The Pittsburgh Steelers have high hopes for their 2018 season, but the early returns are ugly with a pair of long-term injuries and OTA no-shows.
The main goal of OTAs? Don’t get hurt. Already, the Steelers appear to be down a pair of players after Wednesday afternoon, with tight end Jake McGee and offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins looking lost for the season. McGee is believed to have a torn Achilles, while Hawkins wrecked his knee.
Additionally, the Steelers are without Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Bel is holding out for a long-term deal, while Roethlisberger and Brown are simply absent from the voluntary workouts.
While none of it is season-altering, the impact is still real. Pittsburgh didn’t have huge plans for McGee, but he’s still depth at a position where the Steelers need some. Hawkins did play in five games last year and started one in place of right tackle Marcus Gilbert, so his loss is more alarming. Hawkins, entering his third year, was a valuable backup.
Again, Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl dreams aren’t reliant on Hawkins and McGee, but that’s besides the point. Teams don’t want to see injuries at any juncture, but especially in the spring. Depth is expected to be tested early and often once the season begins, but losing players for the duration in May is especially unpleasant.
As for the no-shows, look for Roethlisberger and Brown to be there come mid0June when mandatory minicamp rolls around. Bell won’t be showing up until early September unless the team surprises and gives him the deal he wants, taking him off the franchise tag.