There was plenty of black and gold in Pittsburgh on Friday. It wasn’t because of the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, but because the Pittsburgh Steelers started their rookie minicamp, which lasts until Sunday.
This is the first taste of professional football for the rookies and undrafted free agents, and there certainly is a learning curve as they get acclimated to their new surroundings.
Before we get into any news from the day, it should be noted that everything happening in Pittsburgh this weekend should be taken with a grain of salt. These players aren’t going up against the likes of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison, but just matching up with other rookies equally desperate to make an impression.
Is there nothing to draw from the rookie minicamp? I wouldn’t go that far. For example, a player’s accuracy throwing the football would certainly be notable, but the majority of the drills and results shouldn't be considered significant until the rest of the 90-man offseason roster arrives in the Steel City.
Let’s get to the news . . .
Passing the eye test
Steelers 5th-round cornerback Brian Allen is a big man. Not just for the position, but in general. Standing 6-feet-3, his height is what both Kevin Colbert and Keith Butler talked about when they asked what attracted them to the former Utah prospect.
Talked to Brian Allen. Steelers rookie CB is a big man. Could be a LB.— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 12, 2017
Artie Burns and Sean Davis are big DBs. Allen has 'em beat by 20lbs
Not quite sure what this means
Third-round pick Cameron Sutton was present at minicamp, and stated he was in a “starting” cornerback position for the first day of drills.
Third-round pick Cameron Sutton was a "starting" cornerback today in Steelers rookie minicamp, he said.— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) May 12, 2017
Being in a “starting” cornerback role is not really nailing down anything specific regarding his talent, but does speak to his versatility. There are normally three starting cornerback positions: two outside cornerbacks and the slot. Sutton stating he was a “starting” cornerback on Friday means he was at one of those three positions. The nice part of this is, he can actually play all three of those positions.
New WR Coach (kinda)
With offensive coordinator Todd Haley in a brace after some type of offseason surgery, and wide receivers coach Richard Mann out with his own health issues, it was Darrius Heyward-Bey who stepped up to coach the young wide receivers on the first day of minicamp.
With Haley in a brace and Mann on the mend, DHB was de facto receivers coach today.— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) May 12, 2017
Darrius Heyward-Bey watching the rookie WRs with Todd Haley pic.twitter.com/B5Ggm1SwN8— Chris Mueller (@bychrismueller) May 12, 2017
Actions like this show why Heyward-Bey is beloved in the locker room, why he's a leader among the wide receivers, and why he epitomizes a team player. Maybe Heyward-Bey foresees a future in coaching when his playing career is over.
TJ Watt warms up at Steelers rookie minicamp pic.twitter.com/mBGZDd33os— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) May 12, 2017
It's not rocket science but Josh Dobbs takes a few snaps pic.twitter.com/LanegKH5tF— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) May 12, 2017
Hopewell's Rushel Shell doing some work pic.twitter.com/m6ovz8zgXy— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) May 12, 2017
OLine coach Mike Munchak working with in indys pic.twitter.com/Hm60yfnep1— Chris Mueller (@bychrismueller) May 12, 2017