PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- Today is usually a day full of celebration.
When hoards of media gather to Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where Steelers players move into their dorm rooms with pillow, TV, lounge chair (maybe all three, depending on who it is) in hand. But not this year, of course, because, you know, it's 2020 and the world is a different place.
'They'll be going through COVID testing, there's going to be some meeting then after that and there will be a strength and conditioning phase.They are going to start having some Zoom calls this week, we'll hear from a couple of rookies, Randy Fichtner and Mike Tomlin.
So, at the very least, we're going to be able to start writing about football again and I think that's a good thing. Before you know it, the practices will be here and the games as well in September. I think that's a good thing, I think it's good that Steelers fans will be able to start consuming Steelers news again as we ramp up to the season."
What will be intriguing is whether football falls in the unfortunate footsteps of Major League Baseball. The NFL, like MLB, will not be in a "bubble" for the season and reports as of Tuesday morning are that as many as 17 players and 2 coaches from the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19. Could that come to football?
"In baseball and football, they were very, very much against it and the bubble was never going to happen in either sport. So, you have to trust the players that they're going to go home every night and they're just going to be with their families and they're not going to be exposed. That might be fine for veterans, who have experience and don't want to live the night life and all that stuff. But if you're a younger guy, and you go home after practice, there's not much to do.
So, I think that's where the issue is going to come in. Those rookies, 1st, 2nd, 3rd year players that don't have families, where are they going to go after practice? Who are they going to interact with? We'll see how that goes. It took, what, a couple games for it to happen in baseball. I think we're certainly going to have to keep an eye on that with training camps as well."
As far as roster decisions, Ray doesn't think that with the limited amount of time and resources available for evaluation, there will be any room for surprises.
"Let's look at the defense, the replacement for Mark Barron. Are you going to throw a guy like Ulysses Gilbert in there and see if he sinks or swims? Or would you just rather go with the veteran in Vince Williams and then maybe tinker with that as the season goes on? That's a no-brainer as much as having Matt Feiler move inside to guard. They're going to stick with the veterans.
It's just unrealistic to think they're going to count on these younger guys to step up and take on major roles. I think you'll see they will lean on a veteran and I think you'll see that across the roster, at any position battles. I think the rookies will only be counting on if need be."