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Steelers Minicamp Notebook: Ready for camp, hopefully prepared as well

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin notes a difference between a team being ready for camp and being prepared for it. Either way, it begins with a run test July 26 in Latrobe, Pa.


PITTSBURGH -- As the Pittsburgh Steelers disperse into the offseason this weekend, they have to feel good about themselves with training camp just six weeks away.

There were injuries to two starters, right offensive tackle Mike Adams and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but neither was serious. And both should be ready for training camp. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he believed all the injured players would be ready for camp, but that likely doesn't include tight end Heath Miller and inside linebacker Sean Spence.

However, both could be ready for the beginning of the regular season. Miller is more likely to play this fall, although he wouldn't admit as much this week.

"No, nothing miraculous,'' Miller said. "So, I just take every day, one day at a time and try to get better. (But) I feel pretty good right now. It's kind of lonely in here when you're here by yourself, so it was nice to have the other guys around. It's encouraging to watch everybody else work, and you just try to be inspired by how hard they're working and try to get back to where they're at.''

Tomlin's Take
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was so thrilled with the way the organized team activities and mini-camp went that he dismissed the players without a final practice.

"Oftentimes we talk about being ready for camp,'' Tomlin said. "I think ready is an emotional thing. I'm ready for camp as I sit here today because I love camp. I love the process of team building. Prepared is another thing.

"Daily actions between now and then are to ensure that we're ready to take the actions that we desire to take. I'm more concerned about our guys being prepared than ready. We talk openly about the differences between the two.''

Tomlin added that the foundation for the 2013 season was laid the past four weeks during OTAs and mini-camp.

One-Third of Starters Need Replaced
The Steelers had the most turnover that they've had in recent years with four starters on offense and three on defense needing to be replaced after last season. On offense, the group includes offensive linemen Max Starks and Willie Colon, wideout Mike Wallace and running back Rashard Mendenhall. The defensive spots left vacant were by outside linebacker James Harrison, nose tackle Casey Hampton and cornerback Keenan Lewis.

"In order for us to be successful, we have to have the young guys step in and play football,'' Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We have a lot of young guys in this locker room. Our success lies on their shoulders, just as much as on us old guys. We need them to play great ball if we want to be a good team.

The best way for the young players to perform at a high level is to follow veteran leaders like inside linebacker Larry Foote.

"There are only a couple of guys in here that are older than me,'' Foote said. "It's a big challenge. No pressure, but I want to lead this team into the playoffs. I've been led, and I've followed other guys.

"Hopefully, I can lead this team deep into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl. (Last year), I just tried to duplicate the things James Farrior did for this team. As far as leading, I have to set the defense and never blink facing adversity.''

The biggest position battle should be for Harrison's right outside linebacker spot between Jason Worilds, Chris Carter and rookie No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones.

Roster Maneuvering
Tomlin noted that the Steelers likely will stand pat heading into training camp.

"I think, more than anything, we want to get the group that we have right now in a training camp setting and see what their capabilities are,'' Tomlin said. "Obviously, we're going to do our due diligence in terms of looking at the free agent market, like we always do.

"Nothing is different in that regard than any other year or season that I've been here. It's just normal business procedure for us. We're focused on the guys that are working with us, but we'll, in general, keep an eye open for somebody that has an opportunity to help us be the best that we can be.''

Final Notes
Training camp begins when players report July 26 and move into their dorm rooms. Tomlin and the coaches also will conduct a run test that first day. The initial practice is July 27, while the first day in pads is July 29.