The first OTA session of the 2013 off-season for the Pittsburgh Steelers will get underway on Tuesday, and while we aren\’t likely to learn a lot from it, there will be a few things I will be looking for specifically in the reports from the media.
Tackle Sides – Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was pretty much non-committal about who will play what tackle spot when he talked to the media during his pre draft press conference. With veteran Max Starks currently out of sight and out of mind for right now, we should find out this week whether or not it is Marcus Gilbert or Mike Adams that gets the first crack at replacing Starks on the left side. By the time the first OTA wraps up, however, both players might very well wind up getting reps on both sides.
Linebacker Rotation – Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons should be the starters inside, while LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds are both expected to get the first team reps outside. Beyond that, it will be interesting to see the rotation used at all four spots. Will rookie Jarvis Jones step in as the No. 2 behind Worilds this early, or will Chris Carter get the second team reps on the right initially? In the middle, we will watch and see where Stevenson Sylvester, Marshall McFadden and rookie Vince Williams fit in at. What about Adrian Robinson? Where will he fit into the rotation this year? Will it be on the left side behind Woodley?
Zone Blocking Use – New offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. is expected to use more of the zone blocking scheme in 2013, so we should get some good idea over the course of the few practices this week as to how much inside zone versus outside zone that he wants to work on. Also, with both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer mostly considered to be power backs, it will interesting to hear how well they adapt to more of the zone scheme. We aren\’t likely to get much in the way of reports on this, but it will still be something to look for nonetheless and hopefully the reports on rookie Le\’Veon Bell are glowing.
First Backup Safeties In – The Steelers allowed both Ryan Mundy and Will Allen to leave this off-season, so that leaves the team with experienced depth issues behind starters Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Robert Golden is expected to be behind Clark, but will rookie Shamarko Thomas jump Da\’Mon Cromartie-Smith this week as the backup to Polamalu?
Dunn Handling Punts – We all know that rookie undrafted free agent wide receiver Reggie Dunn can handle kickoffs, but what about punts? General manager Kevin Colbert said last week in his conference call with season ticket holders that he is looking forward to seeing how the Utah product fares in this area, so hopefully the media chimes in with a few reports dedicated to Dunn and him catching punts.
Injury Reports – I hate to even bring it up, but we always hold our breath that the Steelers won\’t suffer any serious injuries during these sessions.