Injuries really have taken their toll on the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of the last two seasons, and team president Art Rooney II has taken notice of it.
“It does happen sort of in cycles, and hopefully we’re getting through this cycle," said Rooney back in January. "But having said that I don’t think we can just sit here and believe we’ll come to the end of the cycle. We have to look at everything we’re doing, and we will look at everything we’re doing, from the training and conditioning side of things, from a practice side of things and see if there are things we can do to get better.”
As far as the training and conditioning side of things go so far in 2013, we have heard quite a few players talk about it through the first two OTA sessions, and veteran linebacker Larry Foote said on Wednesday players are taking stress tests this year.
“Conditioning has gone up a notch," said Foote. "Everybody has to do a stress test. We\'re trying to get after it."
We assume that Foote means a standard cardiac stress test which is used to measure the heart\'s ability to respond to external stress in a controlled clinical environment. There are probably base levels that they want certain players to be out based on age, height, weight and position of the player, but that is just a guess.
While it\'s good that better conditioning is being preached this offseason, conditioning had nothing to do with shoulder and rib injury suffered by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Kansas City Chiefs last season. In addition, cornerback Ike Taylor is one of the best conditioned players on the team, and he still fractured his right ankle late in the season against the Baltimore Ravens.
However, one area that better conditioning will help the Steelers in 2013 is late in games. In 2012, they lost five games by three points or less. It\'s hard to say if the experts that Rooney looked to for advice on this spotted anything as it relates to poor conditioning in any of the games last season, but the stress test will keep everyone accountable moving forward and appears to be a welcomed change by the players.