Rapid Reports Shaping A Champion Edition

Last week we had a great post by RickVA on the factors that could lead the Steelers to their 7th Super Bowl ring.  If this is a championship year, this is the beginning of the shaping stage.  Like a mold of clay in a potters hand, the clay has to be formed in the desired shape of the finished product.  Then it has to be put in the furnace to heat and harden.  If the clay is not able to stand the heat of the furnace then the finishing product will likely not be in its desired shape.  Right now our team is in the shaping stage,  this clay needs to be able to withstand the heat of the regular season and not break but harden so when the regular season is over, we'll be ready for the play-offs or to keep the metaphor going the painting stage.  If you finish painting without messing up you have a beautiful pottery to use as decoration or in our case a fancy super bowl ring to brag about.  These updates are giving hints on how the shaping process is going.  The interpretation will differ depending on your disposition as optimistic about the season or pessimistic.  We'll see as this team gets placed in the fire, will it harden or will it break?


One possible concern for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is the youth at wide receiver. Three of the top six on the depth chart are rookies or second-year players.

This is the biggest area of concern for the Steelers in my opinion.  How the rookies develop will be crucial to the success of this team.  Make no mistake that the running game should be back in the 'burgh but you still need to have a strong passing attack to win a ring.  I don't have a read on Emmanuel Sanders but if he can become some what of a threat I like our chances.

Coach Mike Tomlin was accused of running a cupcake camp last season. It will be interesting to see if this year will bring a much tougher training camp.

I really never understood why this is relevant.  I understand if the team came rusty in the season but we got off to a 1-2 based on minuscule mistakes not rust.  Then went on to have a 6-2 start to the first half of the season.  This is a mostly veteran group, I doubt a light training camp made much of a difference in the season.  Will the training camp likely be harder, so far every training camp of Tomlin has been different so its tough to get a read on it.  Either ways, I don't think it will matter.

QB Dennis Dixon figures to get penty of reps with the first team in training camp. With Ben Roethlisberger out, Dixon needs to work with the first unit in case Byron Leftwich struggles or get injured.

We've heard this enough to know when someone is crying wolf.  I will believe it when I see it this time.  Dixon does need to get more of a look but I think we will all be satisfied with whatever decision the coach makes.  I mean do we really have a choice?  We'll complain if it doesn't work out regardless either way, at least most of us will.  What matters are results in this case.  You go 3-1 or 4-0 and no one will question your methods.  You go 0-4 or 1-3 and people will swear you are the worst coach in the world.  

One Steeler on the spot this training camp will be DE Ziggy Hood. The 2009 first-round pick from Missouri had an inconsistent rookie season and needs to show the coaching staff more to earn playing time this season.

Quotes like this makes me question my source at  Ziggy Hood did come on slow but I wouldn't call it inconsistent.  More like gradual improvement, he began to see more time towards the end of the season.  As with a lot of our 1st round draft picks he will improve as he gets more seasons under his belt.  I'm not worried bout da hood.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't dwelling on breakdowns, but he is determined on the unit becoming the top defense in the league again. "We can work on a lot of special areas of football and create those third-and-long situations," LeBeau said.

LeBeau is in the chemistry lab brewing up diabolical schemes to assassinate QBs.  Not literally.  But I think leBeau should get better results out of his defense this year.  He has a ton of options now with the addition of Foote at the LB position and BMac at CB. I expect more solid play from our defense and its scary how good it will be if Troy and Aaron Smith come back to their normal selves.  If Keenen Lewis lives up to the hype and can be a 2nd #2 quality CB.  It will be very hard for teams to move the ball against us this year.  I expect Timmons play to improve also, he didn't have the break out year people expected him to have last year.  This year I'm calling it.

Steelers LB James Farrior said one of the problems the defense had last season was miscommunication: "That's one thing coach Tomlin talked to us about. Listening is a skill, something we've got to focus in on and learn to do."

This is confusing for me, how do you go from communicating great in 2008 to communicating poorly in 2009.  Most of the guys on the defense were the same, you missed Troy and Aaron due to injury and Foote and BMac do to them leaving.  If this is true, I think we can contribute it moreso to players easing up because they just got a nice shiny ring, its hard to repeat in this league.

Steelers G Kraig Urbik, a third-round draft pick a year ago, needs to step it up in training camp or he could be gone, just like LB Bruce Davis last season. 

Again, shouldn't whoever publishes these reports know that Bruce Davis was cut before last season?  So there was no way he stepped it up in training camp.  Although I do agree, Urbik needs to show why we picked him in the 3rd round, if Hills don't make the team this year, the focus now turns to Urbik to see if he can step it up before he is cut loose.  I hate wasting 3rd round draft picks, so lets go Urbik.

Mike Tomlin would have an interesting decision to make if QB Byron Leftwich wins the first four games of the season and then Ben Roethlisberger comes back. Do you stay with the hot hand in Leftwich or do you start Roethlisberger?

A lot of people would be discussing this.  Its almost simliar to when Ben missed the first game of the season in 2006 after his injuries that off season.  In my opinion, Ben should have waited to come back.  This year is different, Ben hasn't had any injury and should play against the browns in a warm up game as soon as he is eligible.  Which should be the 5th game of the season.  Ben would have the bye week to prepare also.  So its the ideal situation, extra time to prepare and a team we should beat.  I'm sure this will be discussed further if it comes true.

DL coach John Mitchell envisions a rotation of DEs Ziggy Hood and Nick Eason, and NT Chris Hoke: "I'm really excited about Ziggy. The transition he's made from his first year to his second year has been tremendous," Mitchell said.

I note that he didn't mention Sunny Harris.  He may take a while longer to develop but we still expect him to eventually replace Keisel when its time for him to hang it up.  Hopefully he progresses enough this year where he takes Nick Eason's spot.    I wonder how Chris Hoke would do in a full time role.  We saw he performed will a couple of years ago but now that he has aged some more, I hope that he would still be effective, Hampton will need a blow sometime no matter how good of shape he is in.

Rookie RB Jonathan Dwyer on what he thinks the biggest adjustment to the NFL will be: "Picking up the reads and the play terminology. Other thab that, it's not things I haven't done before."

Dwyer you should have learn how to read years ago, just kidding.  But pick up those reads, and quickly. 

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