The Pittsburgh Steelers begin “Official Team Activities” tomorrow in the Steel City and if there isn’t already a sense of urgency from an 8-8 season, there damn well should be. You can lay the blame at the feet of any number of players, coaches, general managers or owners that you want but that doesn’t change anything.
OTA’s by design are meant to do a number of things for each of the National Football League’s 32 teams. Some, like the Steelers were last year, are in the position of having new coordinators or new head coaches. Thus, the importance of having everyone there.
This is year two of the Todd Haley offense so I don’t want to hear any excuses coming from the guys who played in it last year. Like him or not, he’s the OC and animosity must be put aside for the success of the team. On the defensive side, Dick LeBeau will be dealing with a number of guys who are never his favorites and that means rookies.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones is of course the most intriguing one but so is safety Shamarko Thomas and linebacker Vince Williams. Rookie cornerback Terry Hawthorne should also press for time as well but we all know how LeBeau gets along with rookies in terms of playing time. Very much like oil and water.
One of the biggest issues for this team the last several years has been of course injuries. It is incredibly important that the health of this team remain priority number one through the off-season and that starts tomorrow.
Tweaked ankles and tender hamstrings often lead to other problems and can linger well into the start of training camp so I cannot stress enough how crucial staying healthy is to this team.
OTA Schedule: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 3-6, Mandatory minicamp: June 11-13
Guys to keep an eye on: Ben Roethlisberger, recent photos of him show he has dropped some weight perhaps giving him added mobility. LaMarr Woodley, everyone dying to see what kind of shape he’s in, Jarvis Jones, said all the right things at rookie camp but now let’s see how he does with the vets, Le’Veon Bell, starting position is his to lose so let’s see his attitude and work ethic match that, Shamarko Thomas, why do I have a feeling this kid is going to do special things?
Also, Kelvin Beachum, David DeCastro, Steve McLendon, Cortez Allen, David Paulson/Matt Spaeth
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.