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 offensive side of the ball. Feel free to add your own.
- QB Pecking Order
The offseason is not always necessarily a time for hierarchy. Often enough, it’s the players who need the most work who get the most. Ben Roethlisberger might not be incredibly active during OTAs, especially not with three quarterback behind him vying for roles, even for jobs. I’m guessing Landry Jones takes the first set of second-team reps, but where will Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs work?
- Rookie Receiver Gets Ready
For the second year in a row, it’s looking like the Steelers are going to be counting on getting significant production out of a rookie wide receiver, this time with second-round pick James Washington. That doesn’t necessarily mean he spends all his time working with the first-team offense though. All eyes will be on him either way to see how sharp he is.
- Fichtner’s First Foray
The Steelers have a new offensive coordinator for the first time in six years, but it is a familiar face in Randy Ficthner, who has spent the past several years as the quarterbacks coach. How he wields that dual role will also be something to watch.
But you know people are going to be very interested in watching for any changes in how the offense works. I’m sure he will be asked about it every time he talks to the media from here on out until next year.
- Chuks Or Hawk?
Pittsburgh also has to break in a new backup tackle this year, and while the headline here is assuming that it will be between Chukwuma Okorafor and Jerald Hawkins, we can’t dismiss Matt Feiler either, as he was the first backup to step up behind Chris Hubbard last year.
That was partly an indictment of Hawkins, however. The Steelers weren’t even ready for him to be the number four tackle at the beginning of last season. Can he really be the number three now? How fast Okorafor develops will definitely be something to watch.
- Jaylen Of All Trades
The drafting of Jaylen Samuels in the fifth round was a decision based partly on the fact that he had a versatile skill set. While they want him to learn his craft at running back, they haven’t been bashful about giving him work with the receivers as well. How extensively will they stretch him out, and how soon? Will he line up in other spots, such as in blocker roles in the backfield or along the line?