Steelers 2016 Mini Camp has come to an end signaling the beginning of SteelersNation’s “true” off season. Because barring a relapse of the Steelers June curse, “real” Steelers news will be scant between now and July 29th, when the team convenes training camp at St. Vincents in Latrobe.
Steelers Mini camp is really just an extension of OTA’s aka “football in shorts,” and the truth is there isn’t much in the way of meaningful insights that can be gleamed from the time there. Case in point, take the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s story about Robert Golden planning to fight to keep his staring job.
Nonetheless here are 5 take aways from Steelers 2016 Mini Camp:
1. Le’Veon Bell Looking Good But….
Le’Veon Bell ran at the beginning of OTA’s and then was held out of activities until Mini Camp. Bell confirmed that he indeed suffered a MCL and PCL tears in the Steelers loss to the Bengals, but Bell claims to be on the road to a full recovery, and was running routes during mini-camp training camp.
However, Dale Lolley reports that Todd Haley and James Saxon will look for ways to split the rushing load between Bell and DeAngelo Williams. While this might seem like a no-brainer given how good Williams looked last year with Bell out, this is the first time Steelers coaches have indicated that they will try to actively spell Bell.
- When Bell’s 2015 suspension ended, Steel Curtain Rising argued that Steelers coaches needed to find a way to split carries between the two backs.
They never got the chance, and it may simply not be possible to extend a starting running back’s shelf life by splitting carries, but it is wise to try.
2. Coates is Catching On
While its unwise to draw too many conclusions, if any, based on spring workouts, reports of Sammie Coates making impressive catches of balls thrown by Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones provide welcome news.
3. A Leaner and Meaner David Johnson Returns to Pittsburgh
The only Steelers roster move following the 2016 NFL Draft, save for cutting and replenishing roster bottom feeders, was to resign David Johnson two years after allowing their 2009 7th round pick to depart as a free agent.
- With Ladarius Green, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James and Xavier Gimble heading up the Steelers tight end depth cart, the move was a minor surprise.
Per Jim Wexell’s report on Steel City Insider, David Johnson has lost 15 pounds since last season, and 20 since he last darkened doors on the South Side and Johnson himself claims that he’s faster on his feet. Given that the Steelers let Will Johnson depart to New York but opted to sign David Johnson for slightly less, the later Johnson isn’t even assured a roster spot.
But this should be one of the more interesting, under the radar stories to follow.
4. Sean Davis Means Business
Jim Wexell has reported that 2nd round pick Sean Davis has been working extensively in the slot, but was cautioned by Keith Butler and Carnell Lake not to assume the Steelers are planning to play him at corner, explaining that safeties carry similar responsibilities as slot corners.
- But if much has been seen by of Sean Davis at OTA’s little or nothing has been heard.
Wexell reported that he attempted several times early during OTA’s to get an interview with Davis, only to have Davis decline to put in extra reps after practice. Doing extra work following practice is path well worn by former Steelers greats Mike Webster, Merril Hoge, Hines Ward and Antonio Brown.
That’s a welcome sign from the new comer.
5. It’s Not Time to Worry about Senquez Golson… Yet
Senquez Golson perhaps represents the Steelers biggest question mark heading into training camp. The Steelers 2015 2nd round pick lost his rookie year to a shoulder injury, and word that Golson had to undergo an MRI raised eyebrows.
- The MRI was not related to his shoulder, but a “soft tissue” injury on his lower body.
Word is that Golson will travel to Florida to train for the next six weeks with William Gay, who works out at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex with Tom Shaw, who also oversaw Ike Taylor and James Farrior’s off season workouts – three players known for their durability.
That’s a good sign, but the fact that Golson sat out an entire year and isn’t quite ready to fully participate in spring workouts is not….