The Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 OTA sessions will be getting underway on Tuesday and below are five main things I’ll be watching for during the first set of practices.
Who’s Healthy? – There’s a very good chance that Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker Vince Williams will, at best, be limited during the team’s OTA practices as both are currently still rehabbing from offseason surgeries. Outside of those two players, it will be interesting to see who else is unable to get back to work this week. What about wide receiver Martavis Bryant? Is there anything to this hip injury speculation that seems to be floating around right now? In addition to all the aforementioned players, it will be nice see if tackle Jerald Hawkins and cornerback Senquez Golson are both back on the field again starting this week as both sat out the 2016 season due to injuries and subsequent surgeries.
Will Bryant Speak? – One can only hope that Bryant will be allowed to rejoin his teammates on the field this week now that he’s been conditionally reinstated following his year-long suspension. While Bryant is reportedly back in Pittsburgh and has been spotted around the team facility, he’s yet to talk to the media. If a media session with Bryant takes place, he figures to be asked a myriad of questions concerning his reinstatement in addition to him being asked to explain the remarks he made on social media following the Steelers selection of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of the draft.
Villanueva Contract Talks Update? – As of Monday, Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has yet to sign his exclusive rights tender and that’s a pretty good sign that he’s trying to use whatever leverage he has to get a long-term deal done. While Villanueva has reportedly yet to sign his tender, he has apparently been taking part in the team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program and one would think he’ll be present for the team’s OTA practices as well. At some point in the coming weeks we can probably expect Villanueva to be asked about his contract situation and if he indeed believes he’ll ultimately sign a lucrative extension.
Young Cornerbacks Versus AB – Sure, it’s only football in shorts season, but with that said, it will be nice to hear how the Steelers young cornerback group that now includes two draft picks in Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen are able to fare against wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is arguably the best in the league at his position. Second-year cornerback Artie Burns will now begin his set of second OTA sessions against Brown as well and it will be interesting to see how he fares against Brown in the pre-training camp practices.
Which Young Tight Ends Will Step Up? – The Steelers released tight end Ladarius Green last week with a failed physical designation and that move means there could be at least one spot on that position’s depth chart up for grabs for the remainder of the offseason. Returning 2016 player Xavier Grimble will be looking to better himself this offseason in addition to fending off newcomers Phazahn Odom and Scott Orndoff, two undrafted free agents.
I’ve now identified the five main things I’ll be watching out for in the coming weeks and if you would like to add some to the list, please do so in the comments below.