doubt a lot of people paid attention when he was signed to a Reserve/Future contract in the winter, but once the positive reports from OTAs started coming it, they took notice. There are openings at wide receiver, as well as at returner, right now, so where there’s a will, there’s a way.