Ramon Foster and Cam Heyward reject suggestions that Steelers need to be reigned in

In a rousing endorsement of Mike Tomlin during OTAs on Monday, Ramon Foster made it clear that it was on the players to police themselves this season.

If you had listened to all the noise coming from outside the Pittsburgh Steelers organization this offseason, you would assume that the Steelers are on the verge of collapse having said goodbye to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell this year. But for those players that remain, the perspective from inside the locker room is markedly different.

When not blaming Ben Roethlisberger or Kevin Colbert for the dysfunction that has seemingly plagued the Steelers as of late, Mike Tomlin is the one who has often come in for the most criticism. Accused of being too close to his players and lacking in discipline, the actions of Brown and Bell have landed at the feet of a coach labelled an enabler, while the behavior of the individuals concerned has largely been given a free pass.

But while outsiders may expect Tomlin to adjust his coaching style in 2019, that does not match with the expectations of veteran leaders like Ramon Foster and Cameron Heyward. When speaking to reporters during practice on the first day of OTAs, both players made it very clear that there was no need for Tomlin to change the way he manages his team.

“Coach T has been handling us the same way for years. He gives guys an environment where they can develop themselves, and in that development of themselves, you get certain things out of it, whether good or bad and we’ve always found a way to deal with it. So, I don’t think he going to rein guys in or switch it up. The guys who understand how to work do that because of the amount of respect with have for him and how he allows us to be men, first and foremost. So, I don’t think you’ll see somebody whipping the whip to just do this and do that.”

“I always refer to him as the Uncle you just don’t want to piss off. You know you can be who you want to be, but you step out of line, and you guys have seen him in his element, the element that you don’t see. He can be a real problem if you take him down that lane. It’s just certain stuff you know. You’re allowed to be yourself.”

Asked about Tomlin’s reputation for being too much of a players coach and the reins being too lose, Foster scoffed at the suggestion from the reporter.

“I’ve heard it all and I’m sure if you ask all 1200 players in this league who would they rather play for, he’s at the top of the list. And that’s because they know how he deals with people, they know how you’re able to develop yourself. He’s not going to carry you on a leash and say “hey, you gotta do this, you gotta do that”. People who are mature enough and professional enough know how to handle that type of thing.”

“How has the development of this team been? Has he been one of the most consistent coaches in the league? Has he won games? Has he ever been a guy that you were scared that this was going to happen? No. Coach T is a guy that you want to work for, a guy that you want to play for, you give you all for, because you know at the end of the day, the mutual respect that he has for you is not seen around this league like that.”

If there is to be less talk coming from the locker room this season, it appears that directive might not necessarily be coming from the head coach, with Foster clearly suggesting it was the responsibility of the players to police that sort of thing.

“Wouldn’t it?[come from the players] Would you agree that it should? He don’t have to say much. Like I said, he’s that guy that you don’t want to piss off. So, with that being said, it has to be self-policed.”

Sentiments Cam Heyward would echo when asked if he expected Tomlin to attempt to rein the team in this season.

“What needs to be reined in? We’re talking about the few. We’re not talking about the many. We’ve got a great group of guys that are hard-nosed and just trying to get better. Coach T’s going to coach it like he wants to. I don’t make that decision. But I also don’t expect that decision. It‘s definitely not going to be stagnant.”

With Brown and Bell no longer on the roster, it seems safe to assume that the Steelers will be far less dramatic in 2019, but should there be a repeat of last season from someone else, you can be sure the fingers will be pointing at Tomlin.

Report: Steelers made a waiver claim for former Jets TE Jordan Leggett

The Steelers were one of four teams who lost out on the opportunity to claim the former Jets tight end off waivers to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday

With the Pittsburgh Steelers depth at tight end still looking relatively light as the team begins the third phase of their offseason training program, it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn that the front office made an attempt to upgrade their talent at the position on Monday.

As per Field Yates of ESPN, the Steelers were one of five teams who placed a waiver claim on recently released New York Jets tight end Jordan Leggett, ultimately losing out to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had the highest priority on the waiver wire.

Leggett has been on the team’s radar before, a player they were potentially considering in 2017 after they met with him at the NFL Scouting Combine and then took him out to dinner when visiting Clemson to watch him perform at his pro day. Selected by the Jets in the fifth round of the draft with the 150th overall pick, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN surmised at the time that Leggett might well have been the target for the Steelers with their fifth round pick (173 overall).

The former Clemson product missed his entire rookie season after injuring his knee and ending up on injured reserve, but appeared in 15 games last year, including four as a starter. He would finish the season with 14 receptions for 114-yards and a touchdown. Given the tight ends the Steelers currently have on the roster, Leggett would have figured to be competing for a backup position as the third choice option, possibly challenging Xavier Grimble for the No.2 role with a strong training camp. He will now be forced to attempt to restart his career in Tampa Bay instead.

Devin Bush splits time with Mark Barron running with 1st team at OTAs Tuesday

The Steelers rookie linebacker saw a significant amount of practice time with the starters during the opening day of OTAs

The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted very little time getting Devin Bush acclimated to the first-team defense on the opening day of Organized Team Activities on Tuesday, reportedly including him in a three man rotation at inside linebacker with veterans Mark Barron and Vince Williams.

As per Mike Prisuta of WDVE Radio and Steelers.com, while Bush was not in there for the first snap of the day, it appears that he saw a significant amount of time with the starting unit on day one of OTAs, seemingly being given every opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do from the outset.

The ability of the young rookie to be able communicate with the rest of the defense will be key to his development in the early stages of his career, especially if he is to be charged with the task of calling the plays in the huddle. A learning curve that Williams and Cam Heyward are helping him with in their own different ways.

When speaking to the media after practice, Heyward was understandably reluctant to get too excited about the rookie’s performance after only one day of training out of pads. But also made it clear that he would do what he could to help the former Michigan product adjust to life in the NFL, despite the obvious college rivalry. As reported by Sarah Spencer of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

“It’s the first day, we got to get the jitters out. It’s kind of weird cheering for a Michigan guy now, but I’m going to be his biggest advocate and biggest supporter, so it’s a good starting point. It’s the first day to get him used to us. We were already kidding about when he was calling the plays, he’s got to get some bass in his voice. But that’s just us messing around. He’s going to be good, and we’ll break him in.”

And while Barron might be his rival for the starting role, the offseason free agent signing had nothing put positive things to say about his young rival when talking to reporters.

“I’ve only been around him briefly, but I like his style of play from what I’ve seen. He’s really aggressive, really tenacious, a speedy guy. He gets to the ball, and that’s kind of similar to the way I play. I get to the ball. I like that; anytime I see somebody that gets to the ball and plays with a certain attitude, I like it.”

Of all of the position battles set to be fought this offseason, the one between Barron and Bush could well be the most interesting to watch. But it perhaps worth acknowledging the relative unimportance of who runs with which unit at this stage in the year. If Bush is dominating the first team snaps counts when the team gets to Latrobe, that will be the time to really take notice.