Even though it’s only football in shorts, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff has a well-defined plan as to what they all hope to get accomplished during the team’s OTA and minicamp practices. Additionally, a lot of in-depth player evaluations will certainly take place during those 13 practices and especially when it comes to new additions.
During a recent interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley revealed how new players can go about impressing him during the team’s offseason practices.
“I think its two things. Their overall conditioning gets exposed and general these guys even if their in what they think is good shape it’s not really good shape considering what kind of condition the other guys are in,” said Haley. “So we’ll notice guys that appear to be in better condition than the other young guys and then just really their overall understanding from an installation concept of who gets it. And you can tell the guys that get it quicker and maybe have a deeper level of understanding. And then, ultimately it’s the guys that are consistent day in and day out and make a play or two.”
We hear about the lack of conditioning that rookies supposedly have on a yearly basis and that was the case last year with wide receiver Sammie Coates. While Coates was obviously given some roster leeway due the team having a third-round draft pick invested him, other players who were signed during the offseason to undrafted or futures contracts don’t share that same luxury. While it’s not rare for an undrafted or futures player to make the Steelers final 53-man roster on a yearly basis, that number rarely is more than one single player and two at the most.
This year, the Steelers have nearly 20 offensive players on their roster who are either new or failed to make the 53-man squad last year and all will be doing their best over the course of the next several weeks to show Haley that they are in great physical condition, have a good understanding of the playbook and can play above-the-line consistently.