"You going to be doing some tackling this year Mike?"
"Absolutely. See you Monday."
That was the question posed to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during his press conference following the first day of training camp, and his answer shouldn't shock anyone.
Tomlin has never been a coach that shies away from having his team tackle in training camp, but this year it will be particularly important with the young players that are expected to contribute to this 2014 Steelers team.
The Steelers will hold practice both Saturday and Sunday, but according to the CBA are unable to wear pads and hit until Monday.
The Steelers have a tremendous amount of team speed, but how they react to life in the NFL when actual hitting starts will be the first of many tests for this young group.
There are certain players that will certainly be under the microscope when the pads are put on for the first time. Players like Ryan Shazier. The 15th overall draft pick showed the speed and athleticism to make plays at Ohio State University, but can he duplicate that success as a rookie in the NFL? Will he be able to shed blocks of much larger and faster offensive linemen?
Dri Archer is the fastest rookie in the NFL, but can he make veteran NFL players miss like those mid american defenders? Will Archer actually be able to carry the ball between the tackles?
Can Stephon Tuitt show the strength and athleticism that nearly made him a first round draft choice? Will he be able to solidify his spot in the lineup to prevent the return of Brett Keisel?
All those questions that can only be answered when the real competition starts, and that competition starts on Monday when the pads are on and the first real test begins for this Pittsburgh Steelers team.