The rookie camp got underway on Friday as the Steelers get their first real look at the new draft class and undrafted free agents. This is where the new players get their first taste of life in the NFL and as a Steeler. First impressions mean a lot but there’s still a long way to go. The coaches take these mini camps very seriously, there’s no wasted time, no wasted reps, you get as much work in as you can in the few days you have with these kids right now.
Only rookies and players previously not a team roster are present. It’s a good time for all young guys to get their feet wet with players around their own skill level. They get crucial one on one instruction with their position coaches and being to get a feel of what it will be like working under the watchful eye of the coaching staff. As tough as these kids thought spring practices and summer camps were at college, it’s a whole new world competing at the NFL level.
Below are some updates via Twitter and Steelers.com on how things have been going with the young players. Twitter updates via Ed Bouchette of the Post Gazette and Mark Kaboly of the Tribune Review.
@EdBouchette: Some people call #steelers rookie G DeCastro the next Faneca. DeCastro wearing No. 66 today at rookie camp
@MarkKaboly_Trib: #steelers have moved Wes Lyons to tight end. At 6-9 260, he is a beast.
-OL Desmond Stapleton failed his physical. Steelers add Corey Balcerzak (6-3,300 from St. John Fisher) as a tryout
-#Steelers tryouts at minicamp are: QB Darron Thomas (Oregon), DS Chris Banjo (SMU) and LS Alex Russian (LSU) to go along with Balcerzak
– Rookie minicamp includes all players who never been on a roster before. Practice squad is not roster so Turner, McCoy, Corbin Bryant here
– Make that 40 at rookie minicamp. Roster omitted one person
From our friend Chuck Finder at CBS Sports about Friday’s practice: Nine draftees and a dozen free-agents began assembling Thursday – with equipment fitting and medical testing – for the rookie camp that officially begins Friday morning. Second-round OT Mike Adams met some fellow draftees last weekend, but “to come in and actually [see] guys I work with now, it’s a bit of a reality check.”
Chris Rainey: “It’s still a dream come true. It feels like I am still in the dream. I am looking around thinking is this really the NFL? Yes it is and I am just having a blast.”
David DeCastro: “It’s nice to be able to practice and play football again and have a team, a group of guys here. “It’s a whole new process. We don’t have helmets on yet. We went through long individual periods and then two short team periods. It was pretty good.”
Toney Clemons: “Everything is more up-tempo,” The preparation for it is different. The drills are different, everything is full speed. They don’t waste time here and they don’t waste reps. You have to make the most of your reps when you get them. That’s the mindset you have to have every practice. “It’s something I feel like I can pick up and learn with time, practice and studying”. “You can’t just open it and know it. You have to study it. You have to know more than you knew in college.”
Tomlin also addressed the media on Saturday, here are some highlights of the short time he spent answering questions:
On the topic of where players are lining up in practice this weekend: You know that we value the concept of position flexibility. You have to start somewhere. These guys who are going to be viable candidates are going to need to have more than one skill-set, and of course we’ll get to a point where we see who’s capable of doing multiple things.
On the topic of David DeCastro and Mike Adams lining up at their natural positions from college: David DeCastro was a right guard at Stanford and that’s where he starts here, and the same can be said for Mike Adams, He was a left tackle at Ohio State and that’s where he’ll begin here.
We shouldn’t read anything into this. It’s the first practice for these guys at the NFL level, it’s a feeling out process to see how they do and begin to assess where they will fit in best in the future.
Wes Lyons moving to tight end is an interesting move. He’s definitely got the size for it but that position is crowded and only precious few spots are available (most teams typically carry 3 tight ends on the active roster). This battle should be a fun one to watch this summer.
All I can say is that it’s great to see the Steelers back at it again! It may not be football season yet technically but it’s football season for us all year around!
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