The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: What are the potential football ramifications, if any, of the Steelers being unable to conduct their training camp at Saint Vincent College?
As you’ve surely read by now, the NFL made it official yesterday that they are requiring all teams to conduct their training camps, if equipped to do so, at their own practice facilities this Fall. Only 10 of 32 teams as of last year actually still ‘went away’ for training camp, but the Steelers were among them, and they’ve always maintained that there is value in that experience.
Truth be told, however, I don’t know how much of that value is tangible and reflective of play on the field. Given that more than two thirds of the league have already done away with practices away from their own facilities, where they can have a more controlled environment, it’s hard to argue that there is a significant competitive advantage.
Still, almost all Steelers players recall fondly their times up in Latrobe and talk about the team bonding experiences that go on there. At the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, you’re not going to have that same close-quarters effect.
But then again, that wasn’t going to be possible this year anyway. I think I can pretty safety say that even if the Steelers were allowed to go to Saint Vincent this year, you weren’t going to see two linemen rooming together in a dormitory.
But tell me, is there any tangible, football-related downside you can come up with about the team being deprived of this experience, outside of some ‘team chemistry’ equation?