The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field for Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Thursday, and for those who haven’t been paying attention, this isn’t breaking news. The Steelers have been participating in OTAs for the last few months, but Phase 3, which just started, gets the most news.
In case you don’t know, Phase 1 of OTAs is essentially just workouts with the strength and conditioning staff, Phase 2 is more position specific training/drills and Phase 3 is the most football-like of all OTAs. It is Phase 3 which is where teams can do 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. No contact, no pads, but plenty of news to go around. Before going any further, it is important to note these workouts are 100% voluntary.
There was plenty of news on Day 3, and in this article I will dive into those, as well as share some video fans might enjoy checking out!
Let’s get to the news...
Chase Claypool talks Diontae and Year 3
There were bright spots, and low spots, in 2021, and Chase Claypool had both types of moments last season. There were the highlights, and the mind-numbing mistakes. Either way, Claypool has been at Steelers OTAs ready to develop a rapport with the new quarterbacks on the team, and to begin working on his craft for Year 3 in the NFL.
Of course, Claypool was asked about the attendance of Diontae Johnson, and he not only spoke up for Johnson’s overall work ethic, even away from the team, but warned fans to not read too much into Johnson staying away from the team for these voluntary workouts.
Chase Claypool said today it was important for him to be at Steelers OTAs to work with new QBs, help replace veteran leadership, etc. But he also said there’s no need to look too deep into Diontae Johnson’s absence, because wherever he is, Claypool knows he’s grinding.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) May 26, 2022
Speaking of his 2021 performance, Claypool is willing to admit he had his short-comings, but wasn’t about to call last season a complete wash. The hope is he learns from his mistakes, and accentuates the positives heading into the 2022 season.
Chase Claypool on his play last year: "I know a lot of people are going to say I was terrible but there were some good things and some bad things. You learn from the bad things and make the good things better."— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 26, 2022
Claypool spoke with the media, in an open locker room format, for the first time in his professional career. You can check out the entire interview in the player below:
Pickens addresses the famous draft day photo
After the 2022 NFL Draft, one big part of the post-draft media circus is to get the players’ reactions to getting the call they have been drafted. Often times the reaction is almost worth an entire article. Who can forget the emotion of James Conner when he was drafted by the Steelers? How about JuJu Smith-Schuster jumping into the ocean celebrating? Well, in 2022 George Pickens stole the show, but in a different way.
The photo of Pickens staring at the television while watching his name being announced at the draft became an internet sensation, and on Thursday Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette asked Pickens about the picture.
Had to ask Steelers WR George Pickens about this Internet-famous photo. Yes he's seen the memes and finds them funny.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) May 26, 2022
As for that pose: "Literally, someone caught me at a weird angle at a weird time. I stood up out of a chair, I had the ski thing on, that took it over the top." pic.twitter.com/DP0ydGSxTo
T.J. Watt on new defensive coordinator
The Steelers defense had a sub-par season, by their lofty standards, in 2021, and there is plenty of change coming their way. Mainly in the fact Teryl Austin takes over for the retired Keith Butler at defensive coordinator, and on top of that Brian Flores will bring his own touch to the defensive front.
T.J. Watt tells Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review how he doesn’t foresee too much change in the defense this upcoming season...
TJ Watt on what will change for the Steelers defense under a new coordinator pic.twitter.com/40asA0lkTy— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 26, 2022
To hear more from Watt’s media session after Thursday’s OTA workout, check out the video in the player below:
Myles Jack with the voice of Brian Flores in the background pic.twitter.com/pcmtROw6nT— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 26, 2022