Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Steelers Are a ‘Close Group’ Still Seeking an Identity

The team looks good on paper, good in practice and even, uncharacteristically, good so far in the preseason. But very soon now, none of that will matter.

Le'Veon Bell in 2016 | Photo by Pittsburgh Steelers | Karl Roser

Very soon now the Steelers will have narrowed down who they are.

But even after the cut to 53, it’ll be some time before Mike Tomlin has a handle on what the Steelers are, and on what they’re capable of becoming in 2017.

Just prior to the switching of preseason operations from Saint Vincent College to the South Side, Tomlin maintained the Steelers would continue to be a team that’s “very much in development,” one that would “continue to grow, hopefully into January and February.”

It won’t be as simple as reducing the roster to 52 players following the preseason finale on Aug. 31 at Carolina, and then welcoming running back Le’Veon Bell back into the fold on Sept. 1 (Bell’s Twitter-confirmed personal reporting date).

“If we’re doing things right, we’re still very much in development into the season,” Tomlin has emphasized.

For now, he’s comfortable assessing the 2017 team as one with “a youthfulness” he finds “entertaining,” and as “a legitimately close group” after observing the interactions during training camp.

It’s amazing what can be ascertained while watching guys play video games.

“They enjoy spending time together,” Tomlin insisted.

And while it’s tough to quantify that characteristic, it has value.

“That cohesion, that togetherness, that legitimate like for one another can help us in addressing challenges that this year’s going to present us,” Tomlin added.

So, the Steelers have that going for them.

Presumably, they’ll still have that going for them after they get around to sorting out a running back behind Bell, after they thin the ranks to six at wide receiver, after they identify an eighth offensive lineman they can somewhat trust and after they get a handle on how healthy the projected secondary might be on Sept. 10 in Cleveland.

But if preseason prognostications are to be believed, the significant challenges among the ones Tomlin referenced won’t have to be addressed until well after the opener at Cleveland is just a memory.

The Steelers won’t face the meat of their schedule until November.

That’s when they’ll host Tennessee on Nov. 16 and Green Bay on Nov. 26, visit Cincinnati on Dec. 4, entertain Baltimore on Dec. 10 and New England on Dec. 17, and then show up in Houston on Dec. 25.

It can be assumed playing the Patriots is the defining game of any season, at least until the postseason.

But this season, the Steelers will resume hostilities with New England amid a six-game stretch during which they’ll play three other alleged contenders (Tennessee, Green Bay and Houston) and two AFC North Division rivals (never games the Steelers can afford to take lightly, with the obvious exception of Cleveland).

And they’ll need to do more than continue developing their individual skills, defining their individual roles and finalizing their roster between now and then to navigate all of that.

They look good on paper, good in practice and even, uncharacteristically, good so far in the preseason (at 2-0 the Steelers have already won more exhibitions than they’d managed since they went 3-1 in games that don’t count in 2012).

But very soon now, none of that will matter.

“You really don’t know,” Tomlin confirmed, “until you’re walking the journey.”

No matter how much you appreciate the guy with whom you’re trying to stay in stride.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in April

This month's lineup includes Rick Astley, Billy Price, Christopher Cross and Ronnie Milsap.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in April

Tour local social clubs with the Roaming Social Club; expect changes at AMC Waterfront

April: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in April

A look back at "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" as it turns 30, plus two literary events coming up in April.

Perspectives: ‘This Is Us’ Is a Story of Us

A former Pittsburgher finds more than a few similarities between his own life and that of the siblings on "This Is Us."

Spare Change: A New Way of Giving

A local group is using music and some spare change to help charities — and filming every step of the way.

Look How Mighty This Bellevue Garden Has Grown

Last season, the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden produced 4,862 pounds of food; the harvest was donated to three food pantries.

When and Where to Dump Your Junk (including old TVs)

A state environmental agency wants to help you recycle your hard-to-dispose-of household clutter.

Watch: Trailer of “Won't You Be My Neighbor”

The documentary about Mister Rogers' iconic show takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

On a Lark: Pittsburgh Mom Creates Activewear for Babes

Unable to find cute, environmentally friendly gear for her newborn son, Lark Adventurewear founder Pallavi Golla launched her own line of moisture-wicking clothing for kids.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: The Beacon's Perch – The Grant Building

When it opened in 1929 as the city’s tallest structure, crowds of sightseers paid a quarter to visit the rooftop observation deck of the Grant Building — named for the street, which was named for the hill, which was named for the somewhat hapless general.

Rick Sebak Digs Up Distant Carnegie-Trump Connection

Research into Andrew Carnegie’s marriage reveals an unlikely, albeit tenuous, connection between the Pittsburgh icon and the 45th President.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Teams Up with Drake, Travis Scott and Ninja to Play Fortnite

Drake and Ninja broke Twitch viewing records, and Smith-Schuster and Scott joined in later.

Growing Up: mossArchitects Moving to Garfield

Principal Andrew Moss says his architecture firm will move to the heart of the Penn Avenue Arts District after outgrowing its current space in Lawrenceville.

Teaching Cyber Safety - The Things You Might Not Know

iQ:smartparent’s Cyber Safety segment offers advice on topics such as what to do with “sexted” images you find on your kids’ phones and more.