It is just rookie minicamp, but anyone who has coached at the high school level, or higher, knows any time you get players together to work on their craft there is an evaluation process which takes place.
Whether it is 7 vs. 7 work, individual drills or team building practices, evaluation is always taking place. And the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are wrapping up their rookie minicamp Sunday, are no different.
Head coach Mike Tomlin spoke briefly with the media after Saturday’s practice, and he seemed very pleased with both the team, and individual players, after the first two days of work.
“We’re having a real good weekend. We are getting to know the players, the players are getting to know us as individuals.” Tomlin said. “Us in terms of some of the things that we hold near and dear, some cultural things. So, from that standpoint, we are really excited. We’ve got a limited number of guys, so we are cautious about the amount of work that we put them through or the type of work that we put them through. All in all, it has been highly productive.
“Our goals are to get an assessment of conditioning and for them to have an opportunity to display their conditioning. To do some teaching and learning, to understand how they take in information individually and collectively. To deliver information to them, to utilize all our teach tools in an effort to get to know them from a teaching and learning perspective. We talk about some of the details associated with play at this level, whether it is rule changes relative to the college game or required detail relative to their positions to have success and usage, etc. We have done a real good job with that.”
Throughout the question and answer session, Tomlin was asked about the team’s top draft pick, Najee Harris, and the foundation of the running game being implemented.
“I think he [Harris] is as highly conditioned as anybody out there and that is a great place to begin.” Tomlin cited of the team’s first round draft pick. “I think he has a nice foundation from that perspective. He is a sharp guy. He is a football guy. You can tell he is passionate about football. He can articulate the game very well, so it’s a lot to be excited about.”
When asked about how new offensive coordinator Matt Canada might utilize Harris or second round pick tight end Pat Freiermuth, Tomlin told the media it is too early for anything like that to be discussed.
“I don’t know that we are there yet, like I mentioned. We are just getting to know them and doing some introductory things. I think as the days and weeks continue to unfold and we get a sense of how they learn and the up-close perspective on their talents, those will be more significant questions. And I think the blending of the rookies with the veteran guys are a big component of that. When they are just working with the rookies, that is some what of a waste of time. Really, we are just looking at him in terms of just what they are doing relative to this group, the people we have in front of us now.”
What is next for the Steelers, as it pertains to their offseason workouts? Rookie minicamp wraps up Sunday, and the next phase of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) begins on Monday. Tomlin expects all of those who attended minicamp over the weekend to be in attendance to continue their overall readiness for NFL football.
“By rule, we will be able to continue with these guys on Monday. That’s our level of expectation and we look forward to it.” Tomlin said.
It is extremely early in the process, but it seems as if the Steelers are pleased with what they’ve seen from their youngest players thus far. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for OTAs, mandatory minicamp and the 2021 regular season.