The Pittsburgh Steelers are well into OTAs,as week two has just wrapped up. It’s hard to evaluate just how well OTAs are progressing with much of the practices being football in shorts and contact at a minimum.
Turn out for these voluntary workouts has been great with close to full participation through the first two weeks.
However, one of the most encouraging signs this off-season occurred well before OTA’s even began.
Football may be the ultimate team sport and much can depend on team chemistry and comradery. So news earlier this off-season that Steelers veterans took it upon themselves to take many of the younger players under their wing might be one of the biggest positives so far.
Longtime Steelers, outside linebacker James Harrison spent much of the off-season mentoring the young Steelers linebackers.
Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones, Vince Williams and Sean Spence all trained with Harrison for 4 weeks out in Arizona before OTA’s began and all are planning to head back after OTAs conclude.
When asked during OTAs how the mentoring process is going Harrison had this to say…
James Harrison :“Right now, they’re stronger, they’re faster; even Shazier put on a little weight,I’m just leading them to the water, it’s up to them to drink.
Harrison was not the only veteran doing his part to help the youth along and build team chemistry. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger invited many of his young offensive teamates to join him at his place in Atlanta, Georgia to work and hangout before OTA’s.
Wide receivers Antonio Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant along with running back Le’Veon Bell all joined Roethlisberger for a few days of boating and hanging out. The trip concluded with an offensive workout at the University of Georgia.
Steelers offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert also took five undrafted Steeler rookie linemen to dinner shortly after they signed with the Steelers.
Pouncey spoke about his reason for such a gesture…
Maurkice Pouncey:“I just think it’s my time to start looking after the young guys, time to breed them, all the kids look good and listen well. They are a fun group. They like to laugh a lot. I like them.”
Rookie center B.J. Finney was one of the players to receive a dinner invitation and he spoke on what it meant to him….
B.J. Finney: “For those guys to reach out to us and let us know they were here for us to help us out, if we had questions we could come to them. They welcomed us to Pittsburgh from a veteran standpoint.
“It means everything to have that leadership. If you don’t have the leadership or the coaching of the older guys to help take you through the smaller things to help you improve your game and play on Sundays, without those guys you don’t get that influence or hints that work. Right now it is everything.”
The Steelers are in the middle of a youth movement with the average age of starters on defense averaging just over 26 years of age. The Steelers will need these young players to step up and deliver for the team to have success in 2015.
The veteran players know this and are doing every thing in their power to help make it happen. This seems to be a very close-knit team both on and off the field
These actions by the Steelers veterans may seem small in the spring time of 2015 but just might help reap big rewards for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fall of 2015.
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