PITTSBURGH — Steelers OTAs are continuing onward on Thursday, and it turned out to be an eventful day at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the team. What were some of the things that stood out? I’m here to break that all down in what was a crazy day.
Thursday ended up being the day of Cory Trice. Not only did Trice make plays, but after teammates yesterday told me they were impressed with him, he stood out all the more. Safety Damontae Kazee confirmed that Trice got three pass breakups and an interception. There might be one asterisk next to one of those pass breakups, which was called defensive pass interference, but Kazee did not agree.
“He showed out today,” Kazee said. “How about three PBUs and a pick? I don’t know about the pass interference call. But he moved onto the next play and made a pick. He kept his head high.”
That is where the flashes for Trice start. He is making plays, and meanwhile, the team is continuing to rally around the seventh-round cornerback. Trice can feel the support starting to come around and he feels things slowing down for him as Steelers OTAs continue onward.
“I’m starting to get more comfortable,” Trice said. “You know, my teammates are all here and supporting me and it’s great. I feel like I’m making some great strides.”
Keep an eye for Trice as this offseason program continues onward and the team is working out its cornerback depth chart.
Porter Sees First-Team Reps
While on the topic of rookie cornerbacks, Joey Porter Jr. is starting to get up with the first team. Patrick Peterson confirmed on Thursday that Porter is working with the first team in spurts. Peterson already is starting to mentor the young rookie, whose frame just stands out like a sore thumb in the secondary.
We’ll see how his reps go from here on out, but I am optimistic that they can get some contributions from Porter pretty early. He has the frame to do it and give them some interesting flexibility when he is on the outside of the defense, especially toward the boundary.
Secondary Makes Plays
Let’s keep this on the theme of the secondary. They are making some plays out there on the field. It was not just Trice, but Kazee and Elijah Riley getting in on the action. Kazee confirmed that he caught a tipped interception and that he never cares who tips the ball, but he’s going to get that ball.
“I don’t care who tips that ball,” Kazee said. “Coach T could tip that ball, I’m coming down with it. I survived by going to get that ball, and I’m going to keep doing that.”
Meanwhile, swiss army knife DB Elijah Riley stunned UDFA WR Cody Chrest when he came from behind and stripped him for a fumble. Chrest confirmed that it happened and viewed it as a welcome to the NFL moment for a player out of Sam Houston State who did not have much exposure otherwise.
“Yeah, that is my welcome to the NFL moment,” Chrest said. “I have to be more ball aware and focus on keeping that ball better tucked.”
Steelers OTAs are competitive as any practice, and it seems the secondary was buzzing a bit after Thursday. We’ll see how that continues.
Sleeper Weapon Standing Out
Maybe I’ll make it a tradition to ask about someone standing out on both sides of the ball each week. Yesterday for the defense, it was Cory Trice. Today, the standout was none other than TE Rodney Williams. Williams seems to have impressed some teammates with his speed and improvement over the offseason. Talking with Williams, he feels like he brings some unique qualities that could allow him to show out.
“My speed and ability to stretch the field is definitely my best quality,” Williams said. “But I’ve improved my blocking by leaps and bounds. I feel like I can do whatever now.”
Williams is not the most physically imposing tight end in the room, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be that, either. His teammates are starting to notice him, though, and that’s a good thing for any guy trying to make a push.
Jones Gets the Welcome to the NFL Moment
Broderick Jones learned that being a rookie in the NFL is not always easy. As a rookie, the veterans often expect guys to do some things to earn their share if you will. On Thursday, Jones confirmed that the veteran offensive linemen made him carry some of their equipment, including their helmets, into the locker room. It’s a light-hearted thing that most locker rooms do, but Jones took to it.
“Yeah, that’s rookie duties at the end of the day,” Jones said. “But you gotta respect it. Everyone’s been in my shoes before. I just wanted to show the same respect to the older cats so I can stay in their good graces.”
Regardless, the players around at Steelers OTAs are teaching him to take the NFL day by day and how to conduct himself. That seems to be a relationship that Jones is really enjoying the more he gets into things.