Just one day into Phase 3 of Offseason Team Activities for the Pittsburgh Steelers and new interior offensive lineman James Daniels is already ascending into a leadership role.
According to a tweet from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski, Daniels is already taking on a leadership role along a young Steelers’ offensive line, according to presumed starting left guard Kevin Dotson.
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise overall, considering Daniels is the most experienced player of the bunch, having played in 54 career games with 48 career starts. Though Daniels isn’t the oldest of the group — that would be fellow free agent signee Mason Cole at 26 years old — Daniels, 24, brings the most experience across the board, having played left guard, center, and right guard during his time with the Chicago Bears after being a second-round pick at No. 39 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Iowa.
Following his signing with the Steelers in free agency on a three-year, $26.5 million deal to leave Chicago, Daniels was quick to point out he wasn’t in a leadership role in Pittsburgh and was focused on earning the respect of the veterans in the room.
“I would say that, currently, right now, I’m not in a leadership role”, he told reporters in March during his media availability session. “Once I earn the respect of the veterans on the team—which that’s my first goal when I come in, is to earn the veterans’ respect, earn the coaches’ respect, Coach T’s respect—then I’ll develop, then I’ll get into a leadership role.”
Based on Dotson’s comments to Adamski following the first day of Phase 3 of OTAs, it’s pretty clear that Daniels has earned the respect of the veterans in the room on both sides of the football, as well as Tomlin and the coaching staff, allowing himself to feel confident ascending into that leadership role so early in OTAs for the Steelers.
How that plays out on the field with a rebuilt offensive line will be rather telling, but when it comes to years and overall experience and snap count, nobody is close to Daniels.
Along with stating that Daniels is taking on a leadership role along the offensive line, Dotson also confirmed that the top unit offensively in the trenches featured Dotson at left guard, Cole at center, and Daniels at right guard, according to a tweet from Steel City Insider at 247Sports Jim Wexell.
This isn’t a surprise either, as this was the expected lineup initially following the Steelers’ signings of Cole and Daniels in free agency. Of course, it’s still the first day of OTAs, so don’t read into that too much. It’s worth noting though, at least for the time being.