In the 13 days leading up to July 27th, when the Green Bay Packers begin training camp practices, APC is running a series we’re calling “13 in 13.” Over these two weeks, we will closely with a close examination of the major offseason events for each of the Packers’ 2017 opponents. Each team’s information has been provided by our SB Nation colleagues who know them best - the team bloggers for each franchise.
In week 12, the Packers will leave the confines of Lambeau Field and travel to head coach Mike McCarthy’s hometown of Pittsburgh for a game against the Steelers. Pittsburgh followed a Green Bay-like approach to the offseason, signing virtually no free agents of consequence and focusing their player acquisition on the draft. Wisconsin fans are scheduled to get a close look at former Badger T.J. Watt, as the former Badger suits up against the Packers (and former teammate Vince Biegel) for the first time.
Here’s how Pittsburgh’s offseason progressed, courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain.
Notable free agent additions: CB Coty Sensabaugh, DL Tyson Alualu, RB/KR Knile Davis, WR Justin Hunter
The Steelers followed their usual guide to success by not being major players in free agency, but the moves they made filled needed depth positions in the lineup. Steelers fans are constantly disappointed with their lack of movement in free agency, but the organization has never strayed from their plan of building from within, and it clearly works.
Notable free agent departures: LB Lawrence Timmons, WR Markus Wheaton, OLB Jarvis Jones
Of these players, the biggest hit to the team was the loss of Timmons. Wheaton had shown flashes of talent, but struggled to stay on the field, and Jarvis Jones might be one of the worst first round picks in the Kevin Colbert era as GM. Timmons, on the other hand, was the iron man on the inside of the defense, and will be missed for a lot of reasons. However, the Steelers simply couldn’t match the money Timmons was offered in Miami.
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: OLB T.J. Watt, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, CB Cameron Sutton, RB James Conner
Like in 2016, the Steelers will hope they get contributions from their rookies, but hopefully not the same amount of contributions. Last year it was Artie Burns, Javon Hargrave and Sean Davis who all turned into starters by season’s end, but this year it seems the rookies will be more role players than every down starters, barring injury.
Biggest offseason addition: The return of WR Martavis Bryant off suspension. After missing all of 2016, and the Steelers never filling the No. 2 WR position, Bryant will be a welcome, and huge, piece to the Steelers’ offensive puzzle.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Le’Veon Bell’s contract situation. While the RB has yet to sign his franchise tag, the contract he receives, or doesn’t receive, will be worth keeping an eye on.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: The WR and CB training camp battles. Both positions are chock-full of talent, and the two positions will eventually have to make some tough decisions.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Le’Veon Bell’s groin, Cameron Heyward coming off a torn pectoral