Steelers focus on conditioning is not stopping injuries

Vincent Pugliese

All off-season, and last year, the "old and slow" talk forced much discussion about how out-of-shape Steelers' players were. The result was a more intense training camp and more players coming to camp more well conditioned, but that hasn't stopped the barrage of injuries this team continues to endure.

While it was definitely a positive that more players were coming into 2013's training camp in better shape than before, there was a forgotten tone from the 2012 season that was expressed from multiple veteran leaders on the team.

If you remember 2012, the Steelers lost many stars and prospects such as Heath Miller (who's still recovering), Ike Taylor, Willie Colon, Sean Spence (also still recovering), David DeCastro, Antonio Brown, Lamarr Woodley, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and of course Ben Roethlisberger.

The accusations of "old and slow" that were labeled on the team by Warren Sapp were growing louder and louder with every injury. More accusations that the Steelers were out of shape came and the "anonymous" player commented to the media on Woodley's conditioning made it worse.

So naturally the Steelers just needed to get in shape, right? If they just had their skill players build up their endurance and shed some pounds then the injury cloud would go away, right?

Wrong.

Most of the injuries that continue to plague the Steelers are not of the nature that occur because anyone didn't do their fair share of suicides during the offseason. Miller's torn ACL was not due to him being any slacker, he's one of the workout warrior's on the team.

Any notion that Ike Taylor is out of shape would be ridiculous. Pretty much all of the Steelers' injuries come from happenstance. No conditioning in the world could have prepared Maurkice Pouncey for David DeCastro diving into the back of his legs. Just like nothing could have prepared him for how his leg was fallen onto during the AFC Championship game against the Jets during his rookie season. LaRod Stephens-Howling is one of the faster running backs in the league, yet he's also on the bench because of injury.

The point is that while better conditioned players are important to have, the notion that the Steelers are injury prone because of any lack of conditioning is ridiculous. Injuries can occur from a lack of training, but in the NFL it's more often than not that bad luck plays the most significant part in players' injuries. Several players trained more rigorously this Summer to prepare for the season and Mike Tomlin intensified practices in order to pick up any slack that might have been existent in 2012.

Don't believe the hype, as Chuck D would say, this part of the Steelers' misfortune is not due to major faults on the part of preparation.

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