Mike Tomlin tells it like it is, obviously
Day 1 Official Obviously Count (OOC)- Six in just over seven minutes.
Coach Tomlin loves training camp, and he is happy to be part of the fiftieth anniversary at St. Vincent's. In today's press conference he explained, "We have the comforts of home here. That's something that 50 years gives you."
"Obviously, it's great to get started," he continued. Tomlin appeared happy during his press conference, probably because his players did not disappoint him in carrying out his offseason edict: Get in the best shape of your lives. "I like the overall conditioning and readiness of the group... Physical conditioning will be a point of departure for us," he stated. Optimal physical conditioning is obviously essential. UDFA Niko Davis told me the other day that Tomlin said they needed to be able to run all day. That's what Niko Davis reported he was doing to prepare. Running, Forest Gump style. Given Coach's satisfaction with the group, it's pretty clear Davis wasn't the only one spending his offseason time running and running and running and running.
Tomlin also spoke about the synergy and positive working relationship with GM Kevin Colbert, whose contract was extended through the 2018 draft earlier today: "Obviously continuity is a good thing when its positive and it is our job to make sure it remains positive."
When it comes to defense, Tomlin said, "The standard is the standard." He also emphasized, "I don't grade on a curve." Noting he does not perceive the unit has a leadership void, he added, "We expect those guys to play good, dominant defense." Obviously.
Antonio Brown arrives in style
Antonio Brown pulled up in his customized Rolls Royce Phantom, handmade in England and tricked out in Steelers black and gold with his signature and number (jersey, not phone). Hopefully he is also enjoying the V12, 453 horspower engine, double wishbone suspension, and the AARP styling the half-million dollar car offers. "I've come a long way from a Jeep Wrangler," Brown said. Indeed.
Pouncey rides bike without helmet; Offensive line speaks
Ok, so it isn't a motorcycle, but it still makes me nervous. (And, I just knocked on wood and did a lot of superstitious voodoo to balance the chi that my statement might have disrupted. No worries, Steelers Nation.)
Offensive linemen are known for their strong bonds. The Steelers O-line is no exception. Ramon Foster explained, "We have our own rooms, but we are around each other." Maurkice Pouncey said, "I'm just ready." Actually, he isn't since he is on the physically unable to perform list, but allegedly his injury is minor. "We are laying the foundation and we will see how things turn out for us." Yes we will! Despite the dominant performance of the offensive line last year (which often gave Big Ben enough time to run to the sidelines and douse himself with water before finally executing the play), the unit sees room for improvement. Can't wait to see what that will be like.
The Situation at Running Back
During his press conference, Mike Tomlin revealed he has challenged DeAngelo Williams, a move that may have been uncomfortable for the ten-year vet. He declined to reveal how he challenged Williams, while laughing impishly. From his body language, it must have been a good "challenge." Tomlin did reveal he was happy with D-Will's level of conditioning.
Maybe that has something to do with daily check ins with a nutritionist. Williams claims he lost 13 pounds, weighing in at a solid 217 pounds. Williams' physique is the absolute antithesis of a dadbod. His bodyfat percentage hovers around a stunningly low five percent. "It's pretty amazing," he said. The best part of the weight loss? According to Williams, "It gives me the advantage of Coach knowing I bought in 100%. He gave me an assignment and I went out and I executed it." Yes! I love this. Here's to perfectly executed assignments in week 1 against the Patriots!
Tomlin also said he has no news on Le'Veon Bell's suspension, and indicated the star running back is taking reps with the first-team squad. Meanwhile Bell expressed excitement about the first day of training camp saying, "The last time I played football I was hurt. I am excited to get back out here and test myself." Bell also expressed even more excitement, "This is easily the best I have ever felt. I'm in the best condition I have ever been in my life so I am excited." So. Much. Excitement.
Warning! Warning! Warning! Despite all that excitement, Bell admitted his knee is not 100% yet. "It's close, it's close," he said. Ok. Close call. It's close to being 100%. In football math, that probably makes his knee 120% since anything around 80% is considered to be 110%.
Bell also weighed in on DeAngelo Williams, saying via Steelers.com, "Every now and then he has a question, but he is good at protections. He's not going to blow an assignment... He can help us win games." And all the people said, "Amen."
Cam Heyward talks about new baby, defense
A Pittsburgh native and life-long Steelers fan, Cam Heyward expressed satisfaction with his new six-year, $59.2 million contract. Heyward is also expecting a baby in November. He was asked what he would do if the baby came on game day. He replied, "I'd tell (my wife) to hold it." I'm sure the Rooneys could arrange a birthing suite at Heinz Field if necessary. Hines Ward was recently married on the 50-yard line. The stadium is made for big life events. If baby Heyward is born on a game day, the little one could start life participating in a fall iteration of Take Your Child to Work Day.
Heyward also admitted the defense is playing with a chip on its shoulder and has been since Warren Sapp said the unit was too old. Old age is not a problem for the defense this year with many rookies and UDFAs in contention for key roster spots and other core players at the peak of their game.
Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list
Mike Adams is out four weeks due to back surgery. According to coach Tomlin, has been dealing with his injury intermittently throughout the off season and it was time to get it fixed. Adams is not the strongest link on the offensive line. Although his is projected to be healthy again before the regular season starts, I can't help but wonder if this will open up an opportunity for some of the dark horse offensive line candidates.
Other guys on PUP are Bruce Gradkowski, Mike Adams, Shawn Lemon, Maurkice Pouncey, and Senquez Golson. The highest profile player on the list is Pouncey, whom Tomlin claims is suffering from a very minor foot injury. Golson and Gradkowski both have shoulder injuries, while Lemon has something wrong with his Achilles. The only troubling news here was Tomlin's response to a question about the severity of Golson's injury. "We'll see," he said.