Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Much of the fan attention at Steelers training camp is focused on the meaningless.

James Conner, a better story than he is a talent, will split first-team reps at running back with Steven Ridley. Their play will be closely analyzed, and if one has a breakout preseason, the cry will mount: "Who needs Le'Veon Bell?"

The Steelers, that's who. (And strippers. Have you seen that video? Lots of money. Lots of cottage cheese, too.)

The minute Bell signs the franchise tag, Conner and Ridley move to the pay-no-mind list. And should stay there when the Steelers draft Bell's replacement next year.

Mason Rudolph will be under scrutiny simply because he's a quarterback: The position is every fan's focus.

Rudolph will eventually succeed Ben Roethlisberger, but talk-show callers will clamor for Rudolph to play long before he ever does. Perhaps as soon as Roethlisberger throws consecutive incompletions.

BTW, Rudolph got zero reps on the first day of drills. That's silly. No point dangling a carrot with Rudolph. He may be a rookie, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know Rudolph won't get cut in favor of Josh Dobbs. Who is a rocket scientist.

If you want to keep your eye on something consequential, focus on rookie safety Terrell Edmunds.

The Steelers picked Edmunds with the 28th pick of this year's draft. He was projected to be selected no earlier than the second round, and most draftniks thought Edmunds would go in the third or fourth.

But the Steelers won't spend much time in their base 3-4 this year, and one alternative is using a box safety, a la Troy Polamalu.

Morgan Burnett might fill that role. Or Burnett could play a more traditional safety, and Edmunds (progress permitting) might be the box safety (replacing a linebacker). The Steelers likely took Edmunds to play that specific spot ASAP.

Edmunds (6-foot-1, 217 pounds) has size and burst. He does his best work close to the line of scrimmage. He's no Polamalu, although his hair is interesting.

But Edmunds may be just what the Steelers need, and may be force-fed snaps as a rookie because of that.

Courtesy of Getty Images

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