Buy Or Sell: Pro Bowl Starters Shouldn’t Practice During OTAs

I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.

I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.

The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.

Topic Statement: Many Pro Bowl-level established starters should not be participating in OTAs.


Unless there are dramatic, sweeping changes taking place, there isn’t much that a veteran player like Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown is going to get out of participating in individual and team drills during OTA sessions. In the grand scheme of things, they are just 10 relatively minor practices that take place before the team really does much of anything significant.

If you’re goo enough to be making the Pro Bowl on an annual basis, it’s hard to justify being in OTAs and participating on the field when we see so many injuries occur at this time of year. It appears as though the Steelers just suffered two season-ending losses to their roster just yesterday with Jerald Hawkins and Jake McGee.

Even speaking of the Steelers’ specific circumstances right now, you can argue that Roethlisberger and Brown should be working out there getting into the rhythm of new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s system. But how much is really going to be different? And how much of a difference would it make if they waited to start this process during mandatory minicamp in a couple of weeks? Not enough to justify on-field injuries.


I made it a point to say ‘many’ because I don’t think it applies to every position. For offensive linemen, for example, there’s a greater impetus on building chemistry with those around you. But that does apply too to other relationships, such as that between the quarterback and wide receiver. Now, Roethlisberger and Brown in particular might not need to build a rapport, but this isn’t only about Pittsburgh right now, we’re talking about generalities.

The question really comes down to how valuable OTAs are versus what players could be doing on their own. And if they’re training on their own, does that really lessen the risk of injury? Maybe not. And if not, wouldn’t it be better to be around the team with your trainers and physicians on-hand?

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