By Jeremy Hritz
Another week over, minicamp concluded, and now, training camp comes into greater focus. Only 31 days away, the intensive preparatory crucible of camp will further define and forge the team that will pursue the 7th Lombardi in the 2021 season.
As the waiting begins, let’s take a look back on the week:
Canada on Ben
Matt Canada made waves this week when he said about the offense, “we are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it.” Immediately, many yinzers and national media took this comment and ran with it, interpreting it to mean Roethlisberger will be calling all the shots, when in reality, Canada was speaking to the importance of aligning the offensive game plan to the strengths of his players. It’s obvious Ben’s skill set has changed over the years, and transformed into one that is more pocket-focused as opposed to movement, scramble-centric. That, in combination with the talents to the rest of the offensive roster will dictate what the team will do, not the whim and want of Roethlisberger.
Canada also made it clear that there was a “directive” from Mr. Rooney that the Steelers will run the football, no questions asked. In an organization, a directive is the strongest type of command, and it is clear this is an absolute non-negotiable in 2021. While this doesn’t mean running the ball 40 times a game with paltry results reminiscent of last season, it means being intentional and rhythmic with the running attack and producing successful runs that sustain offensive drives. We are seeing this directive in action through the drafting of Najee Harris and the aggressive, physical mindset being embodied by the offensive line.
James Pierre, Rising Star?
There was a lot of talk focused on James Pierre this week, as coaches and teammates hyped him up in terms of his growth and what he can contribute this season. On top of that, he picked off two Roethlisberger passes in a practice that earned the praise of the franchise QB. While still very early and a minicamp practice does not a Pro Bowler make, there is optimism surrounding what Pierre can provide in the secondary for the Steelers in 2021.
DeCastro Does Not Participate
Curiously, David DeCastro, while present for minicamp, did not participate in practice, generating much speculation about the reasons why. Compounding matters, the Steelers brought in guard Trai Turner for a visit, fueling suspicion that DeCastro may be struggling to rebound from an injury, or it could be the team is looking to enhance its depth at the position. Another storyline worth paying attention to moving forward.
Haskins Hopes Grow
Dwayne Haskins had an opportunity to speak with the media this week and hit on a variety of topics, including his time with the WFT, his relationship with Mike Tomlin, and his desire to be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger. Reports from minicamp about his performance were inconsistent, with some indicating he did well, and others saying he did not. While he is saying all of the right things, we won’t really have an idea of how he meshes with the Steelers until training camp. Check out my article on Haskins from Friday for an in-depth look at his career, from HS to the NFL.
It’s All About Location
Speaking of training camp, St. Vincent’s in Latrobe has still not been confirmed as the location, as Tomlin said he has not heard anything official. Should it not be in Latrobe, more than likely it will be at Heinz Field, where the recently concluded minicamp was held.
Alex Kozora Joins the SSP!
This week was a big week for The Steel Study podcast as Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot joined us for an insightful and entertaining interview. If you haven’t listened to it yet, check it out below.
Big Ben Project, Part 2
Part 2 of our Big Ben Project will be released early this week, while Part 3 will come out Friday/Saturday. Andrew is putting finishing touches on these installments, so stay tuned!
Dave Bryan Will Join Us on the Podcast This Week!
It must be a lucky month for us, as not only did we have Alex Kozora on the podcast, but Dave Bryan, creator of the Steelers Depot, will be joining us this week! We are super excited and grateful to have Dave on this week, and you can expect the podcast late Friday, early Saturday morning.
That is all! Enjoy your Father’s Day, and make it a great week!