Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have both joined Le’Veon Bell in not attending the Steelers’ Organized Team Activities (OTA’s). This seems to have found its way under a good deal of fan’s skin and I’m not entirely sure why it’s such a travesty.
Let’s start with Le’Veon Bell. Bell is repeating his 2017 offseason by skipping all team activities and will suit up week one against the Cleveland Browns. This was expected and should take nobody by surprise. Bell had a ‘slow’ start last season with an opening 10 carry game against the Browns, the next week a 87 yard rushing game against the Minnesota Vikings and a 15 carry game the following week against the Chicago Bears. Let’s hope his first three games in 2018 aren’t similar to his 2017 slate. James Conner and rookie Jaylen Samuels will get to show out all offseason and the team should get a very good look at both players and decide how they will be inserted into the team’s 2018 game plan.
Ben Roethlisberger is not in attendance but I’m not sure how this so terrible? The team obviously has some tough choices to make going forward with having four quarterbacks on the roster, three of which are competing for two spots. OTA’s is a good starting point in separation of quarterbacks and analyzing the process of the tough decisions ahead. Mason Rudolph is ‘expected’ to make the roster and it will be good for him to learn how to be on his own for a small stint. Landry Jones is still trying to prove he can be a starting quarterback, or quality backup in this league. Josh Dobbs seems like the odd man out with the least pedigree and only one offseason under his belt, so he must start strong and keep his play consistent.
Antonio Brown is choosing to skip OTA’s but if you follow him on social media, you should not be upset. Brown continues to out-work any wide receiver and frankly, every player in the NFL. He is in incredible shape and is the least-worry player on the offense right now. There are some wide receivers on this roster right now looking to make the team, or even the practice squad and could use the reps to potentially impress coaches.
According to Maurkice Pouncey, reported by Aditi Kinkhabwala, Roethlisberger has been on a family vacation, which is why he is absent from the Steelers’ OTA’s. Kinkhabwala also reported that multiple Steelers players told her that Brown’s absence is due in direct correlation with Roethlisberger’s. His preference is to work with the starting quarterback, or by himself. Good news for overreacting fans, Roethlisberger is set to return from vacation for the next installment of OTA’s, which should in turn trigger Brown’s return as well.
Maurkice Pouncey said Ben Roethlisberger has been on a family vacation, thus his absence from OTAs. Multiple #Steelers said Antonio Brown's absence is only b/c of his preference to work w/ his starting QB. Players uniformly said this isn't holding back any "install" of new OC's O
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) May 31, 2018
I can’t say all positives without pointing out some negatives. Bell staying away from the team again just makes his future with the team that much more unlikely. I’d like Roethlisberger to be at OTA’s because Mason Rudolph has much to learn from the future Hall of Famer. Also, being on the same page as some new wide receivers wouldn’t hurt. Same as Roethlisberger, I wish Brown was in attendance just to lead by example of being present and to teach the younger wide-outs some things. What bothers me the most is that both Roethlisberger and Brown publicly exclaimed how important and vital being present for camp is, then proceeded to be absent.
Jerald Hawkins and Jake McGee were both injured the other day in OTA’s and it should support the Killer B’s claim to skip on VOLUNTARY workouts if they choose to. Roethlisberger and Brown are expected to show up to training camp in impeccable form. We’ll see how Bell plays in Week 1, and if he gets a good volume of carries. With these stars sitting out OTA’s, it will give the team a better look at some of the depth players and maybe the team can find another diamond in the rough like they did in 2017 in Mike Hilton. Training Camp is much more important and mandatory, so don’t freak out that some star players aren’t around at this point.