Once one of the most patient teams when it comes to the development of rookies, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a shift in philosophy. Similar to the physical attributes of many in this year’s draft class, the approach to player development has been fast.
Per Steelers.com's Mike Prisuta, Ryan Shazier has taken snaps with the first-team defense since the first day of training camp, while several others have received a limited number of reps with the starting units. It is clear that the Steelers want to get their young talent on the field as soon as possible.
Not even two weeks into camp, the early returns on the 2014 rookie class appear to be very good. Strong performances in practice indicate that there will be several first-year contributors once the regular season begins.
But as exciting as training camp reports can be, everyone must remember that this is still only practice and that the players must prove themselves in game action. This will be the true test of their abilities.
However, that does not mean that we can discount what occurs in practice. Coaches have been keeping a close eye on the rookies and have been challenging them in different ways. They will use what they learn from camp to not only develop the depth chart for the preseason games, but to help make decisions for the final roster.
There is much more to be learned about this year’s rookie class, but let’s take a look at the progress that each rookie has made throughout the first week-and-a-half of training camp.