The offseason, the mini camps, it’s the time when Steeler fans cling to any tidbit of information they can get their hands on. The OTA’s give you just enough information to try and predict what may happen but things just don’t always work out how you think they will. You rehash the same news over and over, tweaking your analysis based on whatever updates you get as the days and weeks go by but you still just never know. Sense a trend here?
Case in point, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley spoke to today about many topics concerning the new offense the coaches are installing during these mini camps, and of course one of the hot topics is the offensive line. Would we think anything different? With how sub par this group has been over recent years, we’re excited for any prospect of improvement. Sure you can blame injuries to guys like Maurkice Pouncey for some of it but the talent has either just not been there or has under achieved. Whatever the cause, and God knows we’ve talked about it at length in recent history, there’s a lot to look forward too this season but let’s make sure we keep it in perspective.
Todd Haley speaks to that thought process in a Q&A with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Q: IS IT TOO EARLY TO TELL WHAT YOU HAVE WITH YOUR OFFENSIVE LINE?
A: “We don’t have pads on. You know something about the guys who have been here. Obviously Pouncey and Gilbert and Willie and those guys, and they’re experienced, really good players. And now we’ve added some young guys into the mix who are going to compete. But really other than what we’ve seen out of college tape some of them and some of these younger developmental guys who have been here but who haven’t played as much, we need to get the pads on to really make a full evaluation. But I think we’re all excited. We’ve got a lot of guys who have been and want to continue to be part of something great. And that’s the goal and it will start with them.” You can read the full conversation courtesy of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review here.
We also got some updates from our friend Chuck Finder at CBS Sportsline recently concerning who is playing where as OTA’s continue and the final session, mandatory, that will include David DeCastro and Mike Adams finally. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler talked about where he hopes and expects his group to be come training camp and the preparation involved so far with the rookies who haven’t been able to participate.
OL coach Sean Kugler said that when the Steelers’ first two draft picks show up for minicamp next week (academic scheduling prevented their OTA attendance), David DeCastro will be at RGand Mike Adams at LT. “They’ll be rotating in with the 1s and 2s,” Kugler said. “They’re going to get multiple reps next week so we can see what they can do.” – CBS Rapid Reports
OL coach Sean Kugler said OL Marcus Gilbert will continue to get reps at both LT and RT. Gilbert started at RT as a rookie last season but has a history at — and a desire to play –LT. Rookie Mike Adams will compete to start at LT. “We’re going to get the best five guys out there,” Kugler said. – CBS Rapid Reports
Steelers OL coach Sean Kugler said rookie OL David DeCastro were handed laptops with the playbook on them, are sent install packets in the mail weekly and speak on the phone with coaches nightly. Neither could attend OTAs because of their schools’ academic calendar. “The types of questions they’re asking shows me that they’re looking at their stuff,” Kugler said. – CBS Rapid Reports
The key thing to keep in mind is that part Haley mentioned, “We need to get the pads on to make a full evaluation”. It’s one thing to work out in shorts and go through drills, which is certainly important, but when you strap up the helmet and start hitting you really find out who’s got it. When you’re in a situation where the pass rusher is coming hard, you find out if your tackles are up to the challenge. You find out if your backs can take on the blitzer and if your receivers can adjust. For now it’s all homework which you expect to pay off when the real practices get under way.
That battle between Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams is going to be something fun to watch this offseason. You really can’t go wrong with either one but if Gilbert gets the nod at LT to start, then Adams could take a seat for the time being. If that holds true then don’t rule out Jonathan Scott starting back at RT. You might cringe in fear of that possibility but fall over just yet. Many things can and will happen before July and August get here. If Adams shows he can quickly pick up the offense then Kugler may give him the nod. When’s the last time you saw the Steelers with 2 capable LT’s on the roster? It’s a good problem to have.