Wolfley Watch List

Every year at training camp there are certain things I look forward to -- particularly now that I'm of the retired sort, meaning that I am a non-combatant in the ta-doings of Camp Cowher. Check that, the modern term for us retirees is transitioned ex-player.

Only the players of this era go on to retire. The rest of us former Pittsburgh Steelers must transition to another type of work. I know, it sounds bitter even to me.

Now that I'm safely counted among the spectators, here's my list of can't-miss stuff to peruse if you happen to make the trek to St. Vincent's College to take a gander.

One-on-one's with the offensive line doing battle against the defensive line in the clash of the titans tops my list of good clean fun. Nowhere else this side of a Tokyo Grand Sumo Championship will you find behemoths kicking up dirt in a small space than the slug-friendly pass pro drills.

Turf is hotly contested in this mano-y-mano drill that allows the mutant pass rushers to let it all hang out with uppercuts, swims and helicopters as they tango with the hogs. Now that Kimo and his club have moved to the Jets' training camp, look for the Clark Haggans pass rush spectacular -- his uppercut-spin move would make John Travolta green with envy -- and Max Starks top heavy and punching at air if he doesn't sink his weight, keep his shoulders back and drag his lead foot on his kick-step. Keep an eye on this match-up because Clark's body type and rush style was at times problematic for Max last year.

Second in demand on the Wolfley Watch List is backs-on-backers. This drill pits the running backs against the outside and inside backers in a simulated blitz pick-up. One of the two positioned backers comes a-flyin' at the snap and the back must adjust and stick his face in the chest of a guy who's hastily arriving and in a rather nasty disposition upon doing so.

The guys to watch here are James Farrior faking a blitz to get the back to step-up, which gives his buddy Joey Porter a half-step on the corner. Andre Frazier made his first bones here, and James Harrison may be king of this spectacle. Watch Dan Kreider make like an oak tree stump and dish out a severe case of deceleration trauma to an unsuspecting rookie. The deer-in-headlights look on the faces of the first-timers as they have a go is a sight to behold. As Dan Rather once said in signing off, "Courage."

Slightly down the list are the goal-line scrimmages. Juice up the smack talk and take off the emergency brake in bumping backs instead of tackling, this is where the nasty in defense get to have a live set-to. Personal and platoon honor is at stake and one only has to go back a few years to remember the Kendrell Bell shot on the Bus, and Ken Whisenhunt and his General Patton-like ground assault. Try to get down by the end-zone to hear the verbal exchanges. If you're over eighteen, that is.

The running test. This one makes the list mainly because my keester is parked on the sideline. This may only be truly appreciated by someone who's been there/done that, but the players' agony of waiting to get this thing done in order to get on with the business of playing football is very real.

Fourteen 40-yard sprints with a jog-back and 30-second rest intervals may look tame, but what is truly astonishing is how quickly you get tired and heavy-footed while searching for a suddenly non-existent air source while out in front of fans, writers and coaches. It's a bug-a-boo in the head and you must learn how to deal with it. The thought of pulling a Jamaine in front of the boys makes your legs quiver.

The eatery makes the list also. Yes indeed, we are talking five-star eating up at camp, unlike the days of old. Everything is catered and there is mucho from which to choose. Back in the day, the cooking was a little rough. The nuns, bless their hearts, were a little heavy handed when it came to the grilling. If you had a taste for a little seasoning and spice, and requested that, somehow it translated to burning the mystery meat a little more. Got to hand it to the nuns though. It's amazing what they could do with gravy.

Last of all, go say hello and chat with the Benedictine monks. I sweat up a storm just standing and they're cruising around campus in full length black robes and never sweat. I still haven't figured that one out. Great guys though.

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