It isn’t Saint Vincent College, but it hasn’t been Latrobe, PA since 2019. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in their 2021 Training Camp between Heinz Field and their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside of Pittsburgh.
What went down during the latest training camp practice? That is where this article comes in. Check out all that was said, as well as photos and videos from the day’s workouts.
Here we go...
The Pittsburgh Steelers have several question marks on their roster at several key positions. Most of them are filling vacancies which were once occupied by entrenched starters. Two of those positions would be at center and slot cornerback. It was only one day of practice, but two players have stepped to the front of the line to take a shot at being the every day starter at those positions.
Those players would be rookie Kendrick Green, and second year defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr.
Mike Tomlin says rookie Kendrick Green is the starter at center … for the first preseason game.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 22, 2021
As you see, Green is going to get the start at center in Preseason Week 1 vs. the Dallas Cowboys. This isn’t huge news, but Green will have every opportunity to take the job and run with it.
On top of that, it was Brooks Jr. who had a tremendous diving interception of Ben Roethlisberger as the heir to Hilton’s former role.
Roethlisberger appeared frustrated by a sensational diving pick by slot corner Antoine Brooks, but Ben said he was just amazed and was complimenting Mike Hilton’s heir apparent to coaches.— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 22, 2021
Antoine Brooks Jr. intercepted Ben Roethlisberger from the slot today, and afterward, Roethlisberger went over to Brooks to compliment the second-year DB.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 22, 2021
"He's filling Mike Hilton's shoes, who's been a rock on that defense ...For him to make that play, .. I was happy for him"
It is early, but these two young players will have the first crack at grabbing the bull by the horns, and not letting go.
Let’s check out some other news from the workout...
T.J. Watt’s new deal coming soon?
Could T.J. Watt be getting a new deal? Mike Tomlin certainly alluded to that happening, but when is a different story altogether. We all know one thing, if it happens at all it will have to be before the team’s Week 1 game in September vs. the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park.
#Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on signing uber pass rusher TJ Watt to a new contract: “I’m sure that process will run its course and we’ll have something to announce.”— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) July 22, 2021
Big Ben’s no dummy
Do you really buy that Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t been hearing the non-stop talk about how he can’t get the job done anymore? Do you really think he lives under a rock? Roethlisberger has heard/read everything, and will be playing in 2021 with a boulder on his shoulder. Will it matter? Depends who you ask, but motivation can be a powerful thing.
#Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger tongue-in-cheek when asked about all the off-season punditry involving his ability and physique and etc: “Are things being said about me nationally?”— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) July 22, 2021
And then, w/ a smile: “What’s new?”
New ways to learn the offense
Speaking of Roethlisberger, learning a brand new offense in year 18 in the NFL isn’t always easy. How has Roethlisberger been doing it? He had his daughter make flash cards and quiz him. Let’s hope Roethlisberger can ace the test when the games start to count.
Asked #Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger about the process of learning all new formations, verbiage and play calls 18 years in and he says… his daughter helped him make flash cards! “There have been some quizzes,” he says w/ a smile.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) July 22, 2021
No PUP to start
Injuries are always a talking point, especially for teams who had key players suffer season-ending injuries the year prior. For the Steelers, players like Zach Banner and Devin Bush come to mind with torn ACLs. Nonetheless, Mike Tomlin announced no one will start Training Camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. A good start to camp for the black and gold.
Sounds like Mike Tomlin believes both Devin Bush and Zack Banner are ahead of schedule. No #Steelers player will begin camp on PUP list.— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) July 22, 2021
Vince Williams’ Retirement Shock
One of the questions many asked when the news of Vince Williams’ retirement hit the airwaves was if the organization new it was coming. While we don’t know for certain, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic is reporting it seems as if the team knew nothing about the decision by Williams. Talk about putting the team in a bind on the day you report to camp.
Sounds like the Steelers had no idea that Vince Williams was retiring until yesterday.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 22, 2021
T.J. Watt was asked about Williams during his media session, and Watt, like almost all of Williams’ teammates, spoke glowingly of their former teammate.
TJ Watt on Vince Williams:— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 22, 2021
"Just very grateful to have shared a field with a guy like that. Vince is the epitome of a Pittsburgh Steeler– an absolute dog. Vocal. Every time he was on the field, he brought confidence & instilled confidence in every single guy that he played with."
Can only go up, right?
Can the Steelers’ running game improve? Well, if you ask Mike Tomlin, it can only go up. After all, the team ranked dead last in both rushing yards per game (84.4) and rushing yards per carry (3.6). While the bar has been set low, the hope is improvement with this new offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and entire offensive line.
Tomlin on totally new OL: "We don't have the bar set too high. We were last in the league in rushing. We have nowhere to go but up with certain aspects of that."— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 22, 2021
Back to In-Person Interviews
If you checked out some of the interviews from the first practice, it is worth noting it is the first time players and media have been face to face since 2019. A good sign, and nice to see after a dreadful 2020 season in this regard.
We’ve got an in-person Steelers interview with a player you can probably identify even from my bad angle pic.twitter.com/ModJEqyskK— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 22, 2021
If you are someone who loves jerseys, or just loves jersey numbers, get your notepad and pen out to get the new numbers for the new players. Players like Melvin Ingram, Trai Turner and Chaz Green have new black and gold digits for everyone to learn.
Probably been tweeted but Melvin Ingram is No. 8. Not his college number but still very cool for a pass-rusher.— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 22, 2021
Trai Turner has elected to wear No. 51 in training camp. Buddy Johnson also is wearing No. 51 (he'll be dressed in gold, though). Something is gonna have to give if the rookie makes the team. Hope Buddy's not too attached to the digits.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 22, 2021
Kicker Sam Sloman is #16, and OT Chaz Green #74— SteelerNation (@SteeIerNation) July 22, 2021
BTSC Training Camp Recap Podcast
Ben Roethlisberger speaks to reporters after first training camp workout for the Steelers. pic.twitter.com/FVxnFiFJHE— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 22, 2021
TJ Watt is not exactly comfortable talking about ongoing negotiations on a mega contract extension with the Steelers pic.twitter.com/gtR9XWl50m— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 22, 2021
Steelers rookie center Kendrick Green. pic.twitter.com/mbcKbmgNXb— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 22, 2021
Feels good to get back out there pic.twitter.com/TkGj4zdLsm— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 22, 2021
The 15th First Day Of Camp for the future HOF QB/coach combination.— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 22, 2021
Is it their last First Day Of Camp together? pic.twitter.com/jIAl33i1MD