Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania is one of the most unique, fulfilling and engaging experiences of the early NFL season. Annually, Steelers fans in bunches make the trek to watch their gridiron gladiators prepare for the upcoming campaign, sitting on the hillside and enjoying both scenic beauty and intense team preparation.
The “ooh’s!” and “ahh’s!” of spectators during a late summer in Latrobe are not uncommon. I personally remember my own excitement whenever a rising Steelers star made a spectacular diving catch in the end zone during a red zone drill during an August 1999 afternoon practice. That dynamic playmaker was Hines Ward, who would go on to become the team’s all-time leading receiver in most major statistical categories.
Certainly, the path to his fall feats and winter wonderment came with solid preparation. In other words, Hines’ days as a Pittsburgh top dog were born from hard work during the summer’s dog days.
For many athletes fighting for starting positions or roster spots, the results of their preseason performance are born from the sweat (or lack thereof) at St. Vincent College.
Unfortunately, this part of the season exposes a hybrid of athletes performing at different levels. Whereas many players flourish while showing off their potential, others fall short under the scorching heat of NFL expectations and the hot summer sun.
As we continue through the exhibition phase of the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers season, here are five players whose camp performances or preseason experiences to-date have left something to be desired.