The Pittsburgh Steelers started their second week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in Phase III. It is this phase of the offseason process where the team is permitted to do football activities. Those activities include 7-on-7, 9-on-9 and even 11-on-11 work. This is added to as many position specific drills the coaching staff would like to get accomplished during their practice time.
The kicker for these workouts, outside of no pads and no hitting, is they are completely voluntary. No player can be punished for not attending.
With that said, everyone has been curious who has been in attendance for the Steelers the past two weeks. In Week 1 several veterans were in attendance to get to know the rookies and get re-acclimated to the game.
Veterans who were in attendance last week were: Cam Heyward, Devin Bush, Zach Banner, Tyson Alualu and Ben Roethlisbeger, among others. Despite those big name players being there, plenty of starters were absent. Tuesday started Week 2 of OTAs, and plenty of new, but old, faces were present.
You saw that correctly. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Cam Sutton and Minkah Fitzpatrick were all in attendance for the first day of OTAs Tuesday.
Last week Cam Heyward spoke to the media and said the biggest change between the Steelers being one of the many teams who weren’t going to attend voluntary workouts and them suddenly changing were some changes made within the organization.
“When we first came out with the statement, if we had stayed under the old rules, not having that cooperation with both the organization and the players, we couldn’t have gotten it done,” said Heyward. “A month later we were able to iron out some things. We were able to work through stuff. I appreciate everybody for working with us.
“We had our leadership council talk to our higher ups, Coach (Mike) Tomlin, Mr. (Art) Rooney, Kevin Colbert and we just talked about safety. We understood things have changed. Now we are playing a 17th game. Our main thing was let’s not beat our bodies up. Let’s approach this the right way where we have a ramp up period where guys are learning, guys are taking advantage of this time. I wanted to make sure we never ostracize the guys that went in. We had a lot of guys who love being in. We had to show a front that we didn’t want to jeopardize that. I think we did a great job of being open and honest with everybody and making sure we didn’t have a lot of contact. Right now, contact is not a big thing. Minicamp is a different thing.
“OTAs is a big time for learning. A lot of young guys, it’s about getting those guys up to speed. Teaching these guys. Coach T’s main thing was I want to see guys, how well they’re conditioned. We are able to run, coach, listen and learn. When you have those ingredients, it will benefit us.”
When you read over this quote, you almost wonder if the players and coaching staff have a schedule of attending OTAs. This is just speculation, but you have to wonder if players will attend one of the three weeks of OTAs, and this will allow them to be present, get acclimated, but also limit the physical repetitions in the offseason.
Who knows, but it is good to see more and more of the familiar faces showing up and getting primed for the 2021 regular season. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they work their way through OTAs.