Tomlin says Steelers training camp changes aren't reactionary

USA TODAY Sports

Onlookers have noticed changes in how Steelers training camp operates this year, when compared to camps of previous seasons. While speculation leads many to wonder if these are because the team missed the playoffs in 2012, Tomlin maintains to the contrary.

The Pittsburgh 2013 training camp has seen changes in the proceedings of the average day under the sun for Steelers players at Saint Vincent College. Longer practices, more live hitting and faster paced schemes have been noticeable for observers.

Players have been noticed coming into camp more in-shape this season, such as outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Veterans have also been talking about how throughout the offseason--not just training camp--players were taking being 8-8 seriously and working harder because of it.

But when asked about the adjustments to training camp, Tomlin had this to say:

“I'm not doing anything in response to what occurred a year ago, this is not a continuation of what occurred a year ago ... I'm just trying to provide this group of men what it is they need to be the best they can be. We've got a lot of young guys, a lot of competition, jobs and so forth. The only way to provide an opportunity to sort themselves out is to throw a ball out, snap it and play football. And that's what we're doing."

Coach Tomlin doesn't want to admit that these changes are because of Pittsburgh's first season without a winning record with him as head coach, but it's hard to convince otherwise. Accusations of out-of-shape players, being 'old and slow' and widespread criticism of the team were heaped on the Steelers during and after the 2012 NFL season. So it is not far-fetched to form the idea that these changes are purely reactionary to the 8-8 season.

However the point of Tomlin's statement is not lost here. The Steelers' roster is a constant moving body of players that each work interchangeably and have individual differences in how they approach football (like every roster in the NFL). What should be read here is that Coach Tomlin is not changing the regimen of training camp this year purely because of last year's results; but it's also--and maybe more so--because of his observations of how his players were performing with how the team had traditionally approached seasons in recent years.

When Tomlin began his career as head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, his practices were more intense and physically demanding of the team's players than what they were used to under Cowher. After seeing how his approach may have worn players out more, Tomlin tuned back the intensity of practices to better suit the players for Pittsburgh back then. The immediate result was a Super Bowl victory.

This year is very much the same. Albeit the team is not coming off of a playoff year, Tomlin is still making changes based on how he evaluates his team. That may have to do with more than just an 8-8 record, but also what he sees off the field with players.

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