Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin joined Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take Monday morning to defend quarterback Mason Rudolph amid allegations that he directed a racial slur at Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
“I took offense to it, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said of Garrett’s renewed allegations made on Outside the Lines last week. “I thought it was appropriate that Mason is properly defended.”
Mike Tomlin reacts to the allegations made against Mason Rudolph. pic.twitter.com/H2lkcu4YQY
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 17, 2020
Tomlin, who originally voiced his support for Rudolph in a statement released by the team Saturday, reiterated his point that no one on the field or from the Browns organization corroborated Garrett’s claim to him.
“I got a lot of personal relationships within that organization, over there in Cleveland,” Tomlin said. “At no point did anyone within that organization come forward and say, ‘Mike, heads up, we got a situation here’ or something of that nature that you would expect comes with those type of allegations.”
He also responded to Garrett’s suggestion that the Steelers and NFL participated in a cover up of in-game audio that would have confirmed his accusations.
“Anybody that knows this organization knows what it stands for, understands how the Rooney family gets down from a business standpoint, that’s laughable,” Tomlin said. “We would not participate in the covering up of such issues and we would obviously do what was appropriate in terms of dealing with those circumstances.”
Lastly, the Steelers head coach criticized ESPN for their coverage of the initial interview and subsequent discussion panel, saying it was unfair how they framed Rudolph and failed to show both sides of the situation.
“We as an organization fully support Mason Rudolph and to be quite honest, we were hacked off at what we saw this weekend,” Tomlin said. “Not specifically from Myles Garrett, he’s been in the lane that he’s in but what was displayed by ESPN in that panel. The way that the situation was presented, I don’t think was fair to Mason Rudolph and that’s why I’m here.”
Tomlin, who is entering his 14th season as the team’s head coach, rarely speaks to the media during the off-season, so it is safe to assume that he and the Steelers organization wanted to squash the situation once and for all.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Projects Alabama C Landon Dickerson to Steelers in Latest Mock Draft
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. predicted that the Pittsburgh Steelers will select Alabama center Landon Dickerson in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in his latest mock draft.
Kiper, who released his second mock draft of the season on Thursday, has the Steelers staying with the No. 24 overall pick in the first round to take Dickerson in a mock draft that has three trades in the first round.
The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Alabama grad could play center or guard, but would be immediately be slotted in as a replacement for retired starter Maurkice Pouncey at center.
Dickerson spent his first three seasons at Florida State before transferring to Alabama in 2019. He started four games at right guard and nine games at center in 2019 and started at center in 2020, where he was the winner of the Rimington Trophy as the country’s best center.
Dickerson suffered an ACL injury in the SEC Championship Game in December and concerns regarding that injury have depressed Dickerson’s draft value, but he is generally considered to be the best center in the class and no worse than a second-round pick.
Poll: What Was Biggest Issue with Steelers Running Game in 2020?
The Steelers finished dead last in the NFL in rushing in 2020 and general manager Kevin Colbert has seen it as a top offseason priority to rectify that standing going into 2021.
The Steelers have already made a change in coaching, with Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm taking over as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
There will also be substantive changes to the personnel, as starting center Maurkice Pouncey has retired and starting running back James Conner, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, left guard Matt Feiler and right tackle Zach Banner are pending free agents.
“You can’t say the runners weren’t good enough or the quarterbacks weren’t good enough or the line wasn’t good enough,” Colbert said in speaking with the media last week. “To put out the kind of running game we did, no one was good enough. And again, that is a collective effort. … We need to finish (seasons). And I think having a strong running game helps teams finish in that time of year.”
With that being said, Steelers fans, which area of the running game do you think was the biggest issue in 2020?
NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt
One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.
Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.
Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.
For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.
.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021
Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.