Biggest notes from first day of Steelers OTAs

Steelers, Calvin Austin III
Steelers, Calvin Austin III / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers held the first of their organized team activities on May 23rd. Despite the fact that OTAs are voluntary, this team had a great turnout as players showed up to begin their first real practice for the 2023 season.

A few players like T.J. Watt and Larry Ogunjobi were not in attendance on day one of Steelers OTAs, but that's perfectly normal and there's no reason to sound the alarm. These are veterans who are both under contract and they will be here soon enough.

Members of Pittsburgh's media captured footage from the first OTA session, and here are the things that stood out to us.

Early notes from Steelers OTAs

The first thing worth mentioning and the one thing that has been on the minds of fans is whether or not Alex Highsmith was going to show up. Highsmith is coming off a 14.5 sack season that included 5 forced fumbles, and as he gets set to enter a contract year, many wondered whether he would risk injury by participating in Steelers OTAs.

On Tuesday, we got our answer. Highsmith was there at the facility with his helmet in hand ready to hit the field with his teammates.

Highsmith didn't just stand around either. The productive pass rusher was seen participating in drills like this one captured by reporter Josh Rowntree:

Outside of Alex Highsmith, the status of wide receiver Calvin Austin III was one of the other big storylines of Steelers OTAs. Austin spent his entire rookie season on IR as he underwent foot surgery. Now he's back and rearing to go. Here he is running through wide receiver drills on Day 1 of OTAs, via Nick Farabaugh:

We haven't been given a formal update on Austin's health status, but judging by what he was able to do at OTAs, it's probably safe to assume that his rehab went as planned and that he's ready to go.

Something else worth noting is that we got our first look at the Steelers starting offensive line during the first organized team activity session. This unit consisted of Dan Moore Jr., Isaac Seumalo, Mason Cole, James Daniels, and Chukwuma Okorafor from left to right. Here's the video of the first unit OL, per Jeff Hathhorn:

You can see that Broderick Jones is currently operating as the second-team left tackle behind Moore. This isn't unexpected, and the coaching staff is going to make Jones earn his starting job. It will be his soon enough, but it's worth noting that Moore is ahead of him for now.

Based on their alignment from this shot, it also looks like Kendrick Green could be poised to see some work at the center. The team hasn't made any mention of this yet, but it's something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Other shots of Steelers OTAs included Darnell Washington moving the sled like it's nothing and we got our first look at cornerback Patrick Peterson in black and gold. We will gain some insight as we press forward through the first phase of OTAs.

Next. NFL player comparisons for Steelers OT Broderick Jones. dark

Steelers OTAs will run through Thursday. Their next cluster of practices will run from May 30th to June 1st, followed by one more phase from June 5th through the 8th. Here's the full offseason schedule and everything you need to know.