4 for Friday: Steelers acclimating through spring training

Steel City Underground presents “4 for Fridays,” an off-season series of articles focused on four related Pittsburgh Steelers topics and commentary for fans and members of Steelers Nation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to put in work even though they’re in the post-NFL Draft period of the 2024 league year. The team – it’s staff and players – have been acclimating through spring training periods, getting their latest draft class set up for rookie camp, and more. We look at four things fans can expect in the upcoming weekend and related team events.

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Quarterback room filling up

Prior to the 2024 NFL Draft, the Steelers utilized free agency to bring veteran quarterback Russell Wilson in and acquired former Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields after all three of their rostered 2023 QBs – Kenny Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph – moved on to other teams. The moves slowed Pittsburgh to focus on other needs in the draft.

The Steelers also added Kyle Allen, John Rhys Plumlee, and have reportedly invited former Notre Dame, Boston College, and University of Pittsburgh quarterback/tight end Phil Jurkovec a rookie invite to minicamp. That’s a circuitous route for Jurkovec to make through the collegiate portals to get back home to Pittsburgh.

Jurkovec acknowledged that the transition would come with challenges but expressed enthusiasm about contributing to an NFL team in any way possible. He indicated that learning the tight end position would require him to develop new skills, but he was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Concerns about the quarterback room being thin seem to be addressed, for now. The Steelers will undoubtedly be using this spring to evaluate the talent level of everyone they bring in in order to roster the best group following training camp and preseason games before cutting to their initial 53-man season roster.

Cory Trice Pittsburgh Steelers

‘Phase 2’

The Steelers have had players in their facilities for voluntary training and conditioning phases. The focus of these periods is acclimating players’ bodies to the game after a period away from any organized team activities, as well as addressing rehabilitation, cardio, and strength training.


This was also an opportunity for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to work with other staff in evaluating the progress of players that he will use to build the offense he needs to field from a strength and training aspect. The team’s meticulous scouting and preparation are linked to finding innovative ways to exploit mismatches in Pittsburgh Steelers Game Lines. Some drills are allowed during this period, but are limited.

‘Phase 3’ will be the culminating event before the Steelers hold their mandatory veteran minicamp from June 11-13, 2024. This is typically known as organized team training or ‘OTAs’ and will build on the first two phases while adding drills that do not include live contact. This phase lasts for four weeks (ten days total).


Rookie minicamp

Thursday (May 9) was the day that all of the newest batch of draft selectees and undrafted rookie free agents reported to UPMC Rooney Sports complex ahead of the beginning of rookie minicamp on Friday. It was a busy day of meetings, equipment fitting, locker room placement, photos, and other team business.

“The NFL pre-draft process was cool, and a dream come true to take part in all of that. But that’s not really who I am… I love football and I love working to get better at football, so I just can’t wait to get going and be around my teammates, the best coaches in the world.” – linebacker Payton Wilson

This year’s rookie minicamp will occur over the course of this three-day weekend. It’s an opportunity for rookies to also get a chance to meet their more senior teammates and bond while receiving instruction and information about being play-ready in the NFL.

On May 13, the Steelers can begin the league rookie football development program over the course of seven weeks.

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The Atlanta impact

The Steelers have now added five players that were formerly with Smith on the Atlanta Falcons. They are: WR Van Jefferson, WR Scotty Miller, RB Cordarrelle Patterson, TE MyCole Pruitt, and WR Keilahn Harris. Does that mean Smith plans to make sure they stick in Pittsburgh?

Although fans have expressed their feelings about these moves across social media. Many of them contended that, since the Falcons were not a good team, the Steelers should not allow these implants to have an impact on a Pittsburgh team that is trending up. Others mentioned they saw the moves as being similar to the college transfer portal shuffling when a coach gets a job at a new school and some players then transfer, too.

There’s no reason to see the addition of former Falcons players as a negative mark at this point of the off-season. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that players who spent time with Smith in Atlanta – who know how to execute his schemes and work with him – bring an edge to Pittsburgh.

They can be worked into, and acclimated to, the position groups in place, communicate their experience under Smith, and give their new Steelers teammates valuable insights.

The Steelers will evaluate all their options in personnel throughout the spring and training camp this coming autumn, not just the “guys from Atlanta.” These evaluation opportunities help them to also see where cuts and/or additions need to be made. That means there is no guarantee of a roster spot; that’s been the case year after year in Pittsburgh regardless of players who’ve joined the team.

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