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Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Disappointed Productive Mini Camp Is Over; Looks Ahead To Training Camp

Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Disappointed Productive Mini Camp Is Over; Looks Ahead To Training Camp

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin addressed the media after Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) ended on Thursday. No NFL coach is better at talking to reporters than Tomlin and he opened his remarks stating his disappointment that the team’s time together was temporarily coming to a close.

“Another great day’s work, it’s bittersweet for us because we are just starting to find our rhythm. Such is life man, now we’ll begin the independent portion of preparation. As we get into our off-season, some of the messages we’ve left these guys with, physical conditioning precedes anything else, that’s kind of the one element they can control regardless of their level of experience or exposure to professional ball or what we do here, if they show up in great shape, they’ll position themselves to perform well.”

The Steelers offense is exceedingly a young group. Currently if Derek Watt starts, he will be the oldest offensive starter at 29. No other projected starter on offense is older than 27. The defense is a little longer in the tooth, but this will be a key season for Devin Bush and rookie DeMarvin Leal to showcase their talents in camp and hopefully on Sundays in the fall.  Leal is hoping to step into a starting role as a rookie, and Bush is hoping for a redemption season in black and gold. Tomlin obviously wanted to impress on his young group to enjoy their time off, but do not lose sight of the mission and report to camp in peak physical condition. He intimated that training camp is no longer the place where players get in shape for the upcoming season, it is where players are evaluated constantly and showing up out of shape is a quick route to a visit from “the turk.”

“The next time we come together in official capacity, it’s going to be compete time, and I am sure we are all excited about that.”

This training camp, more than any other this century, will feature exciting position battles at key positions for the Steelers. The highlight being Mitch Trubisky vs Kenny Pickett, but Leal vs Chris Wormley at defensive end, George Pickens vs Anthony Miller, Miles Boykin and Calvin Austin in the slot, and Kevin Dotson vs Kendrick Green at guard will just be some of the key matchups. Plus, it will be interesting to see if anyone can put together a camp like James Pierre did last year, to burst onto the scene and start a surprise position battle.

One of the reporters asked Tomlin: What are some of the highlights you have seen so far?

“I don’t know that I’m looking for highlights, obviously there’s been some playmaking but [I’m] more in teach and learn mode, culture building, foundation laying, so those things have been really good. There’s been some spectacular plays and displays of athleticism, but that’s not specifically why we’re here.”

Steelers OTA

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Chase Claypool (#11) goes up to make a catch at Organized Team Activities (OTAs) at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, PA. | (Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers)

Tomlin has a young group on his hands, and it is smart with young players to keep the praise at this juncture generic so that no one becomes overconfident or feels that they are behind early in camp. We have heard reports out of camp that Steelers newcomers Connor Heyward, Pickens and Trubisky in particular have impressed onlookers early in the process.

Tomlin was then asked about the offense: “With JuJu [Smith-Schuster] and Ray-Ray [McCloud] gone at slot receiver, do you have a certain body type you want to see?”

“We’re casting a big net; we feel comfortable with the candidates we have. The reality is you need all types particularly in today’s game. For matchup purposes, we are casting a big net and a lot of guys are acclimating themselves and showing that they are capable.”


Steelers HC Mike Tomlin on WR George Pickens: “He’s got a lot of talent” Says “It’s Our Job to Help Him Grow”


Pickens in particular has been vocal that during his time at the University of Georgia, he spent time at practice in the slot, but in games as the number 1 receiver for the Bulldogs, he worked outside. Austin is a faster version of a smaller receiver like McCloud. Boykin and Miller are trying to establish themselves as viable options in the role.

Talk turned to training camp, which is six weeks away: You’ve had to be away from Latrobe the last couple of years, what’s it like to get back to St. Vincent?

“First of all for me, I’m a lover of camp, I like the opportunities to work on the intangible qualities that good teams have, the informal time to me up there is as significant as the formal time. Sitting out on the stoop at night in front of the dormitory getting to know each other talking about life and football. I just find value in that, and I am really excited about that.”

Tomlin and the Steelers have the best culture in the NFL. It is important to the organization and Tomlin for 15 seasons has done a great job building groups that genuinely enjoy playing together.  The universal message out of OTA’s has been a real esprit de corps that comes with everyone pulling together. The team embraced the learning environment and it is the first step towards building a close-knit family that will bleed for each other on Sundays in the fall. Hopefully as the competition heats up, when contact begins, that feeling will remain for the final 53 Steelers who will be on the field against the Cincinnati Bengals on opening day.

 

You can watch Tomlin’s entire clip on YouTube here.

 

What do you think, Steeler Nation? Which camp battle are you looking forward to seeing most? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.

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