Several Things To Look For During The Steelers First OTA Session Of 2013

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 RotationLarry 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.

  • The Team is so young that I really hope we have full participation from all of the Veterans this week. The more Leaders up there to help out, the better off we’ll be.

  • steeledge

    Dave, with Miller injured, who do you expect to be running the 1st team Tight End? Spaeth, or Paulson?

    Also, is David Johnson expected to be a fullback this year, or TE?

  • westcoasteeler

    One cannot underestimate the importance of stretches…

    Stay healthy my friends.

  • steeltown

    I would think Jarvis is the immediate backup to Worilds, even right out of the gate..and then Chris Carter and Robinson battle for backup on the left side. Of course, knowing the Steelers they will be given snaps on either side, but I would think that Jarvis will be runner up on the right side immediately and the others fight for the left side.

    I think Dwyer will fare well in the zone scheme, he is pretty nimble for a big guy

    Also, I think Shamarko will almost immediately be backup, Cromartie-Smith will get some reps, but if he couldn’t beat out Mundy, I doubt he beats out Thomas

  • steeltown

    Going to be a good battle in camp, Paulson is the better pass catcher, but Spaeth is by far the better blocker

    I think D.Johnson will get some snaps at fullback in camp, but I think he will be asked to play TE primarily. I see the TE depth chart as Paulson, Spaeth and D.Johnson… then when Miller returns, D.Johnson most likely will be released with minimal cap implications. Remember that Will Johnson can play TE in a pinch, so basically I see David as a band aid till Miller returns

  • steeledge

    Agreed, I’m hoping the offense will feature more passing to Will Johnson, as well.. He can be a weapon in the receiving game.

  • steeltown

    I think it will, atleast initially till Miller returns. W.Johnson is fast for his size..very hard worker too, arguably the best and yet least talked about signing last offseason.

    Great scouting job by the Steelers FO

  • WilliamSekinger

    I agree with Steeltown . The Steelers would only be cheating themselves if Jones isn’t #2 behind Worilds immediately. They know what they have in Carter and Robinson and if they thought they already had better than Jones on the roster, than why draft him in the first round?

    I suspect Jones will sneak into the starting rotation around mid season.

  • dgh57

    I’ll be watching for news in these OTAs about Vince Williams who has already showed some leadership skills and how he handles pass coverage! Reggie Dunn excites me but he’ll have to show he can do more than return KOs and I think he knows that. The OT position concerns me because I’m not sold on Adams and especially Gilbert!! I expect good things out of Shamarko Thomas(a guy I was hoping we would draft) especially after he learns LeBeau’s complex defense!

  • hergieburbur

    There is a lot of information I have seen from trainers and doctors lately saying that static stretches do basically nothing to prevent injury. Conditioning and proper warmup is key. Especially for guys like Woodley that don’t like those things.

  • David Edward

    That all makes sense