Much of the attention offensively for the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the offseason has been focused on the changes at quarterback and the additions at wide receiver, and rightfully so.
Names like Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, not to mention George Pickens and Calvin Austin III move the needle in an exciting way. For the casual observers, a name like Mason Cole doesn’t. That’s just the way it is today in the NFL.
That said, there may not be a more important player to the Steelers’ offensive success this season — outside of whomever wins the starting quarterback job — than Cole, who joined the Steelers on a three-year, $15.5 million deal in free agency, leaving the Minnesota Vikings to join a rebuilt Steelers’ offensive line.
According to Trubisky, who appears to be the frontrunner for the starting job under center coming out of OTAs and mandatory minicamp, Cole has done a great job stepping into a new situation and seizing control at center, all while establishing a strong relationship with his new quarterback.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve kind of gotten close to the center. In Chicago, the center [Cody Whitehair] was my best friend. Mason and I signed together the first day of free agency,” Trubisky said to the Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko following his football camp in Mentor, Ohio Wednesday. “I didn’t even know if he was gonna be the center at the time because they were talking about guard or center, but he’s working in at center and has done a great job. Me and him have gotten really close from day one.
“Our wives get along, and he also has a young son, as well. So, we’re in very similar situations and we’re very similar people, so we get along great, and it’s been awesome getting to know him and his family and hanging out.”
As Trubisky pointed out, he and Cole signed on the same day and were introduced to the media hours apart. Signing on the same day allowed them to kickstart the ever-important center-quarterback battery, which is vital to any good offense overall.
While there were questions about Cole’s overall fit with the Steelers, whether that was at guard or center, he’s worked almost exclusively with the first team at center, telling you everything you need to know about how the Steelers view him.
Establishing that connection with Trubisky is vital, as he’s the eyes and ears for the offensive line, in terms of setting up protections and relaying changes back and forth from Trubisky to the rest of the offensive line. Having a strong relationship between the two will only improve the overall chemistry, which should have them being on the same page, much like Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey were for their entire careers.