Mike Tomlin’s message to the Steelers when they return to camp: ‘Show up ready to work’

Mike Tomlin’s message to the Steelers when they return to camp: ‘Show up ready to work’

After gathering his players on the practice field Thursday afternoon at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, coach Mike Tomlin offered some parting words.

He offered a message he hopes will resonate given the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t meet until July 24 at Saint Vincent College in Unity Township.

“Man, it comes to a screeching halt,” Tomlin said as the Steelers finished their mandatory three-day minicamp. “It’s been a good offseason. We have done a lot of good work. We have laid down some fundamental elements.

Phase 1 of the off-season program began in April and then ramped up to include three weeks of organized team activities followed by the minicamp which took place this week. What followed was a break that lasted nearly six weeks, with most of Tomlin’s players scattered across all parts of the country.

Before his players left, Tomlin gave them advice that he gives every year on the last day of minicamp.

“They have the right to expect the group to show up ready to work,” he said. “But this right also carries responsibilities. They have a responsibility as individuals to come ready for the group.

Showing up to training camp in peak physical condition is at the top of Tomlin’s wish list for his players. He reminded his players that effort is an intangible thing that can be controlled as they prepare for the three weeks they will spend training in Westmoreland County.

“Just make sure we’re ready to go,” first-round pick Troy Fautanu said. “You don’t know what to expect. Make sure you’re in the best shape of your life because you don’t want to have soft tissue injuries and things that you can control.

Defensive lineman Keeanu Benton enters his second season with the Steelers. Last summer, he didn’t know what to expect when training camp arrived, and he tried to temper expectations for what’s in store for this year’s rookie class.

“I feel like everyone has their own idea of ​​what camp is supposed to look like and what it actually does,” Benton said. “I tell them not to worry. I was one of those guys who made things harder than they were. I’m not saying it’s difficult, but when you play this mental game with yourself, it exhausts you even more.

“Go in with an open mind but be prepared to work.”

Kickoff returner and running back Cordarrelle Patterson, who was signed in late March, admitted he will need a 41-day break to get back into shape. On a scale of 1 to 10, Patterson said his current conditioning level is a two.

“When I get to camp, I’ll have a 10 out of 10,” he said with a laugh. “It’s the same thing every year. I take the same approach every year. Every offseason, I go out there and do my thing. When I attend OTAs and camps, I get in the best shape of my life, but I don’t get stressed out when I’m away from football.

As he approaches his 30s, outside linebacker TJ Watt has adjusted his workout regimen. Watt played in all 17 regular season games last year – he was injured for the playoffs – after appearing in 10 in 2022.

“It’s just about being smarter,” Watt said. “I don’t go crazy in the weight room anymore. I’m not trying to set personal records for max reps or weights. I try to maintain and stay healthy. That’s the most important thing.

The Steelers’ veterans will encounter a different training regimen in St. Vincent than the one the organization has used under Tomlin’s leadership. All workouts for the week, which encompass 10 of the 16 scheduled sessions, will take place at 10:30 a.m. rather than mid-afternoon.

The change was made by Tomlin in consultation with the team’s new strength and conditioning staff.

“We want to give them more time to interact with fans after practice while taking care of their bodies, rehydrating and keeping an appetite for dinner,” he said. “With the later schedule, these things are getting a little cramped and we want to create an environment where we keep the group up and working.”

Joe Rutter is a TribLive reporter who has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2016 season. A graduate of Greensburg Salem High School and Point Park, he is in his fifth decade of covering sports for the Trib. He can be contacted at [email protected].