By Jeremy Hritz
Happy August 1st to all, and welcome to a beautiful and important month for Steelers football! The upcoming week is going to be an amazing one for Steelers fans everywhere, as not only do we get to enjoy the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, we also get to celebrate the induction of multiple Steelers into Canton, including Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu, and Alan Faneca.
The Steelers have now been in training camp for almost 2 weeks, and a few patterns, positive and problematic, are emerging. Hopefully, with the remaining practices and contests, the positives can be enhanced and extended, and the problems can be rectified and resolved. As we open up August, here are my Steelers Study Notes for the day.
Offensive Line, Is Well, Offensive
So much for getting some cohesion and quality play from the offensive line early in training camp. The projected OL starting lineup has yet to take a snap in practice together, as injuries mount, and past injuries are still being treated with cautiousness. When Najee Harris was asked about the line, he responded: “The line is what it is, man. It is what it is. Like I said, my job is to do what I can every run to help out the team…. Right now we’re just breaking bread, getting used to everybody, but it’s my job to create something when nothing’s there.” While Harris didn’t come out and say it, his evaluation of the line in its current form is implied, and while he still takes accountability for what he produces in the running game, the Steelers will need a consistent push in order for the running game to improve over the 2020 version.
It’s not time to sound the alarm yet, as players who are/have been injured are being brought along slowly, as they should, and being that the Steelers began camp early because of the HOF Game, getting the OL depth reps in these initial practices may be intentional. Following this week’s game, we should begin seeing players like Zach Banner and Kevin Dotson gettings snaps and building chemistry. If and when these players begin to return, and if the their play and the overall play of the line is not up to standard, then you can count on Kevin Colbert making a move via trade to bolster the line.
James Pierre Proving His Potential
The motivations behind cutting Steven Nelson are becoming clearer as training camp progresses, and one of the primary reasons is what the Steelers believe they have in 2nd year cornerback, James Pierre. Pierre has provided sticky coverage in camp up to this point and made multiple splash plays, including 2 pick sixes. On Saturday, the speculation that Pierre would kick outside in sub-package defense and that Cameron Sutton would move into the slot, came to fruition, showing the options that the team has, and also the confidence they have in Pierre to man the perimeter.
Battle for QB2?
While early discussion regarding Dwayne Haskins focused on whether or not he would make the team as the 3rd QB over Joshua Dobbs, the conversation has now shifted to whether or not he can overtake Mason Rudolph as the QB2. Haskins has clearly outplayed Rudolph in practices thus far, and has also received more reps than both Rudolph and Dobbs, per a study from Alex Kozora from the Steelers Depot. Sure, it may be a bit premature, but should things continue to unfold this way, Rudolph very well could find himself supplanted as the backup. And as for Dobbs, with only 28 snaps so far in camp, his time in Pittsburgh more than likely is complete. Is there a possibility the Steelers could try and move Rudolph for a player/picks? There’s always a possibility. But one thing is for certain, Haskins has pleasantly surprised, and all eyes will be on his this Thursday in Ohio.
2021 Steelers Hall of Honor Inductees
The Steelers announced their 2021 Hall of Honor Inductees, and it is a very deserving group. Entering this year will be Tunch Ilkin, Louis Lipps, Carnell Lake, and John Kolb. These players will be inducted in a ceremony at a home game at Heinz Field at some point during the upcoming season.
Steelers Calendar August 1st – 8th
August 1st – No practice/rest day for players
August 2nd – Practice (open to public), 1:30 PM
August 3rd – Practice (open to public), 1:30 PM
August 4th – No practice/travel, prep for HOF Game/rest day for players
August 5th – Hall of Fame Game vs. Cowboys at 8:00 PM on Fox
August 6th – No practice/rest day for players
August 7th – Cowher, Troy Polamalu, and Donnie Shell inducted into the Hall of Fame; Practice (open to public), 1:30 PM
August 8th – Alan Faneca and Bill Nunn inducted into the Hall of Fame; Practice (open to public), 1:30 PM
This Week on The Steel Study
Get ready for 5 straight days of Study Sessions and a full-length Steel Study Podcast either Friday or Saturday. I will have full coverage of the HOF Game, along with other new content as the week goes on. Also, be on the lookout for the next installment in The Big Ben Project at the end of next week, August 13th.
Have an amazingly, awesome, prosperous, and healthy week!