PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are always looking for playmakers on the defense, and one young defender might be making a name for himself in that regard.
Donovan Stiner, a rookie free agent safety from Florida, had a strong practice session on Monday, intercepting a pass and volunteering to take on starting tight end Eric Ebron in some one-on-one reps.
“He’s a young guy that’s working hard, not getting a lot of opportunities, but he’s not making a lot of mistakes. He’s shown the ability to learn from the reps of others, and that’s a good quality for a young guy to have.”
Stiner was available for more work than usual on Monday because starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was given the day off. Tomlin said Fitzpatrick is healthy.
Stiner has been the third-team free safety throughout much of camp, working behind Fitzpatrick and rookie Tre Norwood. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound safety has also been a solid contributor on special teams throughout training camp, and could be a sleeper pick for a practice squad spot.
NO. 1s SHOT FOR NO. 3?
Dwayne Haskins has had a strong training camp and preseason and appears to have cemented his status as at least the team’s No. 3 quarterback entering the season. A hurdle that would seemingly have to be cleared for him to be more than that would be a chance to get to work with the No. 1 offense more.
Haskins has gotten that opportunity in training camp practices, but has not in a game setting just yet. Tomlin alluded to wanting to see more out of Haskins in those practice reps before he’s given an opportunity to play with the first team under the lights.
“We have a rotation that we’ve subscribed to. We get opportunities to prove ourselves out here in a practice setting. We get opportunities in the game. It’s not about what group you’re working with, it’s about the work you do within the group.
“That’s messaging that we’re relaying to all players. Some guys might want varsity action, but if you’re in a JV game, you’d better look like a varsity player.”
PROVIDING A TEST
While Tomlin intimated that he’d like to see more, Haskins got a strong recommendation from veteran cornerback Joe Haden, when asked about his game on Monday.
“Super strong arm. He’s really good with the deep ball. … He can make all the throws and his arm is really strong.”
With the Steelers transitioning to more of a regular-season type practices going forward at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, that’s going to mean more of Haskins leading the third-team offense against Haden’s top unit, something Haden said can be a good thing.
“He can throw it very deep, like 75-80 yards,” Haden said. “So, it’s just making sure that you stay on top of the receivers.”