Being a leader and a mentor amongst a group of individuals means that you have to be flexible. Everybody will respond to different things in different ways, and it’s a matter of finding what is effect for whom. Yet, through experience, you find certain things that are more universal than others.
That’s where Trai Turner is in his position as a leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line, a group that includes two starters and a second-year player in the starting lineup, himself an experienced veteran with five Pro Bowls in his back pocket—which is ammunition when he needs to establish his leadership credentials, as someone worth listening to.
One thing he’s learned is quite simply that nobody’s perfect, and young players, especially so. “They’re young guys. I think sometimes you get ahead of yourself, and we say, like, a young guy’s playing like he’s in his third or fourth year. A younger guy is gonna make young guy mistakes”, he told reporters yesterday. “I can’t be mad at them for making the same mistakes as a [young] offensive lineman”.
Turner isn’t all that old himself, still just 28 years old until June of next year, but with now exactly 100 games under his belt—plus postseason experience—he has seen just about everything that there is to see, and has learned what works and what doesn’t, as well as what to put behind you.
“Staying out of the articles, staying out of the magazines and all the papers, not reading what people say about you, whether it be good or bad, keeping your head down and working, I think that’s pivotal”, he said, though we know that not every player does that, at least not consistently. Some of them surely even use it as motivation.
I don’t know if guys like Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. are reading their press, but it’s especially important as a rookie to have blinders on. You’re in fight or flight mode, just figuring out how everything works. You don’t need every mistake pointed out to you, especially when you’re going to get it from your coaches, or from a guy like Turner, in the film room.
As for Turner himself, he has been gaining more consistency in his own play over the past few weeks, as the offensive line has grown as a whole. That unit is starting to look like something that could help steer this offense. But we’re still a couple steps away from really putting it on a pedestal and calling it an asset. We’re not about to see three Pro Bowlers a year from them or anything.