If it appears that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a little bit more energetic and involved during this year’s organized team activities, don’t be alarmed. He is, and the response has been positive.
Tomlin was visibly vocal the entire day Wednesday from the stretching until the offense vs. defense drills, and it was apparent, especially to the newcomers.
“You don’t see that very often,” said quarterback Tajh Boyd, who was signed as a free agent this spring. “When you think of a head coach, you think more of a manager; just a guy who makes sure all the coaches are doing their jobs. But when he’s out here it’s like everything is his position. It’s inspiring.”
Defensive end Cam Heyward says the veterans are also taking notice of Tomlin’s initiative as well.
“You see the competition, and I think Coach T starts some of it,” Heyward said. “He wants guys to respond. He wants guys to win their one-on-one’s and it’s definitely showing up out here.
— Heyward was asked about his contract situation in relation to New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who signed a five-year extension that could be worth as much as $60 million. But the former first-round pick says it’s not a concern to him.
“I really didn’t notice, but some guys brought it to my attention,” said Heyward. “That’s what I have an agent for. I let him handle the negotiations, and I can sit back and just play football.”
Heyward, who is due to make $6.9 million this season, is in the final year of his rookie contract.
— Boyd, who will likely compete for the third-string quarterback spot, says having wide receiver Martavis Bryant (his former Clemson teammate) on the roster has helped him get better acclimated to Pittsburgh.
“It’s funny because the roles are reversed a little bit,” Boyd said. “I was at Clemson before he got there, and now I’m coming over here and asking him questions to see what’s going on and how much he’s grown in a year.”
“He’s only in his second year, but his mindset is like a fourth or fifth-year veteran,” said Boyd of his former college pass-catcher. “The guy is going to be special.”
Boyd also says he’s learned a lot from veteran quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski both in an out of the huddle.
“The way Ben takes control, the way he takes command — it’s because of the work they put in,” he said. “Right now I’m just trying to do as much as I possibly can to earn my keep.”
Boyd says he came up with the nickname “Uncle Bruce” for Gradkowski because of his outgoing personality and willingness to help teach the younger quarterbacks.
“Whenever I’ve got a question, whenever I need something answered, he’s right there,” he said. “It’s been a joy to work with him.”
— File this under “Things You Don’t See Everyday”: coaches from Pitt and Penn State talking and laughing on the same sideline.
Penn State head coach James Franklin and a few members of his staff were in town from Happy Valley taking in practice on the South Side. Pitt boss Pat Narduzzi, whose office is in the same complex as the Steelers, eventually met Franklin on the sideline.
Tomlin noticed the two talking together, then stood between them and jovially announced, “I am officially planted on the fence between them.”
The three men paused for a photo that Tomlin later posted on his Twitter page:
— Mike Tomlin (@CoachTomlin) June 3, 2015
Good to see them playing nice. For now.