The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field for the final time during the team’s offseason workouts. This time for mandatory minicamp. The first workout was Tuesday, 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 mandatory minicamp gets the most news.
In case you don’t know how the offseason is sculpted, 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. Minicamp is essentially an extension of Phase 3 of OTAs, except they are mandatory.
There was plenty of news on Day 1, 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...
How will the Steelers, mainly Matt Canada and Mike Tomlin, somehow manipulate a three-man quarterback competition this offseason? Well, that has yet to be seen this early in the process, but Matt Canada spoke with media and said Tomlin has made it very transparent the order should be:
This from Will Graves of the Associated Press:
Matt Canada says Mike Tomlin has been very transparent that the QB order is Mitch, Mason then Kenny. Likes the “moxie” that Trubisky has shown so far. Praised the way all three are working together.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) June 7, 2022
There will be plenty of fans who will be overreact to this news, as well as hate the pecking order as it stands right now. Canada said there is a real “laid-out” plan for how the Steelers are going to evolve and find who their quarterback is going to be when they travel to Cincinnati in Week 1 of the regular season.
This per Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Steelers OC Matt Canada on current order of QB reps, Trubisky-Rudolph-Pickett: "You can read whatever you want into it. We've been very clear where that is. But we've also been very clear that this is a real laid-out plan of how we're gonna evolve and find who our QB's gonna be."— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 7, 2022
2 Minute Drill
Speaking of quarterbacks, the fact the team ran some two-minute drill at the end of the first workout got the attention of everyone in attendance. However, the Steelers media contingent is not allowed to report anything they see during team sessions unless a player talks about it, or verifies it.
According to Mark Kaboly, Kenny Pickett ran an effective two-minute drill, but there was some confusion about whether the drill ended in a touchdown or not. According to Mark Kaboly of the Athletic, the drive resulted in a touchdown.
Kenny Pickett said he felt comfortable running the two-minute drill today at minicamp (with crowd noise) that he said ultimately resulted in a touchdown and a spectacular one-handed red-zone catch by Connor Heyward just before the conversion.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 7, 2022
However, Brian Batko suggests Pickett’s pass to Heyward was not a score.
Steelers did some 2-minute drill work today at minicamp. Safety Tre Norwood said he ended the first one with an interception off a tipped pass. Kenny Pickett led the second possession and found Connor Heyward on a diving one-handed grab but that drive didn’t end in a TD either.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 7, 2022
Below you’ll see Pickett’s brief media session today after the workout, and he said he wishes the drive would have ended with a touchdown. This makes you believe the amazing one-handed catch by the younger Heyward brother was great, but not for a touchdown.
It was also good to see/read Tre Norwood get his hands on the football early in the process, even if it was off a tipped pass.
In attendance, wanting a new deal
Diontae Johnson was at minicamp, and he was more than happy to talk with reporters following the first workout of the week. You can read more about this in the article which ran Tuesday afternoon on BTSC in the link below.
In attendance, wanting a new deal, not talking
While Johnson was in attendance at minicamp, wanted a new contract and spoke with media, Minkah Fitzpatrick was also there, also wants a new deal, but isn’t going to be talking to media anytime soon.
This per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Minkah Fitzpatrick, who also is entering a contract year, said he’s not answering any questions.— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) June 7, 2022
Fans love to try and predict/suggest what the team will do with a myriad of topics every year. One of those topics would be what offensive line coach Pat Meyer will be doing with the new-look offensive line. Will they be running inside zone? Outside zone? According to Nick Farabugh, Meyer said the team is focusing on more wide zone running this season.
Steelers OL coach Pat Meyer says the Steelers are running all different types of schemes in their run game, but that they’re focusing hard on running more wide zone this upcoming season.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) June 7, 2022
Najee Harris’ physique has garnered a lot of attention throughout the past few weeks during OTAs, but Matt Canada praised a rookie for his size Tuesday. That rookie is none other than 2nd Round pick George Pickens. Canada admitted they call him “Big George” and how he is “a frickin’ big dude.”
Matt Canada likes calling Steelers rookie WR George Pickens "Big George."— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 7, 2022
"I didn't notice [Najee Harris'] quads, but if you didn't notice how big George is - he's a frickin' big dude." Canada praised his ability to "transition his body for a guy who's so big."
Worried about Najee Harris’ workload? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Harris admitted the team has spoken to him about lightening his workload, but he’s okay with whatever the team decides. The talks are ongoing, and, as expected, Harris wants to be on the field a lot.
Najee Harris said he and the coaches have talked about lightening his workload. He’s ok with it, but he said those discussions are ongoing. He still wants to be on the field a lot.— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) June 7, 2022
Najee responds to weight
More Najee Harris weight talk, this time from Harris himself. While talking to the media Harris was asked about his weight, and the second year running back didn’t hold back when talking about how the media’s ability to run with a story is frustrating to him.
Full Media Sessions
"I feel like I'm improving every single rep." pic.twitter.com/jnWEI7blgz— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) June 7, 2022
Mike Tomlin Press Conference
Coach Mike Tomlin on a productive day of practice, running the two minute drill, the chemistry of the offensive line and more. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/HQSQOc8mIz— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) June 7, 2022
Matt Canada on the chemistry of the Steelers offensive line pic.twitter.com/VLdZWfkVc9— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) June 7, 2022
Steelers WR coach Frisman Jackson on how he expects all his WRs to learn each of the WR spots in the offense pic.twitter.com/J1kiQLpfgQ— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) June 7, 2022
Steelers QB coach Mike Sullivan on how 3 of the 4 QBs in his position room are new to the organization/offense/him and getting them up to speed pic.twitter.com/Yyh1lJKyDI— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) June 7, 2022
The #Steelers wore Guardian Caps for Day 1 of Mini Camp - including Coach Tomlin.— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) June 7, 2022
Coach said after practice: It’s a new rule, it’s for their safety. We’re going to make it a non-issue for us and focus on our work. pic.twitter.com/yhKN4CvKBQ
This video cracks me up. A relaxed Tomlin who knows he has a future franchise QB in Kenny Pickett. pic.twitter.com/7xNRjpRmev— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) June 7, 2022