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Sizing up Najee, QBs and special teams

Summer nuggets as the countdown to Latrobe continues …

BIG IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: Running back Najee Harris became something of a springtime sensation based on how much bigger he appeared to be in the eyes of some of the media attending OTAs and Mandatory Veteran Minicamp.

Harris maintained he was 244 pounds, a mere two pounds heavier than he'd been as a rookie.

But the narrative persisted.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was even asked about Harris' quads, among other body parts.

"I haven't noticed that," Canada maintained. "That's not been a talking point for me. I'm not surprised, the fact he's in shape and ready to go. That's who he is and that's why we're big fans of him."

The guy who's in-person size raised Canada's eyebrows was rookie wide receiver George Pickens.

Canada even referenced the second-round pick from Georgia as "Big George."

"I didn't notices the quads (on Harris), but if you don't notice how big George is, I mean, he's a freakin' big dude," Canada maintained.

Pickens checked in at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds.

He looked bigger.

ALL FOR ONE: Canada characterized the three-way quarterback battle as a competition of cooperation during the spring.

Free agent-addition Mitch Trubisky took the first-team reps and impressed as a player and a presence, Canada said.

Mason Rudolph and first-round pick Kenny Pickett did the same.

"I just really enjoy Mitch as a guy," Canada said. "He has a real good moxie about him. He's fun to be around. I think he's done a great job getting to know the players and kind of putting his own leadership style out there.

"All three of the guys have done that. All three of the guys are different players but they're also different people, different type of leaders. That's been a real enjoyable thing to watch."

Trubisky emphasized he intends to keep working with his fellow QBs, not against them, when asked about Pickett following one of the springtime sessions.

"He's growing," Trubisky assessed. "He's getting better every day. Any pointers I can give him about the offense, whether it's like a two-minute situation, just continue with conversations, he'll continue to build and learn get better.

"Every single rep when you're new into the league is important and you can learn from. I'm just trying to be that wall he can bounce ideas off of and talk to. Really, any of the guys can come to me and have those conversations about how to get better. I just try to build confidence in all the guys who are here so our team can be strong."

Take a look at the best black and white photos of the 2022 Steelers minicamp

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Free agent-wide receiver/returner Gunner Olszewski arrived with experience as a punt and kickoff returner for New England and with an understanding of what makes kickoff returns work.

"The guys getting their blocks and keeping their leverage and taking advantage of the mistakes of the kickoff team," he said. "That's what most kickoff returns are, any big ones, mistakes on the other side."

"I've been so impressed with the specialists they have here and the way they approach special teams, it's been awesome. I'm sure it'll click real fast."

The emphasis the Steelers place on special teams made an impression on Olszweski.

That's as it should be according to special teams coordinator Danny Smith.

"That's understood when you come into this organization and it starts with the first meeting and it makes my job easier and I stay on it," Smith insisted. "We were talking to running backs and safeties and I said, 'Najee Harris ain't coming out of a game; where are you getting your caries? Minkah Fitzpatrick ain't coming out of a game. I want you to want to be the staring running back. I want you to want to be the starting safety. Hell, I want to be the head coach, but that ain't happening. So I better take care of my business and you better take care of your business on teams and we'll have a nice life.'"

THE PLACE TO BE: Olszewski was pleased with much more than the attention his new team devotes to special teams.

He emerged from the spring believing he's really going to like playing for the Steelers.

"It's badass, man, if I could sum it up in one word," Olszewski said. "Playing for 'Mike T' (head coach Mike Tomlin) and for this organization is badass."

Olszewski was asked to elaborate but apparently didn't feel the need.

"It just is, man," he said.