'A good grasp for it'

OTAs are an introductory process as much as anything else, an opportunity for rookies to show veterans exactly where it is they're coming from in their transition into the NFL.

No. 1 pick T.J. Watt has made a positive first impression on veteran defensive end Cam Heyward toward that end.

"You see some guys, like T.J., they have a good feel for it so far," Heyward assessed.

That's something Heyward likes to annually gauge at this juncture of an offseason.

He maintains he can get a feel for prospects' football savvy and ability to grasp all that's being thrown at them by "being able to communicate on the field," Heyward said.

"Sometimes, you tell guys early and you want them to adjust the next play. You can tell they can take information and then apply it. Those are things you look for now, in these situations."

The Steelers participate in day 10 of the 2017 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Heyward has been impressed by what he's seen from Watt, a linebacker from Wisconsin and a converted tight end.

"Whether it's his learning curve, I just think he has a good grasp for it," Heyward continued. "Even though it's a new position, I think he's only had a couple years playing it, but he's a smart guy, he picks up the defense pretty well. He already has a good baseline to start with.

"I can talk to him on the field and feel like he's still grasping it, it's not like it's too much for him. Or, if he sees me get upfield he can make a natural stunt out of it. If he can pick that up quick, we're going in the right direction.

"You'll always check that when they first get here. It's a good start for him."

As encouraging as Watt's start has been, Heyward understands OTAs represent only a start for Watt and the Steelers' other youngsters.

"The work is only going to get bigger, the workload is going to get a lot more," Heyward said. "We're just going to keep adding more onto his plate and see if he can take it. Sometimes, we might want to do a double-play and be able to switch it throughout the call, let's see if he can deal with that, little things like that.

"We'll see, we have a long way (to go). I don't want to just say he's ready right now, but he's taking the right steps."

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