Training camp start starts today as the Pittsburgh Steelers have to report to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, by 4 p.m. ET. A run test is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET, and the Steelers will hold their first practice of 2014 on Saturday afternoon.
This is the final offseason mailbag and during camp I will post a mailbag on Tuesdays since the players are off that day. Send questions to @ScottBrown_ESPN with #steelersmail.
And away we go...
@ScottBrown_ESPN: Chris Rainey, the player with whom Archer is most comparable because of his speed and versatility, averaged just over five touches per game in 2012. Almost half of those (39) came on kickoff returns, and Rainey averaged only 2.5 touches per game on runs or receptions. I think Archer is a better player than Rainey and that the Steelers will try to utilize him more than they did Rainey. The rub, however, is this: the Steelers are significantly better at running back than they were the one season Rainey played with the team. Rashard Mendenhall missed the first 10 games of 2012 while he was still recovering from a torn ACL, and the Steelers leaned heavily on Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer that season. Archer has stiffer competition than Rainey did for carries with Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount ahead of him on the depth chart. I’d like to think that the Steelers will get Archer the ball eight to 10 times a game, but that depends a lot on him and the progress he makes during training camp.
@ScottBrown_ESPN: I’m with you regarding Lance Moore. He looked really good during offseason practices, and he is such a solid player and one of those guys who just knows how to get open. I don’t see much of a difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers since the Steelers will use a three-wideout formation frequently. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Moore gets the majority of the snaps opposite Brown when the Steelers use only two wide receivers. Markus Wheaton will be given every opportunity to win a starting job in camp but it won’t be given to him. If he stays healthy I think he will emerge this season and become a big part of the passing game. Wheaton wants to be great and he has the physical talent to succeed at this level.
@ScottBrown_ESPN: I will get a better read on that Friday or Saturday after we get a chance to talk to Kelvin Beachum. I would imagine his confidence level is high, and not just because he played well in the 11 starts he made at left tackle last season. Beachum is an incredibly hard worker and is very studious. He is mindful that his technique has to be a strength since he is not a prototypical left tackle, and I guarantee you he will be nothing but prepared once he gets to camp. One thing I really like about Beachum: He is not assuming the starting job at left tackle is his even though he enters camp as the No. 1 left tackle. He knows he still has to win the job and welcomes the competition for it since it will only make him better. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win the starting job, and if I’m the Steelers I let Mike Adams compete with Marcus Gilbert for the starting job at right tackle.
@ScottBrown_ESPN: I think we will see a different player. As much as Jarvis Jones played in 2013 it took him a while to figure out just how to line up properly, and he admittedly spent most of his rookie season thinking instead of reacting. His confidence level should be much higher going into this season and he should play faster given his comfort level with the defense. How much of a jump he makes in sacks after notching just one last season remains to be seen. Joey Porter, who will mentor Jones, went from 2.5 to 10 in his second NFL season. I think the Steelers will be happy with seven or eight sacks from Jones as long as he puts consistent pressure on the quarterback.