Happy Friday to all of you once again and welcome to football in pads season. Well, almost.
The Pittsburgh Steelers held their first training camp practice on Friday and it included the team having to move their operations over to Latrobe High School due to inclement weather. It sure is nice that they have an alternative venue so they wouldn’t be forced to cancel a practice.
On the surface, it appears as through Friday was a productive day for the team. More importantly, it appears no serious injuries were suffered on day-one.
Several more practices are ahead of the team and we look forward to covering each and every one of them for you.
As many of you know, I traveled to Florida last Friday for my father’s Monday funeral and returned on Wednesday. The trip was a blur and I’m glad to be back home in Vegas now. My mother seems to be handling things well so far and hopefully that continues. I appreciate all of the condolences I received from site readers and Twitter followers.
Ok, now on to this week’s five questions and I’m sorry they’re late.
1 – Does it bother you at all when players make grand entrances into training camp in expensive cars, firetrucks or heavy machinery?
2 – Now that tackle Alejandro Villanueva has signed a new four-year contract, do you think he ultimately plays it out through the 2020 season?
3 – How much money would you bet straight-up that Ben Roethlisberger will still be the Steelers quarterback in 2018?
4 – Will running back Le’Veon Bell report for duty before after the team’s third preseason game?
5 – How many games will Jerald Hawkins start at tackle prior to his rookie contract expiring and do you now consider him a wasted draft pick now that Villanueva has been extended?
Question 1 – Most respondents (57%) do NOT think Le’Veon Bell will earn more than $48 million over the next three seasons (2017-19). Right now, if Bell is tagged again next year would earn $26.6 million ($12.1 + 14.5 million) over the next two seasons. If Bell stays healthy and is productive this year, it seems his best chance to achieve $48 million is to sign a long-term deal next year and with a signing bonus just might exceed that figure. Good news for the Steelers is the incentive for Bell to produce big. Steelers fans should be hoping he earns the big bucks since it means doing big things in Pittsburgh this year.
Question 2- L.J. Fort was the favorite to make the initial 53-man roster this year by a clear 55% majority. Primarily because his position group was deemed to have less depth and there may be room for five inside linebackers. The Steelers are not deep at running back but the acquisition of Knile Davis and drafting James Conner in the 3rd round depresses Fitzgerald Toussaint’s chances who got only 18.5% of the votes. Many people thought Demarcus Ayers has the most career potential of the three but is hurt by the deep pool of wide receivers limiting him to 22%. Jaybird decided that there was not room for any of the three on the initial 53-man roster.
Question 3 – Mike Hilton was the overwhelming (93%) choice over running back Terrell Watson as who we would likely be excited about following the second preseason game. This might be due to simple name recognition as at least six separate Steelers Depot articles had Hilton headlined compared to two for Watson over the past few weeks. But several people noted that the secondary was an area that had keen interest compared to running back since Le’Veon Bell is likely to take almost all the snaps. Looking forward to that second preseason game to see if both are still on roster and if either shine.
Question 4 – Eight different current players were named as having the best shot of ending up on another team’s roster to open this season. Six of the eight are wide receivers, unsurprising since this is considered the deepest position. Justin Hunter led the way with 8 votes followed by Demarcus Ayers (7), Sammie Coates (6), Cobie Hamilton (2), Eli Rogers (2), LB Arthur Moats (2), Darrius Heyward-Bey (1) & RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (1).
Question 5 – What a pleasure to read the various stories on how and when folks became Steelers fans. Nice mix of folks that followed the Black & Gold well before the Super Bowl years and those that have joined the nation within the past decade. Some have a Steelers Nation lineage going back a few generations while others had to correct the errors of misguided kin. There were Burghers born & bred, some from across the country and even crossing international boundaries. The response to this question demonstrates that the pool of Steelers fans is both wide & deep.