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Controversial Issues Coming into Training Camp
It seems that there is more controversy this year in Pittsburgh, reflecting back to when Ben Roethlisberger was making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
We will start with Roethlisberger and the philosophical differences that the quarterback has with the front office over the type of offense the team should run.
Roethlisberger wants to keep things the way they were, while the front office wants to see a more physical offense, capable of churning out yards on the ground and controlling the pace and tempo of the game.
Then we have the whole Roethlisberger-versus-offensive-coordinator-Todd Haley issue. We haven't seen the two of them blow up at each other in public yet, but then again, the regular season hasn't started yet, either.
These two will no doubt be on a collision course at some point during the year, and it will be quite a spectacle when the wheels are starting to fall off the cart.
How long will Rashard Mendenhall be out?
Another good question.
Nobody knows how many weeks in to the 2012 season it will take before Mendenhall is able to assume his starting job, if he ever does get it back. The Steelers were duly impressed with the work of Isaac Redman in the playoff loss to Denver, and, based on that observation, decided not to invest a high-round draft pick on a running back in the 2012 draft.
How wise was that decision? We will see how well Redman performs week in and week out.
When camp opened, the Steelers placed Mendenhall on active PUP. That could change to reserve PUP later on, which would mean that Mendenhall could miss the first six weeks.
Next we come to the controversial topic of how old the Steelers are getting and that they are having trouble controlling the line of scrimmage, due to being older and slower.
If you look at the current Steelers roster, they only have one offensive lineman, Max Starks, that is 30 years old. Everybody else is in their 20s. On the defensive line, only two players are in the their 30s—Brett Keisel is 33 while Casey Hampton is 34.
Looks like the reality is much different than the perception.
Other notable 30-somethings on the roster: Will Allen (30), Ryan Clark (32), Troy Polamalu (31), Roethlisberger (30), Jerricho Cotchery (30), James Harrison (34) and Larry Foote (32).
Last but certainly not least is the controversy over what is going on with star wide receiver Mike Wallace. Will he sign his tender offer? When will he report to camp? Will he miss any part of the regular season holding out?
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that Wallace is still not signed to a deal, but that it is crucial for Wallace to be in camp to learn the new offense Todd Haley is installing. I doubt that Haley will offer any sympathy for Wallace if he isn't running the right routes or doesn't know the plays.
After training camp opened, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported what head coach Mike Tomlin had to say about Wallace's being absent from practice:
"We’ve been in negotiations with him," Tomlin said. "He’s not here today. It’s unfortunate for him. One thing that experience has taught me is that this is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than Mike, it’s bigger than me, so I mean that when I say it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not here." "What I’m going to do is work with Emmanuel Sanders," said Tomlin. "Because he’s here, and be excited about doing it."
I would say that pretty much sums up where things stand on the Wallace front. Not only that, but the Steelers have rescinded the multi-year offer that they had previously put on the table for Wallace to sign.
This is going to get uglier by the day.
Pittsburgh Steelers' Controversy Scorecard Grade: 8.0 out of 10
Between the Roethlisberger issues over offensive philosophy, the potential for an explosive relationship between hum and Haley, Wallace being AWOL, and the running-back situation, there is plenty of controversy in Pittsburgh's training camp this year.