Steelers OTAs News: What happened during the first practice of the season

Joe Sargent

From near brawls to clear messages, it was an active day news wise as the Steelers began organized practices for the first time as a full team in 2014.

The first OTAs practice of the season may be little more than "Football in Shorts," but it's the first look at how this team is being put together. There was plenty of news Tuesday, here's a brief rundown of all that happened during the Steelers' first practice of the year.

Pouncey returns to the field - The Steelers lost center Maurkice Pouncey eight plays into the 2013 season, throwing a huge wrench into the gears of the Steelers' offensive plans for the year. He's back now, and participated fully in the team's first practice.

He doesn't want to talk about the injury - Pouncey spoke with BTSC's Dale Grdnic after practice, saying he's "never been hit like" how he was when the ACL in his right knee was torn.

Steelers OTAs 2014

Shazier runs with first team - It wasn't exactly a surprise to see rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier take first team reps in the first practice. Whether he stays in that spot throughout training camp is the long-term question.

An unfriendly bump and a fight avoided - Steelers coach Mike Tomlin apparently set a rule to bar fighting during OTAs. That, says Pouncey, is why he didn't shake Shazier's hand after the rookie knocked him down during practice.

Sean Spence practices, but his climb is just starting - Steelers LB Sean Spence has only just begun his journey to return from a brutal knee injury that's cost him the last two years. With a new rookie in place and the incumbent starting inside linebacker still present, Spence has a lot of fight left.

Shazier predicts championships for Pittsburgh - Shazier sent out a Tweet predicting the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates all would win their league's respective championships within the next five years. Certainly a bold prediction, but a pretty open-ended one. Lots can change in five years of any team.

Taylor, Polamalu not at practice - It's really less of an issue than it may seem. There are two decades worth of starting experience between the two Steelers' defensive backs. If any two players know how to prepare themselves for a season, it's Taylor and Polamalu.

Johnson, Zumwalt sign contracts - Steelers sixth-round pick Jordan Zumwalt isn't even at OTAs, but he still managed to sign his first NFL contract. He and fifth-round pick Wesley Johnson inked their deals Tuesday, but neither will affect the salary cap during the offseason because of the Rule of 51.

Le'Veon Bell looking to pick up where he left off - Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell had a solid rookie season, but the best is yet to come for the team's featured running back. Check back on BTSC today, we'll break Bell's progress from his first game to his last, noting the improvements he made by the end of last season.

Wheaton must develop into a starter for Steelers - Wide receiver Markus Wheaton heads into OTAs as perhaps the most watched player on the team. He's penciled in as the team's starting X receiver, but with little experience following a rookie season marred by injuries, he has a lot to prove.

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