As the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for their first weekend of training camp, we were also given the typical media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Therefore, it’s time to look at the players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period, although I’m giving a bonus quote about two players mentioned in the opening statement.
The Steelers were extra-thin at center on Saturday (which will be explained later) which led to the question about a fourth player being ready to snap the ball. Coach Tomlin was asked who else could be called on to play center if needs be and Anthony Coyle was the player Tomlin specifically discussed.
“We use Coyle also. We’ve always got little projects going on on the side. We’ve got guys prepared to play. If you’re not working four or five snappers you’re less than professional.”
Dan Moore Jr.
The Steelers reportedly had their first scuffle of training camp with multiple incidents involving 2021 fourth-round draft pick Dan Moore Jr. Coach Tomlin was asked about any message he would have for a younger player when they get into a battle like they did on Saturday.
“I’m not interested in coaching that, to be honest with you. We work our tails off to compete but keep it professional. We acknowledge sometimes tempers are going to flare and those things are going to happen, but we’re not wasting one iota of our time coaching it. We’re putting together a rough and tumble football group, not an MMA squad, so we’re not coaching it.”
With the recent retirement of Vince Williams, it is assumed linebacker Robert Spillane will be the next man up for the Steelers defense. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has seen from Spillane and if he is going to be the guy who is the starter.
“I’m not assuming that he’s stepping in. We’re here competing to divide the labor up and our work is going to determine what happens. But Rob is a guy that ascended over the course of last year and had an opportunity to make some plays for us. Hopefully, that’s a springboard for him to continue to do some of the things that you saw him do today and beyond. I like his attitude. He came ready to go.”
The most recent roster edition for the Steelers was the re-signing of linebacker Calvin Bundage after being released two days prior. Coach Tomlin was asked what he liked about Bundage’s game.
“He’s a high energy guy. He’s got great urgency. Other than that, I don’t know a lot about him. Just a lot of teaching and learning, as is the case for a lot of these guys when they’re really young and we’re just getting to know them.”
Despite addressing the issue in his opening statement, Coach Tomlin was asked about the absence of Kendrick Green from Saturday’s practice.
“Yeah, he was excused by me.”
B.J. Finney & J.C. Hassenauer
Since there needs to be some clarity to the statement about Kendrick Green, I decided to give an added bonus and include two more players coach Tomlin also addressed specifically during his opening statement. Other than Green, the two players were B.J. Finney and J.C. Hanneauer.
“We were running a little thin at the offensive line. Kendrick Green - I gave the day off for a personal matter, he’ll be back tomorrow. But also, within that, and that’s usually the case, we had a few guys go down and they’re being evaluated. I don’t know the nature of those injuries, don’t expect it to be significant. B.J. Finney left under his own power and J.C. (Hassenaur) did as well. So it created some challenges for those that remained, but that’s the nature of this thing. It kind of exemplifies the battles and the challenges that the season provides us. So just a small sample size of that. I thought the offensive line largely did a nice job of adjusting and allowing us to finish the work and just really appreciative of that.”
A portion of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below as well as a link to the full interview on the Steelers’ YouTube channel.