The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off their Organized Team Activities last week at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Although these are not mandatory to attend, it is still interesting to see who shows up, participates, and how the players look after the draft and offseason. To start, some notable players who have not arrived yet are T.J. Watt, Diontae Johnson, Joe Haden, Vince Williams, Stephon Tuitt, and David DeCastro. After the full first week, 2020 team captains Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward were both excited to see the participation from the young players. Last week in one of the first interviews we’ve seen, Heyward explained, “I am happy with whoever shows up. It doesn’t matter who shows up. If we are going to be here, we are going to take advantage of this time.” Earlier this week, Roethlisberger expressed his praise for new quarterback addition, Dwayne Haskins, and rookie running back Najee Harris. From watching the interview, Roethlisberger seems hungrier than ever to get into the postseason tournament.
After the first 5 days of OTA’s, here are 3 things I find compelling:
No group on the Steelers’ roster needed more upgrading than the offensive line. With the departure of key veterans and the addition of free agents and rookies, the offensive line is looking to bring back the nastiness SteelerNation adores. One man in particular who is taking this to heart is new offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm. Both Kevin Dotson and Zach Banner have praised Klemm’s aggressive coaching style and love for physicality at the line. We’ve read about the strength and drive of new “center” Kendrick Green, and this falls right into Klemm’s “violent when necessary” coaching style. We should expect great things from this group, particularly later in the season with a few games under their belt.
We know Roethlisberger is QB1. However, we are all still anxiously waiting on who will step up to be his presumed predecessor and what the depth chart will look like at the quarterback position. With the re-signing of Josh Dobbs, the addition of Haskins, and Mason Rudolph lingering at the second back-up spot, there is a lot to be determined before September. The Steelers typically secure 3 quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and keep a 4th on the practice squad. Based off Roethlisberger’s comments this week, the Steelers are impressed with what they’ve seen in Haskins. If I was going to take a stab right now, in the first week of June, as to what the QB depth chart will look like I see Roethlisberger, Haskins, and Rudolph making the final roster, with Dobbs on the practice squad.
Players are Getting Healthy
The Steelers suffered crucial, major injuries in 2020 that forced them to rely on their depth chart to win games. Unfortunately, this was not sustainable through the last quarter of the season and the playoffs. Both Devin Bush and Banner are looking back to their usual selves coming off ACL injuries and both have looked impressive thus far. But in addition, we should also be looking at other key depth players. Robert Spillane, who played in place of Bush, was placed on IR late in the season with a back injury. Spillane is in attendance at OTA’s and has been participating and working towards getting back to 100%. Another is Zach Gentry. With the presumed starters at tight end being Ebron and rookie Pat Freiermuth, not a lot has been said about the tight end position. Gentry is coming off a nagging knee injury and is looking to establish himself as the third tight end on the depth chart and proving he can be that big, blocking player the Steelers need.
What are some things you’re watching at the OTA’s? Let us know in the comments below!