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Steelers players shouldn’t have to be perfect at training camp

How much pressure do you think Kenny Pickett is feeling as he begins his second training camp with the Steelers at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania? He’s probably feeling the pressure to improve over his rookie season, sure, but do you think he’s also worried about “performing” at training camp and being perfect while doing so?

He might be if he watched this video Tweet (or is it now an X?) from reporter Hailey Sutton; Sutton covers all things Cowboys, and the video shows quarterback Dak Prescott throwing an interception on the first day of camp. In case you didn’t click on the link, Prescott threw a slant pass to a Dallas receiver, who allowed said pass to clang off of his hands before finding its way into ones belonging to a defensive back.

If you ask me, it was a perfect read and throw, but that didn’t stop someone named Evin from retweeting the video and adding: “Dak has a legit shot to break the NFL interception record of 42 next season if he keeps making reads like this…”

What?

This sparked a debate, with Pro-“It was a great pass!” people arguing with Pro-“It was behind the receiver!” folks for like the next 100 comments.

Mind you, this was the first day of Cowboys’ training camp, and this “hot take” from Evin was based on one pass from a quarterback who was wearing shorts and a helmet.

Now I kind of see why NFL teams, including the Steelers, don’t like it when a video gets released to social media for public consumption. I also understand why teams are so guarded with the kind of information that gets revealed through reporters and journalists. Sure, this is partly to prevent sensitive material from getting into the hands of the Bill Belichicks of the world, but it’s also likely because people— mostly fans and the talking heads— dissect everything and jump to conclusions way too early.

It’s also just bad PR. Any marketing on social media is. You know how it is when some fast-food place or cola company shows a commercial on Facebook or Twitter. It’s followed by hundreds of comments from disgruntled customers telling us that this product gave them the bubble guts and that they switched their allegiance to the top competitor a long time ago.

Anyway, they call it practice for a reason.

Practice is supposed to make perfect, but that perfection probably isn’t going to become a reality at training camp— if it happens at all. It’s one thing to feel pressure to perform before a big game; imagine also having to perform well in practice, not just for your coaches and teammates but for a very opinionated public.

That can’t be a fun time.

“Oh, yikes, Kenny didn’t look great in practice, today. In fact, according to my unofficial stats, Mason Rudolph was the leading passer on the day, while Mitch Trubisky was second. As for Pickett? According to my stats, he threw three interceptions.”

Of course, if you’ve ever attended a training camp practice session, you know that players break off into many different groups to work on a variety of things. One group might be just a few players working on routes. Another group might be doing something else. Obviously, a full-blown scrimmage is about as close to a game-day situation as you can get, but even that is controlled and really not the same thing.

There’s also a depth chart that includes first teams, second teams, third teams, etc.

Besides, a player might try something at practice that he wouldn’t even consider doing during a game. Would you bowl with your opposite hand if you were in the 10th frame with the championship on the line? Probably not, but you’d certainly do that if you were bowling with your buddies on some random Friday night.

If you want to dissect every little performance from a player during a game— even if it’s of the exhibition variety— that’s more than fine.

But think before you Tweet about anything that happens during training camp.

I mean, listen, we’re talkin’ about practice.

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