With two days of minicamp now in the books, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is pleased with what he's seen.
He also likes what he's heard. And that might be the more important aspect of things for Tomlin and his coaching staff.
"I don't know that I'm looking for standouts. I'm really just listening more than anything," Tomlin said Wednesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. "I think communication is a display of understanding. I'm looking at adjustments being made and communications offensively and defensively, declarations from a protection standpoint, communication from a coverage standpoint. I'm doing more listening than watching because I'm just really interested in the learning and communication is a component of that."
So, when the Steelers run a two-minute or third-down drill, Tomlin isn't necessarily looking for success or failure from an execution standpoint – though that obviously is important – but how his offense and defense are communicating.
That's especially true for young players or those veterans who are new to the Steelers roster.
"We're really focused on elements of situational ball, elevating the teaching or the learning. That's whether it's possession-down, two-minute or red zone, we just can't get enough of it," Tomlin said of these practices, which are the columnaton of the team's offseason program. "Hopefully, we kind of put the icing on what's been a good offseason from a teaching standpoint. The rules of the game and how you conduct yourself sometimes changes, and it's good to teach some of those nuances, particularly to those who are transitioning from the college game to the pro game.
"The two-minute offense, for example, in the college game, if you get an earned first down, there's a clock stoppage as they administer the chain movement and so on and so forth. So there's a lot to be learned in nuances relative to the game. Environments like this give us an opportunity to do so. In the midst of that, we're just watching them compete. We're doing it with a governor and doing it in an appropriate way and it still is fun. It still is football. It's good to watch them partake in it that way."
One player who Tomlin hasn't had to put a "governor" on this offseason has been second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Pickett has repeatedly said this offseason the offense is far ahead of where it was a year ago. And for Pickett, that makes sense, according to Tomlin, since the young quarterback is so much farther along in his own journey.
"His maturation has got a lot to do with it," Tomlin said "It's probably true but probably from a perception standpoint. He's probably a little bit lower anxiety than he was a year ago, so he's able to absorb the totality of what it is we're doing and the things that come with being him, the leadership component.
"I just think he's in a position to receive things from a different perception that may change his outlook on what we're doing."