What We Learned This Week In the NFL Off Season:
- Tebowing makes it into Madden ‘13
- Steelers shake up offensive line
- OTA’s begin this week without key players across the league
For video game nerds everywhere a new highlight to the upcoming Madden game has been released this week. The game is set to feature “Tebowing” as part of player celebration, which apparently is an essential part of the game. Awesome. Just to make sure the Tebowmania doesn’t settle down even if he’s stuck behind Sanchez, millions of 13 year old boys and 13 year old boys-at-heart can relieve the phenomenon as long as they hit the right buttons on the controller. The Steelers retooled their offensive line a bit, shifting veteran Willie Colon from right tackle to left guard. The announcement came out early to allow Colon to have plenty of preparation time to ease into the new position as well as allow the rookies time to learn the snap counts and formations in the upcoming OTA’s. Speaking of OTA’s, many will start today and tomorrow across the league without some key players suiting up. The Saints will start without QB Drew Brees, the Ratbirds will start without RB Ray Rice, and the Steelers begin OTA’s without Mike Wallace as well as their top two draft picks, David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
Organized team activities, or OTA’s as they are commonly referred to, is not one giant field day as the name suggests. Especially with a new Offensive Coordinator in place, these OTA’s are vital for the Steelers offense to begin to gel and perfect what could be a breakout year for many players. DeCastro and Adams cannot attend until their semesters end at their schools. Adams will be missing until the beginning June and Decastro will unfortunately miss all of OTA’s and minicamp as Stanford’s semester is until mid-June. Missing OTA’s for linemen can be costly, however last season rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert did not get any OTA’s because of the lockout and performed just fine. It’s not like DeCastro and Adams will be at any more of a disadvantage because it’s a whole new system to them anyway regardless of the fact that it’s a new OC to the Steelers.
Mike Wallace sitting out could be a problem. With a whole new playbook to decipher, the Steelers receivers will need to be on the same page with Ben, as he’s trying to learn the new system as well. There’s no telling how long Wallace will hold out and refuse to sign his tender. The more he sits out, the worse the situation is for him. The more the Steelers are forced to prepare without him, the more time they are prepared to play without him.
The Steelers are using a brand new system with new vocabulary since back when Mike Mularkey was calling plays in 2001. When BA took over in 2007, he kept Mularkey’s lingo but Ben leaked that the new offense is roughly 90% different than BA’s. Sucks for them to have to learn all new stuff but I’m pretty stoked at the possibilities of coming out in the AFC North with a completely unpredictable offensive scheme.
OTA’s aren’t a make-or-break event for teams as last year proved. Ideally, a team wants full participation to allow new schemes, formations, routes, and techniques to be installed and learned. Also, it gives the players a chance to work with the training staff to get full support for recovery from injuries, an issue that Peyton Manning had because of last year’s lockout. Across the league several other teams will be starting activities without some of their top stars. The Saints will begin their season under suspensions and also without QB Drew Brees, who has yet to sign the franchise tag in the hopes to secure a long term blockbuster deal. The Ratbirds, Ray Rice, is holding out for some blockbuster money as well, after being depended on to overcome the shortcomings of QB Joe Flacco, he’s probably entitled to a bigger piece of the pie. No doubt the eyes will be all over the Jets and Broncos OTA’s where we will get our first look as to how Manning looks in a Broncos jersey and the drama that will undoubtedly be the 2012-13 New York Jets will start to unfold.
Can you smell that? We’re that much closer to the season starting. OTA’s are just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s Go Steelers!
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