PITTSBURGH — The Steelers minicamp came to an end on Thursday, but that does not mean that the day itself was not plenty eventful. With training camp coming up in a month, who ended off the first part of the offseason program with a strong day?
I would usually like to highlight someone else here, but listen, the star of Wednesday was Darnell Washington and the star of Thursday was, you guessed it, Darnell Washington. No, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it seems to be showing that he’s getting more comfortable with the plays and other things on the field. Everyone is impressed by him and multiple players confirmed that he scored three touchdowns on Thursday.
Cory Trice and the secondary are seeing what Washington can do up close and personal. The giant tight end is turning heads around the building, including his fellow rookies.
“Man, I relish the opportunity to go up against any of those guys out there,” Trice said. “But he’s a huge guy. That guy can move and he’s strong. At the end of the day, going up against him is great work.”
Mitch Trubisky is seeing him really grow over the past few weeks. Having been throwing to him as well, Trubisky is growing level of comfort with Washington at the Steelers minicamp and what he can do. From there, Washington will have to work on polishing his game.
“You can see him really making some plays,” Trubisky said. “He’s a big target, can run a lot of routes for his size, and as a quarterback you love knowing you have a mismatch guy like that. He’ll learn the playbook and other things like that but he’s really looked good.’
If you ask Washington, his minicamp performance is only a B- at best. So, there’s room to grow for him. But make no mistake, Washington is really starting to cook out there. Now, when do the pads come on? I can’t wait to see his blocking up close and personal.
Patrick Peterson the Mentor
When it comes to offseason additions, Patrick Peterson was certainly the biggest name. But while his on-the-field play has evolved into a different sphere than it used to be, his off-the-field role has as well. Peterson is now being asked to mentor two young cornerbacks, Cory Trice and Joey Porter Jr. But if you ask either of those guys, Peterson is like an encyclopedia.
“If you have a question, he’s always open to showing me what to do or answering it,” Porter Jr. said. ”
For a group of rookie cornerbacks who still have so much to learn, having a guy like Peterson around is a massive boon for them. They need to learn from the best, and Peterson is one of the best of the generation and a future Hall of Famer. So, while he is versatile and has a lot of fun doing new things, Peterson has so much value off the field too.
Conditioning for Latrobe
If you’re a young player that is heading out before the end of minicamp, you better listen to Mike Tomlin before you leave. With their eyes set towards Latrobe, Tomlin emphasized conditioning to his group, as he always does. Why? Because that conditioning allows those guys to take on more reps when the opportunity comes their way. It’s the exact way Jaylen Warren pounced upon his opportunity during last year’s training camp with some injuries at the running back position.
Regardless, those guys will have a conditioning test in addition to getting into pads for the first time once Latrobe comes around. The better conditioned they are at that stage of the game, the better opportunity they have to push for some significant playing time.
Trice Feeling Right
Cory Trice has looked solid so far in his limited NFL practices. However, one thing is really making him better than he did his last season at Purdue. Coming off a torn ACL, Trice wore a bulky knee brace that impeded his ability to transition and use his fluidity. To me, he described himself as ‘clunky’ at times during that season as a result of that knee injury and the brace. It could be what contributed to some teams being concerned.
However, he feels like he is more fluid than ever and has special quickness for his size. Trice thinks he is coming back better than ever and now that it is Year 2 off the knee injury, he is hitting his stride right out of the gate.
Speaking of mentors, I have to respect Dan Moore for taking Broderick Jones under his wing. The left tackle is very real and raging on, but Moore has been cordial towards Jones and is mentoring him. In some ways, Jones is Moore’s protege. For someone who could take his job, that speaks volumes about the type of attitude and mentality that Moore has towards this entire situation.
“That’s the type of person I strive to be, at the end of the day the goal is to be a good teammate,” Moore said. “That’s what I want guys to say about me. That’s what I want my reputation and legacy to be left as, as a good teammate.”
When Jones is already thanking Moore for showing him technique, working in the film room with him, and more, that is all the things you want to hear if you are the Steelers. Moore’s future with the team is at least as the swing tackle, but he could have an opportunity to compete at right tackle in the future, too.