When you’re a young player who’s not really established yet, it might not be the best idea to use too many jokingly derogatory terms to use toward those who are even younger and more experienced than you are, especially if your head coach is Mike Tomlin.
Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi found that out this past week, as he told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. With T.J. Watt limited for parts of the week and Anthony Chickillo on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, he has moved on up the depth chart at the position, and with it has come greater attention from Tomlin.
Who now calls him ‘Weenie’, a reference to Spongebob Squarepants that he has been known to employ referring to younger players on the roster during practice. He had gotten used to beating ‘Weenies’ in practice and showing them a thing or two. Now he’s the Weenie.
But he’d better not play like one if and when called upon Monday night against the Miami Dolphins, and going forward. At this point, there is no reason to anticipate that Chickillo will be back any time soon, if at all, so at worst, Adeniyi is now the first player off the bench on the edge, which means he’s going to play every week, and start if there is an injury.
Working in a starting role during portions of the past two weeks through the bye, the young outside linebacker observed of Tomlin, “he’s been calling me that pretty much every day this week”. You know Tomlin’s fondness for nicknames, so I’m not sure how easy it’ll be for him to shake this one.
He’s also a man with a good sense of humor, and likes to turn the tables on people. He knows that Adeniyi had been using the name, so now that he is playing often against starters, his head coach has been using it on him to let him know he’s the Weenie until he shows up in-game.
For the moment, it looks as though Watt is trending toward being able to give it a go for the Steelers on Monday night, but even if he does play, he could be limited and on a sort of pitch count. So even if he doesn’t end up getting asked to start, he should see a fair number of snaps for the first time in his career against the Dolphins.
It can be seen as an audition of sorts for a larger role going forward. The Steelers aspire to rotate their players, and Chickillo typically got about 20 or so snaps per game between both sides, so there is an opportunity. If he shows he can handle the job, he’ll be getting work. If not, he’ll remain a Weenie.