The Steelers 3 day mandatory minicamp kicks off today. The padless sessions are referred to as “baby training camp” by cornerback Ike Taylor, and aside from the important football practices that go on, they’re the first opportunity for us to hear from assistant coaches publicly.
Todd Haley spent some time talking about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with the media today. The two were once the focus of a media magnifying glass, and they’re supposed rocky relationship may have been the most overblown narrative in the history of Pittsburgh sports. Either way, you’d never know that was the case while listening to Todd Haley talk today.
Haley attributes Ben’s leadership and mental focus to much of the team’s turnaround last season. “In those low times the true leadership of the team shows, and some of those low Wednesdays when we came out for practice and were 2-6, it could have been easy to just go through the motions,” said Haley via the Steelers website. “But in those situations you saw Ben take charge, and a lot of those practices that were make-or-break practices from the coaches’ perspective, you could see there was no quit. We kept fighting until the end when we were watching Kansas City miss the field goal against San Diego in overtime in that last game of the season that kept us out of the playoffs. Even though it was a rough, tough year and nobody was satisfied with it, a lot of good came out of it that should help us moving forward.”
The Steelers offense looked like a well oiled machine for much of second half of the 2013 season. Haley hopes to build on that success, but with new faces at WR and RB this year, Haley knows that all starts with Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership.
“They all see him as the leader of the team. It’s very clear that when Ben speaks, or he’s on the field for his set of plays in practice, he’s running the show,” Haley continued. “Whether guys are on the field with Ben or not, they’ve all got their ears perked up and they’re listening to anything that he says. The entire group will look to the quarterback always, and we’re fortunate we have a guy who has played well in a lot of games and played well in a lot of big games. And because he’s not going to be satisfied unless we’re playing in the final game, the Super Bowl, the entire group, being a younger group, will lean on Ben all the way until we get there.”
Summer hasn’t even begun yet, but there’s plenty to be excited about come September.