Five Storylines To Watch As Steelers’ 2023 OTAs Get Underway

The Pittsburgh Steelers take the field on Tuesday with the start of the team’s annual OTA sessions. These volunteer practices will include a lot of football in shorts and once again no hitting is allowed. This team will look a whole lot different than the one that finished the 2022 season after the front office had one of the wildest offeseasons in recent memory, signing numerous outside free agents while trading for WR Allen Robinson II and landing value in nearly every round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

As the 2023 Steelers gather for the first time as a collective unit, here are five storylines to watch for in OTAs this week.

What Is Pittsburgh’s Plan At Slot Cornerback?

The Steelers shored up a majority of their roster needs this offseason, but their plan at slot cornerback still feels unresolved as we sit here today. The team recently released Arthur Maulet and GM Omar Khan has mentioned newly signed DB Chandon Sullivan and CB Duke Dawson as two guys who factor in at the position. Sullivan struggled mightily in 2022 based on the advanced analytics and Dawson is a journeyman who hasn’t seen extensive action in the regular season in some time. OTAs should reveal to us the team’s initial thoughts of who they expect to get reps in the slot this coming season with Sullivan the likely favorite at this point and several other players likely to factor in.

How Are Pittsburgh’s Recovering Players Coming Along?

GM Omar Khan showed a little bit more risk this offseason than we’ve been accustomed to seeing, acquiring Allen Robinson II and Cole Holcomb who are both coming off foot surgeries. In addition to those two, WR Calvin Austin III is coming off his own foot injury that caused him to miss his entire rookie season. The participation status of these players and their level of participation will be a good guide to know where they are at in their respective recovery process and give us a good idea if they will be able to take the field right away when training camp kicks off in Latrobe in a couple of months.

Does Pittsburgh Feature Connor Heyward At Fullback?

The Steelers opted to not bring FB Derek Watt back this offseason… at least not yet. While the team signed UDFA Monte Pottebaum, it appears as if the team is ready to hand over the reins of fullback to TE Connor Heyward. With Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington, and Zach Gentry all factoring in at the TE position, moving Heyward to fullback may be the move to keep all four on the roster and expand Heyward’s role as a blocker/runner/receiver in OC Matt Canada’s offense. Seeing where Heyward lines up in drills could be telling regarding Pittsburgh’s plan with him in 2023.

What Does The Initial Starting Offensive Line Look Like?

The Steelers signed OG Isaac Seumalo from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, widely regarded as one of the better guards in football. He should immediately unseat incumbent Kevin Dotson as the team’s starting LG, which we should see glimpses of in OTAs. The team drafted LT Broderick Jones out of Georgia in the first round to become its starting LT of the future, but he may not be able to overtake Dan Moore Jr. right out of the gate. Moore has started the last two seasons at LT for Pittsburgh and has gradually improved during that time. The initial starting OL may give us a glimpse of how the Steelers may take this thing into Latrobe for training camp and if they still view Moore as the starter until Jones is ready.

Does Kenny Pickett Show The Special Stuff In Year Two?

Again, it’s hard to draw any definitive conclusions when watching football players in shorts and when QBs and WRs are running routes against air. But one thing we can look for is if QB Kenny Pickett takes a notable command of the offense and the entire team heading into his second season. Pickett showed flashes down the stretch of 2022 of the leader that he can be on the football field, having the poise to lead game-winning drives against the Ravens and Raiders late in the season. He’s done a good job getting the guys together this offseason to run routes and develop more chemistry with his weapons away from the facility as well.

Last season, Pickett went into OTAs behind Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky as the new guy on the block. This season, Pickett is the guy and needs to establish himself as such from the get-go in OTAs, commanding the offense in the huddle and showing growth and maturation as he looks to take that necessary leap forward in Year Two.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!