With preseason debuts under their belts, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 rookie class has a decent feel to what life is like in the NFL.
Gameday during the regular season is a much different beast as your every move is dissected, stadiums are packed to the gills and games are often loud and unruly, especially on the road.
For the Steelers, that first test in Buffalo at Highmark Stadium could not come at a more difficult place to play than in front of Bills Mafia in Western New York on Sunday. It’s a loud, raucous environment, but that situation doesn’t seem to have Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin fazed when it comes to his rookie class, which will be leaned on heavily on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters Friday on the South Side at the UPMC Training Facility, Tomlin stressed just how prepared and ready the rookie class is for its true debut Sunday in Buffalo when asked if he gave them any advice.
“I’ll leave it between them and I, but it’s always an interesting time period in their lives, man,” Tomlin said to reporters Friday. “That’s a lot of excitement associated with it. These guys have been dreaming about this opportunity all their lives. And so, it’s one of the elements of this journey every year. That’s really fun to watch them live it out and to watch their first experiences and things of that nature. They’re all prepared and deserving and ready, so I’m excited about watching them do it.”
What a refreshing, encouraging thing to hear from Tomlin just days prior to kickoff agains the Bills with at least six rookies slated to see significant playing time right off the bat. The Steelers have always done a good job finding rookies who are smart and well-prepared to hit the ground running, none more so than the 2021 class led by rookie running back Najee Harris and starting center Kendrick Green.
Though it will be a debut in a hostile environment against a Bills team with Super Bowl aspirations, the group of rookies slated to hit the field certainly appear prepared and ready coming off of the summers that they put together in training camp and preseason.
The games count now though, which will heighten the responsibility and the intensity. We’ll see if the Steelers’ rookies truly are up to the task on Sunday like Tomlin said.