Steelers OTAs Preview: A newsworthy offseason brings back memories of 2010

Karl Walter

The Steelers are coming off one of their most active offseasons in recent memory. While the preseason of 2010 carried with it loads of negativity, that team turned into something great. Can the 2013 version mesh together with the large amount of change that's occurred?

The spring of 2010 was one of the most turbulent in recent Steelers offseason memory.

By the time the final minicamp session ended, the Steelers had traded its leading receiver, Santonio Holmes to the Jets after a string of issues, including a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's substances abuse policy. Ben Roethlisberger had been accused for a second time of sexual assault, this time, after an incident in Milledgeville, Ga. Starting right tackle Willie Colon had torn his Achilles in workouts and was lost for the year. Same for promising young wide receiver Limas Sweed.

Just surviving Organized Team Activities (OTAs) seemed to be an accomplishment for a Steelers team coming off a disappointing 9-7 campaign the previous year.

Even bringing up that offseasons seems like a jinx; rarely will a team deal with that much turmoil in such a short amount of time. The 2013 Steelers don't have that same level of drama, but change, headline news and new starters replacing old ones is just as prevalent.

Among the notable points of interest heading into the first session of OTAs, beginning Tuesday in Pittsburgh:

Heath Miller's knee injury

Will the 2012 Pro Bowl tight end get healthy in time for the start of the year, or will he start on the Physically Unable to Perform list, costing him the first six games of the season?

If he starts on the active roster, expect a training camp battle between David Johnson (who is coming off an ACL tear of his own) and second-year TE David Paulson. Matt Spaeth was signed this offseason, and would likely start for Miller.

If he starts on the PUP, expect the Steelers to keep all three of those tight ends, looking to release one when Miller is activated.

Running backs teeming at the seams

Le'Veon Bell was drafted in the second round. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were both given original round tender offers in restricted free agency worth $1.3 million each. LaRod Stephens-Howling was signed as a free agent. Baron Batch and fullback Will Johnson still remain. How many running backs will the Steelers keep?

Battle for Left Tackle

Mike Adams vs. Marcus Gilbert unofficially official Round 1 begins. With a versatile interior offensive line, new Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. will certainly hope both his embattled tackles make it through OTAs to compete for real in training camp. But it's the first live action he'll get to see of the two, helping make what could be the most talked about decision of training camp; Gilbert or Adams on the left side?

Worilds vs. Jones

Similarly to Gilbert vs. Adams, there will be hype surrounding rookie Jarvis Jones's alleged competition for the team's right outside linebacker position against incumbent Jason Worilds. Jones, the 17th overall pick in this year's draft, Worilds, the team's second round pick from 2010, and LaMarr Woodley, a second-round pick in 2007, are the three highest drafted outside linebackers in team history.

Yet Another New Starting Cornerback

The Steelers have had a different cornerback starting opposite Ike Taylor from the previous year since 2007, when Deshea Townsend finished his fourth consecutive starting stint. Bryant McFadden and William Gay traded off seasons from 2008 to 2011, and Keenan Lewis took over for Gay in 2012. Cortez Allen will replace Lewis this year, and he could be the most talented corner the team has had in quite a while. Will he live up to the physical talent he has?

Look for more in-depth features on these topics and more as the Steelers begin the first session of OTAs Tuesday. Session 1 runs through Thursday with Session 2 running from May 28-30, and concluding with Session 3 June 3-6. The team's full minicamp runs from June 11-13.


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