The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers have four practices in the books at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. With no media session from head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday, let’s look back at the players mentioned by defensive coordinator Keith Butler and offensive coordinator Matt Canada who spoke to the media on Friday and Saturday respectively. With so many player who were discussed, this will be split into two articles with one occurring for each coordinator.
After looking at those mentioned by Coach Butler earlier today, next up is Coach Canada and the offense from his press conference on Saturday. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period. Not every response has been included due to some repeat statements.
When Ben Roethlisberger is not participating in practice at Steelers training camp, Mason Rudolph is the guy getting the reps with the first team. Coach Canada was asked about Rudolph’s performance on Saturday when Rothlisberger did not practice.
“I can’t tell you details about today, but Mason’s working hard. Obviously, he’s got a high expectation of himself and I think he, like everyone three days in, is having good days and bad days, good plays and bad plays. We’re happy with where Mason’s at. Got to keep getting better.”
Coach Canada was asked a follow-up question about his confidence in Rudolph if he needs to be called on during a regular-season game.
“Sure. Definitely. We have confidence in everybody. We have to get everybody ready to go. And obviously, the beauty of the Hall of Fame game for us is we get extra time to work, extra time to practice. Like I said, we’re installing at a nice pace because we have time to do it and guys are getting reps. We feel good about where we are.”
The quarterback who may be more closely watched during training camp is former first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins. Coach Canada was asked about his impression so far of Haskins’ time with the Steelers.
“We’re happy with where Dwayne’s at as far as the way he’s working. I think he’s come in and really worked very hard to learn our system. He’s spent a lot of time studying what we do, how we do it, what Ben’s done. In our offense, obviously we’re making some changes, some not. But I think he’s doing everything he can. His work ethic, his time in the office has been awesome so really happy with where he’s at and got to keep getting better, like we all do.”
One of the offensive players new to the Steelers since minicamp is former Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner. Coach Canada was asked about how Turner has fit in the offense so far.
“We’ve been here three days so it might take a couple more. He had a mistake today that I didn’t see on the side as we worked he came up and knew what it was and said it right away. Obviously a veteran like him who’s played as well as he has, I think we’re very fortunate to have him and really like where he’s at. And he’s worked very hard to not have those mistakes and to be as efficient as he has been in three days is really a real positive for us and him. Big fan of him.”
The Steelers spent the first four draft picks of the 2021 NFL draft on offensive players. For this reason, the offensive coordinator will be asked plenty of questions about rookies. The first question coach Canada was asked was about tight end Pat Freiermuth.
“Really been pleased with him. Certainly, we were all, obviously, excited when we got him, excited he was still around. And I think he has exceeded or met every expectation. He’s certainly a student of the game, very conscientious and working hard. I like him a lot. He’s done a very good job as this point. As everybody, a long way to go, but really, really pleased with him.”
One of the biggest questions of the Steelers 2021 offseason was how veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would adapt to Matt Canada‘s offense, and vice versa. Coach Canada was asked about how Roethlisberger and other players are grasping changes to the offense.
“I feel like they’ve grasped them very well. Again, I look at Ben and the time he’s played and all the time he’s had to put in, knowing his system. The tweaks on the run game and things are there and he’s done a great job and worked really hard and (has) been a great leader for the young guys too. It’s been great.”
Although it was the final question asked, there was little surprise that the Steelers offensive coordinator was going to be asked about first-round draft pick Najee Harris. Coach Canada was asked about if he was surprised at how Harris prepares before he steps on the field.
“He loves football. He’s as advertised as far as his work ethic in those things. Obviously, expectations are what they are, but the way he works, the way he prepares, he’s going to do everything he can to be ready to play. And that’s a huge compliment to him and the way he’s going to go after it. So certainly like him a lot.”