It’s the same thing every single season, year in and year out at this time. the first sessions of Organized Team Activities are a critical wake-up call for incoming rookies. It’s the first time that they are ever on the field with professional athletes who have already proven themselves worthy of being in the NFL.
The only experience players get in NFL uniforms prior to that is during the rookie minicamp, which takes place pretty soon after the draft. They are only competing during that three-day session with other rookies and first-year players who have minimal to no experience on NFL rosters.
It’s just a completely different level of competition. And now the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie class sees what they’re in for, including their first-round selection, safety Terrell Edmunds. Not that he can have been completely shocked. After all, he is the son of a former Pro Bowl tight end, and he also has an older brother who has already been in the league for a season.
But hearing about the different and seeing it for yourself are very different experiences. Even T.J. Watt, the younger brother of three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and the Steelers’ first-round pick a year ago, saw that for himself in spite of the ample preparation that he received from his older brothers’ experience in the league.
Unsurprisingly, Edmunds told Mike Prisuta for the team’s website that it was “the speed” that first stuck out about the difference between rookie minicamp and the first week of OTAs. But as things settled in, he realized that the play from the quarterback position in particular was most noticeably improved.
“The quarterbacks, they put it on the money”, he said of his first experience with a full team practice this past week. “You have guys running down the sideline, back-shoulder throws, all of that’s on the money. They try to fit it in those tight windows”.
While he suggested that it was a bit of a surreal experience to realize that he was out there on the field with guys like Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger, he said he was never nervous. He even noticed Roethlisberger picking him up the first time he was in scrimmage.
“It was crazy because he saw me in there and I thought he smirked at me just because he saw me in there”, he said. “AB was over there by himself on the island with the corner and I was on half-field on that side. I think he smirked at me, tried to look me off”.
Edmunds is just getting his feet wet, but obviously protects long-term as a starter in the team’s defense. He will probably begin his career working in sub-packages as an extra safety, a defensive back that can serve a variety of roles from rush to coverage.