Ask anyone around the league and they’ll tell you the Pittsburgh Steelers have among the most physical training camps in the league. That lends itself to inherent risk. More wear and tear, injuries, the chance of players struggling to get to the finish line by year’s end. But Mike Tomlin makes no apologizes for entering each summer focusing on football’s fundamentals.
“The bottom line is we will tackle in some form of fashion every day that we have full equipment on it,” Tomlin said. “We will not apologize for that. That is the nature of our game.”
Focusing on football’s basics this camp is more important than ever before. There isn’t a preseason to evaluate those elements, to work on it inside a stadium, to get ready for the grind that is a 16 game regular season. If you choose not to tackle now, you won’t do it until the games count. And that could bring disastrous results.
The question came in today’s scope of a tackling session of linebackers against running backs. When the pads are on, the Steelers have a dedicated run session that’s usually full contact. They rep OL/DL daily and twice in camp, run their famous backs on ‘backers drill, one of the most intense and energetic moments of the summer.
Still, Tomlin acknowledged the desire to be thoughtful about the team’s approach to mitigate injury wherever possible.
“We’re thoughtful about the amount of it. We thoughtful about how we construct the scenarios.”
An overly physical camp was potentially one issue in Tomlin’s first year way back in 2007. In recent camps, there have certainly days that are less physical and not every team session is full contact. As we wrote about this morning, the organization seems more gradual easing into training camp this year compared to others.
With all the time lost this spring and summer, the teams who succeed early will be the ones who execute the basics. Blocking, tackling, avoiding mental mistakes that could prove the difference between win and loss. Pittsburgh’s approach and veteran-laden team should give them the leg up the first month of the season.