The Steelers OTAs schedule continues to churn along as Pittsburgh will head into their third and final week of OTAs next week. However, in the first two weeks, there’s been a lot that we’ve learned. So, who is standing out right away among the sleepers in OTAs to their teammates? Here are three of those guys that seem to be making some noise.
TE Rodney Williams
Someone that his teammates have been impressed with is tight end, Rodney Williams. I talked about the forgotten man in the tight end room out of Tennessee-Martin, but after spending last year on the team’s practice squad, it seems that Williams is starting to make plays. Teammates are consistently impressed by what Williams has brought to the table both as a receiver and blocker with some of the opportunities he has been given by the Steelers so far in the sessions.
Williams told me that he feels more comfortable and feels his blocking has improved leaps and bounds over the past year. A primary vertical threat as a tight end, Williams used to be a wide receiver in college. But now that he has fully ingrained into the tight end position, he feels like everything is working a lot better. It seems some of his teammates are noticing his growth.
WR Dez Fitzpatrick
Perhaps the best performance of the week out of any player, Dez Fitzpatrick’s 3 touchdown explosion early in the week earned trust from his quarterbacks and a few interested looks from the players who are just starting to see Fitzpatrick on the field for the first time. But the 6-foot-2 receiver is out to change the narrative of his career after flaming out in Tennessee.
He feels that he is a diverse route runner who can play from a variety of alignments. If that three-touchdown performance says anything, he seems to not be wrong. Mitch Trubisky seems to already have plenty of trust in the former Louisville receiver, too. This time of year, Trubisky simply wants to give his guys chances to make plays and he has seen Fitzpatrick consistently stepping up throughout OTAs so far.
DB Elijah Riley
Another player who showed up on the playmakers’ list, Cody Chrest confirmed that Elijah Riley forced a fumble at his expense on Thursday, but it is that type of opportunistic energy that Riley is proving to thrive off right now. There is likely a spot open in the safety room for anyone who wants it, and Riley can play in the slot, too. Forcing turnovers such as that one can put a player on the radar of coaches.
When he has been called upon in the past, Riley has proven to be a dependable player. That is something to watch with some questions in the slot and depth at the safety position. Riley is a veteran who understands the NFL and is getting more comfortable with the team the longer he sticks around.