Offseason Program

It's all about the teaching

Evaluations will come soon enough.

Right now, it's all about the teaching.

And that is exactly what Coach Mike Tomlin is focused on as the Steelers opened their three-day minicamp, which looks strikingly familiar to the last three weeks of OTAs on the field as there are no pads, no hitting.

"Not a lot of significant differences in terms of the nature in which we work relative to OTAs," said Tomlin. "There are some subtle differences. We are able to maintain them here by rule for a larger portion of the day. We get an opportunity to evaluate them in that way. To give them more information to simulate what a training camp day is like in a lot of ways. We are excited about that end of it.

"This is not an evaluation setting. This is a teach setting. Right now we are just focused on teaching people. We are pouring stuff at them and moving on and seeing how much they can handle. It's the early stages."

There is a reason he doesn't evaluate them now. And it makes all the sense in the world.

Football is played at full speed. It's hitting. It's pads. None of that exists now, as it's 'football in shorts' still. Any evaluations wouldn't just be unfair, they would be inaccurate.

"I am not grading them. This is a teach setting," said Tomlin. "I mean what I say when I say we are not evaluating them. Yes, there are certain elements of the process that we are evaluating. How they learn. How they take in information. How they retain information.

"The football evaluations, physicality and tackling are part of the game so you are setting yourself up to make poor decisions. You are misleading them when you frame what is going on here that way. I won't do it."

* More from Coach Tomlin*

On Day 1 of minicamp: Not a lot going on from a health standpoint. Guys are just working hard and getting better and doing a good job of working on conditioning, displaying it and proving it. Communicating a lot of ways. Doing the things that you need to do this time of year to lay a foundation as you move forward and we'll make some points as we exit here. The time spent between now and training camp is significant. It's informal time but its significant. We cannot lose momentum in terms of our preparation individually and collectively. Guys have to do a great job of proving their overall football readiness. Those that have little health things of any description have to make good use of that time. We'll talk a lot about some of things as we bring this week's work to a close.

On if Coach Randy [Fichtner] simulate play calling out from this setting or does he have to wait for games:
You do in certain situations. Not only Randy [Fichtner] but Butts [Keith Butler]. We script situations that not only prepare our players but prepare our coaches. Two-minute, things are unscripted, they are called on the fly. A lot of what we do this time of year is unscripted and called on the fly with that purpose in mind.

If what he needs to see from Jon Bostic to start:
I don't know enough about him to talk about his improvement. Not only for him but all of the new guys. I look forward to getting to know them and not going in with any preconceived notions. I look forward to them showing their football acronym and abilities in a football-like setting which is training camp. This is not an evaluation setting. This is a teach setting.

On losing Jerald Hawkins and Chukwuma Okorafor expanding his role:
I am not going to assume anything. We're not etching out roles, we are simply teaching. We'll see the ramifications of Hawk's injury. Whether it means something for him or for us, for some players to be named later. That's just the nature of this thing. Right now, we are just focused on teaching of people and not the division of labor in that way in which you speak.

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