Now that the draft is over, the only news coming from many of the teams around the NFL will be about the events happening during OTA sessions. While OTA’s aren’t the time to determine whether this is the next super bowl team for a any franchise, you can certainly get some valuable information coming out before training camp. Here’s 5 things to watch for during OTA’s.
Rookies are usually the main topic during the offseason of NFL teams, and this year is no exception. OTA’s are a good time to see whether the rookies came in prepared and in shape. We will probably hear a little about how fast Ryan Shazier is for a linebacker (and an NFL player for that matter), the crazy speed and quickness Dri Archer possesses, how Martavis Bryant catches a ball from Ben Roethlisberger and is all of a sudden the next Plaxico. Usually a lot of stuff we already know, but reassures us anyway.
Not only will the rookies progression be a hot topic this offseason, but so will be the players entering year two of their NFL careers. We will want to hear whether Jarvis Jones bulked up a bit and how he is looking during practices. Le’Veon Bell has lofty expectations this year and whether or not he looks like he can fulfill them. If Shamarko Thomas can really steal playing time from Polamalu this coming season. And a big topic this offseason, if Markus Wheaton is capable of replacing Emmanuel Sanders. This stuff is usually figured out in training camp, but OTA’s give us a glimpse.
Maurkice Pouncey’s Recovery
There hasn’t been much talk about the recovery of All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey. This could be a bad sign, as his recovery could be slower than expected and may not be able to start the season. Or we all could be blowing this out of proportion and he is fine and will come back even better than before with the addition of Mike Munchak. Either way, we Steeler fans want to know what’s going on with Pouncey and if he does any work at all during OTA’s. We need our center back!
It seems like the past couple seasons there has been position battles for starting positions everywhere, but this year there seem to not be that many. Wide Receiver, left defensive end and inside linebacker seem to be the only positions up for grabs. For every one of those spots seem to see a young face take over as well. It will be interesting to note which players come in shape better than others and are prepared to take over the starting job. Like I said, a lot of stuff will be figured out during training camp, but OTA’s give us the glimpse we need to go out and theorize exactly what’s going to happen.
Who Shows Up
With so many young players on the roster, veterans are now few for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and leadership is valued more than ever. The most important player to watch for is Troy Polamalu, who has the past couple seasons shown up for OTA’s after usually skipping them. Ben Roethsliberger is another name to watch for, even though he is usually in attendance and knows he is now the leader of not only the offense, but the entire team. Other younger players who are ready for big seasons themselves to look for are Jason Worilds, Antonio Brown, Lawrence Timmons and Heath Miller.
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