Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp 3: A Peck of Bad News, a Soupçon of Good News, and a Glimpse of the Future

Karl Rosen/Steelers.com. “Coach, I need me some first-team reps…”

Mike Tomlin is fond of saying that “football is a game of attrition.” Well, there’s a great deal of attrition taking place. I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but I’d rather be that than Pheidippedes, the guy who ran from Marathon to Athens to report the Greek victory over the Persians and then fell down dead. Not that I would ever risk my life by running a marathon…

But our beloved Steelers are out on the field almost every day, risking their limbs, at any rate. The injuries have been piling up (although for those who might criticize Mike Tomlin for starting padded practices so early, it’s worth noting that there were at least two injuries to significant players, Morgan Burnett and Jerald Hawkins, during the “football in shorts” phase.)

The first was of course the injury to Ramon Foster, which I discussed in yesterday’s post. After that the news came fast and furious. The names are not minor, either—if they were, we would only hear about them as an injury settlement, if that.

It began with one of the biggest names—T.J. Watt. He left practice with a hamstring injury. No reports as to how soon he will return. This is, obviously, not good. A player like, say, Morgan Burnett sustaining a relatively short-term injury is one thing. Burnett, while new to the team, is a savvy veteran, and his absence has given Terrell Edmunds valuable reps. According to all reports, Edmunds is making the most of them, advancing quickly and learning from his mistakes.

Watt is in a whole different category. He’s not a rookie anymore, but he’s only a second-year guy, and furthermore the Steelers have flipped him and Bud Dupree, which will take some getting used to. Fortunately Watt played on the left side in college, and this will hopefully mitigate the pain of him missing practices. How many practices, who knows?

Next up was Vance McDonald with a foot injury. This is a great pity, as a good McDonald/Roethlisberger chemistry could yield huge dividends this season. It isn’t clear what sort of a foot injury, but let’s cross our fingers that it is nothing significant.

Sean Davis left Sunday’s practice early with a reported groin injury. Given that he has, like T.J. Watt, just switched positions, (to free safety,) this is also not good. No word on the severity, but I can’t help remembering the dreadful season Mike Mitchell had the year he was playing with groin injuries severe enough to require surgery on both sides after the season ended. Groins seem to be tricky—like hamstrings, for that matter.

And speaking of groin injuries, Artie Burns left practice with a groin injury yesterday. The initial word is that it is not very serious, but it’s a shame for Burns to have to miss practice, because the initial reports are that he is coming along very well.

And finally, JuJu left practice on Sunday with an undisclosed injury. I’m guessing hemorrhoids, because anything less embarrassing and he would surely have plastered stuff all over social media by now. (Admittedly he may have—I’m not great on keeping up with social media.) Apparently it is nothing to worry about.

Someone commented yesterday (I say “someone” because it was one of our Anonymouses) that B.J. Finney hurt his elbow yesterday, but I can’t find any confirmation of this at all from Dr. Google, so let’s hope he just hit his funny bone and took a minute to recover.

So what’s the good news? The only possible good news in such circumstances—that this gives the opportunity for a lot of backups to see a lot of action. B.J. Finney is ready to step in for Ramon Foster in part because he’s gotten a lot of game action there. Burnett’s injury means more time on the field with the first team for Edmunds. And since Burnett is more or less ready to return, Edmunds will take over Sean Davis’ spot for now. (Burnett was a ‘partial participant’ yesterday.) Cam Sutton took over for Artie Burns. Xavier Grimble is getting first-team reps next to Jesse James.

Now, as for T.J. Watt, I can’t think of any good things at all. This just sucks. But I assume this gives first-team reps to Keion Adams, the 2017 7th round pick the Steelers thought enough of to IR. Let’s hope their confidence was well placed. (News flash—as usual this is speculation on my part—I can’t confirm that he is the one who replaced Watt, but that would seem to be a reasonable guess.)

All of this is modified rapture, as Nanki-Poo* would say. Or sing. But here is something to put a smile back on your face. It was taken after practice yesterday, and as you might surmise, the children are the sons of Ben and AB respectively. I say sign them now while they are relatively cheap:


*Nanki-Poo is the male lead in The Mikado of Gilbert and Sullivan. Nanki-Poo finds that he can marry the woman he loves if he agrees to be executed after a month. Which is about how my “good” news feels at the moment.

One comment

  • Football is dangerous regardless of how it is played. I learned how dangerous “football in shorts” is when I crack ribs and punctured my lung at my son’s flag football practice a few months ago.


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