The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie class, including their class of undrafted college free agents, got their first taste of professional football on the field yesterday with the opening of the team’s three-day rookie minicamp. But it wasn’t the debut just for them. The Steelers also broke in three new position coaches in an on-field setting for the first time.
Karl Dunbar is succeeding John Mitchell as the team’s defensive line coach. He spent the past two seasons at Alabama, but has had a long and productive career at the NFL level, and coached under Mike Tomlin while with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006.
With Richard Mann choosing to retire after spending the past several seasons as the Steelers’ wide receivers coach, the team brought in another veteran from the old school tradition in Darryl Drake, who has worked with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall over the years.
He may be new to the NFL ranks, but new defensive backs coach Tom Bradley is the most veteran of the group, having a long college-level resume. That is one of the things that attracted him to Tomlin, who needed to replace Carnell Lake.
And Bradley is already making a positive impression on the Steelers’ newest players, including first-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds. The new defensive backs coach was said to be coming in with a reputation of being a fundamentalist teacher who was detail-oriented, and the rookie safety confirmed that yesterday while speaking to reporters.
While Edmunds said that there wasn’t any one thing Bradley was conveying on the opening day of rookie minicamp that stuck out, he implied that was partly because there was just so much information being passed on. And that was both verbal and written.
“He has a lot written down on his board”, Edmunds told reporters of Bradley. “He is the type of guy that writes a whole lot on the board so he’s very detailed during his teaching”. He said that he is “very thankful for that because a lot of coaches do not teach everything like that”.
And while his new position coach might have thrown a lot at him early, Edmunds said that he was able to retain a lot of information, which either means good things about him, about his coach, or both. It’s important to be able to convey information in a way that is digested, so that’s a good early sign for Bradley.
Of course the emphasis on tackling will have to come much later because we are far away from the Steelers putting the pads on any time soon. From now until training camp starts, the new defensive backs coach will have to teach tackling technique without the players actually being allowed to tackle.
There actually seems to be some optimism for once that the secondary is headed in the right direction. And it only took swapping out every single player that was on the roster before 2016 and the position coach.