Camp Countdown: Getting back on track

As the Steelers prepare to head to Saint Vincent College for training camp, we are taking a look back at training camp from the Steelers Super Bowl seasons. Today's spotlight is the 1978 training camp.

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The Steelers headed into their 1978 training camp at Saint Vincent College with a few less players on their roster.

And it was by choice.

"For starters we've cut down on the number of players we're taking to camp," said Coach Chuck Noll. "We've got 16 less in camp because we didn't want to hit the point of saturation where we couldn't look at everybody."

Coming off a season when they finished with a 9-5 record, Noll wanted to be sure he was able to evaluate every aspect of the team, especially with fewer preseason games as the regular season expanded from 14 to 16 games.

And that evaluation began with the rookies, the first group to report. By the time the veterans arrived, camp was full blown as they prepared for an early preseason game against Baltimore on Aug. 5.

Take a look at Steelers Training Camp through the years

"The people who produce in practice are the ones who are going to get to play in the preseason games," said Noll. "That's going to be a problem for the guy who happens to look bad in practice but is a game player, but that's the way things have to be."

Noll liked the group that he brought together for the '78 campaign, but he also understood the challenge ahead.

And there was no time better than camp to get the challenge started.

"We think we can put a pretty good football team together," said Noll. "But we've got to go to camp and see what we have and what we need to work on."

What players wanted to work on was getting back to Super Bowl greatness. After winning two in a row, and then going two years without hoisting a trophy, the desire was strong to get back to the glory years.

"We know we're not the top guy on the block anymore," said defensive tackle Joe Greene. "And that's something everyone strives to be. We want to get back."

Greene said he expected to see the Steelers in the playoffs in 1978, but how far they would go, he wasn't saying.

"I don't know how far we'll go, but I see us in it," said Greene. "I can't see us falling into a team of mediocrity."

He was spot on.

While he didn't predict it, the 1978 Steelers became the top guy on the block, winning Super Bowl XIII over the Dallas Cowboys in Miami, Florida for their third Lombardi Trophy.

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