Steeler Nation, another training camp is in the books as Steelers camp 2013 at St. Vincent College came to a close Saturday. The Steelers spent roughly three weeks together on the campus of St. Vincent setting the foundation of the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers and trying to get a grasp of what this years team is made of.
So what have we learned as camp 2013 becomes history? Lets take a look….
Head Coach Mike Tomlin came to camp on a mission. That mission was to find out what his team is made of. The 2013 camp may have been the most physical camp since the Chuck Noll era. Tomlin set the tone early and often having live tackling drills with pads when possible. These drills help simulate truer game like situations and gave the coaches a better barometer of the player’s game skills.
These drills also help establish an attitude in the running and blocking game that the Steelers may have lacked in the past couple seasons.
Offensive Line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. and his zone blocking seems to be a hit with the players. Now we need to see if it’s a hit this fall. The Steelers offensive line appears to be set as far as the starters. G Kelvin Beachum is the swing man back up but after Beachum nothing is set in stone. Guard John Malecki may be next in line but that battle is still up in the air .
QB Ben Roethlisberger and Offensive coordinator Todd Haley are now on the same page and seem to be getting along great. The Steelers players as a whole seem to have a better understanding of the offense and Todd Haley seems to have a better understanding of his players. This new harmony should bode well for the Steelers offense.
QB Bruce Gradkawski is proving to be a solid back up plan and in my opinion an upgrade from last season.
Running Back Le’Veon Bell was clearly the best back at camp. Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens- Howling seem to be destined to make the team after strong showings. The battle for a roster spot may be between Running Backs Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch.
The Steelers seem to be fine at wide receiver even with the loss of Mike Wallace and the season ending injury to Plaxico Burress. The Steelers have Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and Rookie Markus Wheaton . Wheaton had a very good camp and is rising fast.
The Steelers have an interesting battle going between Rookies Justin Brown and J.D. Woods both have shown flashes at camp .
The tight end position is running thin with both Heath Miller and David Johnson on the PUP list and Matt Spaeth out for the next 10 weeks.
The Steelers draft class has shown well so far with LB Jarvis Jones, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Markus Wheaton and S Shamarko Thomas all having good camps.
Safety Robert Golden looks to be a more than capable back up which is great news for the Steelers.
One of the biggest surprises of camp was the emergence of Defensive end Al Woods. Woods has really looked good at end and nose tackle. He was a disruptive force racking up 9 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1 sack, and a QB pressure in the first pre-season game. Coaches and players both have raved about his play. He is playing at a whole new level.
Depth at inside linebacker has began to emerge. It looks like Marshall McFadden is making a real push in this area at inside linebacker. McFadden has been impressive at camp and continued in the first game of the pre-season. McFadden had 5 tackles and one special teams tackle. McFadden looks like a real player.
Rookie inside linebacker Vince Williams is a physical hitter that so far has shown great football instincts. He looks like he can make the roster and contribute.