The Pittsburgh Steelers’ first OTA (organized team activities) sessions were conducted this week. It provided each side of the ball its first opportunity to see both veterans and the new rookies together on the field.
It also gave the media and fans some fodder for the watercooler.
Of course certain NFL teams, or rather certain coaches, found the three-day sessions more revealing than others. Jets coach Rex Ryan and the Cardinals’ Bruce Arians are already inexplicably yapping about their noxious offenses. Both complained to the media regarding the poor execution of their newly-installed schemes. Evidently, negative media coverage is better than no media coverage for blowhards Ryan and Arians.
On the other hand, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin continued with the boring status quo. Not much to see with football in shorts.
There were some noteworthy happenings, though:
- Rookies down – Top draft pick Jarvis Jones (hamstring) and potential No. 4 cornerback Terry Hawthorne (knee) did not participate due to injuries.
- Old players, new positions – Kelvin Beachum (center, guard, tackle) and Al Woods (nose tackle, defensive end) had the first opportunity to claim the “utility” position on the lines. Coming out of college, Beachum was thought to have the smarts and size to be a center. He even took first-team snaps at center.
- Outside linebacker depth – Adrian Robinson and Cris Carter were the second-team outside linebackers with Robinson behind Jason Worilds and Carter behind LaMarr Woodley. Robinson is a second-year undrafted player out of Temple. Early indications are that Robinson’s experience from last year may have moved him from potential to player. He is just 23 years old, the same as rookie Jones.
- Keenan Lewis gone, William Gay in? – Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting Cortez Allen will be the No. 2 corner for the Steelers this season. Allen will reportedly move to the slot in nickel downs with Gay replacing him on the outside.
In addition, third-year veteran Curtis Brown is hoping to copy Lewis’ successful 2012 season by demonstrating to coaches that he, not Gay, should be the outside cornerback in the nickel. Brown has the size (6-feet) and speed to be a NFL corner but has lacked the coverage skills. Brown said he studied film this offseason and added more weight. Secondary coach Carnell Lake deserves a promotion if Brown goes from the cut list to No. 3 corner.
Lastly, it appears Woodley has won his battle of the bulge. Woodley said his high-ankle sprain has healed, allowing him to fully participate this offseason. The Steelers need their leader Woodley back on the field and in the backfield of opposing teams.
A slimmer, trimmer Isaac Redman showed up to OTAs as well. After seeing the team hire a zone-blocking offensive-line coach in Jack Bicknell, Jr., Redman evaluated how he fit in. He decided in order to hit the outside zone holes he needed to lose weight. Maybe Le’Veon won’t be the only “Bell cow” in the backfield after all.