PITTSBURGH — The Steelers took the field for the first time in the 2023 offseason as rookie minicamp kicked off on Friday. While it is just in shorts, players are trying out and rookies are getting acclimated. So, what can be taken away from the first day out at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex?
Joey Porter Jr.’s Footwork
In these individual drills, you can sometimes tell what coaches are working on just right away. With the defensive backs today, it was working on Cover 3 concepts, including some bail techniques. However, it became clear that Joey Porter Jr. had something that secondary coach Grady Brown wanted to clean up right away.
When Porter Jr. goes into his backpedal, he takes a step forward with his left foot which is unnecessary. In other words, he false steps. With his transitions and technique, Brown looked to clean that up right from the jump. He hammered Porter all morning about that false step, and it seems to be one of the key projects Brown is taking to up his fluidity. In press coverage, Porter has this issue, too, and they worked on those transitions. It’s something he has to clean up, and the Steelers are already working on it.
Broderick Jones Learning New Technique
The Steelers are already getting to work on laying the foundation for Broderick Jones and his technique development under Pat Meyer. Notoriously, Meyer loves to teach independent hands. It simply means no longer will a team use a two-handed punch, but instead, use one hand separately, and there are many advantages to that. Regardless, Jones will have a learning curve to learn just that. Meyer worked one-on-one with him all day.
Not just that, but they are making adjustments to his kick step. Jones has a big flare-out right now that makes his first steps into his drop inefficient. He fails to unlock his back hip as he kicks with the front foot, so he has to rear it around to truly create the ‘sliding’ technique. Meyer is working hard to get Jones to unlock that hip so he basically just slides back in his kickstep. That will kick his center of balance up at his chest and keep his head stable, which will allow Jones to stay on track and not get beat inside. These are a few adjustments to his technique that the team wants to implement already.
Outside Zone Work
For the offensive linemen as a whole, the team seemed to place a premium on outside zone blocking, as Isaac Williams walked his guys through reach blocks in individual drills. That included both ways towards a Wide-9 and a potential 2i on the inside. Pittsburgh did this a lot last year, too, and it seems they do it to set the basis for their heavy zone blocking scheme. Later on, perhaps even tomorrow, you should see the team implement some inside zone footwork and double team blocks as the basis of their scheme.
Spencer Anderson Starts at LG
7th-round draft pick Spencer Anderson is a player that can play just about anywhere on the offensive line, having played all five spots at Maryland. However, he started out at the one he has the least experience at on Friday, taking plenty of reps at left guard as he prepares to fight for his spot on the team. Anderson seems to fit what the team wants to do from multiple angles, and it would be no surprise to see him start to work in at center and other positions soon. However, for now, the Steelers will begin with him at left guard.
Bryce Perkins and Tanner Morgan
There are three quarterbacks at camp this year with Tanner Morgan, tryout rookie Hunter Johnson, and veteran tryout Bryce Perkins, who played at Virginia and with the Rams. However, it was interesting to note that in the warmup line, it was Perkins that went first. It could just be a veteran thing, but the Steelers did note that they were open to finding a fourth quarterback option, and it seems like Perkins could fit that bill well.
Darnell Washington Looks Healthy
If there were any questions coming out of the draft process about Darnell Washington, well, he certainly looks healthy. Washington ran routes, did blocking, and did just about anything else a tight end could do. He even said that at this point, he feels quite healthy. There should be little to no concern about Washington and his prospects health-wise for now, as he seems to be 100 percent ready to go.
Trice and Porter Jr. Live up to Physical Billing
It is one thing to see it on film and an entirely different thing to see it on the practice field. However, Cory Trice and Joey Porter Jr. checked just about every single box possible on the list when talking about their length. Porter has longer arms than most of the linebackers and linemen here. Trice isn’t far behind, and their press technique was already getting brushed up on by Brown and assistant defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander on Friday.