The Steelers are keeping it clean in their OTAs.
That's a rule, writes ESPN's Scott Brown.
After watching Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee go down with a torn ACL for the second straight season, 32 NFL teams were reminded of the potential consequences of playing the game, even if they aren't really playing it. Dallas's defense wasn't going to be strong in 2013 anyway, what lays in front of them is a potentially historic season of defensive ineptitude now.
How many of those injuries - which seem to happen randomly every year even with no contact orders enforced by coaches, veterans and the Collective Bargaining Agreement - can be prevented? Knees can tear from running, even without the help of, say, a 315-pound right guard missing a chop block. Conditioning is a factor, but game-shape is not achievable until they're banging heads in the trenches in training camp.
Many fans will utter the cliche "I just hope no one gets hurt" with each pads-less practice the team has, and it's a valid sentiment. Many may contradict that sentiment by taking exception with players who aren't there. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu rarely attends OTAs, or other practices that aren't mandatory.
Lee probably wishes he had missed Dallas's OTAs last week, or at the very least, curses his fate of having been on the receiving end of a bump from Cowboys rookie offensive lineman Zack Martin. Ultimately, it shows how fragile the joints of players can be after years of wear, and the fair questions are two-fold: If all it took for Lee to tear his ACL was some contact causing him to step incorrectly, how long would it have been until he tore it in a similar fashion in training camp, and is the fact they aren't really playing the game a factor in any of this?
We'll never know, and who knows?
The Steelers kick off their second round of three practices today, and here's hoping to not asking any of those questions by the end of the week.