This year’s Steelers Training Camp has started out rather slowly. There hasn’t been much drama. No big hits. No fights worth noting. No “Backs-on-Backers” highlights to talk about. And the crowds have been noticeably smaller than in previous years.
But one thing that has been in large supply at St. Vincent College is injuries. The injury bug has hit the Steelers early and often. In fact, injuries are probably the biggest story coming out of training camp so far.
Casey Hampton has been a non-participant since Saturday (the first day of practice) due to a hamstring injury. Of course, it is never clear whether Hampton is really hurt, or if he is just trying to avoid practice. It is no secret that Hampton hates training camp. I’m not accusing Hampton of faking an injury, but I’m just sayin’…………
Rookie linebacker Jason Worilds is also suffering from a hamstring injury.
First round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey is also on the hamstring injury list. He returned to practice on Tuesday, but he was used in a limited capacity.
And rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer has also missed most of practice so far due to a hamstring injury. Dwyer is one of the players that I am most interested in seeing play at camp. But so far, his participation has been limited.
Mike Wallace appeared to have tweaked his hamstring on Monday. He sat out the wide receiver drills for much of practice, but he joined them before practice ended, and was active on Tuesday.
Rashard Mendenhall had his toe stepped on and has been sitting out practice. Coach Tomlin doesn’t seem to believe that the injury is serious.
Ramon Foster has been out due to a concussion. He is another player that I was anxious to see during training camp. I was extremely impressed by how Foster came in and won a starting position (due to injuries) last year despite being an undrafted rookie. In doing so, he beat out higher draft picks like Kraig Urbick. I believe that Foster is the wildcard in this year’s offensive line battle. Personally, I’d feel incredibly comfortable with a starting offensive line that consisted of Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, and Flozell Adams. The coaches have never mentioned that combination, as far as I know. But just think about it for a moment. Doesn’t that lineup sound better than any group that includes Trai Essex?
Linebacker Andre Frazier has also been sidelined due to a knee injury. With all of the linebackers that the Steelers drafted this year, along with the return of Larry Foote, Frazier had better get healthy fast. His roster spot is definitely in jeopardy.
A few random observations
- Flozell Adams looks good at right tackle. I think this is going to prove to be a good move for the Steelers.
- Has anybody seen Kraig Urbick? I didn’t think so. If he doesn’t make his presence known soon, he may not be with the team much longer.
- Speaking of making your presence known, where is Tony Hills? I see his number out there everyday, but I have yet to see him do anything worth noting. Ever. I doubt he’ll make the roster this year.
- Thaddeus Gibson is good. You are going to be hearing that kid’s name in the future. He’s going to have to learn Dick LeBeau’s defense, but once he does, watch out.
- Some people were concerned when the Steelers lost Santonio Holmes. Don’t be. The wide receivers look great. Antwaan Randle El was signed to add another veteran presence, but from what I’ve seen so far, Emmanuel Sanders is the WR of the future. I won’t be surprised if he sees some playing time this year. The kid is fast, makes quick cuts, and he has great hands. There are several other young wide receivers who have also caught my eye. I’ll be writing about the WR’s soon. But this is a good group. Stay tuned.
- The Steelers practiced a play where Dan Sepulveda hands the ball off to Jeff Reed and Reed runs the ball. I thought it was a joke, but they’ve practiced that play several times now. I guess it’s some type of trick play. I hope we never have to use it. I certainly don’t want to depend on Jeff Reed to run for a 1st down.
- Troy Polamalu looks good so far. I see no lingering signs of last year’s injury.
Other Steelers news
- The Steelers released fullback Demetrius Taylor today and replaced him with fullback Dwayne Wright. Wright was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. Wright had been drafted in 2007 by the Buffalo Bills, and new Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler worked with Wright in Buffalo and is familiar with him as a player.