In the first week of Pittsburgh Steelers Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Ben Roethlisberger spoke to the media about not having Le’Veon Bell in attendance. Most shrugged off the comments, knowing Bell was still recovering from groin surgery a few months prior.
The vast Steelers fans base also picked up a pitchfork and torch and vented about Bell not being present for the workouts. Although it was reported Bell was in the team’s practice facility at least once during the three week voluntary workout process, it is hard to ignore Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu and Javon Hargrave, all who are injured or missed some time, yet were still there and present during the workouts.
After Wednesday’s workout, other teammates voiced their opinion of Bell not being present for OTAs.
#Steelers Ramon Foster, Eli Rogers both say they'd like to see LeVeon Bell at OTAs. Foster: "You don't have to work. Just be here."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 7, 2017
Ramon Foster is a leader in the Steelers locker room, and he is very calculated with his words when speaking to the media. It might not seem like much to some, but the fact these key players on the offense are suggesting Bell should be present, is very telling.
I understand the voluntary aspects of OTAs, but these comments by players like Foster and Roethlisberger shouldn’t just be swept under the rug either. I expect Bell to be present at minicamp, but the deadline for him to sign a long term deal, or play a year under the franchise tag (July 15th) is quickly approaching.
Eli Rogers finally feeling good
When Eli Rogers signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent from Louisville, he came with injury baggage. Rogers had been playing with a messed up foot for the majority of his senior season at Louisville, and it ended his rookie season before it began. However, he was finally given the chance to recover from the injury.
Now, coming off a stellar first year in 2016 where he caught 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns, Rogers finally is feeling good. How good? Try “five steps faster” good, per Jeremy Fowler.
Eli Rogers says feels 'five steps faster' since foot fully healed. Surgery in '15 fixed yrs-long issue, didn't feel completely right in '16— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 7, 2017
Rogers could be a huge piece of the Steelers’ offensive puzzle in 2017. With a year under his belt he will have a better understanding of the offense, a better rapport with Roethlisberger and the ability to read defenses with more efficiency.
Don’t look now, but Rogers could be in for a huge step forward next season if defenses want to blanket Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on the outside.
Smith-Schuster brings cerebral approach
Not every NFL rookie “gets it” right away. The time, the effort and dedication it takes to be good at the next level, but Steelers rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster seems to get it. Maybe it was his relationship with now USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann, or being able to work alongside Antonio Brown, but Smith-Schuster is doing, and saying everything right early in his professional career.
Asked Steelers rookie @TeamJuJu how he can prove he's a physical slot WR when he's only in shorts. "Make tough catches across the middle."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 7, 2017
Stop me if you’ve seen, or heard, of this type of post-practice dedication before. Yeah, I think No. 84 is rubbing off on the rookie.
Rookie WR @TeamJuJu said he catches 240 balls, in sets of 20, off the JUGS machine after practice. If he drops one, he redoes the whole set.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 7, 2017
Can’t go wrong with this philosophy of watching/breaking down game film:
Javon Hargrave back at work as Tuitt, Hayward look on. pic.twitter.com/8UIEDEW8SO— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) June 7, 2017