The Pittsburgh Steelers left plenty of takeaways from an impressive set of OTAs and minicamp.
With minicamp now over, the coaches of the Pittsburgh Steelers have learned some more about the team heading into the 2017 campaign. We will now take a look at some of the bigger storylines that are currently unfolding and how they can impact the season.
1. Le’Veon Bell’s contract situation could end up being a disaster for the Steelers.
The All-Pro running back didn’t report to minicamp as he recently underwent groin surgery and is technically not under contract at this time (for he has not signed his franchise tender). The team has until July 15 to come to terms with Bell on a long-term extension, but the Steelers are understandably leery of throwing big money at Bell considering his injury history and his off-the-field incidents. Since he doesn’t have a contract, Bell is not subject to any fines for missing team activities so both sides have plenty of leverage for the talks and we likely won’t get a resolution until next month.
2. The same could be said about Alejandro Villanueva’s contract dispute.
Like Bell, the left tackle currently doesn’t have a contract since he hasn’t signed his Exclusive Rights Free Agent tender, but unlike the running back, Villanueva showed up to minicamp to work for free. This scenario needs to be resolved as Pittsburgh can ill-afford to lose a known quantity at LT and have to resort to second-year player Jerald Hawkins.
3. Senquez Golson may be on the “endangered species” list for the Steelers.
DB coach Carnell Lake’s recent comments about the 2015 second-rounder doesn’t bode well for a player who was expected to be a significant contributor to the defense the past two seasons prior to a pair of season-ending injuries. If Golson can’t find a way to contribute this year on either defense or special teams, his time in Pittsburgh could very well be drawing to a close.
4. The development of L.T. Walton could be a boon for the defense.
With both Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt both missing time last season, Walton showed that he had the ability to be a productive player in this league in his four starts late last season. Throw in the addition of Tyson Alualu alongside Javon Hargrave, and we can potentially see one of the best defensive lines that the Steelers have had in a while.
5. The wide receiver room in Pittsburgh is an embarrassment of riches.
The reintroduction of Martavis Bryant, as well as the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster, add a lot of athleticism to a position that already has arguably the best wide receiver in the game in Antonio Brown. Let’s not forget that Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey made big catches last season, and one can see why the Steelers’ offense is regarded as one of the best in the NFL.