Pittsburgh Steelers: 8 Players Who Have Turned Heads During Offseason Workouts
While the Pittsburgh Steelers have never won a Super Bowl during offseason workouts, a general level of commitment can be ascertained by the amount of players turning heads during the sessions.
Whether it be veterans like Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel or rookie late-round draft pick like Vince Williams, players can set the tone and raise the standard for what's expected.
Here are eight players turning heads during the offseason workouts.
Kelvin Beachum is becoming a jack of all trades. The organization hopes he can develop into a master of them, too.
Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review calls him a "five-tool player" in reference to baseball's term for a multifaceted player.
Since being drafted as a tackle in the seventh round last year, Beachum has exceeded expectations. He filled in admirably for the injured Mike Adams last season.
His play impressed the coaches enough that they considered moving him to guard. Since the team parted ways with former backup center Doug Legursky, Beachum is getting time there, too.
Now that Adams is out due to a stabbing incident, Beachum has moved back to right tackle. Regardless of where he's playing, his versatility is proving to be an asset.
Brett Keisel has played 11 seasons in the NFL. He's not supposed to show up for OTAs. Yet he has this year. Every one of them.
Keisel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette:
This is my home, I live just up the street. This is my team, I feel like. I think it's important for me to be here. We have a lot of young defensive linemen; I want to show them that even an old guy can come out here and work, even an old guy can go into the weight room and practice. If I can do it, they can do it.
His appearance is setting the tone for the younger players, particularly Cam Heyward, who was brought in to eventually replace Keisel. However, by the looks of it, Keisel isn't ready to give up his position quite yet.
Al Woods has never played nose tackle, but you couldn't tell by his performance thus far in the offseason.
The Steelers moved Woods out of necessity. With Casey Hampton being too old and Alameda Ta'amu being too foolish, the Steelers needed someone to back up Steve McLendon.
His play during OTAs caught the attention of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly, who listed Woods as one of his "winners" in the first week of OTAs:
First week of #Steelers OTAs are in bag. My winners: CB Isaiah Green, FB Will Johnson; NT Al Woods; C/G Kelvin Beachum, OLB Adrian Robinson— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) May 23, 2013
Woods' development is critical. The Steelers have no experienced backup behind McLendon. If Woods can become serviceable, the Steelers won't have to move Ziggy Hood to nose tackle in a pinch, thereby creating more chaos along the defensive line.
Troy Polamalu didn't turn heads during offseason workouts for his play. No, he turned them for his mere presence.
The usually absent Polamalu reported for OTAs at the request of head coach Mike Tomlin. After missing nine games last year, the veteran safety showed up looking in better condition. He explained in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
I have done quite a bit of different things this offseason. There are a lot of different rehabs and training I am doing. I feel good, thank God.
Polamalu is 32 years old and a future Hall of Famer. He didn't have to show up. He could have told Tomlin "no thanks," yet he didn't. That speaks volumes and leaves more of an impression than any of his workouts could have.
According to Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, guard David DeCastro is going to be "great."
In an interview with Steelers.com, Pouncey said:
(DeCastro) can really move around and get outside on the edge and block guys and really move them if we've got to run power football. It's excellent to have him right next to me.
Having a healthy DeCastro is key. Despite tearing his medial collateral ligament in the preseason last year, DeCastro was able to start in the team's final four games.
With the Steelers moving to a zone-blocking scheme this year, having a healthy DeCastro will be a key to the offensive line's success.
While it's good to have the media impressed with your play, it's better to have a teammate rave about you, especially if that teammate plays the same position.
That's what is happening with rookie inside linebacker Vince Williams. The teammate? Lawrence Timmons. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dan Gigler, Timmons called Williams "smart" and "gifted."
With Sean Spence's future in doubt, the Steelers are looking for anyone to be Larry Foote's backup. Although he is a long shot, Williams could be that guy.
Rookie defensive back Terry Hawthorne is part of a crowded secondary. However, he is still leaving an impression with the right people.
Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake raved about Hawthorne in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo:
He is fast. What I like about Terry is that he has a lot of upside potential that I see in him. I think he has all the physical tools. He is big. He is fast. He doesn't mind tackling, and he can play press coverage well, kind of in the same way as an Ike Taylor.
The spot to eventually replace the aforementioned Taylor is wide open. Retread William Gay isn't the long-term answer and third-year corner Curtis Brown hasn't played like he wants the job. That leaves Hawthorne with the opportunity to slip right in.
So far, he's moving in the right direction.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley compared rookie running back Le'Veon Bell's physical traits to those of former Titans running back Eddie George. That's not a bad comparison. If Bell has as good of a career as George, that would be even better.
The assumption is that Bell will eventually earn the starting role before the 2013 season opener against the Tennessee Titans, ironically, George's old team. His play so far during this offseason hasn't done anything to deter that. The coaches have been impressed with how quickly Bell is picking up the offense and making reads.
None of this means that Bell will finish with 10,441 yards rushing like George, but it doesn't mean that he won't, either.