The Pittsburgh Steelers completed day one of their first OTA session of the 2012 season and there are quite a few things to report. Below is a recap of the first day of organized team activities.
Players not working Tuesday were Mike Wallace (holdout), Ramon Foster (hamstring), Jason Worilds (undisclosed), Brett Keisel (undisclosed), Ike Taylor (late arrival), Rashard Mendenhall (knee), Casey Hampton (knee), David DeCastro (school), Mike Adams (school) and Alameda Ta\’amu (school). The three rookies and Wallace were not present as expected. Taylor got into town late and will participate on Wednesday. There is no word yet as to why Worilds or Keisel were not working. Keisel could still be recovering from his groin injury. Foster told me he strained his hamstring last week, and that it is nothing major. Hampton and Mendenhall worked on the side with trainers and Mark Kaboly reported that Mendenhall was doing quite a bit of straight ahead running today.
As far as players that missed time last year, Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), Doug Legursky (shoulder), Marcus Gilbert (shoulder), Curtis Brown (knee), Emmanuel Sanders (foot/knee), Baron Batch (knee), Willie Colon (triceps), James Harrison (back) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) are all reportedly moving around well. Harrison told Jim Wexell that he is closer to being normal and back to where he was before his back surgeries last offseason. The back evidently caused him quite a bit of problems last year according to the Wexell report.
You starting offensive line left to right on Tuesday was Trai Essex, Colon, Pouncey, Legursky and Gilbert with Jonathan Scott getting reps with the starters as well according to Kaboly, who thinks Essex got the nod over Scott because of his seniority. Pouncey says he is a big fan of the new offensive playbook according to Mike Prisuta and added that the new offense is going to be a lot different, and that it will have a lot more running plays. Prisuta also quoted Pouncey as saying, “We might run it a lot more in the red zone.” Pouncey also thinks Colon is going to be a monster at left guard and that Gilbert doesn\’t care which side he is on as he just wants to play.
Sanders was the punt returner on day one, but said he isn\’t sure about kickoffs just yet and that it is a one day at a time situation. He also said in an interview that the new offense is built around a lot of play action so as to get the ball in guys hands in order for them to get a lot of yards after catch.
Troy Polamalu was present and plans on attending all of the OTA sessions and the mini-camp this offseason because the team has lost a few leaders on defense and they need him around more. He was very humble per usual and added that he hopes to improve his play this year.
As far as Wallace goes, Mike Tomlin termed it a short term misery the team must get through and stated that he visited with the restricted free agent last week. It was also made known via the media that Wallace now has his playbook. Perhaps Tomlin is eluding to deal being struck soon or that Wallace plans on signing his tender and going from there. It is hard to really tell based on his quotes, but a few are speculating a long-term deal may be close. We shall see.
Ben Roethlisberger talked to the media today and perhaps the biggest thing to come out of that was his comments that the new offense relies on him staying in the pocket more and getting rid of the football quicker so that he does not take as many hits this year. He also mentioned that his receivers need to not get frustrated. He admits it will be a challenge to not let his instincts of scrambling to extend plays take over.
Rookie running back Chris Rainey is very fast in shorts according to a few. No surprise there.
Free agent Max Starks was at the facility according to Kaboly to get that knee of his checked out. Also spotted Tuesday was Chris Hoke, who reportedly has lost quite a bit of weight since he announced his retirement.