Saturday, May 25, 2013

What We Can Take From The First Round Of Steelers OTAs

by Jayden and Jason

With the first session of OTAs behind us, there were a few things and players that stood out and are worth noting. The schemes being run and players we've brought to your attention before made themselves more manifest this week. While they provide a glimpse into the near future, they're still not completely indicative of the how the season will go or of the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers roster. After all, as head coach Mike Tomlin says, it is just "football in shorts."

One of the things that became evident during the OTAs was that the Pittsburgh Steelers absolutely will be running a zone-blocking scheme in 2013. If It Ain't Steel will cover the offensive line and some of its linemen in our next article, but, as we wrote in a previous post, they have always used various inside zone, lead draw, some toss and power schemes. They're just adding the outside zone to the mix. -

In that article, we pointed out that Kelvin Beachum would have his playing time increased and that he would substitute at key positions, something which he proved at OTAs by working at second-team center and even at center with the first team.

As for the scheme and its implementation, the Steelers new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, jr. is on record as saying that his players should be "athletic enough and be able to move" in order to adequately run his system. The off tackle power was their fundamental run play, but the outside zone and the stretch plays will be new and will require the aforementioned athleticism. A newness that was on display at OTAs and that left guard Ramon Foster said they're "embracing."

“It’s going to be new, but we’re embracing it,” Foster said. “If you look at our run tape last year, teams stacked the box on us. We were running inside zone, inside zone, inside zone, and we never really had an outside threat. But Coach [Todd] Haley’s stressing it this year; Coach Bicknell is stressing it. That’s something we want to do: soften the defense up and be able to run it outside just as well as we do inside.”

Running back Isaac Redman put it more succinctly when he said, "We are going to be dedicated to the zone."

Speaking of Redman, he's another who made his presence known. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly, Redman lost 10 pounds this offseason, his playing weight was listed as 230 pounds, and is hoping to lose five more by the start of Training Camp.

Cornerback Isaiah Green made his presence felt as well. We said recently that the 23-year old, 5'10", 180-pound second-year man wants to be more than just a Training Camp body. Green has a nose for the ball, is athletic and runs a 4.29/40. Simply put, he has all the requisite physical skills to continue to make his presence felt.

Will Johnson did his best to show why he should remain the team's starting fullback, defensive tackle Al Woods played well, though he has little competition and should make the team by default, and If It Ain't Steel favorite outside linebacker Adrian Robinson picked up where he left off last preseason in his bid to speed rush his way onto the 53-man roster this season.

There were several other names and stories that brought headlines this past week, but the one that caught our attention the most was Troy Polamalu supposedly being in his 'best shape since college', and that he's been fighting a calf injury for four years.

Ok, so maybe he isn't exactly at his college fighting weight, he still showed up in pretty good shape for the first OTA session. When interviewed, however, Polamalu was asked if there is anything that he can do for the calf injury moving forward. His response was textbook bland.

"Yeah, I've done quite a few different things this off-season," said Polamalu. "So, yeah, for sure there is. A lot of different rehab and training."

When he was pushed for a further explanation, it was then that the veteran safety revealed that the calf has bothered him for years.

"When you have an injury that's bothered you for the last four years, there gets to be just so much scar tissue in there," he said. "If you don't attack the problem scar tissue, then you're just going to continue to have problems. So this year I really focused on that and found a great physical therapist and obliviously continue to keep working with my trainer. So everything has evolved there and evolved nicely."

Polamalu then explained his kinesiological and rehabilitation process.

"Not to get too deep into muscular biomechanics, you can break down scar tissue, but the problem is your body has to continue to learn how to readapt with broken scar tissue," Polamalu said. "These are all things that I've learned. So hopefully all of this make these problems obsolete."

What's next for Polamalu and his injury?

"Listen, if I knew the future, I would be playing that Powerball," he joked. "Only time will tell."

Only time will tell for the rest of the Steelers offseason regimen as well.


TIDBITS: Heath Miller spoke with the media when showing up at OTAs. He spoke on his injury, saying that he's improving, but is still cautious.

"I'm just trying to get better every day, and I'm doing what I've been asked to do," Miller said Wednesday. "And I'm listening to my body, so I'll just progress that way."

Miller tore his anterior cruciate ligament, injured the medial collateral ligament and also the posterior collateral ligament.

"That's the big thing now, the main thing, because after surgery you lose a lot of strength," Miller said. "And then there's some atrophy. So, I want to get it back to where it's as strong as my other leg." -


“I think pretty much all of the veteran guys understand that there is gonna be a point in time when we’re gonna have to rely on these young guys....They are gonna have to step up ASAP.” - Ike Taylor


Per Mark Kaboly: “From what I've observed over the first 3 days of #Steelers OTAs, Reggie Dunn catches a punt just fine.” (As we've said, Dunn makes the team.)

“Shamarko (Thomas) is gonna be a good one. Will do well in special teams immediately.” (Keeping a promise to his dearly departed mother.)

“Nik Emberate has potential. Need to see him up at camp before willing to say he has legit chance.” (For an undrafted free agent, that still sounds pretty good.)