Steeler Nation, the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp 2014 has come and gone. The Steelers are now heading into their second preseason game taking on the Buffalo Bills this weekend. So what did we learn at camp this summer? Let’s take a look at a few things we learned at training camp…
<>The Steelers have upgraded their backfield… The Pittsburgh Steelers of 2013 started off the season with Isaac Redman , LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Felix Jones in the backfield. Le’Veon Bell would come later in the season and set a new Steeler rookie record with a total of 1259 yards from scrimmage.Bell had a total of 860 yards rushing and also had 45 catches for 399 total receiving yards.
Even with Bell’s great season the Steelers running game as a whole ranked a lowly 27th in the NFL with an average of 86.4 yards rushing per game and a 3.5 yard average per rushing attempt.
The Steelers went into the off-season determined to get better in the backfield. They acquired free agent LeGarrette Blount and drafted RB/WR Dri Archer . Blount and Archer did not disappoint in camp and both have exceeded expectations so far. Archer made big plays daily and Blount and Bell look like a great one-two punch combination in the backfield.
<> The Steelers inside linebackers are now a strength of the defense...
In 2013 the Steelers defense lost starting inside linebacker Larry Foote for the season.The Steelers had very little depth at the position and the defense paid the price for the rest of the season. The Steelers took linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round of the draft of 2014. Shazier looks to be starter capable as a rookie. 2012 draft pick Sean Spence has made a miraculous comeback from his horrific knee injury. Spence looked strong in camp, not missing a practice. Vince Williams started much of 2013 as a rookie and looked good at camp now having a season of experience under his belt.Don’t forget starter Lawrence Timmons ,he has been one of the most consistent Steelers’ defensive players the past couple seasons. The Steelers look strong and deep at inside linebacker for 2014.
<> The 2013 Steelers draft class looks to make big strides this season..
OLB Jarvis Jones, RB Le’Veon Bell ,WR Markus Wheaton, S Shamarko Thomas ,WR Justin Brown and ILB Vince Williams all look to play significant roles for the Steelers in 2014 and all of the above players had good training camps.
Jarvis Jones returns as a starter under the tutelage of coach Joey Porter and looked good during camp. LeVeon Bell added muscle and shed some weight during the off-season he looks quick and strong. Markus Wheaton looks to fill Emmanuel Sanders old spot. Wheaton caught everything in camp and looks to take that next big step.
Shamarko Thomas worked out with Troy Polamalu during the off-season and had a very good camp. Thomas may not start but will play and adds depth to a thin secondary. WR Justin Brown was a standout most of camp and now has become a leading candidate for the Steelers 4th wide out spot. LB Vince Williams may have lost his starting spot but had a good camp and benefits this season, having a year of experience.Williams seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder which can only benefit the Steelers defense.The 2013 draft class seems to be taking that next step ,the Steelers success depends on it.
<> The 2014 draft class has a few players who can contribute this season..
The Steelers used to be able to bring along their rookies slowly, but with this years youth movement they will need some of the 2014 draft class to contribute early. Rookies LB Ryan Shazier, DE Stephon Tuitt, RB Dri Archer all are expected to see plenty of action in 2014 and all three had above average camps..Rookies WR Martavis Bryant and NT Daniel McCullers also stood out at camp and could contribute in 2014.
<> ILB Sean Spence is back and looking better than ever…
Sean Spence has completed his miraculous comeback from a terrible knee injury.Two years of rehab, faith,hard work and determination have paid off. Spence looked very good during camp and did not miss a single practice. In the first preseason game he looked very strong and starter capable. Spence’s story is a great one.
<> Ben Roethlisberger looks very good and may have his best season yet…
Many times Ben Roethlisberger’s play gets over looked but Roethlisberger has looked very good at camp. His arm looks strong as ever and his passes in camp looked crisp and accurate. Ben has took command of the offense and taken on a bigger leadership role with his young wide receivers. At age 32 Roethlisberger is a mature seasoned veteran in his prime. The Steelers have surrounded Ben Roethlisberger with some young fast weapons and this may be his best season yet.
<> The Steelers have very little offensive line depth behind their five starters..
The Steelers have their five starters in place LT Kelvin Beachum, G Ramon Foster, C Maurkice Pouncey,G David DeCastro and RT Marcus Gilbert . The starting line looked good at camp but not many backup players stood out . T Mike Adams had a shaky camp at best. Cody Wallace is a decent back up but has not shown much else and T Guy Whimper has not shown much either. The Steelers need someone to step up and show they are starter capable on the bench. One key injury could be a problem for this unit otherwise.
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