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Mason Cole ‘Steady Eddie’ As Part Of Offensive Leadership In Pittsburgh, According To Mike Tomlin

Eight weeks into the 2022 season, things remain a bit of a mess for the Pittsburgh Steelers, at least on the offensive side of the football.

After 18 years of one Ben Roethlisberger at the helm of the offense, providing that valuable leadership and the rising tide that lifted all boats, the Steelers don’t exactly have that this season on offense. That veteran leadership has been missing, but as of late the Steelers are starting to see some of that develop as expected, at least according to head coach Mike Tomlin.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday during his weekly press coverage ahead of the Week 10 matchup with the New Orleans Saints, Tomlin was asked who he’s seen step up into the leadership void on offense to this point in the season.

Unsurprisingly, Tomlin highlighted offensive captains Najee Harris and Mitch Trubisky, as well as rookie starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has seemingly found his leadership voice in recent weeks. Tomlin also included Diontae Johnson, Pat Freiermuth and free agent signee Mason Cole as guys who are stepping into the leadership void and really growing in that area of their games overall.

“I think we’ve had a number of guys that that has displayed leadership, and I think Kenny has been consistent in that area,” Tomlin stated to reporters Tuesday, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “I also think Mason Cole, as a hub of communication in the offensive line, has displayed consistent leadership. Pat Freiermuth is an emerging leader, Najee’s an elected captain. Diontae is a guy that’s taking an active role in the development of some younger people at his position, and so it’s coming from a lot of areas.

“But I think that’s a reasonable expectation.”

It is a reasonable expectation for such a young offense for guys to emerge and find their voices and styles as leaders. It’s really no surprise that guys like Freiermuth, Harris and Pickett are stepping into that void, especially after having been captains and leaders in college for multiple years.

They let their play do most of the talking, but when they speak their words carry weight.

So too are the words of Cole, who is quickly becoming one of the go-to guys in the media this season in the locker room, win or lose. He’s always ready to stand up, take accountability and is honest with the media regarding what’s happening with the Steelers at that given time. At this point in the season, he feels like a shoo-in for the ‘The Chief’ Award, which was established in honor of Steelers’ founder, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr., and is presented annually by Pittsburgh Chapter of Pro Football Writers of America to a member of the Steelers’ organization that best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media that he embodied.

While he’s finding himself as a leader in the locker room, Cole is also emerging as a steady presence on the field, earning praise from Tomlin Tuesday for being “steady Eddie.”

“I think he’s been steady Eddie, not only in performance, but in presence, in communication,” Tomlin said. “He’s a quality veteran football player.”

That steady presence and communication ability is a large reason why the Steelers went after him early in free agency, slotting him in as the starting center in Pittsburgh right away between James Daniels and Kevin Dotson.

Being that hub of communication and a real presence in that perspective is something offensive line coach Pat Meyer highlighted regarding Cole in his midseason assessment last week to the Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko.

“Mason identifies things. He sees it, he makes calls, he tries to keep us on the right track,” Meyer stated to the P-G. “Obviously, the quarterback has the ultimate control of how we do things, but Mason is where it starts with that, and he’s been solid in terms of making the right calls, getting the line and the backs in the right direction. That’s obviously been a positive thing with him being a veteran guy who’s in his fifth year now. He sees it, sees it quickly, and makes the adjustments. He’s been good.”

On the year, Cole has had some ups and downs on the field and has been battling through a foot injury that has hindered his play at times. Through eight games, Cole has a 64.1 overall offensive grade from Pro Football Focus, including a 64.7 run block grade and a 58.3 pass block grade. On top of all that, he has not been called for a penalty to date, which is a carryover from the play he had in Minnesota last season.

In his last 1,001 snaps, Cole has yet to be called for a penalty. On an offensive line struggling to stay out of its own way from a penalty perspective, Cole is standing out above the rest.

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