The first week at Latrobe has come and gone without much more than a few minor items of note. There weren't any Mike Vick sightings or signings; Ben Roethlisberger hasn't revealed any more details about the alleged sexual assault; Mike Tomlin is still all swag; and most importantly, there were no injuries to any stars.
That said, there still are a few items of interest from the opening days of 2009 training camp.
Mike Tomlin has changed a lot since he took over the team. Tomlin's first training camp was by most accounts brutal. He has since pulled a Gordon Bombay and went from Captain Blood back to coach. Veteran players like Hines Ward grumbled a bit about the two-day practices in the heat during 2007, but now Tomlin is giving a lot of the veterans frequent time off. The man came in, drew a line in the sand, and got respect. Now that he has the team under his wing, he's letting off the pedal a bit. Good to see that the respect is mutual now and everybody is on the same page.
Though it's way too early to even write something like this, the Steelers' rookies look like they could be a good class. Last year, guys like Limas Sweed and Tony Hills were disappointing in training camp and that performance carried over into the regular season. That's not the case so far in 2009. Most everything you read or see from Mike Wallace, Ziggy Hood, or Keenan Lewis is overwhelmingly positive. There's not really any sense reading too much into these early performances at practice, but it's a lot easier reading positive things than bad things.
Piotr Czech is not going to be the Steelers placekicker in 2009. There are glowing reports about Czech on Steelers Today and elsewhere. Could these be a competition nobody expected? No way. Never. I could care less if Czech consistently outkicks Reed in Latrobe. Reed is a known quantity and a proven kicker in the NFL. He's been outstanding over the last several seasons and there's no way the Steelers let him go.
Roethlisberger will be fine. Like Reed, lots of people are reading way too much into his training camp performance. Just go back and watch the Super Bowl again. Seriously. We hate that we've been put into a position of constantly defending every move he makes...should we ever feel the need to worry about his play, we'll certainly criticize Roethlisberger but anybody freaking out over interceptions he throws in training camp or even preseason for that matter is clueless.
Note: Bam was out of the country for the past week, so any observations were from other sources. Week two will bring lots more coverage of training camp on Blitzburgh Blog