Saturday, June 1, 2013

Several Things To Take From 2nd Steelers OTA Session

Aside from the emergence of Roethlisberger-Haley 2013, what else did the second set of OTAs bring to light? Let's go over a few story lines that caught the attention of If It Ain't Steel.

Third-year man Marcus Gilbert seems to be penciled in as the left tackle and second-year man Mike Adams as the right tackle. Big Ben is going to face constant pressure from the edge because teams will be testing those young tackles. And he knows this.

Regarding the topic, he said of Gilbert playing left tackle: "I told him, 'I'm going to stay on you and I'm gonna push you, because I know what you're capable of.'"

Head coach Mike Tomlin has said that "both of those young men are capable of playing both spots," so expect Adams at some point to get snaps on the left side. Though, it should be remembered that he seemed better on the right once he settled down and got comfortable overall.

The Steelers absolutely will be switching to the zone-blocking scheme in 2013 with new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. The linemen seem to be falling right in line with it also.

“We did it at Stanford, and we were a big gap team like the Steelers are,” right guard David DeCastro said. “We’ve got the guys to do it. It just takes practice like anything else. We’ll be good.”

"Especially with us this year trying to go to the outside zone scheme with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think we got the offensive line to do it this year and we really plan on attacking it at these OTAs," said Pouncey. "I think it’s easy for me and especially the older guys we got,” Pouncey said. “We all are trying to win out here and going 8-8 last year sticks on us really, really hard. I think it brings a lot of good things to the offensive line and I think we need it.”

While Ramon Foster isn’t a Pro Bowl run blocker, he still is very solid and has very good and clean technique. Foster controls his man, turns him and generally creates holes for the running back. Ramon Foster is a big, strong and only wants to get better so as to adapt to the zone-blocking scheme.

"I am really fit, I changed a lot of stuff around. My body fat is a whole lot better. I’m running better. I’ve been stressing to become more athletic. I don’t want to be a weak link of any type on this offensive line."

As an addendum, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell's college team, Michigan State, ran the ZBS in college. Bell rushed for 33 touchdowns in 40 career games and averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2012. Bicknell comes from a Kansas City Chiefs team that averaged 4.8 yards a carry in 2012.

Robert Golden is stepping in at safety and is showing himself to being accepting of the position. Something his teammates have recognized.

"He’s a guy who jumps off the film talent-wise, speed-wise," fellow safety Ryan Clark said. "What Rob has to do is show the jump as far as knowledge, dependability, durability. That’s how the game works. When you draft a guy, you want to see him play, so Rob has to show them that he belongs out there.”

Golden's play in OTAs is reflecting that acclimation, though he rightly remains cautious in his assessment of his abilities.

“I felt as a rookie that I played very well," Golden stated. We ran a lot of similar things at Arizona, just different terminology, so I was able to pick up the playbook very well. Now it’s just a matter of going out there and executing the plays and knowing what to do and be able to make plays.” -

The real question is whether or not Robert is The Golden Child or merely pyrite. (I'll have many more of these throughout the year.)

Though the oldest starter on the defensive line, defensive end Brett Keisel was also the best. But with third-year DE Cameron Heyward chomping at the bit, his playing time might drop off, but his leadership ability won't.

Then there is the emergence of DE Al Woods whom the team gave him second-team reps at nose tackle. If this surprises you because you expected Hebron Fangupo or Alameda Ta'amu to be the backup to NT Steve McLendon. This leaves Fangupo and Ta'amu battling each other for the backup NT position, but also battling Woods.

As for Ziggy Hood, the Steelers are working with him on his technique. We wrote last offseason about Hood's inadequacies (, now the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly concedes that there are still times "when Hood resembles a rookie still trying to grasp the basics of transitioning to a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL." -

There are definitely other plots and subplots that could be found around minicamp, such as Jarvis Jones' taking some first team snaps, Cortez Allen's transition to starter, William Gay getting snaps at safety (no surprise), LaRod Stephens-Howling bringing a change-up to the Steelers backfield and fullback Will Johnson making strides to to expand his worth.

But the main things to be taken from round two are the emphasis on competition, on not forgetting the sting of an 8-8 season and on coming together as a solid unit.