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5 things we learned from Steelers 2014 rookie minicamp

The Steelers wrap up their 2014 rookie minicamp Sunday, and a good amount of answers have been given to short-term questions. Those only lead to more interesting questions to ponder over the remainder of the offseason program.


Rookies were given their jersey numbers

Who knows if they will stick long-term, but seeing Ryan Shazier in Larry Foote's No. 50, Stephon Tuitt in Aaron Smith's No. 91 and Jordan Zumwalt in LaMarr Woodley's 56 makes it all somehow seem real to me. Each year new players are brought in and many will wash out. Something seems right about this class, long-term.

Dri Archer's role is a compelling storyline

The Steelers mentioned some thought about using Archer as a fullback and an H-back as well as a tailback and a slot receiver. That speaks directly to the likely reason he was selected (much to the chagrin of a large portion of Steeler Nation). Pittsburgh will look to put defenders into conflict with a player who, as one-dimensional a player as he appears to be, will present a significant mismatch with most defenders, even at the NFL level. Using him in a fullback role keeps him a step closer to the line of scrimmage, but forces a defense is cover the Steelers' fullback probably with a safety or nickel defender, which will create a significant advantage for the Steelers in their passing game.

Martavis Bryant is getting Mike Tomlin's rookie hazing

It should give Steelers fans a feeling of optimism to learn coach Mike Tomlin is digging into a rookie wide receiver. When he challenges them for whatever reason (in Bryant's case, he said it was over him "getting tired"), it usually means he's worth challenging. Bryant appears to be full of confidence, which is a good thing, and Tomlin appears committed to challenging that confidence, which is also a good thing.

Dan McCullers running to the ball isn't necessarily literal

The Steelers' sixth round pick mentioned how he was being told constantly to run to the ball. That likely doesn't entirely mean keep sprinting to the football as a means to increase his speed and improve his conditioning (although both are benefits of such discipline). What that means is finding better angles around blockers to get to the ball carrier. Finding more efficient ways to use his hands and leverage to get to the ball carrier. Although the Steelers reportedly want McCullers to shed a few pounds from his 352-pound frame, if he's going to make the team he's going to have to start shaving feet off his pursuit angle as well as his backside.

Jordan Zumwalt started on the outside, remains on the outside

His chances aren't the greatest of making the team, but long-term Zumwalt has a great physical make-up to stick around the roster. He's being told to learn both inside and outside linebacker positions, something, judging by the lack of depth at both positions at various points the last two years, can cement his spot for years to come (along with a primary special teams role). Considering the investment in linebacker the last two years, he may just be on the outside looking in for now. He's one to watch come training camp, though, because he played four years in college as if he could get cut tomorrow, there's no doubt he'll bring the same passion and intensity to the preseason.