For many, today was the real start of the NFL season, the first day of practice at training camp. And there was good news already, as according to reporters, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that nobody would begin training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin skips most of the pleasantries. Says no players will start the year on PUP list, and that he’s liked Melvin Ingram since the draft process. “Usually those are the guys we end up doubling back to.” pic.twitter.com/trFuYVxod8
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 22, 2021
That means two things. For one, it means that everybody passed their conditioning test, so this is a group of Tomlin’s beloved ‘highly conditioned athletes’. For another, this means that the team’s injured starters coming back are already cleared to play.
We’ve already had a previous report from Gerry Dulac that inside linebacker Devin Bush, who tore his ACL in week six last year, as expected to be cleared. But this also means that, for example, right tackle Zach Banner is good to go, as well. Banner suffered a torn ACL in Week 1.
Needless to say, this also applies to Trai Turner and Melvin Ingram, two recent free agent signings who dealt with injuries last season. They enter training camp at full speed and ready to participate for their first exposure to the team.
This is the one thing more than anything else that you want to hear on the first day of training camp: A completely healthy and ready-to-go roster. Obviously, the only player who is not participating is defensive lineman Demarcus Christmas, who was previously waived with an injury and reverted to the Reserve/Injured List after going unclaimed.
Obviously, the key moving forward is staying healthy. The Steelers are not unfamiliar with losing starters during training camp or the preseason. They have to make it through the next month and a half with a clean bill of health if they want to begin the regular season as fresh as possible.
But they’re off to an ideal start, with Bush ready to take on rookie running back Najee Harris in individual drills, and Banner prepared to try to limit T.J. Watt as best he can as he looks to resume his starting role on the right side.
Tomlin has already preached conditioning to his players, so it’s no surprise that there were no issues in that regard, but it also helps that the NFL was able to have a normal offseason this year after having everything thrown into chaos during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
For many players, it prevented them from properly working out on their own, which did cause some issues, yet Pittsburgh’s roster managed to handle it better than most, as even their rookie class reported in good shape, and they all ended up playing snaps during the regular season.