The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How much playing time will Olasunkanmi Adeniyi get in his second season?
Outside linebacker is arguably the most significant position that the Steelers failed to address with an appropriate addition in free agency or representatively high in the draft. They did re-sign Anthony Chickillo, and they drafted Sutton Smith in the sixth round.
But those moves also seem to suggest a certain degree of confidence in the growth and development of Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, a college free agent out of Toledo last season. He impressed during the preseason but then was shelved for most of the year, spending the majority of the regular season on injured reserve.
The Steelers have two established starters in T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree at the outside linebacker position, but they do rotate some. Last year, it was Chickillo rotating on both sides. Can Adeniyi lock one side down and allow the team to rotate their outside linebackers a little bit more?
Obviously, Adeniyi himself is going to play a major role in answering this question. At least in theory, if he earns playing time, he will get playing time. While Watt appears to be on the cusp of becoming a star, Dupree is in his make-or-break season, so if he is not making it, I don’t think the coaching staff would be too shy about breaking up his playing time and giving some to the youth.
It will ultimately be dictated by who is producing. If Dupree is producing, then he is probably going to play and not come off the field very much. If he is being his usual self, while Adeniyi is showing flashes, then I can certainly see him shoehorning his way into the mix.