On July 25th, when the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp for the 50th time at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, it won't be the same old song and dance for the Steelers. Compared to previous camps which essentially saw very little competition, this camp will certainly break that mold.
Dating back to the Bill Cowher era, training camp was seemingly only about the fringe players. Players just trying to make the team's roster, and less about battles which could directly relate to playing time on the team's starting roster every week. With the infusion of youth on the team's roster, as well as many key position battles, the 2015 training camp will certainly have a more competitive edge to it.
The defensive side of the ball will certainly be worth watching as the youth movement is in full swing and will breed competition at every position. In fact, other than Lawrence Timmons, Cameron Heyward and Mike Mitchell, there will be plenty to watch throughout this training camp. Long gone are the days when the entire defense was essentially written and stone, and depth was the only real competition in training camp.
Steelers serious about conditioning, even D-Will
As the Steelers left their mandatory minicamp, Mike Tomlin gave them a final message: Show up to camp in the best physical condition possible. He is taking that quite seriously, for all players - including RB DeAngelo Williams.
At the cornerback position, will rookies Senquez Golson and Doran Grant be able to place themselves in the starting rotation within the secondary, or will Cortez Allen and Antwan Blake hold off the young bucks? Will Shamarko Thomas be able to lock down the safety position along side Mitchell? Will Ryan Shazier stay healthy enough to be an impact player? Can Stephon Tuitt be the breakout player many experts are predicting in 2015?
All of these questions, and many more, will be played out throughout training camp and the preseason. Quite the stark difference form what fans are accustomed to when players like Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel and Larry Foote were shoe-ins throughout the entire preseason.
As the defensive side remains the biggest issue on the team, fans who think the offense will be set for Week 1 might be overlooking some important position battles on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite the growing assumption of Markus Wheaton being moved to the slot receiver position and Martavis Bryant being placed out wide permanently, Wheaton might have something to say about such a roster move. Wheaton will certainly look to use his experience as a third-year wideout to solidify more playing time for himself.
With the looming suspension of Le'Veon Bell, the battle at the running back position is certainly one to keep an eye on between Dri Archer, Josh Harris and Cameron Stingly as to who will be getting the reps at running back behind DeAngelo Williams to start the 2015 season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team getting younger, with valuable experience sprinkled throughout their roster. With the inexperience in many key positions will come a tremendous amount of competition and intensity throughout the upcoming training camp. Mike Tomlin will be the man given the task of getting the most out of those players throughout their stint in Latrobe, as well as throughout the entire preseason. However, if the Steelers look to improve on their 11-5 record last season, with the most difficult schedule in the league, they will need the competition at training camp to develop a team worth competing for a championship. As Mike Tomlin says, "Iron sharpens iron."