This week marked the end of organized team activities (OTA’s) in the NFL. The next time these guys will get together will be when training camp begins next month. Several good tidbits came out over the past few weeks about your favorite WVUPros. Here are ten that we learned.
1. Will Johnson
Will Johnson played at tight end for the Mountaineers when he was in college. When the Steelers signed him in 2012, they envisioned him as a fullback blocking for Ben Roethlisberger, busting open holes for running backs and catching the occasional pass out of the backfield.
Fast forward to 2014, and the Steelers’ offense has evolved. Last year, Johnson’s playing time reduced due to the team not using a fullback as much. This year, the team has a new/old idea on getting the sure-handed Johnson on the field more. During meetings and practices, Johnson no longer takes part in running back meetings or drills. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports that Johnson has met exclusively with the tight end group thus far, with an aim to get him more involved in the offense. Specifically, the no-huddle. Roethlisberger’s favorite. A style Johnson was not on the field any for last season.
“It helps having Will Johnson, who is a fullback, tight-end kind of guy, so we can move him around and do some run-pass game with him as well,” Roethlisberger said.
By moving Johnson to tight end, it shows the value they hold in the Mountaineer.
“I am learning different routes and different reads and hots,” Johnson said. “Hey, it gets me on the field and gives me a chance to make plays.”
2. Najee Goode
Goode is going into his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Last year, he had 21 total tackles on the season, and earned more playing time as the season progressed. This is the first time he’s had the chance to go through OTA’s with the team. The Eagles are high on Goode, and he could see much more playing time in 2014 backing up ILB DeMeco Ryans.
3. Ryan Mundy
Mundy signed with Chicago hoping to get the chance to start at safety. In Bears’ OTA’s, Mundy lined up as one of the starters exclusively.
4. Geno Smith
Geno Smith will get 70-75% of the first-team reps in training camp, making him the heavy favorite to start over Michael Vick.
5. Stedman Bailey
Bailey had the catch of the day to end Rams’ OTA’s. He was well covered, but made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone over T.J. McDonald from Sam Bradford.
6. Tavon Austin
Scary thought for opposing NFL teams: Tavon Austin says the game is slowing down for him going into his second season.
7. Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones
Jones says he feels fresh going into this season, and believes he has another five or six years left in him.
8. Shaq Rowell
The Panthers rookie DT was asked many questions when five youth football teams visited Bank of America Stadium on Thursday, but one question kept popping up.
9. Charles Sims
The four-year deal Sims signed last week with the Bucs is worth up to $3,103,092 and included a signing bonus of $684,092. You can read the full breakdown here.
10. Pat McAfee
We’ll leave you this offseason with more on Pat McAfee’s charitable offseason. Last week, he donated $35K for scholarships to military families. On Friday night, he will host a charity event in Indianapolis preceding July 4th festivities with a “Red, White and BOOMSTICK Cocktail Party” as part of the Pat McAfee Foundation.
“It should be a fantastic evening,” McAfee says of Friday’s three-hour cocktail party. “I waned to do it to raise money so I can give more scholarships to kids.
“There will be a red carpet there, a commemorative photo that you get, a meet and greet, a couple of my teammates will be there, a silent auction with the Colts and Pacers donating gifts, experiences from the Colts, jewelry…”
Last year, the foundation raised over $30,000 to go towards the scholarships for military families, and they hope to increase that number this year.