Training Camp Archives - Total Steelers » Total Steelers

I’m a Yinzer. I was born in Pittsburgh, raised in Pittsburgh and I’ve lived my entire adult life in Pittsburgh. That being the case, my musical preferences favor the same things the average Yinzer tends to enjoy: Skynard, Donnie Iris, and Styx. I couldn’t name a Justin Bieber song if you offered me LarryFitz money.

What I am familiar with are internet memes. When you spend approximately 29 hours per week surfing the net when you’re supposed to be working, it’s impossible to miss whatever current obsession is burning up the interwebs. I’ve seen so many McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed photoshops, her snotty scornful face haunted my dreams. Thankfully, I didn’t think about it when I was taking a shower.

The other big internet meme of the summer has to do with a song entitled “Call Me Maybe” by some Canadian singer named Carly Rae Jepsen. Evidently, the Biebs liked it so much he got a bunch of his teenybopper friends together to make a video of themselves lipsynching to the song (known in internet shorthand as a lipdub). There’s been approximately seventy five of these posted to date, created by everybody from James Franco to the Harvard Baseball team to the USA Olympic Swimming Team.

I confess, I really can’t stand the song so as clever as they may be, the only one I’ve seen is the one starring the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. The song may be annoying as hell but I’ll suffer through if it features hot blondes with big fake tits in skimpy little bikinis.

In what qualifies as something I would’ve never expected in a million years, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first (only?) professional football team to get in on the Call Me Maybe action. Posted above is the video for you to enjoy. I bet Mike Wallace is going to be pissed he missed out on taking part in this. Actually, to be fair, the video is pretty fun as far as seeing some Steelers goofing off and there are some nice highlights of their time up in Latrobe.

I don’t know for certain but if I had to wager I’d bet doing a lipdub was the brainchild of LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor, who appear throughout the video (Woody is the dude playing broom guitar while Face Me Ike has the toy phone). They somehow convinced several of their teammates to participate, including James Harrison, who still looks extremely threatening when mouthing the words to bubblegum pop songs. You also get a shot of Charlie Batch looking incredibly jacked for a senior citizen and Shaun Suisham doing his best to convince Steeler groupies that he’s as doable as his predecessor. You also get a rare look at the team’s training staff and I must say the Steelers have a couple tremendously attractive women employed as ankle tapers.

If any of you read this, call me maybe?

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And then some players rolled into St. Vincent’s driving a bright orange Kubota tractor. Although you can’t really see him in that shot, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel is behind the wheel of that bad boy. If that’s not awesome enough, he was carrying his bags in the shovel.

The Diesel keeps alive a grand Black and Gold tradition of at least one player arriving to Latrobe in a noteworthy vehicle. Joey Porter once made his entrance in a pimped out golf cart, a few vets coordinated arriving in a fleet of classic vehicles back in 2006, and then last season we had James Harrison showing up in a tiny German clown car, er, smart car. There was at least one Eco-conscious Steeler again this year as Keenan Lewis arrived in his own electric car. It must be some sort of promotional deal because I can’t fathom anybody buying one voluntarily.

Anyway, the Steelers 2012 training camp kicked off yesterday with the annual “Welcome Back” conditioning run. This is another storied aspect of camp lore. OT Jamain Stephens’ morbid obesity caused him to collapse in mid-run leading a disgusted Bill Cowher to release the 1996 first rounder two hours later. Mike Tomlin introduced himself to the Steelers in 2007 by making an out of shape Casey Hampton sit by himself on the sidelines until he could complete the run without passing out. Who could forget the sad sight of Big Snack, jiggly man-boobs flopping all about, running up and down the rolling hills of St. Vincent’s all by himself, the closing theme from the Incredible Hulk playing in the background.

Hampton didn’t have to participate in the run this year as he’s currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after having off-season ACL surgery. Five other Steelers join him on the PUP list including Rashard Mendenhall and Max Starks, both of whom are also recovering from torn ACLs. Does this team need to lay off the leg press or something? Jason Worilds (wrist surgery) and James Harrison (undisclosed leg problem) also begin camp on the PUP.

And then we have the guy who didn’t participate in the run because he’s not in Latrobe: Mike Wallace. Yes, Wallace followed through on his threat to hold out of camp unless he’s given a brand new contract. He’s the first player to hold out since Hines Ward‘s brief hold out back in 2005. That one came to an end when Cowher called Ward and told him, “If you want to get a new deal done, better get your ass to camp.”

What Tomlin has told Wallace, we do not know. He did tell the media that Wallace needs to understand that “this thing,” ie the Steelers, are bigger than any one person. He also added that it was “unfortunate” for Wallace that he didn’t show up. The Steelers had a different reaction. A reaction which can best be characterized by the letters F and U.

The Steelers, you see, don’t respond well to threats. They’ve traditionally refused to negotiate with a player who’s holding out and accordingly they’ve “broken off talks” with Wallace as long as he chooses to pursue his selfish course of action. It appears they won’t talk to him until he shows his weasel face at camp which is an interesting Catch-22 because he can’t report to camp until he signs his damn tender. At this point it’s a literal stalemate with neither side seemingly willing to blink first.

Oh well, at least we had a nice quiet off-season…

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Eighteen days. In eighteen days, the Pittsburgh Steelers will begin reporting to Latrobe for training camp. The 2012 NFL season will be officially underway. It’s been too long.

I apologize for my sporadic posting schedule this summer. Actually, I’m not. When you have a ton of material to write about during the off-season, that’s usually a sign that things aren’t going well with your team. My most active off-season ever was a couple years ago when Ben Roethlisberger got into a little bit of a situation down in Georgia and I’m sure nobody ever wants to see a repeat of that fiasco.

Thankfully the only big stories to occur since the Black and Gold’s unceremonious exit from the playoffs were the exit of longtime Steelers Hines Ward and James Farrior, the hiring of Todd Haley, and Mike Wallace turning into a whiny little bitch. All things considered, a fairly tranquil off-season. My updates will continue to be a tad sporadic until training camp gets underway but once they kick things into gear, so will Total Steelers. So I thank you for your patience and I hope you’re as excited about the upcoming season as I am.

Thirty-four. While the Steelers and Pens enjoyed totally forgettable seasons, the biggest story in Pittsburgh sports has suddenly become the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates. With a little less than half the season remaining, the Bucs are a mere 34 wins away from breaking what has become one of the most painful and embarrassing streaks in sports history. With 34 more wins, the Pirates will finally break a string of 19 consecutive losing season.

But the Battlin’ Buccos are actually setting their sights higher than ending the longest sub .500 streak in North American sports history. The team is currently a stunning 48-37 and hold first place in their division. With a top notch pitching staff led by Yankees castoff AJ Burnett and an every day line-up featuring the most exciting player in baseball, Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates might have something special going on. And I think I speak for all ‘Burghers when I say, “Why Not Now?”

Confession time: the Pirates are actually my first true sports love. I was in kindergarten when the Steel Dynasty won their fourth Super Bowl so growing up, I really had precious few chances to witness the glory of living in the City of Champions. The Steelers had a couple decent playoff runs in the 80s and the Pens had Mario Lemieux but there wasn’t any true championship buzz in the city until 1990. That was the year Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke led the Pirates to the first of three straight playoff berths. The 1990 NLCS was the first playoff game I ever attended live (Screw you, Jose Rijos!) and the first time I obsessed over a Pittsburgh sports team on a daily basis.

I loved the Pirates and it was really hard for me to accept what has happened to them since that fateful night in Atlanta. I know this is a Steeler blog and some of you probably couldn’t care less about the Pirates but I think most Steelers fans are Pittsburgh sports fans, period. I know I am. So while we look to Latrobe and what we hope is another glorious season for boys in Black and Gold, let’s keep one eye on the goings on over at PNC Park. The Pirates may be twenty years late to the party but that doesn’t make them any less welcome.

Let’s Go Bucs! Here We Go, Steelers!

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Those of you who’ve been reading my stuff since my days over at the Site That Shall Not Be Named are no doubt aware of my utter dislike for the Baltimore Ravens. At the same time, you also probably know I consider their rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be the best in all of sports. The Celtics and Lakers battle for championships but you can count their encounters on one hand. Yankees and Red Sox have a storied history which has been completely dominated by New York. Ditto with the Bruins and the Canadiens.

NFL Network is finally getting with the program. They produced a fantastic NFL Films piece on the Steelers-Ravens rivalry which you can watch by clicking here. I’m sent a bunch of these clips every week and I usually don’t bother pimping them here because most are pretty trite and dull. This one, however, is notable for the on-field audio (Stabby’s whining at 1:12 is classic) and the soundbites from head coaches Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh.

Harbaugh comes across like a sleazy little prick (which he is). Pretty much the perfect coach for Baltimore. Tomlin, however, is in prime form. His speechifying never fails to crack me up. For the GenXers out there, he is the real-life version of a Damon Wayons character from “In Living Color.” And I don’t mean Homey D. Clown.

“There is immeasurable value when you come out on the victorious side.” Seriously, Mike? You can’t just say, “Winning is awesome?”

Also, if any of you are reading this at Happy Hour, here’s a fun drinking game. Take a shot every time you hear a Tomlinism. Off the top of my head, I caught at least four:

-Iron sharpens iron
-The team that wins imposes their will
-Opportunity to measure yourself
-First team that blinks, loses

Anything I missed?

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Hope everybody had a nice Labor Day weekend. Sorry for not updating the past couple days but as the proud grandson of a steelworker, I honor my forefathers by doing nothing more strenuous than throwing brats on the grill, cracking open a PBR and watching fireworks over Labor Day holiday.

While in absentia, the Pittsburgh Steelers finalized the roster which will lead them to legendary glory here in 2011 (and hopefully well in to 2012).  The biggest surprise cut was second year cornerback [intlink id="96" type="category"]Crezdon Butler.[/intlink]  Butler played quite a bit during the preseason, struggling at times but also showing flashes of ability.  The team is thin enough at corner that it’s surprising they’d just give up on a youngster so soon.  It’s slightly reminiscent of last year when Joe Burnett played similarly well yet still failed to make the team.  Then again, Burnett was a final round cut by the New York Giants this season so I guess [intlink id="23" type="category"]Kevin Colbert[/intlink] knows what he’s doing.
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The [intlink id="19" type="category"]Pittsburgh Steelers [/intlink]kick off their preseason this evening at 7:30 p.m.  We all know preseason football blows but remember a few months ago when the year was in peril?  Consider preseason football better than no football at all.  Or Arena Football.  Although I wouldn’t mind having a Lingerie Football team.

Seriously, whose bright idea was it to open up a beautiful state-of-the-art facility like the Consol Energy Center then make it their first priority to bring Arenaball back to the ‘Burgh?  If Green freakin’ Bay has a Lingerie Football team, why don’t we?  Get on it, Consol bigwigs.  There are some hot Polish chicks down in McKees Rocks that could kick the Pittsburgh Power’s asses up and down the field.

*Ahem*  Sorry for the little detour.  When you’re a team coming off a soul-crushing Super Bowl defeat, the thing about the preseason is there is precious little suspense.  You may hear about so-and-so having a great camp but the bottom line is the coaches pretty much already know who is starting and who is backing them up.  However, there are still a few interesting battles to keep an eye on.
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Maybe the [intlink id="58" type="category"]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] should have signed Tiki Barber after all…

Training camp claimed another victim yesterday when this year’s 7th round draft pick, running back Baron Batch, blew out his knee making a cut on the practice field’s artificial turf.  Batch later confirmed on his fantastic blog that it was indeed a torn ACL.  Which is a shame not only because it ends his season but also because now I don’t have any reason to visit his site.  The man has great taste in music.

Batch was one of the shining stars of camp, which is kinda like saying someone is the prettiest girl in Cleveland.  Every year the Steelers beat reporters speak glowingly of some undrafted rookie or unheralded practice squadder who comes in and kicks ass from one sideline to the other.  And then said player invariably ends up spending the entire regular season sitting on the bench or running with the taxi squad.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have holes.  Okay, maybe not huge Parkway West size pot holes but they are dangerously thin in terms of depth.  Unfortunately, nobody seems interested in becoming a Steeler.

Former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Reggie Kelly came in for a visit yesterday.  And then left just as quickly as he came.  Over the weekend, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery also popped in for a quick hello.  He, too, rejoined the ranks of the unemployed shortly thereafter.

Perhaps both players failed to impress the coaching staff.  If that’s the case, then in [intlink id="23" type="category"]Kevin Colbert [/intlink]We Trust.  However, looking at the Steeler’s depth chart, it sure looks like either man would make a nice addition.  Neither are bold faced superstars but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.
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The first couple years of the Mike Tomlin regime saw training camps so punishing and intense, many veterans blamed them for the injuries which seemed to plague the Pittsburgh Steelers during the regular season.  Last year, Tomlin acknowledged their grumbling by holding practices so light that Latrobe became known as “Camp Cupcake.”  With the new CBA forbidding two-a-days and limiting how many full contact drills can be held per week, the choice of what kind of camp to run has effectively been taken out of Tomlin’s hands.

Yet as we approach the first full week of training camp, it seems like half the roster are among the walking wounded.
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As players began their annual pilgrimage to Latrobe for training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a few interesting announcements which may hold great importance as we watch the 2011 season unfold.

First, they agreed to terms with draft picks OT Marcus Gilbert, CB Cortez Allen, LB Chris Carter, OG Keith Williams and RB Baron Batch.  This leaves only third round pick CB Curtis Brown and first rounder DT Cameron “IronHead Jr.” Heyward unsigned.  With Will.i.am Gay and Anthony Madison unrestricted free agents and absolutely no proof Keenan Lewis deserves a hat on Sunday, Brown is a complete idiot if he doesn’t sign soon.  Rookies practically never play for this team but the nickel back job would seem to be wide open.

They also placed two players on the Physically Unable to Perform list.  Chris Kemoeatu is experiencing some pain and swelling in his knee which is understandable considering he didn’t have OTAs keeping him away from the buffet table.  The other player on the list is [intlink id="34" type="category"]Hines Ward.[/intlink]
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