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Sports

August 11, 2013

STAIRWAY TO SEVEN: Some rookies could have impact for Steelers

OPINION — THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS have been called old for at least a couple seasons now and from the looks of it, they may be getting a much needed infusion of youth.

Rookies have been making their marks after less than a week of practice in pads. Running back Le’Veon Bell appears to be a certain lock to start over Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. Bell has been mighty impressive during his first training camp as a pro and will likely make one of the veterans expendable.

Redman and Dwyer are likely battling for one spot, especially after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger singled out veteran free agent signee LaRod Stephens-Howling as being a bright spot and a potential third down back.

Meanwhile, rookie receivers Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown appear to be edging another veteran right off the roster.

Wheaton has been impressive so far despite missing all the team’s offseason practices due to school not being over in time at Oregon State with receivers coach Richard Mann and veteran wide out Jerricho Cotchery getting credit for bringing Wheaton up to speed.

The former Beaver will replace Mike Wallace as the team’s deep threat yet isn’t a ‘one-trick pony’ like the current Miami Dolphin. Wheaton has shown the ability to go over the middle and make tough catches.

Brown, who has special teams abilities, will likely be the player who costs Plaxico Burress his spot.

From all accounts, Brown has been catching nearly everything thrown in his direction.

We’re not even mentioning defensive rookies Jarvis Jones, Shamarko Thomas and Vince Williams all of whom are likely to be on the team’s final 53-man roster in less than a month.

So by my count, that’s six rookies with a realistic chance to impact the Black and Gold this year and for years to come.

ä The one thing that has amazed me over the years is the amount of people that flock to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe to watch the Steelers practice.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to be granted field credentials for practice dozens of time and have spent just as much time gawking at the fans line the hills that surround Chuck Noll Field as I do watching the Steelers practice.

It’s plain crazy folks.

Fans fill the stands to capacity with thousands of others standing and sitting on the hills just to watch players practice.

Remember when Allen Iverson went crazy over having to report to practice with the 76ers?

Maybe, I’m just jaded after having watched countless Steelers practices and games from field level during my 15-plus years with Allied News, but it’s just practice to me -- nothing to get all worked up over.

Or maybe it’s just my profession considering many of my compatriots with the Pittsburgh media spend most of practice shooting the breeze with others on the sidelines.

Games, on the otherhand?

That’s something I still get excited about even when my buddies would rather watch the game at home with their high def TVs.

I guess that’s what it is for all of us — not being able to get enough of Pittsburgh’s heart and soul.

Agree, disagree or just want to comment? Contact Corey at gcsportsguy@yahoo.com.

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