NFL training camp is back! Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys players report Wednesday ahead of their matchup in the Hall of Fame Game on August 5.
Cowboys, Steelers training camp starts Wednesday
The Steelers continue adding to their roster right up to report day, agreeing to terms with free-agent pass rusher Melvin Ingram on Monday, as NFL Network first reported.
Pittsburgh’s new-look pass rush is interesting, but not even one of the top three storylines involving the Steelers. Let’s look at the biggest questions facing these two historic franchises as we inch closer to the start of the 2021 regular season.
2021 Training Camp | Pittsburgh Steelers storylines
What are the biggest questions for Steel City?
1. When will midnight strike for Big Ben?
Ben Roethlisberger is “obsessed” with diet and working out as he approaches his 18th NFL season, according to sports broadcaster Ryan Burr.
“Ben will never mention the beating he has taken in the media but says from a dedication standpoint has never seen anything from Ben close to this in past. Source say obsessed with diet & workouts.” https://t.co/xiezHzYrUj
— Ryan Burr (@RyanBurr) July 12, 2021
Will it make a difference? His body has taken an absolute beating throughout his career, and his performance has suffered because of it. Last year’s 6.3 yards-per-attempt average was by far the lowest for Roethlisberger in a season in which he’s appeared in three or more games.
2. How much longer will Mike Tomlin coach?
The fan base has never been less patient with Tomlin, even after another double-digit win season in 2020.
He’s won just three playoff games in the past decade and has an 8-8 all-time postseason record, despite having a Hall of Fame quarterback throughout his entire run.
And yet, the Steelers in the offseason re-upped him through 2024, and he probably has job security beyond then. But he’s entering Year 15 in his current job, and that’s a long time for even a Super Bowl champ.
3. Is there trouble in the trenches?
For a generation, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ identity was ground and pound with a powerful offensive line.
Then Big Ben arrived, and they became a passing team. But the o-line was still dependable.
However, that might no longer be the case. Maurkice Pouncey has retired, Alejandro Villanueva has signed with the rival Ravens, and Matt Feiler bolted for the Chargers in free agency. Then, last month, Pittsburgh cut David DeCastro. Yikes.
2021 Training Camp | Dallas Cowboys storylines
What are the biggest questions for Big D?
1. Dak Attack is back?
Really, this isn’t just the biggest story to watch on the Cowboys. It’s one of the three or four biggest stories in football.
Dak Prescott was one of the faces of the league entering 2020. But one month in, he suffered a gruesome ankle injury that ended his season. And yet, his value to the Cowboys is so huge, Dallas handed Prescott a four-year, $160 million contract this offseason anyway.
“[This season is] going to be very, very special for us and for Cowboys fans,” Prescott recently told Newy Scruggs of NBC 5 in Dallas.
2. Will we ever see “Peak Zeke” again?
Ezekiel Elliott comes in at No. 7 on our Top 25 running backs in the NFL for 2021, which is not hard to believe after going over 1,300 yards in three of his first four seasons.
But last year was a different Zeke. He set or tied career lows in rushing yards (979), yards per carry (4.5), and touchdowns (6).
For sure, losing Prescott hurt his production. But he also did not have the same burst he did earlier in his career. That trendline has to improve, or the Cowboys will look absolutely foolish for giving him a six-year, $90 million extension before the 2019 season.
3. How hot is Mike McCarthy’s seat?
Year 2 is usually a bit too early for a coaching change, but this is no ordinary franchise. The Cowboys have Super Bowl aspirations. Anything short of a run to the NFC title game would be a massive disappointment.
Plus, we’re not hearing the best things out of Dallas about McCarthy’s management style. Get your popcorn ready. Hard Knocks should be great.
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