- Are rookies ready for playing time?: The Steelers open the 2014 preseason on Saturday night against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium and it will be the first time Coach Mike Tomlin gets to see his rookie class in action.
There has been much talk about some of the young players making an immediate impact on the team, including first-round pick Ryan Shazier, but Tomlin said playing time will all boil down to who can make plays.
“The guys that play and play significantly for us will be guys that are capable of helping us win,” said Tomlin. “If some of those guys happen to be rookies, and to this point maybe some of those guys appear to be those types of people, then we’ll play them. It’s that simple.
“We have played rookies in the past, but those rookies have been outstanding guys that are capable of helping us win. Some of those guys have shown some of that and we will continue to watch them."
Out of this Worilds: Linebacker
Jason Worildsis nothing less than a consummate professional, quietly going about his business and not making a huge issue of the fact that despite signing a transition tag this offseason he has yet to get a contract extension. He just gets his job done, without a lot of fanfare or attention seeking, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“He has taken a business-like approach to it,” said Tomlin. “He is really thoughtful in his preparation. His technique is highly skilled; his hand usage has been good. He is no nonsense. He’s not a very vocal guy. That is Jason. I think his work has been really solid.”
Troy checking in: Some veteran players, including Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Petersen, won’t play at all this preseason, but don’t look for the Steelers to hold anyone back, including safety Troy Polamalu.
“His mindset and our mindset are probably the same in that he embraces the responsibility that comes with checking in with your buddies and your peers and playing,” said Tomlin. “Maybe that is a sign of defensive football, or that’s how we do business. But Troy is going to want to check in and play with his buddies.”
A big return for Spence: Linebacker
Sean Spencewill make his return to the playing field on Saturday night after missing the last two seasons. Spence suffered a severe knee injury in the 2012 preseason, and has fought his way back to the field.
“I think I’ve been pretty consistent that I said I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a full recovery,” said Tomlin. “I just know the type of young man that he is, the type of worker that he is and those things usually work out for those guys. I think if you look back at my statements regarding him and his situation I’ve been pretty consistent. We’re going to use all four preseason games to evaluate him and everyone else.”