I’m just as excited as everyone else is about several of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookies but we must urge caution.
First-round pick Jarvis Jones continues to make great, instinctive plays while second rounder Le’Veon Bell appears ready to start sooner rather than later. Toss in really positive camps for third and fourth round selections Marcus Wheaton and Shamarko Thomas and there is a ton to be excited about. Sorry to be the guy to rain on the parade, but let’s remember these guys have yet to play a game yet. While I believe all four will have an impact in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later, we must temper our excitement a little.
Jones has looked quite pedestrian at times in coverage and against the run but his progress to this point cannot be denied as being anything other than very good. Bell didn’t run with the first team today and he’s buried at the bottom of the depth chart but make no mistake that Bell is the top all-around running back right now in training camp.
Wheaton has shown explosive quickness and has picked up more of the mental side of Todd Haley’s offense than is typically seen by most rookies. I suspect he’ll see a lot of action this year. Thomas has been a fan favorite from the moment he was drafted and with good reason. He’s got a very uplifting personal story and packs a wallop from the safety position. His coverage skills need work though and he’ll need time to get better in that department.
Other Steelers’ Notes…
- CBS’ Jason LaCanfora tweeted yesterday that he thinks the Steelers and Ryan Clark will agree to a new deal in the offseason. While Clark has been one of the most consistent defenders in terms of both play and health, I don’t like the idea of re-signing a 34-year old safety. I said as much earlier this offseason. If Clark has another injury-free, successful campaign this year then maybe a one or two-year deal is in order but any more than that is just not good business in the salary cap era.
- Tight End Matt Spaeth left the practice field on a cart today with what is believed to be a foot injury. Should it be a longer than expected injury, that means second year man David Paulson would be the starter while Heath Miller continues to rehab.
- Head Coach Mime Tomlin also mentioned that defensive back Curtis Brown had a foot injury as well but did not believe it to be serious.
- Before training camp started I suggested that the most important Steeler for 2013 would be Kelvin Beachum. He started the last five games last season at right tackle and enter this year as the top back-up at potentially tackle, guard and even center. Last week during short yardage and goal line situations, Beachum even lined up at tight end. The former seventh round pick might not be the best athlete by any stretch on this roster but his value is extremely high right now.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.