Winter is over
Training camp has begun this weekend, and with it we move into the six month period of the reality of the 2015 NFL campaign. If history is a guide, the excitement of the transition from the relatively dead phase of the sport to the preseason will eventually fade as it is realized that at the end of the day it is still just practice and the good part is still over six weeks away. But the news is real and significant. The speculative game will still be in play, but in a more back burner way. The best news about this season's training camp is that there is something for everyone in the coming weeks.
Want feel good optimism? Then the Steelers offense will be your cup of tea. If they stay healthy they are solidly in the running for best in the league. You like mystery and new things? The defense. What will Keith Butler be up to with those guys? What will be the final word on the Le'Veon Bell suspension? Will there be anymore contract extensions, most notably to Kelvin Beachum? Is drama your thing? The position battles and competition for roster spots with the wide receivers, tight ends, inside and outside linebackers, the defensive and offensive lines and special teams will be off the charts. Want something to worry about? Will someone step up in the defensive secondary and among the running backs behind Bell or might these be potentially two areas that might bring this season down? And then there are injuries, with players already on the PUP list even before the first practice.
But I'm getting ahead of things here. Camp isn't really the top story of this week.
Four more years
These are tough times for haters of head coach Mike Tomlin [here] and general manager Kevin Colbert [here]. With a division title and a definitive return to winning ways for the former, and the latter receiving well deserved props for assembling a cast of performers thick with All Pro and best-in-the-league candidates, their more extreme critics had been driven from the realm of respectable discourse before current developments. Now the team has extended both through the 2018 season with Tomlin's compensation placing him in the elite of the profession. Three quarters of Steelers Nation not only approves but have found their voices and are making it clear that they have little remaining tolerance for the naysayers in this regard. And while this doesn't mean that the 20 percent or so of fans who believe that team could do better with others in these two positions are going to convert or go away (the basis for the objections of some are neither fact or performance based), they will be increasingly marginalized and will not be able to dominate the narrative as much as they have in previous years. Here is what Joe Starkey and Bob Labriola have to say about Tomlin. And here is what Tomlin has to say about his relationship with Colbert.
Doing this late enough in the weekend to include a first day review of from Tomlin. The team has already made some roster moves and injuries are also part of the picture with rookie Senquez Golson, Mike Adams and Bruce Gradkowski among those placed on the PUP list even before the first practice.
50 years at Saint Vincent
As was mentioned here last week, this year marks 50 that the Steelers have traveled to Latrobe to conduct training camp at Saint Vincent. That resulted this week in an abundance of camp stories: some from the current and former players, a number of accounts from journalists [here] [here] [here] and team officials. In addition, tributes to the fans who journey to Latrobe and help make it the special experience it has been, as well as what the impact of the additional week of work available because of the team's appearance in the Hall of Fame game has been noted as well.
Profiles of Steelers with Hall of Fame legacies continued with Dan Rooney [here], Dermontti Dawson [here] and Rod Woodson [here]. Mike Frazer's pre camp position analysis featured the safety position this week. Christopher Carter, apparently still unaware that he was cut last year, does an analysis of the 2015 schedule, game by game.
Goodell and a Pittsburgh Super Bowl
Comments the Commissioner made this week in reference to Pittsburgh's bid for the game.
The NFL's take on sports betting.