There's still Hope

Is there a worse time of the year for football fans than the weeks between the draft and mini-camp?<br><br> As soon as the season ends, we write and talk for the next three months about the draft. Then, like Christmas, it comes and goes in a flurry and all we're left with are a few new toys. And as we all know, those new toys get old pretty quickly.

That's especially true when you only get a few new toys as the Steelers did during the draft.

But you shouldn't forget about the old toys and that's what the Steelers found out this past weekend.

There's an old adage in the NFL that a player makes his biggest improvement between his first and second seasons. Not only are they still young enough to have all of the talent in the world, but they also are getting a good understanding of what's expected of them.

And safety Chris Hope and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El looked like the class of the Steelers' recently-completed sessions.

Randle El was uncoverable during the rookie camp and could really come into his own this season as a receiver. Remember, he's only played the position for one season - yet another one of those Steelers position switches - and is only now beginning to see the whole picture.

As for Hope, not only has he now found a position - he'll move to free safety for good now that Troy Polamalu is in the fold - but he was actually helping move Polamalu into position on the field during the team portions of the drills.

Hope has the talent. You don't start at Florida State without that. Now that he has a better understanding of what's expected of him, he could push Brent Alexander for the starting position.

Dale Lolley

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