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9 players mentioned by general manager Kevin Colbert on Wednesday

In his first interview since the start of training camp, Kevin Colbert was asked a number of questions about several Steelers’ players.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp handout photo

But Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didin’t speak to the media yesterday? That’s right, but general manager Kevin Colbert did. It was the first time Colbert spoke to the media since the beginging of training camp, and he spoke about some specific players. Much like Coach Tomlin, these players are not always ones Colbert brought up himself but are specifically players about whom he was asked questions.

Cameron Heyward

It is a long-standing Steelers front office policy to not negotiate contracts with players during the season. Colbert was asked if they are still interested in signing Heyward before the season starts.

“Again, we never have and never will talk about an individual negotiation. As I said earlier, we’re always looking at where we are, where we want to be, and not only in 2020 but we also have to keep in mind what the future holds for us in 2021 and beyond. And quite honestly, that’s a big unknown. We don’t know what we’re dealing with in future caps. So we just have to be aware of that, but also have to be aware of where we are in 2020 and if something makes sense then we consider it. But at this point, again, as always, that stuff stays in house on an individual matter.”

Ryan Shazier

One person who is missing from training camp in 2020 is Ryan Shazier who was put on the Reserve/Retired List. Colbert was asked Shazier role with the Steelers both now and going forward.

“We spoke to Ryan prior to moving into training camp and Ryan doesn’t have an official role with the Steelers as we are right now and he’s very understanding of the current situation that we have to deal with. We only have a certain number of spots that are available in the Tier 1, Tier 2, or even the Tier 3 groupings. And Ryan understands that he won’t be part of those groupings as, again, we’re limited to people within the organization—of course the media outside in that Tier 3. So right now, Ryan will always be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in an official or unofficial capacity. But he also understands that we have to deal with current 2020 business, which first and foremost is this training camp and he knows that even though he’s not a part of it or being in the building, he’s always going to be a part of us.”

Kevin Dotson

One of the Steelers’ fourth-round selections of the 2020 draft was the first player selected who was not given an invite to the NFL combine. Kevin Colbert was asked if it will be more difficult to find a player like Kevin Dotson with a number of NCAA conferences cancelling their football seasons in the fall.

“Kevin Dodson, we had some All-Star Game exposure to him. We had a full season of college football to evaluate. He wasn’t at the combine. We weren’t able to go to his Pro Day. So we just had to rely on what we thought of him as a football player from the three scouts that went in and saw him during the season. So that player was evaluated. I can’t say he was evaluated fully because we didn’t have that Pro Day or even a physical on the young man.

“As we move into this year, the guys that are playing will be able to give us some type of 2020 film which, quite honestly, I will be much more comfortable in evaluating a player that plays in 2020 more so than the guy that doesn’t. When you take over a year plus maybe two, three months off game of football, I don’t know what kind of player you’re going to be coming out. So anyway that a young man can play this given season, I think it will benefit him because we will, again, have newer, fresher, and a better understanding of what he may be moving into the NFL.”

Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, & Eric Ebron

Kevin Colbert was one of the most vocal supporters in his belief that Ben Roethlisberger would be back and better than ever in 2020. Colbert was asked what made him so sure about Roethlisberger’s return. In his reply, Colbert brought up three receivers who Roethlisberger has not had much of an opportunity to work with prior to training camp.

“Really, we have said all along, obviously we had some information on how the surgery went. We were confident how the rehab was going. We were encouraged by how Ben was so positive in this whole issue. The thing I kept saying is we might have a better quarterback moving forward. Because at his age, without one year’s work of wear and tear on his legs, on his body and with maybe a healthier arm coming out of this, that this guy could actually be a better quarterback than he’s been and that’s exciting.

“To this point, it’s been great. Physically, he looks great. He still working on some timing issues because, really, some of the younger players he hasn’t played a lot with. Even a Chase Claypool, obviously as a rookie, but Diontae Johnson, Ben spent part of a training camp and some preseason work, and a game and a half, but that’s not a lot. So again, Eric Ebron—brand new guy. So he’s figuring out that timing, but physically we feel great about where he is.”

Curtis Riley & Wendell Smallwood

The 2020 season is also bringing some different rules when it comes to veterans being able to be on the practice squad. When Colbert was asked about if this rule has changed his thinking with bringing in players, he brought up two veterans the Steelers have brought in since the team reported on July 28.

“When we got the new rules and understanding that up to six veteran players can be part of your practice squad, that changed our thinking because, quite honestly, when we look for players that we call futures that we sign in the offseason if they don’t have practice squad eligibility we’re a little reluctant to sign those types because either make your team or the don’t. But since now it’s a possibility, we decided let’s look for that young veteran that if he doesn’t make your team, he could be eligible for your practice squad. That was part of the reasons we signed Curtis Riley and Smallwood because they are that veteran player that is now eligible for the practice squad. Not to say those guys are destined to a practice squad, but at least we have those options. So it is a different world. We’ve try to expand our thinking along those ways to make sure that the practice squad that we do come up with is the best practice squad it can be.”

Kevin Colbert’s entire interview can be seen by clicking HERE.