The Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe for training camp today and the first practice will take place on Saturday. Over the years, the most common injury that we hear reported over the course of the first several days of practice involves strained hamstrings or quads.
Injured hamstrings early on in training camp can certainly linger, and they usually cost players at least a few days of practice, if not more, depending on the severity of pull. Younger players on the roster, especially late round draft picks and undrafted free agents, have enough of an uphill battle as it is as it relates to making the final 53 man roster, so missing just one practice could be one missed practice too many in their case.
Nowadays, the offseason training programs that players put themselves through are pretty strenuous and a few of them have even started including boxing and MMA type training into their programs. As good as each training program might be, nothing can really simulate what players go through on the field.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor seems to have a perfect offseason program in place as he always shows up at training camp in tip-top shape. He has trained down in Florida at the Wide World of Sports Complex for several years now under the watchful eye of renown trainer Tom Shaw, and he has talked often about how working in a sand pit is part of that training.
Taylor unfortunately missed the last four games of the 2012 season due to an ankle injury, but that injury was just a freak accident. Those things happen, and it\’s just part of the game.
Fellow Steelers cornerback William Gay also trains with Taylor down in Florida, and he has yet to miss a regular season game during his six years in the league. Former Steelers linebacker James Farrior also trained with Shaw for several years, and he only missed two regular season games over the course of his last six years in the league. In case you are curious, it was a calf injury that finally got the best of the veteran linebacker during his final season in the league.
While I don\’t know all the players league-wide that train with Shaw during the offseason, the Steelers players that I know do seem to have pretty solid track records when it comes to health, or more specifically, hamstring health.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley has had hamstring problems for the last season and a half, and while he claims it was an ankle injury that slowed him down the most in 2012; you still have to wonder why he didn\’t take Shaw up on his offer this past offseason to train down in Florida.
The Steelers aren\’t very deep at several positions on defense as they head into training camp, so the last thing that they need is for one of their starters to get hamstrung.
Perhaps after Taylor retires, the Steelers should consider putting him in charge of the player\’s offseason training program. That\’s not a bad idea come to think of it.
Hamstrings beware; training camp is here.