Organized Team Activities begin this week and that means football in the morning, in the brisk spring air, amid the chirping birds, when the coaches are in a good mood and 90 players have hope.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will hold their first of 10 such practices tomorrow and I'll be there to chronicle the following:
* Ben Roethlisberger's conditioning. He reportedly lost 15 pounds only two months into the offseason.
* The true start of the career of Senquez Golson. The 2015 second-round pick had this spring cup of coffee last year but missed his rookie camp and season with a shoulder injury. He'll be given an opportunity to start outside, although nearly every fan and reporter believes he's destined for a slot cornerback position.
* The rookie beginnings of Artie Burns and Sean Davis. These two highly drafted six-foot defensive backs might just get thrown into the fray this spring and start this fall. Of course, while the comparison to 1987 -- when rookies Delton Hall and Thomas Everett started and Rod Woodson was first off the bench -- might be a little strong, a more reasonable comparison is 1989, when safety Carnell Lake was an opening-day starter and cornerback D.J. Johnson played in all 16 games.
* Whether third-round pick, Javon Hargrave, who has all the quickness needed in a penetrating defensive tackle, has any hope of playing nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. He really didn't look like a nose tackle at rookie camp, but then again he might not need to if 350-pounder Daniel McCullers plays as good as he looks.
* Of course, nose tackles and pass-rushers aren't found in the spring, but we'll no doubt listen to everyone at those positional groups tell us they're ready for career years.
* Whether James Harrison reports at all. He shouldn't. But he will. He won't give up all of his reps to the young-and-hungry quartet of OLBs champing at the pass-rushing bit behind him.
* The state of mind of deposed strong safety Shamarko Thomas. He's made it further than most of us thought he would. Could roster presence itself be enough to revive a once-promising career?
* The early starter at strong safety. Will it be Thomas or will that honor go to Robert Golden? They wouldn't possibly move Davis into the hot seat this early, would they? Ryan Shazier's Day 1 coronation in 2014 was a bit different situation, I do believe.
* And what about B.J. Finney? He's a player to whom they paid an exorbitant (for them) sum to remain on the the practice squad last year. Is he a favorite to team with Cody Wallace as the versatile interior backups for the O-line this season?
* And while I'm asking questions, what does David DeCastro think? About anything?
* Bruce Gradkowski's arm strength. The veteran backup QB must've shown them something this offseason that he couldn't last season.
* The use of Ladarius Green. But we won't be able to write about it. Remember, we can't report what happens scheme-wise on the field unless we trick the player into revealing and/or confirming any such information.
* Did I just use the word trick?
* C'mon now. Not when the birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the coaches are smiling.
* Hey, this is spring ball, the time when Sammie Coates catches one deep ball after another, the time when rookie punt returners can juke without reprisal, the time when soon-to-be 30-year-old cornerbacks tell us stories of rejuvenation.
* It's the time for hope. The air is thick and beautiful with it.