Steelers OTAs: After another long offseason, early June isn't a bad place to be

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The Steelers are a mere seven weeks from the start of training camp. That might seem long now, but in late December, when Pittsburgh was knocked out of the postseason, thanks to the Chiefs and Ryan Succop, even early June seemed an eternity away. For long-suffering fans starving for the return of football, the end (or beginning) is almost in sight.

Saturday at my job is the longest workday for everyone involved. As sort of an authority figure, I like to keep the morale of my young troops up by occasionally exclaiming, "2pm on a Saturday is not a bad place to be!"

I say that because there are only four hours left before everyone gets to go home, and when you start at nine in the morning (or 7:30 for Yours truly), that time of the evening that seemed so abstract just hours before, is so close you can almost taste it.

As a huge fan of the Steelers, that "longest day of work" feeling came over me on December 29, 2013, the second after the Chiefs blew a 10-point fourth quarter in San Diego and lost in overtime to help knock my favorite football team out of a playoff spot I spent the entire regular season thinking it didn't even have a chance to get.

When the offseason kicks in, it usually kicks in hard (at least for die-hard football fans). Yes, it's true that fans don't play the game, but most of us don't make seven figure salaries, either. So, unlike the players, we can't just immediately book vacations to exotic countries with beaches, Mojitos, and an ocean view.

Instead (and this is especially the case if you live in a city like Pittsburgh), one must deal with the perils of winter without the morale booster of playoff games and fight songs to keep you going. (And boy does the snow that falls onto your car seat no matter how much you try to sweep it off your door before opening it sting just a little more without "Black and Yellow" or "Renegade" pumping through your stereo as you drive to work in mid-January.)

Fortunately, despite the Steelers second straight offseason that didn't include a postseason recap, and despite the usual wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the team's perpetual salary cap problem, this offseason wasn't as bad as the previous two.

Sure, once again, there were free agent defections, veterans who weren't deemed desirable enough to try and re-sign, and, of course, once dominant players who were cut because they were making too much money for their current production. But while many fans acted like they just lost their best friend when James Harrison was cut in 2013, most faithful didn't seem to mind the blood-letting that involved LaMarr Woodley and his bloated contract this past March.

Heck, the Steelers even managed to sign two desirable and maybe even difference-making free agents, in safety Mike Mitchell and running back LeGarrette Blount.

This has been a mostly uplifting and optimistic offseason, with fans singing the usual refrains of "Let's get back to running the ball (at least more efficiently, even though we secretly want a return to smash mouth!) and playing great defense!"

I don't even think Ben Roethlisberger hates Todd Haley as much this offseason as he did the previous two. (Going to a no-huddle attack and averaging 28 points a game over a two month period tends to sooth some egos.)

Are we one vague Roethlisberger to the media comment such as "The play we called was the wrong one for the defense they were in" away from stirring up the Ben/Todd alleged friction all over again?

Perhaps. But comments like that will most likely happen during the regular season, when football is actually being played, and the thought of snow on our car seats will still be months away.

As for right now, it's early June, the Steelers are in OTAs, and we're only about seven weeks away from training camp.

Unlike Ryan Succop, time is always accurate.

For die-hard Steelers fans, just trying to get to the end of the offseason, the first week of June isn't a bad place to be.

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