It is football in shorts time for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the team kicks off their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Tuesday, May 23rd at their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
While most people bemoan the start of OTAs, and rightfully so, there are still some aspects of the workouts which can help connect some dots. In other words, here are some things you can watch for while hearing news from OTAs throughout the next two weeks.
I feel obliged to remind everyone OTAs can be extremely difficult to gauge. If you recall, Dri Archer looked amazing in OTAs, and then when training camp rolled around and the team put on pads it was a different story. Take news from these workouts with a grain of salt, but understand some aspects of the team can still be analyzed and broken down as well.
What to watch for at Steelers OTAs:
To be honest, you can never get enough information on the newest members of the team. How are they getting acclimated, are they learning the playbook quickly and other aspects of the professional game.
For instance, T.J. Watt was lauded for his work ethic and ability to grasp the playbook during rookie minicamps, will he eventually hit a learning curve? How will JuJu Smith-Schuster fit in with the current wide receiver group? Cameron Sutton looks to find a spot on the defense, but where?
While not all of these questions will be answered during OTAs, things will start to take shape, and will take full form when the team heads to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA this summer.
For most veterans, OTAs are a chance to see the guys and get some light work in before their last break until training camp. However, two veterans will be worth noting at OTAs.
Alejandro Villanueva, who is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, has yet to sign his tender, and many are wondering if he will show up? My guess is “Big Al” won’t miss a second of OTAs, but sometimes agents will tell their clients to make a stand. We shall see what happens.
The biggest veteran to watch is none other than Martavis Bryant. I’m extremely curious how the coaching staff puts him into drills or live situations. How does he handle the media and his teammates? Does he look to be in as great of shape as people expect from his social media accounts? The day to finally get answers from the man who missed all of 2016 is coming quickly.
Speaking of veterans, the Steelers’ 2017 free agents will be on display for the first time in the black and gold. How Coty Sensabaugh, Knile Davis, Justin Hunter and Tyson Alualu will be cool to see. Hunter, in my opinion, is a very important player to watch to see how he makes his mark, or doesn’t, with a very crowded wide receiver group this year.
Other than that, I think we can all agree the most important thing to watch is the health of the team. Staying healthy and avoiding injury is paramount when it comes to football in shorts.
I talk about all this, and more, in the above podcast. Give it a listen!