Positive reviews of Steelers weight and conditioning in training camp suggests obvious problems in 2012

Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sport

What's done is done as far as 2012 goes, but it's fair to question why Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has ratcheted up tackling, extended the length of practice and taken away certain comforts in this training camp.

Tribune-Review columnist Dejan Kovacevic is pointing to the overweight elephant in the black and gold corner of the room.

Listing off example of players losing weight and/or reporting in excellent condition, he drives home the simple reason why this team was 8-8 last year; they weren't in shape.

Whether that's excess weight or a lack of stamina, it's no secret this team lost several close games last year. If it's a good thing running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman showed up 20 pounds lighter, it only suggests carrying extra weight was a problem last year.

It's clear to Kovacevic there's a different mentality in Steelers' camp now.

"There's more tackling than walkthroughs for the first time anyone can recall," he writes. "Tomlin even stopped having carts available to shuttle the players around campus after practices. Now, they hoof it like everyone else."

With a more physical camp currently underway in Latrobe, it appears the Steelers are attacking some of those fundamental shortcomings from a year ago. Gone are Max Starks and Casey Hampton, who were clearly not in football shape due to the short time frame following ACL tears in the team's final game of the 2011 season.

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who shouldered the brunt of the criticism regarding a lack of fitness this past season, is reportedly in good shape this year.

These things coming together, plus a batch of younger players who will see plenty of time this season, suggest the Steelers, if nothing else, won't collapse in the fourth quarter this season due to conditioning.

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