2018 OTAs: 5 Storylines On Defense

Don’t worry, you just have to wait one more day until you actually get to see some players who have played in the NFL before take the practice field, as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first OTA session of the spring begins tomorrow. Rookie minicamp was fun and all, but we learn a lot more about a wider variety of players, heading into training camp, during this period.

In preparation for the very first on-field stage toward the NFL season for the Steelers’ roster as a whole, I thought it would be worth considering some of the potential storylines we may or may not be following this offseason, at least from an on-field perspective, starting with the defensive side of the ball. Feel free to add your own.

  1. Free Safety Dance

It’s just too much of a natural reference to make when referring to uncertainty at the safety position; in my defense, everybody does it. But anyway, we could be spending a lot of our summer looking out for who is playing where at the back end, even if it might be hard to distinguish on the practice field. Morgan Burnett is expected to begin OTAs as the free safety, but Sean Davis reportedly is anticipating a potential move there, and Terrell Edmunds could factor in as well. There’s a good chance we see all three of these players work with the first-team defense there at some point during the offseason as they decide what their best combination of players is.

  1. First-Team Work For Sutton

This isn’t exactly something that I’m expecting to happen, but I expect it will be talked about. The Steelers like Cameron Sutton, heading into his second season, and would ostensibly like to get him on the field. Will that translate into him seeing some time with the first-team defense? Rotations are fluid in training camp, but I’m talking about a real first-team situation. That doesn’t necessarily have to be over Artie Burns. He could take snaps in the slot over Mike Hilton too.

  1. Bostic Front And Center

Jon Bostic is such a huge element of the Steelers’ 2018 defense. In a very real sense, the defense may only be able to function as well as he does, and that goes for both his performance and his communication abilities. The free agent is one of the big unknowns right now so there will be a lot of interest in where he is. will Tyler Matakevich be given the opportunity to challenge him?

  1. Big Dan’s Big Hill To Climb

Daniel McCullers has been clinging to a roster spot for about four years now, but he will actually be challenged this time around by Joshua Frazier and Greg Gilmore. Most are already crossing him off of their roster. Will Karl Dunbar’s fresh eyes find more to like in his game?

  1. Loudmouths Wanted

Communication is key, especially for the Steelers after struggling with it on defense last season. Keith Butler is looking for guys with big mouths who can process information quickly, and he thinks he has some good pieces with Bostic, Burnett, and even the rookie Edmunds. We’ll see who’s out there yelling and how well they’re doing it.

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