Even in a year unlike any other, Mike Tomlin’s message remains the same.
Dear rookie class,
Show up in shape.
– Coach T
That’s what Tomlin virtually reiterated, to his class and then to the media in a rookie minicamp conference call that took place Saturday.
“And the only way that you can pay respect to [not meeting in person] is to be in the very best conditioning for your position of your life,” Tomlin said. “And that’s something that we sell to all rookies. That’s something that we’re selling to this class. That’s something that we sell to every class because that’s one thing that they all have in common and it is very true. When it’s your first lap around the track, you don’t know what it is you’re getting into. So you better be as best prepared as you can.”
The message remains constant but the reality of achieving it is tougher. The rookie class won’t take a physical rep in Pittsburgh until training camp with the regular season just weeks away. Not much time to find out if you’re really in “NFL shape” or not.
There’s a whole process that rookies are missing out on. How to take care of your body, getting enough sleep, eating the right things, the balance between work, rest, rehab/recovery. For professionals, it’s old hat. This is their job. For rookies? Whole new ballgame.
It’s one of several factors that could severely curtail the impact from the class in Year One though as Tomlin rightly pointed out, an issue that hurts all 31 other clubs.
“It’ll be fair given that this class globally will be affected by these circumstances. Not only the Pittsburgh Steeler rookies, but all the rookies throughout the National Football League. I’m sure it’s going to affect your ability in some instances to participate in the amount of participation and contribution.”
The players who show the most commitment to truly being in tremendous shape or the ones who will see the most success. They’ll be the ones most trusted by coaches, most likely to avoid nagging muscle injuries, and the ones capable of providing impact plays all season.