- Note the word “fodder” instead of news, because little of what happens in OTA’s counts as real news.
However, a few developments do offer insight about the future, and here Steel Curtain Rising attempts to aide Steelers Nation in sorting out the information for them noise.
Spence and Heyward Top the “Real OTA” News
Take a look at the video below:
If Mike Tomlin followed Chuck Noll’s policy of practicing without numbers, would you know which of the players running drills was the one whom linebacker’s coach Keith Butler had said it would be a miracle if he played again? The answer is no, you wouldn’t.
- The first player in the video is Sean Spence of course.
- Since then Steelers Nation has been subjected to a diversity of stories on how serious his prospects for a full recovery actually were, but at this point it seems the optimists have the upper had.
- A lot must happen for that to become reality, but at least it is possible.
In going from left to right Heyward is moving into the spot that Brett Keisel has occupied for the last 8 years. This shift might only prove to be temporary, but it does show that Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, and Johnny Mitchell are ready to test drive a Steelers defensive line without Keisel.
News that Might Mean Something Come Summer
One name that is turning a lot of heads during OTA’s is that of Justin Brown, the Steelers 6th round draft pick from 2013 who did an apprenticeship on the practice squad. This could mean something, particularly because players generally (although not universally) make their biggest jump between year’s 1 and 2.
- Not only have all of the major reporters praised Brown, but the Steelers are letting him run with the first unit.
- But Brown’s improvement has been steady, tracing back to the final month of 2013, per Dale Lolley. This one bears watching.
|Shamarko Thomas' working out in 2014 off season|
Thomas is of course the man the Steelers scarified their 2014 third round pick to move up in ’13 in the 4th, a man who Carnell Lake insisted would have gone as a 1st had been 2 inches taller.
Thomas moved immediately into the team’s third down package, until he got hurt. Dallas waived Will Allen, but when Thomas recovered, Allen retained his role. And as OTA’s progress, Allen remains ahead of Thomas on the depth chart at safety.
This could just be Mike Tomlin lighting a fire under Thomas, making it clear he must earn his stripes… Or there could be legitimate issues with his development.
Current “Not Real News Stories” that Might Not Be in that Category Later…
Bloggers, yours truly very much included, love calming bragging rights when events prove their predictions. And yet, there are times when a blogger longs to eat crow, and this is one of them.
- The Ryan Shazier story is one of those.
But the real "news" value of this story must be taken with a grain of salt, as Mike Tomlin never anoints and rarely starts rookies. And trend precedes Tomlin. Kendrell Bell was the last rookie to make an opening day start for the Steelers defense. And unlike Brown and Thomas, there is no “progression from last season trajectory for him to follow.”
- Making assumptions based on OTA lineup status is tenuous at best, which is why backstories must be examined carefully.
- Shaizer has no backstory to follow – he’s writing it now.
If events vindicate Wexell, Steel Curtain Rising will happily eat the words above.