The Steelers OTAs officially began on Wednesday. There is plenty to look for in the coming weeks. Some interesting position battles, and player returning from offseason surgeries. Here is our list of the top five things to watch out for in these next couple of weeks:
1. The offensive tackle position:
If/when rookie Broderick Jones takes over at left tackle has to be the number one position battle of the offseason. In the first couple of days, incumbent Dan Moore has taken the first team reps. This is no surprise given how Mike Tomlin runs his operation. He always defers to the veterans early on, making rookies earn their spot.
Another interesting subplot will be who of these two will get extra reps at right tackle. The loser of the left tackle position will need to be the replacement on both sides if an injury occurs. There is also the outside possibility that there may end up being a competition with Chuks Okorafor for the right tackle spot as well. Lots to be decided in what is a very interesting battle.
2. Where does DeMarvin Leal play?
The Steelers experimented with Leal as an edge throughout last season, One of the biggest questions on defense is whether or not they would move him there full time, or return him to the defensive line. The Steelers finally added a veteran edge in Markus Golden, giving them much needed depth at outside linebacker. That, and the reports of Leal being around 290 pounds leads us to believe he is headed back to the interior. There is still the very real possibility he could be used in both roles once again however. This will be something to keep an eye on all offseason.
3. Conner Heyward tight end? Fullback? H back??
We may never get a straight answer on what position Conner Heyward plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He in all likelihood will just end up being a chess piece used all over the field. His spot on the roster does affect multiple positions however. If the Steelers think they can get away with him as a third tight end, that could mean trouble for Zach Gentry. If they decide he can take the very few fullback snaps, undrafted free agent Monte Pottenbaum would be in jeopardy. Finally if he is considered just a chess piece, that could cost one of the receivers their job. Heyward’s usage in OTAs and training camp is certainly something to keep an eye on.
4. Inside Linebacker….all of it
The whole of the Steelers inside linebacker position is just one giant question mark right now. In theory, this team should have two new starters at the position. But as reported by our Ron Lippock, Cole Holcomb appears to be nowhere near ready to hit the field after offseason surgery, https://www.buzzsprout.com/1981237/12708635
Pittsburgh is also showing great faith that Mark Robinson can be the primary backup for both inside linebacker spots. He of the one year of experience at the position in college, and a handful of snaps in 2022. Basically it’s Elandon Roberts, and a bunch of question marks. This will be the most fluid of all the positions during the Steelers offseason.
5. Slot corner/slot receiver
We cant talk Steelers OTAs without discussing both the slot corner, and slot receiver positions. Slot corner is among the top question marks heading into the 2023 season. As it stands now, newly acquired Chandon Sullivan appears to be this team’s starter. Sullivan scored a pretty poor 55.8 PFF score last season with zero interceptions. Omar Khan did mention Duke Dawson by name in a recent interview when asked about his slot corner candidates. Then there’s always the possibility of Patrick Peterson, or even Damontae Kazee getting snaps there. Unless another name is added, we could be in for a combination of names filling the slot corner position.
As far as slot receiver goes, it appear’s to be Allen Robinson’s job to lose. Reports are good on the health of Calvin Austin so far. Then there is the wildcard in Hakeem Butler, who was just recently signed from the XFL. Both sides of the slot position will need to have a close eye kept on them as the offseason progresses.
We went into greater detail on the slot receiver position here: Steelers slot receiver position just got a whole lot more interesting