Offseason Program

Role reversal not a problem for LBs

On the edge: OTAs and minicamp were a perfect opportunity for the coaching staff to experiment with things, and one of those aspects was having outside linebackers Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt flip sides.

The team thought about doing it mid-way through last year, but didn't want to disrupt Watt, who was in his rookie season.

 "We had a rookie and another guy who hadn't been in the league very long," said defensive coordinator Keith Butler. "We didn't think it was a good idea halfway through the season to switch them because we weren't being unsuccessful in terms of winning games."

Dupree worked at right outside linebacker this offseason, Watt at left outside linebacker. Will it remain that way when the season starts? Only time will tell.

"Everything right now is a work in progress," said outside linebackers coach Joey Porter. "Anything can change. Right now, (Bud) is on the right side. Bud was up for the change."


A post shared by TJ Watt (@_tjwatt42) on

Room for more: Jerry Olsavsky remembers what it was like to simply play inside linebacker. He did it for the Steelers from 1989-97, when the position was just that, inside linebacker. But now the safety and inside linebacker positions have become somewhat of a hybrid, with a prime example of that being first-round draft pick safety Terrell Edmunds, who played both positions right off the bat during the team's rookie minicamp in May.

Olsavsky said his door is always open to work with the hybrid safeties, especially when they bring the mentality he loves.  

"If they put a couple guys in my room that don't mind running into people or that enjoy running into people, I'll welcome that," said Olsavsky. "That's how the game is going. Inside linebacker is kind of…the traditional guy that I played is different. That's why Vince (Williams) said, 'You know what, this position is going away, so I better get another skill,' and he went out and he decided to learn how to pass rush. Darrius Heyward-Bey is 218 pounds. I don't think I was 218 pounds until my third year into the league. I think Troy (Polamalu) would be a great inside linebacker because he's strong and he doesn't mind hitting people.

"It's just your willingness to play the game and run into people. That's the biggest thing. I think a lot of times guys who play in space aren't used to being in a crowd and being comfortable with all those people around. It just takes a little time. We all grew up playing football so if you want run into me, that's alright. That's good with me. And that's what you see. When you see guys running around, when you see them play, hey, he can be in the box, he's been in the box. You just got to teach them a little technique stuff. We know where the ball is going. We'll defeat you. We aren't worried about you."

The Steelers participate in the 2018 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Sharing advice: JuJu Smith-Schuster said rookie James Washington reminds him of himself, and he is sharing some advice with him.

"It's more the physical advice," said Smith-Schuster. "Physical condition is going to help in the long run. When it comes to the third or fourth quarter, we are going to need him. When it comes to that last drive, we are going to need him. He has to be able to play inside and outside. He has to be able to block linebackers and safeties. Going down in be in trenches and doing those things. Also being on the outside, run routes and go over the top and catch balls."

He also might have to give him some advice on celebrations, as Smith-Schuster said he wants the Steelers to be ranked No. 1 in celebrations this year.

Family affair: You always hear players say that the team is like a family, and these images they have shared are proof positive that it's a family that loves each other.