The Pittsburgh Steelers will be reporting for Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) today, Tuesday, and there are some fans who are wondering if there will be anything of note during these workouts.
Before going any further, it is worth explaining what can, and cannot, be done during this phase of OTAs, as well as the schedule for mandatory minicamp following the 10 voluntary workouts.
This is the phase of offseason workouts where the most football-like drills and activities can take place. In case you don’t know what can, and cannot, be done during these workouts, here is a description of Phase 3:
Phase Three (May 23-June 17): Teams may conduct a total of 10 voluntary Organized Team Activities, OTAs, during this phase. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. The team’s mandatory minicamp takes place during this time.
As stated earlier, Phase 3 begins on Tuesday, May 24, and includes three sessions a week over two weeks, ending on Thursday, June 2. Then, mandatory minicamp is held from Tuesday, June 7 through Thursday, June 9.
Outside of mandatory minicamp, these workouts are still considered strictly voluntary; however, most organizations expect their players to be in attendance so they can start to hone their crafts prior to the start of the regular season.
So, what can be gleaned from these practices, or as Mike Tomlin calls it, “Football in shorts”? If you ask me...there is plenty to learn over the next few weeks.
Here are six key storylines to keep your eye on:
1. Stephon Tuitt’s future
While OTAs are purely voluntary, mandatory minicamp is...well...mandatory. Unless Tuitt has a specific excuse for missing minicamp, the fans who have been waiting months for an answer to whether he will be a part of the 2022 Steelers might get their answer sooner, rather than later. If he misses both workouts, you can expect the speculation to run rampant, and rightfully so. If he shows up to workouts, you can count on Tuitt to be a part of the Steelers this season.
2. Diontae Johnson holdout?
Rumors have been rampant about Johnson wanting a new contract, but will Johnson show at either OTAs or minicamp? Will this be the start of a holdout? That is a big question, and one which will be answered when the team reports to OTAs. Just a reminder to everyone reading this, OTAs are voluntary. If Johnson chooses to workout away from the team it shouldn’t be held against up. Minicamp is a different story...
3. Minkah Fitzpatrick approach to new deal
Last season Fitzpatrick had a front row seat to how T.J. Watt handled his business when wanting a new contract. He showed up. He never missed a practice, just didn’t participate in team drills/preseason games. So far Fitzpatrick has been at both Phase 1 and 2 of OTAs, and it looks as if he is following the Watt model to get a new contract before the 2022 regular season begins.
4. Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett take the field
Outside of those who will, or won’t, show up to workouts, this will be the first time Trubisky and Pickett will be throwing to teammates in an official practice setting. To me, this is the official start of the quarterback competition between Trubisky, Pickett and Mason Rudolph. Every throw will have pressure attached to it, and it should be something everyone wants to see play out throughout the offseason/preseason.
5. Rookies and Free Agents work with new team
Speaking of new teams, the seven rookies of the 2022 NFL Draft class and the free agents will be with their teammates doing football-like things for the first time. How does Pickett handle himself in an NFL huddle with veterans for the first time? How does someone like DeMarvin Leal acclimate to the new defensive system? Do players like Ahkello Witherspoon and Montravius Adams benefit from their first full offseason with the team? Plenty to see here...
6. First team activities for some since Dwayne Haskins’ death
Coming on the heels of the toxicology report being released from the Haskins tragedy, several Steelers teammates will be in a familiar setting and not seeing their friend who they saw in early April before his death. This process won’t be a quick, or easy, transition for those who were close with Haskins. The team, and organization overall, will have to remember the struggle many will feel seeing Haskins’ old locker, expecting him to be in meetings or any other situation which might jog memories. This is the start of the healing process, but it doesn’t mean it will be easy.
For a more detailed explanation of the above things to watch during OTAs and minicamp, check out my Let’s Ride podcast in the player below: