Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel may have said it best when he arrived in Latrobe on Friday for training camp in a dump truck; the Steelers are under construction. The Steelers have already released two players and hired two others on Tuesday. Head coach Mike Tomlin has made a decision that all Steelers offensive linemen will wear knee braces during camp. The backs on backers drill showed excitement. Welcome to training camp.
The Steelers signed cornerback Ryan Steed of Furman while letting go of cornerback Nigel Malone of Kansas State on July 30th. Steed, released by the New York Jets last week, received late-round draft grades and was eventually signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent. Also on the revolving door was Omar Hunter (defensive tackle) of Florida out as tight end John Rabe of Minnesota came in. As a Golden Gopher, Rabe played halfback, caught 14 passes for 143 yards and four touchdowns in 2012. With the injury to David Johnson, the Steelers may be looking at Rabe as a competitor at the H-back position with Will Johnson. He could also be of value at the tight end position due to an uncertain return date for Heath Miller.
It is interesting that the Steelers brought in another cornerback, as the cornerback position in camp is being highly contested. Pittsburgh will most likely put a lock on Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown and William Gay as the starters. The team usually carries five to six cornerbacks for a season, leaving the last two spots open for DeMarcus Van Dyke, Terry Hawthorne and Josh Victorian if they can prove their worth. Cortez Allen has been battling knee discomfort and Van Dyke and Hawthorne have also been slowed by minor injuries. With speedy Isaiah Green and now Ryan Steed, Van Dyke and Hawthorn must now get back in camp and make plays that will impress Carnell Lake and the coaching staff enough to keep them with the team. Victorian had limited time with the Steelers last season and has shown the ability to overcome his 5'10" frame and make plays. This boils down to a lot of heavy competition to make the team.
The play of David Paulson and Matt Spaeth has also heated up at the tight end position. Between the two of them, Paulson and Spaeth had 13 combined catches during the 2012 season. With their productivity in question, Spaeth returning to the Steelers after a two-season stint with the Chicago Bears, and Paulson trying to make more of an impact, the two have entered the kind of competition that training camp seems to bring out of players - defining moments to make that coveted starting roster spot. Neither player will agree with the notion that they are competitors facing each other. They agree that they are seeking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's confidence. "Competition brings out the best...but it isn't so much about competition as it is the camaraderie," said Spaeth. In the end, both want to help the Steelers win.
According to Mark Kaboly, the Steelers won't be holding their annual night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium this upcoming Friday. The Steelers faced a situation where the grass at the stadium in jeopardized. The Steelers' Friday practice will be held at St. Vincent at 5:25 p.m. and will be free to the public.
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