Training camp is finally here, even genuine practices. This is the first time all year that we, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, have had the opportunity to take the field in any capacity, which is an all-important step in the process of evaluating your offseason decisions and beginning to put the puzzle together that will shape the upcoming season.
The Steelers are coming off of an 8-8 season, but while they will default to clichés about how you are what your record says you are, they know they have the potential to be much better. Still, they enter training camp with some questions to answer.
They are no different than any team in the NFL in that regard, in any year. Nobody comes to practice as a finished product. So during this series, we are going to highlight some of the most significant storylines that figure to play out over the course of training camp.
Headline: Settling on a third quarterback
It’s not often the case that a team has a particularly desirable option for their number three quarterback. In fact, this probably rarely comes up anymore, but once upon a time, there was actually an era of the game in which first-round picks were asked to sit. Ben Roethlisberger was going to start his rookie season as the number three behind Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch.
This year, the Steelers’ number three is being decided between Devlin Hodges and Paxton Lynch, the second-year former college free agent who helped tank the team’s playoff hopes with three games left to play and…the veteran former first-round pick who wasn’t good enough in practice to show that he could manage any better.
Granted, Lynch was only signed a couple of games into the regular season, which put him at a disadvantage, and he was behind two novice quarterbacks who needed to soak up as many reps as possible.
But let’s be honest. If the coaching staff really saw a talented quarterback in him, they would have played him. They signed Mike Vick off the street to back up Ben in 2015 after Bruce Gradkowski was injured and they let him start over Landry Jones.
So far this training camp, Lynch doesn’t appear to have done himself any favors. We haven’t heard much about him, and when we have, it’s usually been negative, such as him having accuracy issues and then not even receiving reps.
We haven’t heard a ton about Hodges, either, which is actually somewhat interesting. We haven’t even gotten an interview from him, and he got interviewed a lot last year. I wonder if we’ll hear from him soon. For the moment, I would think he has the inside lane for the number three position largely based on the fact that Lynch has made no movement.