If training camp’s a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’.
As only Mike Tomlin can, he expressed his excitement in returning to a true training camp setting, traveling back to Latrobe, PA and St. Vincent College in late July. Speaking with reporters after Thursday’s final minicamp session, Tomlin was asked about getting back to Chuck Noll Field.
“First of all, for me, I’m a lover of camp,” he said via a transcript provided by the team. “I like the opportunities to work on the intangible quality that good teams have. The informal time up there, to me, is as significant as the formal time. Guys sitting out on the stoop at night outside the dormitory getting to know one another, talking about life and football. I just find value in that, and I’m really excited about that.”
Ok, Mike Tomlin really loves training camp. But it comes as no surprise. Tomlin is old-school and loves the intangibles as much as the X’s and O’s. The chance to bond, work as a team, shut out all the outside noise in kind of the middle of nowhere, and play on the same field as Steelers’ legends. Where Pittsburgh will practice this summer is where Chuck Noll paced the field, where Joe Greene lifted weights after practice, where The Chief smoked a fat cigar every evening. Football’s hallowed ground, and the 2022 Steelers will get to experience of that. Many of them for the first time after the pandemic forced Pittsburgh to stay in the city and work at Heinz Field the last two seasons.
Of course, the reality of camp in Latrobe means 90-degree days, a blazing hot sun, and a can’t wait for this to end feeling. It’ll be the first chance to really evaluate players. Not only their technique and football ability but their conditioning. Pittsburgh will hold a whopping 18 camp practices this year, one of the largest numbers they’ve had in years, including a stretch of six straight days of practice. We’ve seen many players, especially at skill positions, see their candle quickly burn out once the pads come on. WR Damoun Patterson was a brief summer star before fading away. Rico Bussey was a similar story last season.
That aside, it’s great news the Steelers will return to Latrobe. The team reports July 26th with their first practice the next day. Camp will run through August 19th, though the final practice open to the public is the day before. Returning to Latrobe is also great news for local businesses, restaurants, hotels, and shops that lost out the last two years. It’s a win-win for Tomlin and for the local economy.
The only people unhappy are probably the players, who get to bunk in dorm rooms for nearly a month without any A/C. Tomlin quipped he didn’t ask for any of the players’ input. They might be miserable. But they and the team will be better off for it.