Robert Golden has gone from a clear third stringer at the beginning of training camp to a player the majority of Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans would love to see starting.
Golden again, to steal a Mike Tomlin phrase, represented himself well in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He played four snaps in the team’s dime package and another 15 filling in for Will Allen and Mike Mitchell at separate points during the game. In it, he recorded his first NFL interception, sealing the win for Pittsburgh. It was his first interception since his senior season at Arizona, a span of over four years.
Tomlin was effusive in his comments of Golden in today’s press conference. Unedited, here is his full comments on the Steelers’ safety.
“He’s grown in all areas. And like a lot of guys who are backup players, you work your tail off you work to improve all aspects of your game. I never ask those guys to be patient. I ask those guys to work while they wait.
He’s had different opportunities at different times of his career to step up and play quality snaps for us. It seems like with each opportunity he gets, he’s better than the opportunity before. When you go back to , I think he played for us in London and didn’t play the type of game he desired to play. And then you fast forward to the significant snaps he got last Sunday.
And that’s one thing I can say about Rob is that when given an opportunity to step up and play a significant role on defense over the course of the time he’s been here, he’s been largely better than the times before. That’s what you expect from guys. That’s what should happen when they work. He’s one of the guys who really works hard. Rob lives life out front. From a football standpoint man, he really is always a guy who is willing to work and be in the front of lines. And to bring the type of energy and preparation that I think provides the platform for him to be a guy whose consistently arrow pointing up in terms of the quality of his play.”
Woah. I can’t remember the last time Tomlin was so complimentary in an answer. But he certainly isn’t pandering. Golden’s play has been stellar in every opportunity this season, all while playing his full array of snaps on special teams. It speaks to his preparation and level of conditioning to be able to excel in each area.
Though he still is sitting behind Allen on the depth chart, with him close to retirement and Shamarko Thomas close to the door, Golden is the only Steeler with any long-term prospects at strong safety. It’s difficult to say if the team envisions him as a starter in the near future, and regardless, there’s no question the team will invest to some degree in the position soon. But Golden has proven he’s worthy of a legitimate opportunity to be in that discussion and Tomlin’s continual high praise only affirms that.