PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers OTAs continue moving along as they enter the final week of the activities before turning the book over to the mandatory minicamp next week. So, what could be taken away from the session on Tuesday that we can glean from it?
Nick Herbig Flashes
Talking with some of the defensive linemen and linebackers today, one player that impressed players was Nick Herbig, and that included former Wisconsin teammate Isaiahh Loudermilk. Herbig, who is a bit of a tweener coming out, has said during rookie minicamp that the team intends to start him at outside linebacker for right now. However, maybe that could change down the line.
Herbig comes from a football family, with his brother, Nate, on the Steelers as well. But at Steelers OTAs, most things have been quiet on his front. So, when asking around today, hearing his name come up a bit is a positive sign. He has a ways to go to become more than a sub-package rusher, but the next step will be playing some off-ball linebacker. Until then, positive signs will be that Herbig is doing most of the right things and standing out to his teammates.
Muse Makes a Play
Tanner Muse made what was the splashiest defensive play of the day on Tuesday. He confirmed that he notched an interception on Tuesday. One of the five inside linebackers on the roster, Muse is looking to make some inroads on the team. It seems that he could be doing just that as he described a play that sent the defense into a frenzy.
“Part of it I felt like I was in the right place at the right time,” Muse said. “But I knew what was to come because I had seen that route before when were in Cover 3 but today we were in Cover 2. It’s a little criss-cross with a dig coming into behind and I got beat on that last week. I told myself to not get beat again because it’s gonna come. And sure enough, it did today.”
Pittsburgh is still unsure of who will play where in this linebacker room, but Muse could have a unique opportunity to make some inroads if he can prove himself in coverage. A play like the one he made today could go a good way to doing just that.
There’s not much I can tell you about Kenny Pickett on the field from Steelers OTAs. But one of the commonalities I can tell you across every player I have talked to and asked about him is that his leadership is apparent. Early on in the process, Pat Freiermuth talked about Pickett commanding the room just a little bit better and reflecting his aura everywhere.
Last week, Broderick Jones talked about the ‘cool and calm’ leadership that Pickett showcases. He is an all-inclusive leader who seems to have this full locker room behind his back. There is no hesitation from anyone about wanting to run through a brick wall for him. The intangibles coming out were always thought to be A+, and that’s being shown right now. Now, the other part of that equation will be the on-field.
Spencer Anderson is Versatile
Talking with 7th-round rookie Spencer Anderson today, it became clear that Pittsburgh sees him as a versatile piece. He confirmed to me that throughout OTAs, he has repped at right guard, left guard, and right tackle. Meanwhile, each day after practice, Anderson told me he goes to work to make his snaps are clean at center, too.
He intends to be a true five-position versatile offensive lineman, a rarity in today’s NFL. It’s not easy, but he thinks he can do it from his college days. The Steelers are still figuring out where they need the most help, and Anderson said he has worked most at right tackle because they needed more depth there than anywhere else. Will they try him at center and when? That will be a timeline to watch closely.
Hagans Plays STs
When it comes to making the roster as the RB3, the Steelers are going to need some more value than just the runner being good as a running back. Benny Snell made a living as a great special teamer. Now, some of the guys behind Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren need to bring either returner value or true special teams value. Well, new running back Darius Hagans has worked on both punt coverage, kick return, punt return, and kick coverage in his time at Virginia State.
That is a unique quality that no one else in that room has if we are talking about making the team. For a RB3 competition that seems to be close with Anthony McFarland as the slight favorite, Hagans will have to rely on that special teams ability to truly make the roster.