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: Where is Justin Layne?
We’ve heard about, and from, Devin Bush. We’ve heard from, and about, Diontae Johnson. We’ve heard from, and about, Benny Snell. We’ve even heard about Zach Gentry, and Isaiah Buggs, and from and about Ulysees Gilbert III. I’m fairly certain we haven’t heard a damn thing about Justin Layne, at least since he was removed from the reserve/Covid-19 list.
That’s not exactly an emergency as far as the 2020 season is concerned, as the Steelers are four-deep at the cornerback position. But the Steelers didn’t draft Layne in the third round last year to be a gunner on special teams. They can’t afford to keep landing on Curtis Browns on the second day of the draft at this position.
Hearing nothing about a cornerback isn’t always a bad thing, of course, but it would be nice to get some kind of update on the second-year player. Ordinarily, we would have Alex Kozora out there watching practices. By now a dozen people would’ve asked him about Layne and he would’ve paid special attention to him.
This is a guy who’s supposed to have future starter potential. Granted, we don’t always see that by year two, let alone the training camp of year two in a shortened offseason. Cameron Sutton really grew a lot in his third season a year ago. But really, where is Justin Layne, and how is he doing?