There’s nothing quite like the return of the team to some form of gathering because if you wait patiently enough, you’ll be sure to get some good quotes from players and/or coaches. The Pittsburgh Steelers are not ones to fail in this department.
You saw first-hand the damage they could do by talking individually during this off-season but now that OTA’s are underway, everyone has something to say don’t they? It’s like they’ve had duct tape removed from their mouths after five months. Well, unless you’re Ryan Clark or “unnamed player guy.”
We always expect to hear from Head Coach Mike Tomlin but what we hear from him is typically right out of the “coach-speak 101” handbook. Not this time however and I applaud it, for now.
It’s apparent that Mike Tomlin was not crazy about finishing 8-8 last season which is obviously a no-brainer and I would also say he was more than unhappy about guys flapping their gums in the off-season. His new mantra for the 2013 season is “Less talk, more work.” If that isn’t already on a t-shirt in Pittsburgh then needs to be, stat!!
While Tomlin has never met a cliche he didn’t like (unleash hell), he is at least addressing something that needed addressing and he has my full support, for now.
Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley also stepped in front of the microphones this week declaring, “I’m good to go.” Well, why shouldn’t he? Woodley has missed nine games over the last two seasons following his big contract signing. Over that period, he has just 13 sacks and was about as invisible as a 265 lb man could be last season.
Many experts and fans alike were wondering if Woodley’s weight had become an issue last season. I can tell you as of right now that isn’t a problem for him or the coaching staff, for now.
With James Harrison in that city, which may as well be in Kentucky, the pressure mounts immensely for Woodley to not only stay healthy but also to produce. His opposite number will either be Jason Worilds or rookie Jarvis Jones. While Worilds has shown some flash, he isn’t a proven commodity and you never know what you’re going to get with a rookie whether he was a first round pick or not.
Woodley said it was not his weight or conditioning that kept his production down but rather a high ankle sprain suffered against Cleveland in November. Woodley may very well have had someone roll up on the ankle but maybe his weight and lack of conditioning were factors as well.
I have to give credit to Woodley for not pushing things with regards to the ‘unnamed player’ who criticized him this off-season. Woodley took the high road by saying “I’m the type of person that laughs at stuff like that, any kind of negative.” Good for Woodley for not making it an issue but if his performance is not up to par early the season will those comments be brought back up? Only he can do something about them.
Both Tomlin and Woodley are saying the right things, but talk is cheap in the NFL. Actions speak much louder than words and I look forward to both men backing their talk up not for now, but for much later.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.