Even after a tough loss on Sunday, it seems that the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting some positive momentum heading into their bye week, and that is largely tied to an improving injury situation. The team is expecting many of its nine players, both on and off the roster, who missed Sunday’s game to get back on the other side of the bye week.
Other than the prospect of getting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back after missing one game with a meniscus injury, the headliner has to be the potential Steelers debut of free agent tight end Ladarius Green, who practiced for the first time ever with the team on Tuesday, and has not gotten a couple of solid practice sessions in.
What has impressed his offensive coordinator most, however, has been the fairly seamless integration process that he has seen from Green in just two days of practice, and he credits that a lot to the fifth-year tight end’s ability to stay engaged despite not being able to take reps until now.
“I’ve seen him two days now that he’s been on the field”, Todd Haley said after practice yesterday, and “mentally, he was extremely sharp and I think that’s a testament to his staying in it, working even though he wasn’t out there with us, he was on the side. That’s a lot easier to talk about than do”.
All throughout the offseason process, while his teammates and coaches have bemoaned his inability to get out on the practice field, they have all universally credited him with staying engaged in the system, and Roethlisberger talked multiple times about Green’s participation with him and his asking the right questions that show that he is on the same page.
“He came out and from a mental standpoint was very, very good”, Haley said. But he pointed out that from a “physical standpoint, we’re in shorts”, and talked about seeing what he looks like next week when the Steelers put pads back on for the first time. “But for the first two days, I thought it was very positive”.
And, according to quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, it was an important two days, as he was able to get in some passes from Roethlisberger, who participated in some individual drills in preparation for ramping up his participation level on the other side of the bye.
“You have to build that continuity back up and that togetherness”, he said. “That repetition of throws and catches and route depth, timing. Any rep we can get, and we stole a couple today and yesterday, will be good for both of them”.
Of course, the chemistry between Roethlisberger and Green has been the biggest question mark about the free agent’s first foray onto the field, given the fact that they haven’t been able to work together at all. It will be a feeling out process, no doubt, whenever he gets to the field, but at the very least, it has already—and finally—begun to take shape.