LATROBE (93.7 The Fan) - On the outside, doubt has crept in. But the Steelers claim they are ignoring that.
As the team arrived to Latrobe for training camp, it did so with 20-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, good for eleventh in the NFL.
They’ve heard the noise and the distrust many have in them following a 9-6-1 season and the losses of star offensive weapons Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
“It’s a good thing,” guard Ramon Foster said as players reported to Saint Vincent College. “Maybe the cameras will stop chasing us around so much and expecting us to do certain things and we’ll just do them.”
“It’s 2019 and, honestly, we just want to win the Super Bowl,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “The past is the past and we’re ready to go with the guys we’ve got here.
“It’s always a positive vibe going into camp. Only time will tell, but I’m looking forward to this group. It’s a no-nonsense group that’s just ready to move forward.”
While the national narrative is mostly about all that the Steelers lost, it may be easy to overlook what they return. A future Hall of Fame quarterback, a veteran offensive line with multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber players, a blossoming star at wide receiver and a Pro Bowl running back. And that’s just the offense.
“We can be really good,” Pouncey said. “Any time you have a Hall of Fame quarterback, and I tell people this all the time, you’ve got a good chance of winning.”
“We’re good, man,” cornerback Mike Hilton added. “I know a lot of people are writing us off this year, but guys are a lot more focused, guys are locked in. We’re going to play with a chip on our shoulder.”
And that has been a common theme among Pittsburgh’s locker room. There is a feel that the drama of previous years, presumably kicked to the curb with Brown and Bell off the roster, will lead to wins.
“We’ve probably been more talented, of course, because of some of the players we’ve had,” Hilton said. “But this group is as close-knit as it’s been over the last three years.”
The Steelers will need a lot of things to fall into place. There are holes, yes. And Saint Vincent are where they need to be filled, with an opening week game in New England looming.
“We’ve got to put it on the field, we’ve got to put it on tape,” Haden said. “We didn’t make the playoffs last year, so they can say what they want. It’s up to us to make it happen.”
Camp is for learning, for conditioning and, for many, proving doubters. Even if the doubters yell the loudest.
“We still have a lot of primetime games, we’ve still got a lot of Pro Bowl and All-Pro guys on this team,” Foster said. “So, with that being said, if we do what we’re supposed to do, that narrative will change real quick, I’m sure.”