During the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Organized Team Activities (OTAs), news was made when it was announced the team was moving both T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree around along the defensive line.
They were letting Dupree, who usually rushes from the defense’s left side, play on the right, and shifting Watt from the right to the left.
When this was reported, most just assumed it was the team giving themselves the flexibility to move the two bookend pass rushers around in specific sub packages. The same narrative of flexibility was written when Dupree announced the team had even practiced having both Watt and Dupree rushing from the same side of the defensive front.
However, after Day 2 of the Steelers’ mandatory minicamp, comments by outside linebacker coach Joey Porter cast the team’s decisions as much more calculated than originally thought.
See what was said, per Mark Kaboly of the Athletic:
Joey Porter really didn't agree with my assessment that T.J. Watt is a very good cover linebacker. He asked me to name a play. I said the Jordy Nelson play. He then rattled off a handful of times he got beat. There goes my narrative. @TheAthleticPGH— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 13, 2018
Bud Dupree's move to the right has everything to do with him missing some sacks last year because the quarterback saw him coming. Steelers feel Dupree has done everything to get to the QB but hasn't finished. This will, they think, will help. @TheAthleticPGH— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 13, 2018
While the team is still aiming to give themselves as many options as possible whenever the defense lines up, they clearly think Dupree can, and will, be able to succeed from the right side of the defense.
In regard to Porter’s comments about Watt’s coverage skills, I would chalk this up to a coach keeping his young defender in check. If Porter were to say how Watt has acclimated himself well, and although improvement is necessary, is far better than they expected, you can’t help but wonder if those words might impact Watt’s preparation.
Watt has work to do on all aspects of his game, but his play in space last year was a work-in-progress. Considering Watt’s well-known work ethic, I would certainly imagine 2018 will show improved skills in all facets of his game.
Now it's time to check on other news coming out of the Steelers’ second day of minicamp:
Youth Served at QB Thursday
Thursday will be a day to keep an eye on for a lot of reasons for the Steelers. Not only is it the team’s final day of minicamp, and last workout before training camp, the team will be getting a long look at both Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph exclusively during team drills.
Mason Rudolph said he and Josh Dobbs are scheduled to run most of the offense in Thursday's Steelers minicamp. 'Looking forward to tomorrow,' he said.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 13, 2018
Let the competition begin...
Eli back in the building
After suffering a torn ACL in the season-ending loss to the Jaguars last season, Eli Rogers was at the team’s UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and spoke to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Eli Rogers was at the Steelers UPMC Rooney Complex on Wednesday and said he is hopeful to be re-signed. Said his knee injury is progressing well.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) June 13, 2018
While Rogers did not receive a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) tender from the Steelers, he is hopeful to be re-signed when he shows he's healthy enough to play. If healthy, Rogers would be a welcome addition to the team’s wide receiver depth chart.
The Steelers tackling has been...well...not very good the past few years. No game sticks out more than the playoff loss to Jacksonville at Heinz Field last year. Missed tackles, poor angles and horrible run fits were the ongoing theme of 2017, and not just in the playoffs.
Keith Butler spoke to media and told reporters he is planning on practicing tackling more in training camp than they have in years past.
Lingering affect from Steelers' 45-42 loss to Jaguars in playoffs: Defensive coordinator Keith Butler says they will practice tackling much more in camp— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) June 13, 2018
What is ironic about Butler saying this is how reporters like Peter King always talk about how much tackling the Steelers do at camp compared to other teams — yet their tackling still isn’t very good.
Either this will help, or perhaps resemble banging your head against the wall over and over again.
Not all drama for AB
Antonio Brown made waves Tuesday when he talked about why he had missed eight of the team’s 10 OTAs. He blamed the media and talked about his overall lack of freedom. When fans and media heard these words, there wasn’t a lot of sympathy headed Brown’s way, but it should be noted not everything Brown does is about him.
Brown, who's a partner with Campbell’s Chunky Soup, helped box up meals at the Pittsburgh Food Bank and he'll help provide food for those in need this year.
Below is what Brown posted of the event on his official Twitter page:
Glad to team up with @CampbellsChunky, @SpaghettiOs and @CampbellSoupCo to donate 5000 servings of soup to deserving families in the @steelers community. Thank you to the @PghFoodBank for helping us make this a reality! #FootballIsFamily #SoupSquad #Boomin pic.twitter.com/vTBCWrnJZY— Antonio Brown (@AB84) June 13, 2018
JuJu Smith-Schuster speaks!
JuJu Smith-Schuster is eager to take on his second season in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/kic3msUU8s— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 13, 2018
Here’s an example of why Xavier Grimble will be in the Steelers’ tight end rotation once again. Power. pic.twitter.com/30oIrWBcoD— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 13, 2018
Coach Tomlin Recaps Day 2