LATROBE, Pa. – Professional sports is a cut-throat business, quite possibly the ultimate meritocracy, where sentiment always loses out to what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. In the NFL, training camp is where careers are made and it's also where dreams can come to die.
That's why it can be unusual for players competing for the same jobs, or for the same roles on a team, to be inclined to help out their competition. But that's also why the Pittsburgh Steelers are special.
When this camp opened on July 30, the Steelers had a hole to fill at right tackle, where Willie Colon was on injured reserve with an Achilles injury and Chris Scott was on the physically unable to perform list with a foot injury. The team responded by signing veteran Flozell Adams, who found himself in the position of having to learn a new playbook and a new style of offensive line play, all the while learning to do it from the right side after a career spent doing it on the left.
By all accounts, Adams is handling everything quite well, and a big reason why he's been able to do so has been because of the help he's been getting from Colon and Trai Essex.
Both Colon and Essex should be praised for helping Adams; Colon because he's a restricted free agent working on a one-year tender and facing a possible 12-month rehabilitation, and Essex because his playing time and/or roster spot could be affected by Adams' arrival.
"He's been a big help to me," said Adams about Colon. "He's been telling me the ins and outs of the right tackle position for this offense, and I appreciate that from him. It helps a lot. You can have other guys telling you that, but he's the right tackle who was actually there. For him to be helping me with some adjustments and nuances of this offense, that helps me a lot."
And offensive coordinator Bruce Arians praised Essex, who is lining up next to Adams as the starting right guard, for the help he's giving the newest member of the unit.
"Trai has done a fantastic job working with Flozell, and Flozell has jumped in and given us a great effort," said Arians. "Trai has really helped him because Trai is one of the brightest guys we have, and it's easy to come in and fit in when you have a guy who's telling you what to do, so it's been a very easy transition."
INJURY UPDATE: Andre Frazier (knee), Jason Worilds (hamstring) and Jonathan Dwyer (hamstring) all have started running, and Coach Mike Tomlin said that is a first step to getting them back onto the field. The timetable for that will depend upon how their bodies respond to the running … Scott Paxson and Dwayne Wright both experienced some heat issues and did not finish the afternoon practice … Frank Summers, who sustained a concussion during Tuesday's practice on a hit by Larry Foote, is working his way back from that.