Training Camp Stories by Former Steelers

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Donovan Woods: “I think I was really just a training camp body, but I just wanted an opportunity.  I thought I would be playing inside but they put me at outside in mini-camp so I was outside. There were a ton of guys I thought. Though I played outside all camp and preseason, we had some training camp injuries and in the last preseason game against Carolina and I volunteered to go to inside after Arnold Harrison went down with a knee injury and had a very productive game and just like that I was at inside now. “

Mike Quinn: “They went to camp with four quarterbacks – Miller, Kordell, Tomczak and me. I think everyone thought I was just going in as the camp arm. I didn’t focus on that and ended up having a really good preseason and made the team as the third quarterback. It was awesome -we had a great season and I learned a lot. Tomczak took me under his wing and showed me how to be a professional.”

Eugene Bright: “When you’re down Latrobe at training camp doing two-a-days in 100 degrees in full pads and the coaches woke up on the wrong side of the bed, the thought of quitting passes through everyone, but it’s not an option – not at Latrobe and not when facing life obstacles. I will carry that mindset everywhere I go.”

Demarcus Van Dyke: “I was injured in training camp. Colbert told me that they’d waive me with an injury settlement in week nine, and they did. They brought me back, but three weeks later we had three offensive linemen go down with injuries though, so they needed more linemen and needed to release me.”

Matt Bahr: “I remember Jack Lambert in training camp. We used to have 4000-5000 people a day watching us practice, and he would sit down between practice to sign autographs for every single kid until no one was left. He’d often miss lunch and miss the rest time between practices, and I don’t know if anyone noticed but I did. It was first class.”

Dallas Baker: “My one Kryptonite was my confidence – it was the one thing that stopped me. But Coach Tomlin wouldn’t let me quit. I walked away a few times in training camp, I told him I wanted to be a coach. He told me I had the ability and the only reason why I fell in the draft was because of my 40 time. He said my 40 time hurt me, but they knew I was a top wide receiver in my class and thought I was a steal. They wanted me to stay. He wouldn’t let me leave, he told me he believed in me.”

Bo Orlando: “I played for coach Cowher, I had a sciatic nerve in my back and was out for several weeks in training camp. I thought I would be done but coach called me in and said to don’t worry cause he knew what kind of player I was, because I played nine out of my ten year career in the AFC central, so he knew what I can do.”

Reggie Barnes: “I came back to training camp in 1994. The way the league was set up, there was a lot of turnover due to the salary cap. If you were a starter, you were safe. Otherwise, you were a guy they could replace. I had a hamstring issue in camp. I knew I needed to be healthy, but I missed a preseason game. GM Tom Donohoe came up to me and said he was pulling for me, but I needed to be healthy. They ended up going with Eddie Robinson instead of me, I think in part because Chad always felt that I was competing with him and I think they wanted him to feel comfortable”

Leon Searcy: “I would get myself in trouble though sometimes – maybe I was too arrogant. I think the only reason I didn’t start was because I held out. My agent said Pittsburgh was notorious for underpaying players. The agent said I needed to hold out to make a statement, so I missed training camp and was behind everyone else. The newspapers said I was a bust that rookie season – it was a tough first year.”

Kimo Von Oelhoffen: “Walking in the first day of training camp and seeing Coach Cower and  Coach Lebeau – the smiles on their faces and the passion in their eyes gave me this feeling of total inspiration; it was one of trust & an unwavering resolve, to build a team that wins!”

Garry Howe: “I was always “on the bubble”.  I’m not sure people really knew that I never made the squad coming out of camp.  I was cut three times by the Steelers.  The first year I was cut in the final cut and signed back to the Practice Squad.  The second year, I was cut in the final cut and re-signed back to the Practice Squad.  I was moved to the active roster after Gerald Williams broke his hand in week four of the 92 season.  I backed up Steed for four games until I finally got to start for two weeks.”

Dick Capp: “What a team. The  vets treated us like vets. They expected us to produce. I remember an All Pro Hall of Famer complimenting me on my effort in a blitz drill during training camp. Guard Fuzzy Thurston and another named Gerry Kramer both complimented me on my effort and contact. Coach Lombardi expected us to produce like vets. Effort like that was not appreciated in Pittsburgh until Chuck arrived . I actually got in a fight with a veteran when I was traded to Pittsburgh for going full speed in practice. However, it was practice during training camp, not regular season. Hello, I’m trying to make squad!

All stories taken from the book Steelers Takeaways: Player Memories Through the Decades.  To order, just click on the book:

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