By Jeremy Hritz
Wednesday marked the beginning of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they began their journey to claim their seventh Lombardi trophy. Throughout the week, there were several pieces of news that were either worthy or celebration, consideration, or concern. Below is a look at the week that was.
DeCastro Signs on the Dotted Line
On Monday, the much-anticipated, on-time arrival of rookie guard David DeCastro to training camp was guaranteed as the Stanford product signed a four-year contract worth almost $8 million dollars. While he is currently not running full-time with the first team offensive line, he is taking reps with the unit, and it is only a matter of time before he is inserted permanently at the right guard position.
Tomlin Re-Ups with the Steelers
On Tuesday, the intrepid leader of the Steelers had his contract extended through 2016. Mike Tomlin, 40, enters the 2012 season with a 55-25 regular season record, and a 5-3 post-season record that includes one Super Bowl victory and another appearance. He currently has more wins in the regular season in his first five seasons that his predecessors Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll. Tomlin’s lengthened commitment is another testament to the organization’s belief in consistency. Hopefully, Tomlin continues the winning tradition and ultimately finishes his career with the Steelers.
Ed Reed Reports to Camp, and So Does a Skinny Ray Lewis
Why is this significant? Well, it ends any speculation that Ed Reed would holdout and create a distraction within the Baltimore Ravens’ organization, and it should, at least theoretically, soften the middle of the Ravens defense. Ray Lewis reported to camp for his 17th season visibly lighter than in previous years, looking as if he weighs somewhere between 215-220 pounds. When asked about his new weight, his response was: "The game is changing. The game isn\'t any more 250, 260-pound fullbacks. You don\'t have the offenses running the ball 25, 30, 40-plus times. Passing is just happening more." While his statement is true when considering the many teams that are passing-centric, you can bet the Steelers will be more inclined to pound Isaac Redman into the middle of the Baltimore defense.
Antonio Brown Is Fine With Wallace’s Money
On Friday, Antonio Brown signed a 5-year, $42 million dollar extension, a deal similar to one erroneously reported on Tuesday that Mike Wallace had signed. Brown undoubtedly is deserving of the contract, and his potential for growth is great; however, he was not the wide receiver that was expected to be extended this week. Brown’s new contract shows the faith that the coaching staff and management have in his abilities. Considering his high character and outstanding work ethic, look for an even greater performance from Brown this season.
Still Waiting for Wallace
While at the beginning of the week, the sentiment was that Wallace would be re-signed within a few days, possibly even by the start of training camp, with reports of both sides being committed to a deal. By the end of the week, the report was that the Steelers had ceased talks with Wallace, as he had not reported to camp. The current situation after the signing of Brown is very unclear, and the outcome of the situation is now an even greater mystery than it has been all offseason. There are currently three spins out there now on the outcome of the Wallace situation, 1) he will sign his tender, report to camp, and become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, 2) he will sign a new contract with the Steelers, and 3) he will sign his tender, be traded, and hit his payday elsewhere, even though Kevin Colbert denies Wallace is on the market. With Brown’s signing however, the writing may be on the wall for Mr. Wallace.
It’s been a great first week of training camp, and the flame of competition is beginning to ignite as the first fully-padded practice took place Saturday. The anticipation of what week two of training camp will bring is great, as we continue our countdown to the first Steelers preseason game of the year against Philadelphia: only 11 more days to go.