Fourth & Goal: What camp really means

Mike Prisuta points out what's truly important for the Steelers through the first week of training camp.

Week One is in the books at St. Vincent College.

Although, as my colleague Bob Labriola likes to point out, there are no trophies awarded in August, it's nonetheless hard to imagine the first week of this particular training camp for this particular team producing any more encouraging or satisfying results, given the offseason that preceded it.

It's all about team building at this time of the year, and the Steelers are well on their way to building a team.

* It's all about Ryan Clark finishing, finishing, finishing. Clark has apparently taken to heart defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's imploring of the defense to finish plays, finish drills, finish practice periods and finish practice sessions.

They apparently remember all those leads they blew last season. Clark, whether it's stripping the ball from Rashard Mendenhall or knocking Emmanuel Sanders on his ass, has clearly taken the suggestion to heart.

* It's all about staying healthy. That's Troy Polamalu's take, at least, and he's not alone.

Contrasting Clark's maniacal effort has been the more subdued approach taken by several of his defensive teammates, led by the Man of Troy. They're out on the practice field getting their looks, making their adjustments and carrying out their assignments. They're just not particularly interested in actually making a play.

A better way to say that would be to say that they're more interested in leaving St. Vincent College healthy and ready to play defense individually and collectively.

That's something a lot of guys out here already know how to do.

From a preparation standpoint, to each his own.

* It's all about James Harrison when James Harrison wants it to be. Those occasions are both infrequent and obvious.

*It's all about Flozell Adams. The Steelers signed him as a "maybe," but everyone feels a lot better about the big man and about right tackle after a week of camp. A whole lot better.

Apparently Adams has figured out a way over the years to bait pass rushers and get them to make a swim, a rip or a club move against air. That gets them slightly off balance and at that point Adams envelopes them and blocks out the sun.

And when Flozell the Hotel locks you up, you're done.

* It's all about Isaac Redman; at least it will be on Sunday afternoon when, if Redman is to be believed, the first goal-line drill of 2010 will be conducted.

Redman might be the most improved player in camp in turns of turning weaknesses into strengths. And in his case his weaknesses a year ago included everything but short-yardage running.

Now we need to see if the new-and-improved Isaac is still "Red Zone" Redman.

* It's all about Sanders, this year's Mike Wallace.

* And finally, it's all about Dick LeBeau, HOF, 2010.

My absolute favorite LeBeau story dates back to a scorching afternoon practice years ago. The beatdown from the sun was paralyzing. The haze and the humidity were unbearable. It was the kind of afternoon where even Marv Levy would have rather been somewhere else at some other time.

A desperate scribe sought out the small block of shade that had been cast by the shadow of the cherry-picker supporting the camera filming practice. Soon he was joined by another and then another until eventually there were about 15 guys standing as close to one another as humanly possible in a tiny square of shade on an otherwise blazing field.

This must have looked about as goofy as it sounds because LeBeau walked by and shot the group a befuddled expression.

"Trust me coach," someone shot back. "It's at least 20 degrees cooler in this little space."

LeBeau's look of befuddlement quickly became one of understanding and appreciation. He smiled and nodded and then offered up the following:

"If a man don't use his head, he may as well have two (armpits)."

That's the type of London, Ohio logic and problem solving that, when applied correctly over a career that spans over 50 seasons, can land a man in the Hall of Fame.


Steel City Insider Top Stories