• Everybody was in attendance on the first day except for wide receiver Markus Wheaton, whose class at Oregon State has yet to graduate thus preventing him from attending.
• Former Steelers players Mike Tomczak, Jason Gildon, Rod Woodson and Rod Rutherford were on hand helping out with the coaching staff. Woodson, for one, will return for training camp at the end of July.
• When it comes to locker room spaces, location is everything – and Antonio Brown got a prime piece of real estate, better known as James Harrison’s former locker.
• Legendary Pictures founder Thomas Tull, a minority owner of the Steelers, was also at minicamp. Tull invited players to a screening of his newest movie – Man of Steel – Tuesday night. Oh yeah, it was also Tull’s birthday and the team had a cake for him. It was half white and half red velvet with raspberry filling.
Now, that we got that of the way, on to some football stuff …
• Running back Jonathan Dwyer was criticized last year by many for him seemingly always ‘tapping out’ after only a play or two.
Dwyer smirked when I brought that question up to him like he’s heard it many times, and offered this:
“I guess it was because mine was more visible and I put my hand on top of my head,” Dwyer said. “Some guys just run out. I am the one who visually does it so you can see it. I am not a selfish guy. I am not going to take the ball and something bad happens. I am going to go as long as I go. There are many plays where I am out there for a long period of time. People just see when I tap out. You want the bulk of the carries but if you need a blow, you need a blow and then get back in.”
Dwyer said he will spend the next month leading up to training camp in Florida working out with running backs Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew at Pete Bommarito Performance System.
“I am going to do whatever I have to do in order to get ready, compete and keep my spot and to become my best,” Dwyer said. “This is the way I can take care of my family and take care of my wife and son. This is just another year to prove myself and become better than I was.”
• Speaking of Dwyer, he is No. 1 on the depth chart heading into training camp but only because that’s where he finished the season last year.
“We just start them where we ended,” running back coach Kirby Wilson said. “There really is no pecking order other than that’s how we ended the season. Guys are jumping in accordingly and rotating themselves. There really is no rhyme or reason to it.”
Wilson also said that the running back group has been near-perfect throughout OTAs.
“These guys have made very minimal mistakes during OTAs and I expect the same thing at minicamp,” Wilson said.
• Tackle Mike Adams, who was stabbed on the South Side two week and had to undergo surgery for a punctured colon, is out of the hospital and back in his hometown back in Ohio.
“He is doing good and just getting his injury right,” linemate Ramon Foster said. “He is in good spirits and is with his mom in Ohio and he said he will back in town (Tuesday).”
• Le’Veon Bell might be the best running back on the Steelers, but Wilson reiterated on Tuesday that if he can’t block, he can’t (and won’t) play.
Wilson said that pass protection is the last thing that comes to a rookie running back.
“Pass protection because there is so much more technique involved,” Wilson said. “You are dealing with skilled pass rushers opposed to guys in college.”
• When LaRod Stephens-Howling was sifting through where he wanted to sign this year, he thought of one two things — Todd Haley and Dexter McCluster.
Stephens-Howling said that how Haley used McCluster in Kansas City was a pretty significant reason why he decided on signing with the Steelers.
“That was one of the things that made this opportunity look so good to me because I saw what he has done with the running backs,” Stephens-Howling said. “It is something that I am looking forward to have a chance to compete and have that role.”
Haley admitted that Stephens-Howling is a little different than the rest of the running backs on the roster.
“He is a veteran with a little different skill set than some of the other guys,” Haley said.
• Watching OTAs and minicamp, it sure seemed like the Steelers were throwing the ball deep a little more.
Well, Ben Roethlisberger kind of hinted on Tuesday that I was correct.
“I don’t know,” said a coy Roethlisberger. “We are going to have to wait to see what happening in game one. I don’t want to unveil any secrets yet.”
• The Steelers worked on a lot of situational football during Tuesday’s minicamp including the two-minute drill
That’s it for now. Check back tomorrow for a Day 2 run through the locker room at Steelers minicamp.
n Mark Kaboly