Nearly a couple of weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ captain and player union representative Cameron Heyward cautioned both the NFL and its players on rushing into face-to-face voluntary workouts this offseason. Sometime later, the NFLPA released a statement from the Steelers players advising they would be skipping voluntary workouts—a trend that had just started across the NFL.
Fast forward a few days to April 19th… Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that roughly a dozen Steelers had reported to that South Side facility for strength and conditioning workouts. Not only did this occur today, but there is a general expectation of more players arriving tomorrow for workouts. This can be puzzling for some fans in light of the NFLPA’s statement release. However, Dulac emphasizes that these workouts are not what the players are completely opposed to; rather, they are opposed to the on-field sessions beginning on May 17th.
This does have some intrigue nonetheless. The general chatter among fans is the fact that there is an assumption that players have access to at-home gyms or private gyms to do strength and conditioning; similar to last offseason. While this could be nothing more than players taking advantage of staying in condition as training camps approach, it does beg the question: Could some players break away from the NFLPA statement and workout?
It definitely has to be tough for those who went undrafted last year and will be this year to lose an extra opportunity to make the 53-man roster—or even just a practice squad. It could be very realistic if the NFL and NFLPA don’t make agreements about the voluntary sessions we could see these types of players take advantage of face-to-face exposure. Their opportunities are limited and surely will want that extra time. Time will tell if we see any players participate after the strength and conditioning phase of workouts.