Most veterans are probably pretty happy not to have a preseason this year. For them, no meaningless games, no injury risk, no wear and tear to their bodies before playing a 16 game, and hopefully longer, season. For rookies or new faces like Chris Wormley, traded this winter from Baltimore, having an exhibition game would’ve been helped.
“We were supposed to play in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys last weekend,” he said in an interview with Michigan Sports Network’s Anthony Bellino Thursday night. “We would’ve been a game into it. Tomorrow would’ve been our second preseason game. I would’ve liked to have at least one preseason game towards the end. More or less a glorified scrimmage. Just to go up against someone else, have somebody to tackle. Have someone to throw off in a more aggressive way than your own teammate.
Yesterday would’ve concluded the team’s second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We should be discussing the camp stars, the movers and shakers on the 53, tape breakdowns, roster moves, all the fun stuff associated with summer. Now, this training camp will barely feel like one.
For us on the outside, we’ll learn very little over the next month. For the players, they’ll have fewer opportunities to prove themselves or assimilate into their new systems, like Wormley. Several former UDFAs expressed concern over the lack of the preseason, like former Steelers’ FB Roosevelt Nix. Wormley isn’t a rookie but in a critical year himself. On a new team at the end of his rookie contract, hoping for his first big-money deal in the offseason.
But as he pointed out, it’s a league-wide issue. He and the Steelers have to make it work like anyone else.
“We’re all adjusting. It’s not like the Steelers are the only team not playing in the preseason. We all have to find ways to use those padded practices to evaluate your 53 man roster and 16 practice squad players this year.”
The good news is the expanded practice squad to give more players a chance to stick around. It isn’t much, an extra four spots created in response to the pandemic, but that’s another 128 jobs. The Steelers are also known to have among the most physical training camp practices, potentially offering a better gauge on how their roster should look.