The 2nd week of OTA’s for the Steelers this offseason raises more questions than answers. Honestly, that’s how it should be. These organized team activities are not training camp. This is not the time that you set your starting lineups for the coming season. It’s not a time to nail down your starting rotation on the offensive line, defensive line, or any other position.
Still, like clockwork each year, everyone loves to read into this part of the offseason and speculate what’s going to happen. I can’t tell you how many blog entries I’ve read over the last 2 weeks, some I greatly respect and others I have zero respect for, that are trying to figure out who’s starting where and when. If you know us here at SA you know who we’re talking about in that statement.
I don’t care what your name is or who you work for, trying to figure out the OTA’s can be a confusing ordeal. Inevitably you’re going to come to a consensus with your colleagues and then the Steelers will do something different. Isn’t that how it usually goes anyway? Pittsburgh Tribune Review Steelers writer Mark Kaboly said as much in a recent tweet (retweeted by one of our favorite Steelers podcasters, Lance from SteelCurtain Radio):
@SteelRadio: RT @MarkKaboly_Trib After two weeks of OTAs, I am confident in saying I have no clue what the #Steelers are doing with their OL groupings.
Speaking of the offensive line, we’ve been saying all along not to back yourself into predicting who will start and where on the line. Maurkice Pouncey at Center is a given but really beyond that everything is a question mark. Just because Mike Adams is working out at LT right now doesn’t mean that he’s going to stay there. He may be a natural LT but so is Marcus Gilbert, who openly said several times he prefers the left but will do whatever is asked of him. Staring a rookie on the left side is never an easy decision especially with a QB in Big Ben that you’re trying to keep from getting killed this season. Who says you don’t stick with the original plan of putting Gilbert on the left side and moving Adams to a permanent spot at RT. Then maybe you fill with first round draft pick David DeCastro, who could sign his deal very soon, at RG and Willie Colon on the other side?
For that matter you can make a serious case that DeCastro could play LG and fight it out with Colon, keeping Ramon Foster at his usual RG spot. DeCastro has very quick feet and if the Steelers continue the trend of the power run predominantly to the right side the having DeCastro kick out and pull would be a beautiful thing. Colon though is not exactly known for having quick feet which leads me to my next point.
Perhaps they are indeed going to switch and run more power to the left side and have the rookie pull to the opposite direction.
See what I mean, there is a myriad of possibilities to play out yet. That’s the fun in it though, just sit back and enjoy the method to the Steelers madness.
The coaches always tell you that these are evaluation sessions. It’s a chance to see how the veterans are staying in shape during the offseason but it’s mainly a time to start getting the young players and new faces acclimated to how life works on your team. That doesn’t diminish the importance of them for the veterans though because everyone is going to be on the same team so the more you can work together before it counts, the better off you’ll be when it does.
This offseason especially is more important than any in the last 7 or 8 years. The more faces that Mike Tomlin can get into the practice facility before heading to Latrobe the better. Learning a new offensive playbook is easier said than done as we’ve heard from Ben Roethlisberger many times so far. Others like Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Isaac Redman, and Heath Miller have also commented about how different things are now but they are also optimistic that the end justifies the means.