PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will get their first look at the players they drafted last week when rookie mini-camp starts today at team headquarters. Here are four things to know about the camp that concludes on Sunday.
Not just for rookies: There are 52 players sscheduled to take part in the minicamp, including a handful who spent most or all of last season on the Steelers’ practice squad.
Wide receivers Justin Brown and Kashif Moore, running back Alvester Alexander, cornerback Devin Smith and guard Chris Hubbard will at least give the Steelers' coaches players who know the playbook. They will also get extra work as they try to make the jump from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
Brown was a sixth-round pick by the Steelers in 2013, and his path to the 53-man roster has not gotten any easier. The Steelers signed free-agents Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and also drafted Clemson’s Martavis Bryant in the fourth round.
Smith has an opportunity to make a move this year given the Steelers’ lack of proven depth at cornerback and the fact that they only drafted one player (Arizona’s Shaquille Richardson) at that position last week.
Punter Brad Wing is among the players who signed futures/reserve contracts that will take part in rookie minicamp. Wing is an intriguing prospect as he starred at LSU and is looking to catch on in the NFL. He will have to beat out veteran Adam Podlesh, who recently signed a one-year contract with the Steelers.
Hoping to make their mark: Twenty of the players scheduled to participate in minicamp are trying out for the Steelers.
Will a player emerge from this group as Terence Garvin did last year? The Steelers signed the former West Virginia safety following a tryout, moved him to linebacker and he played 15 games last season before hurting his knee.
At least six players who are trying out for the Steelers played their high school ball in the Pittsburgh area. Among those to watch are running back Jordan Hall, who rushed for just under 1,600 yards at Ohio State and had a pair of 100-yard games last season, and linebacker Dorian Bell.
Bell, one of the most sought-after recruits in the country coming out of Gateway High School in Monroeville, spent two seasons at Ohio State before transferring to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The 5-foot-11, 228-pounder had 47 tackles, including 5.5 for losses, last season, and he led Duquesne with six quarterback pressures.
What’s in a number: Second-round pick Stephon Tuitt will wear No. 91 with the Steelers, and no pressure or anything young fella. Aaron Smith is the most recent Steelers player of note to wear that number, and he is simply one of the best 3-4 defensive ends of his generation.
Here are the numbers worn by the other Steelers draft picks, as well as the last Steeler of note to wear that number: linebacker Ryan Shazier, No. 50 (Larry Foote); running back Dri Archer, No. 34 (Rashard Mendenhall); Bryant, No. 10 (Santonio Holmes); Richardson, No. 31 (Mike Logan); offensive lineman Wesley Johnson, No. 67 (Kimo von Oelhoffen); linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, No. 56 (LaMarr Woodley), defensive tackle Daniel McCullers, No. 74 (Willie Colon); and tight end Rob Blanchflower, No. 87 (Mark Bruener).
Keep an eye on: ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. lists outside linebacker Howard Jones and guard Will Simmons as two of the Steelers’ undrafted free agents to watch.
Jones earned an invitation to the NFL scouting combine despite playing at Shepherd University, a Division II school in West Virginia, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds and recorded a vertical leap of 40 1/2 inches. Jones also set the all-time sacks record at Shepherd with 34 1/2.
Simmons started 37 consecutive games at East Carolina, and the 6-foot-5, 326-pounder twice earned first-team All-Conference USA selections.
Here is what Kiper Jr. wrote about the two players: “Jones is an interesting developmental pass-rusher, with an athletic build and long arms. He could be worthy of stashing on the practice squad. Simmons projects as solid depth at guard.”