The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and for the team, and their global fan base, hopes are high for the 2023 season. However, any and all reports coming out of OTAs are typically met with the same criticism and skepticism.
It’s football in shorts.
There is no denying this elementary fact, but while fans might not see any value in these workouts, it doesn’t mean that value doesn’t exist. A player who knows all too well about the value of these workouts would be none other than defensive captain Cam Heyward.
“It’s great,” said Heyward of being back. “We have a lot of new guys. You have to take advantage of this opportunity to get to know guys, let them know what we do here and just create a rapport. That’s offense, defense, special teams. Everybody is just looking to grow and find different ways to make sure this team meshes well.”
Everyone typically clings to videos and photos from workouts and tries to assess what the team might look like when the real games roll around. The truth of the matter is the improvement the team experiences during OTAs doesn’t exist in a video or photo. It’s with veterans passing down their knowledge to the younger players and helping them get acclimated to life in the NFL.
“I think Mike T always says it. Find an older guy, attach yourself to him, see how he goes about his workday, how he takes care of his body,” said Heyward. “And for veterans to extend that. T.J. (Watt), Minkah (Fitzpatrick), Alex (Highsmith), guys who have been here. Even a guy like Pat P(eterson), you look for him to lead as well. It’s about extending ourselves, and then bringing those younger guys up to speed.”
The 2023 Steelers are riddled with younger player, especially on the offensive side of the football. As someone who has been with the team the longest, Heyward realizes it is a tall task to ask rookies to come in and be major contributors right away. Nonetheless, it isn’t as if he is going to close the door on them being players in 2023.
“We have young guys everywhere,” said Heyward. “For us, how close are they going to be ready to play for the first game. There’s a lot of things that go into it. I don’t like putting too much stock into those guys, but hopefully they can catch up pretty quick and we’ll give them every opportunity to do that.”
While Heyward spoke openly about the value of workouts like OTAs, he also hears the talk of Super Bowl. Yes, despite missing the playoffs in 2022 some are already talking about the potential which resides with this team, some even talking about this group being capable of going the distance.
Heyward isn’t about to jump to those type of conclusions.
“Everybody wants to freaking talk about it in May and June,” said Heyward. “I am talking about taking kids to school and everybody else is talking about Super Bowls in June. Do we have a good team, I think yeah. But time will tell where we are at.”
Time will tell, and this is just the beginning of the story of the 2023 Steelers. There is a lot more to this story that has yet to be written.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.