Poll Question: Which rookie are you most excited to watch in training camp and preseason games? Answer #1: Ryan Shazier (39%) Answer #2: Stephon Tuitt (27.5%) Answer #3: Dri Archer (27.5%) Answer #4: Martavis Bryant (6%)
JamesinNYC: Hope you had a nice vacation, what is the most interesting thing you have seen so far in camp?
Ray Fittipaldo: Dri Archer has been very impressive. The crowd breaks out into cheers when there is a nice play up here in Latrobe, but rarely do you hear coaches and players ooh and aah about a player. I've seen that a couple of times with Archer. Now that was in two practices without pads. We'll see how he does today when the hitting starts with pads on.
Austin Pitts: I haven't heard anything about Shazier in training camp so far. How is he doing?
Ray Fittipaldo: I had a little story about him in the Sunday paper. They're going to plug him into the starting lineup as they did this spring and see how he performs. Not a lot of rookies have been asked to come in and start right away in this defense, so he's in uncharted waters so to speak. We'll see how he does today and the rest of camp when the football begins for real.
Zack: Hi ray who do you see standing out the most to this point of training camp even tho they haven't wore pads yet
Ray Fittipaldo: I already said Archer, but I'll give you a few more, all on offense because it's easier to see how they project without pads. Justin Brown was very good in the spring and he did very well again the first two days of camp. Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger look really sharp, too.
Steeler Nation (One "S"): With Chuck Noll's passing I was reflecting on the Steelers and the transition from Noll to Cowher and then Tomlin... Is it just me or does the fact that Ryan Shazier was born the same day Bill Cowher coached his first reg season game against Hotown Oilers and the April/Cowher suprise onside kick legacy was born, as well, makes me feel old...
Ray Fittipaldo: Me too I was 20 years old in 1992 and still in college!
Bob Smith: Besides Cortez Allen, who do you think is next for a contract extension.
Ray Fittipaldo: Cortez Allen is the most obvious. Marcus Gilbert also is entering the final year of his rookie deal. I'd be surprised if he was signed to a long-term deal though because right tackles hit it big in free agency over the winter. Gilbert is likely to get a more lucrative deal if he hits free agency. Cam Heyward is a first-rounder from 2011 so the team exercised the fifth-year option on him.
Craig in LA: Do you think Kiesel will we be back?
Ray Fittipaldo: Kevin Colbert said this morning he has not shut the door on Keisel. I think they want to see how some of the younger guys perform before they do that, though. If they really wanted to sign him they would have done it June 2 when the cap space became available.
Tship: Biggest name in jeopardy of bing cut heading into camp?
Ray Fittipaldo: Way too early to tell. They practice for real for the first time in an hour.
JamesinNYC: Ben really look really healthier?
Ray Fittipaldo: Ben looks fit and trim and his arm is live.
darin: hello ray,im interested in how is sean spence doing will he see any time this season?
Ray Fittipaldo: Big test for Spence starting today. This will be the first time he has practiced in pads since last November when he had a three-week window to see how his knee felt. It felt good then but another injury sidelined him and forced him back to IR. We'll find out quick about him too because Mike Tomlin plans to throw him into the fire right away to see how he does. He has no restrictions regarding his knee.
Miller: The pick that excited me the most was Jordan Zumwalt, who shined in UCLA's pounding of Virginia Tech in their bowl game. A tough, willing hitter who I think offers more than just special teams help, as some writers have noted. Flexibility both inside and outside is a plus for him, also, but what do the coaches think about him and his capabilities?
Ray Fittipaldo: The coaches like his versatility. I think that's a plus for him. He'll have to make it as a special teams player, but I agree with you. He has a nice skill set and experience in a similar defense at UCLA, so the transition should not be all that tough for him from a mental standpoint. He played under former Steelers assistant coach Lou Spanos at UCLA.
Sam: Hey Ray - Do you think Ike Taylor took too much of the blame last season? How has he looked so far in the 2 days at Training Camp? With Mike Mitchell coming in (and Ryan Clark out), I think this secondary is much improved.
Ray Fittipaldo: Ike Taylor wasn't very good last year. The Steelers would not have asked him to take such a huge paycut otherwise. He's looking to have a bounce-back year. As far as the secondary being much improved I don't know if I would go that far. Other than subbing out Clark for Mitchell everyone else is the same and that unit struggled to stop teams from throwing on them last year.
afrazier9: J.Jones how does he look does he look like he has learned any new pass rush moves
Ray Fittipaldo: Jones talked about working out with some NFL players in Atlanta over the summer. He mentioned Justin Houston by name. If he can match Houston's sack production the Steelers will be in good shape.
Zack: What type of contract do you see the steelers offer Ben if he has a great season compared to if he has a ok season
Ray Fittipaldo: Unfortunately for the Steelers some teams have erred and signed lesser QBs to big contracts. Joe Flacco comes to mind. If Flacco is worth $20 million a year then Roethlisberger is worth at least as much and probably more. Also, the salary cap is expected to go up again, which I am sure factors when negotiations commence.
Guest: What do think the final starters and backups will be for all the LBs?
Ray Fittipaldo: Starters: ILB Timmons and Shazier provided Shazier performs well. OLB Jones and Worilds. As far as backups go, Vince Williams has the experience of starting at ILB last year. Terence Garvin is in the mix and Jordan Zumwalt as well. On the outside you have Arthurt Moats as the top back for both sides and Zumwalt is likely to see some work there. Chris Carter too.
Eric: What match-up are you looking forward to seeing, presumably today, in backs v 'backers?
Ray Fittipaldo: Le'Veon Bell won't be practicing today, so I guess Blount or Will Johnson against any of the rookies like Shazier or Zumwalt. I like to see how the new guys react in difficult situations.
Weston: Hey. Who will start at RB. And how many plays will archer play
Ray Fittipaldo: Bell will start provided he is healthy. It's hard to say at this point about Archer, but he is explosive and you might see him get 6-8 touches, more if he proves to be dynamic.
Steeler Nation (One "S"): I know Spence isn't tech. a rookie anymore but I'd bet he'd give Shazier a run for the most votes in today's poll if he was included.
Ray Fittipaldo: You are probably right. A lot of people want to see how he does over the next few weeks.
Guest: Bigger Colbert pick who had dissapointing rookie season that needs to step up this year, Shamarko, Jarvis Jones or Wheaton?
Ray Fittipaldo: Jones. He was the first pick. He had to be benched for ineffective play and he only had one sack. Wheaton didn't exactly light the world on fire either, but at least he had an injury excuse.
Steeler Nation (One "S"): Is Rod Woodson going to be at training camp again?
Ray Fittipaldo: No, Rod is not one of the coaching interns again. Former Steelers center Jeff Hartings is however.
PaulL: Ray, with the lack of contact during practice, does that make it harder to evaluate talent>
Ray Fittipaldo: There can be as much contact as the coach wants in training camp practices. Tomlin said to expect a lot of contact today and throughout camp so it won't be hard for him. And this is when you evaluate the talent. The hitting stops in-season.
Steeler Nation (One "S"): Anyone watching and noted by multiple writers for the PPG, could see Todd H.'s forcing the issue and obsession with the diminuitive back(s) (Rainey) Any indication Todd H. has matured or does someone need to mention the def of insanity... RB by committee doesn't work and as talented as Archer may be, stalling drives hoping a small guy will break free is a tried and failed plan.
Ray Fittipaldo: If that was the case then Kevin Colbert never would have invested a third-round pick in Archer. Obviously, there are more people than Haley in this organization who desire a change of pace back.
Steel: Although I'm worried about the Worilds' high cap hit, what would be fair for both sides considering the situation we had with Woodley? Again, Worilds hasn't yet played an injury free season.
Ray Fittipaldo: I'd say $5 or 6 million a year but the problem with that is Worilds and his agent likely think they can get much more than that once he hits free agency. That's why I guess the two sides have been far apart.
Scott: Ray, when an ex player interns what is the benefit of that for the team ?
Ray Fittipaldo: What's the downside? It's a former NFL player teaching players on the field in an environment where young players can use the tutelage. It's good for the interns as well because they get a taste of the NFL coaching lifestyle and can determine if that's a career they'd like to pursue.
Tim: I think Le'Veon and LeGarrette will be a nice duo in the backfield. Is there a competition for the starting spot? Or do we assume Bell has those responsibilities?
Ray Fittipaldo: It's Bell's job. Blount is a good backup and will get some carries, especially in goal line situations.
Steeler Nation (One "S"): How much does Harting weigh now? Any weight loss tips? I thought he and former Lion teamamte moved to Utah to start a church?
Ray Fittipaldo: He looks like he's about 200. Maybe Jeff and Alan Faneca have a competition for who can lose the most weight.
Luis (St Nation Mx City): Ray, hello to you and fellow fans, I really thought that Jarvis had an excellent last game vs the Browns, do you agree? If he sustains that same level, is he good enough?
Ray Fittipaldo: Playing well in one game is not good enough. He has to sustain it over the course of a season.
Nicki Polen: Do you think Tuitt will be ready to start or ready to start mid season?
Ray Fittipaldo: They have taken a different approach with Tuitt than Shazier. Tuitt spent the spring working with the second-team defense. Gerry Dulac is convinced he'll start the opener or shortly thereafter. I'm not as convinced because I have seen other D linemen struggle as young players, including Cam Heyward. The next few weeks are big for him.
Bob: The fact that Will Allen is replacing Mitchell while he is on PUP is a sign of Allen's positive aspects or Shamarko's negative aspects? Also with your experience on the league and the steelers, how much money do you think Cortez Allen should be getting on average if he indeed signs an extention?
Ray Fittipaldo: I guess that's up for interpretation. Will Allen played very well last year when called upon and he is a veteran. But I can see how people look at it and think the Steelers are being cautious with their fourth-round pick from last year.
Daniel: A little worried about the harmstring injury that Bell has, he will miss practice today. Is it really just a precautionary method or could there be something more to it?
Ray Fittipaldo: He did a group interview at lunchtime today. He said he is merely being cautious with it. He had some tightness and wanted to back off and give it time to heal. At this point, I don't think it's anything serious.
steeler ninja: I saw a PIC of cj Goodwin making a spectacular catch, and Mel blount stood up for the kid... What can you tell me about him? If it came down to him or Justin brown, who would you pick? I kinda hope he makes the team
Ray Fittipaldo: Goodwin is hurt so I'm not sure if he'll have a chance to show the coaches he can make the team. We'll see if he's out there today, but Tomlin said he has a shoulder injury that kept him from practicing yesterday.
Tony: Ray... Once a player is on the Practice Squad does the player's team have the right to retain him if he is tagged by another team for the 2nd teams roster?
Ray Fittipaldo: Once a team places a player on the practice squad any other team can sign him to the 53-man roster.
Luke: I've seen articles that report that Archer has had a few impressive plays where he shows off his speed. Could there be a chance that someone records something or are we just going to have to wait for the actual games to see it?
Ray Fittipaldo: There are all kinds of TV stations reporting from up here so I would imagine at some point you'd see him on the local news before a preseason game.
Ray Fittipaldo: OK, thanks for taking part in the chat this week. I have some work to do before I head out to practice, which begins in about a half hour. I'll do another chat next week at the same time.
First Published July 28, 2014 12:00 AM