The Pittsburgh Steelers are now training camp, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp will look much different from the norm, and a big part of that will be the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. There will be no preseason played in 2020, so the first time the Steelers take the field in 2020 will be for the season opener against the New York Giants.
Before we get there, however, there are a number of issues that are outstanding on this team, and this year’s edition of training camp will not provide the level of thoroughness that teams are normally used to in trying to answer those questions.
Questions like, what is the starting offensive line going to look like? Will it include Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor? Who will be the primary nose tackle? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: How many wide receivers will the Steelers carry into the regular season between the 53-man roster and the 16-man practice squad?
The pads come on today in practice at Heinz Field, which means that we are now as close as we are going to get to real football before the real football begins next month. The Steelers’ website will even be providing us a look into the practice from this point forward, as compensation for their inability to allow fans to attend practice.
In other words, players are going to be judged based upon how they perform in this setting more than anything else, with respect to their roster worthiness. There is no preseason, so teams can’t judge players based on true game settings. They can simulate some type of scrimmage, but that’s as close as it will get.
In the Steelers’ case, they have six wide receivers returning from last year’s 53-man roster (actually seven including Amara Darboh), and nine in total, with the other two deep-roster players being Saeed Blacknail and Anthony Johnson, the latter of whom was on the practice squad.
It has become somewhat common in recent years for the Steelers to carry not just six wide receivers on the 53-man roster, but also two more on the practice squad. Will they keep at least that many this year? Will it be seven in total? Maybe they even go with nine?