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Minicamp ends on a serious note

Posted Jun 19, 2014

The Steelers completed their offseason program with a full practice in helmets and shorts

There was no hat day, where the players take the field, albeit briefly, wearing goofy haberdashery for a light workout that also is light on seriousness. There was no early dismissal. There even was no concession to Mother Nature.

The Steelers wrapped up their offseason program today with the final on-field session of a mandatory three-day minicamp, and Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t dismiss his team until the time listed on the schedule. In fact, practice ran over that appointed time by a little bit, because the session began outdoors on grass and when the rains came, Tomlin had the players go into the locker room and change their shoes so the workout could be completed in the team’s indoor facility on turf.

“I thought we had a productive minicamp. I also thought we had a productive offseason,” said Tomlin. “The first rule of getting better is showing up, and I thought we had great attendance and participation. Obviously we are not a finished product. I don’t think anyone is or feels comfortable saying that they are (a finished product) this time of year. We’ll continue to roll the ball out and get better. The next significance for us is Latrobe, and guys have some independent responsibilities in terms of their readiness between now and then. I assume they are going to do what’s required, and I look forward to seeing them in Latrobe to continue on with our team development.”

With respect to attendance, one of the leaders in that regard was Ben Roethlisberger. A regular participant throughout the entire offseason program, which began with Phase I on April 22, Roethlisberger was excused for one workout to attend to a family matter. It was the only workout he missed, and his presence was important for what it meant on the field but also for the example it showed to the rest of a roster that’s younger than at any time during the Tomlin era.

As Tomlin referenced, the players will be responsible for maintaining, or improving upon, their current level of conditioning over the ensuing five weeks, because their initial task upon reporting to Saint Vincent College on July 25 for the start of training camp will be a conditioning test. Before a player is cleared to begin on-field work at camp, he must take a physical examination and then pass the conditioning test. Those who fail one of the other, or both, can expect to find themselves opening camp on the physically unable to perform list.

As minicamp ended, Tomlin said he didn’t anticipate any of the players currently on the 90-man roster to fall into that category. There were some individuals whose participation during the offseason program was limited to varying degrees, but Tomlin doesn’t expect that to carry over once the team arrives in Latrobe.

“Not anything of any significance as I stand here thinking about it,” said Tomlin of injuries that might limit players come July 25. “If guys are nursing anything (now), it’s something minor and we’re taking a measured approach to their progress, while understanding what time of year it is and the battle that lies ahead.”

In typical Tomlin fashion, he refused to anoint anyone based on what has happened throughout this offseason, and that was illustrated by his answer to a question about the progress of young linebackers Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier.

“They have done nice, but again you can convince yourself of anything this time of year,” said Tomlin. “I’m not interested in telling the story to myself. I just simply roll the ball out and provide opportunities for guys to improve. I’m not trying to measure it too much because it is what it is. This isn’t football. It’s football-like, and it’s a great opportunity to prove and learn and develop game cohesion and understanding. That’s what this is about as opposed to evaluating performance.”

That will come at training camp. See you there on July 25.

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