View Full Version : ESPN.com's AFC North training camp preview

07-21-2009, 01:11 PM
I've cut-and-pasted the Steeler information below (nothing new that we haven't discussed here 100 times over already).

For the previews of the other AFC North teams, click here:


Pittsburgh Steelers/St. Vincent College : Latrobe, Pa.

Campfires: After returning 20 of 22 starters, there are few starting jobs open for the defending Super Bowl champions entering training camp.

The biggest battles involve reserve roles, where a pair of 2008 draft picks will be trying to earn playing time. Second-year player Limas Sweed is battling veteran Shaun McDonald for the No. 3 receiver role, which is an important staple of Pittsburgh's offense. Former first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall also will be looking to impress the coaching staff so he can get more carries in a crowded backfield that inlcudes starter Willie Parker and solid backup Mewelde Moore.

Camp will be a downer if ... the Steelers suffer injuries. Although the coaching staff won't admit it, few teams need training camp and the preseason less than Pittsburgh.

Nearly all of its starters are back, and the two players filling in -- linebacker Lawrence Timmons and cornerback William Gay -- have been in Pittsburgh's program for a few years. As expected with a championship team, the Steelers already have very well-defined roles across the board and don't need exhibition games to figure that out. They just need to stay healthy.

Camp will be a success if ... the offensive line improves. Instead of spending money in free agency, the Steelers are counting on continuity up front.

It's risky considering the beating $100-million quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken in recent years. He has been sacked a whopping 139 times the past three seasons. As with any franchise quarterback, the offensive line keeping Roethlisberger upright and healthy is vital to Pittsburgh's chances of repeating.

Special delivery: Perhaps the most under-the-radar weakness for Pittsburgh during its title run last season was the lack of quality special teams. The Steelers struggled both with punts and in the return game.

The return of Daniel Sepulveda this year from a knee injury should be a nice, quiet addition to the Steelers. The team also drafted several players with return ability, such as rookies Mike Wallace and Joe Burnett, in hopes to get a boost in returns.