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A Letter From the Editor: Don’t let the hype get you, not yet anyways

Let me start by saying this…

I’m guilty.

Guilty as charged, in this regard.

When I’m scrolling through social media I can’t help but see the clips from Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. The clips of big plays down the sideline, Kenny Pickett running through the defense, and the pass rush looking as feisty as ever going against the offensive line.

When you break it down into specifics, the Steelers fan base has been without football since January, and they aren’t alone. All but a handful of fan bases have waited over six months to see this. Yes, this.

Football in shorts.

While only a couple teams are able to actually have padded practices at this juncture, football in shorts can be tantalizing. You see receivers running wide open, the defensive line getting serious push, and throws into windows which look like only a football could fit into.

But as tantalizing as it may seem, fans also need to learn to put things into context. No, I’m not suggesting the Steelers fan base, or any fan base for that matter, shouldn’t be paying attention to these practices, because they matter. But when it comes to the hype train, you have to remember how early it is in the process.

Let’s look at the Steelers first three practices as examples…

In the first practice at Saint Vincent College the Steelers offense was on display with big play after big play, but after closer inspection of these plays you can’t help but see how many of these plays would have ended in a sack, or worse, if the defense were actually allowed to hit the opposing quarterback.

This tends to lead to the knee jerk reaction of the fan base being disappointed with the offensive line. But can you truly fault the line when pads aren’t on? Let’s continue…

The second practice featured the offense winning the first ‘7 Shots’ period of camp, a drill which was riddled with miscommunication on the defensive side of the ball. Should this discredit the Steelers offense and their ability to punch the ball into the end zone? With Minkah Fitzpatrick still sitting out practices for personal reasons, did that play a role in the miscommunications considering he is typically the quarterback in the revamped secondary?

The third practice saw the defense get the best of the offense, and a deluge of rain midway through practice saw plenty of mishaps like botched snaps between center and quarterback, interceptions and more sloppy play which mirrored the conditions at Chuck Noll Field in Latrobe, PA.

Again, the suggestion here isn’t to ignore these reports, or to ignore them altogether. No, these practices count, but we also have to remember the fact that players can have bad/off days. Calvin Austin III was a prime example after a rough first day. He rebounded with a solid second day of practice.

Training camp is a process, it isn’t as black-and-white as many might expect from a team building perspective. For every step forward, there can be steps backwards as the team starts to work on new packages which can take time to develop. This is team building in it’s finest form, fans just get a front-row seat during the process.

Pretty wild when you think about it.

So, the next time you see a big play to Allen Robinson on your social media feeds, you can get excited, but let’s hold off on the hype until this becomes more than a one-time thing. When the pads come on next week will be another step in the building process, and in the second week of practice is when the true hype can start to build.

The Steelers are an intriguing team this season, and fans are salivating over every bit of content they can get. I get it, like I said, I’m guilty. But let’s all try to hold off on the hype…at least for now.

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