By Jeremy Hritz
Friday is here, and training camp continues to roll on at the UPMC South Side Facility. Here is an update all things Steelers, plus my thoughts and reflections on the latest happenings with the team.
- Mike Tomlin spoke to the media on Thursday, and communicated that Kendrick Green, rookie 3rd rounder out of Illinois, will start at center in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys, while Antoine Brooks, Jr., second year player out of Maryland, will get the nod at the nickelback position. While this does not anoint either of these players the starters for week 1 against Buffalo, it does provide the early indicator of how the organization views Green and Brooks, and that there is enough belief and confidence in their talents and abilities to have an opportunity to lock the secure those first-string spots. This move puts pressure on these young players, and it may be one of the reasons Tomlin made the decision: to see how they respond to such a moment. Even though it is only preseason, Green and Brooks have to realize the chance that is in front of both of them, and if they can seize it, it will help solidify their future standing with the team.
- Speaking of center, I wonder what BJ Finney’s thoughts are right now? Think he is motivated?
- TJ Watt has yet to sign a contract extension with the Steelers, but a massive deal is more than likely on the horizon. Yearly, Watt is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, but yesterday, he indicated that individual awards are not most important to him: “Winning the Super Bowl is all that really matters in the grand scheme of things.” While that may be true, there more than likely is a part of Watt, the ferocious competitor that he is, who wants to prove to the NFL world that he is worth and deserving of such a title as DPOY. If he does win it, that’s bodes pretty well for the Steelers Super Bowl chances, as the last two times they had a player win the award, they also made it to the big game. Here’s to Watt achieving both.
- Kevin Dotson is currently unable to practice due to a minor injury that Tomlin has said is nothing to worry about. Let’s hope so, because Dotson is being counted on to deliver the physicality and aggression from his guard spot. Hopefully, this is a non-story.
- Ben Roethlisberger had a chance to address the media, and he covered a variety of topics on Thursday, including his health, new center Green, and the Matt Canada offense. On health, “I just think that physically I’ll feel better in terms of my arm;” on Green, “Kendrick made calls, we didn’t fumble any snaps, so I will say that it is a good first day;” and on the new offense, “My daughter makes flash cards for me, and there have been some quizzes at home.”
- We are a few days removed from Vince Williams’ retirement, and the team has not yet made a move to add any depth to the ILB room. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, had this to say about the position in response to a question in one of his chats: “I get why you call Bush ‘questionable,’ though I don’t think that’s the right adjective. And you can’t call Spillane unproven after how much he played last season. The who is rookie Buddy Johnson, who now has a big chance to make a big jump.” This is completely accurate. The Steelers drafted Johnson in the fourth round for a reason, and his opportunity is now enhanced through Williams’ retirement. If he can show out in camp, he could find himself in the mix as the #3 ILB.
- It’s media day today at camp, and in 5 days, camp practices will be open to the public at Heinz Field. Life is good.
That is all for today! Make it a great one, and enjoy your weekend!