By this time, we would all be a lot further along in our discussion of training camp, with is set to open about four weeks from now, but because of the obvious circumstances, we’re really not much further along than we would be—as members of the ‘media’, or as fans—than where we were after the draft. It’s just the inevitable consequence of there being no in-person Spring workouts.
What we’ve missed so far: rookie minicamp, and the hundreds of players across the NFL that would have been invited as tryouts, with perhaps dozens signing contracts; rookie orientations; OTAs; and finally, mandatory minicamp. Not to mention, all of the voluntary time players ordinarily would spend in the team facilities.
For us, the most crucial absence has been interviews, and specifically interviews about what people are seeing. Everyone is in their homes learning the game virtually, so nobody is seeing what anybody else is doing when they’re actually on grass. There’s so much guesswork now.
We see that in the coverage that is beginning now with training camp previews. For example, we have Charley Casserly for NFL.com breaking down the AFC North. He has to pick an impact rookie for the Steelers. Frankly, they’re not likely to have one. But naturally, you lean on the top pick, wide receiver Chase Claypool.
“The 6-4, 238-pound wideout gives the Steelers the deep threat they needed. Claypool is also a physical blocker who can help in the run game, which will be where he makes the biggest impact initially. He will likely see more looks in the passing game as the season progresses”.
He sees the team having four key position battles: left guard and right tackle, which are linked; the number two receiver role: and nose tackle. Unfortunately, when it comes to nose tackle, he leaves out Tyson Alualu, apparently not having heard Mike Tomlin speak about the 11th-year veteran lining up there for the first snaps of training camp. But it’s a fair thing to miss for a national guy covering a team that has had no practices.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is obviously the top wide receiver, at least for now, but between James Washington and Diontae Johnson, there are still roles and shares of playing time to be determined. The momentum and favoritism seems to be in Johnson’s corner, but it really comes down to who connects the best with Ben Roethlisberger, as far as I’m concerned.