The spring practices in many ways are more for the young players than for anybody else. Any established veteran who has been with the team for a while, whether they are a starter or not, is already going to know just about everything in this instructional phase unless there has been some coaching change as well.
Now that doesn’t mean that OTAs are just going to be a glorified rookie minicamp or anything like that, of course. The veterans are going to get their time on the field, as well, but they are also going to get their days off, both for maintenance and for the opportunities to get other people in the rotation.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch had some advice for these young players during this time of year, as we head into mandatory minicamp prior to the break for training camp. Basically, worry about what you can control, and let the rest go.
“I think the one thing they can’t do out here as you close the OTAs and the minicamp is to start counting the reps that you’re not getting”, he said on the team’s website. “Because when you start getting to that point, you basically start eliminating yourself, you start cutting yourself from this team, because you’re worried about things that you cannot control”.
“Go out here”, he went on, “prove to the coaching staff, prove to the players, that, number one, you know the offense or defense, number two, you can go out here and perform it, and then at that point you have to go out here and continue to make plays consistently. If you do mess up, mess up at a fast pace versus [being] a little unsure what you’re doing”.
This advice would serve a player like Marcus Allen well. The second-year safety had not been favored to any first-team reps during OTAs even while the likes of Marcelis Branch and Kameron Kelly got theirs in Sean Davis’ absence. But that’s not what he can focus on. It wouldn’t do him any good.
“Those type of things lead to training camp to the point where you’re saying, ‘guess what, we’re two weeks away from the first day you report to a game being played’”, Batch said. “So you want to make sure that the coaches can trust you when they put you on the field that you’re gonna go out there and perform”.
With minicamp about to get underway, the players who are relatively new to the team will have three more days to maximize their opportunities on the field, which is the best way to earn more of them later on down the road.
The coaching staff will evaluate what they’ve seen in the meantime, and that will go into determining where they start off once they get to Latrobe.