The Pittsburgh Steelers would probably prefer to avoid contemplating life after future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t have that luxury, especially in light of the three-year contract extension he signed in April.
One of the candidates to possibly replace Roethlisberger is former 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who signed a one-year Reserve/Future deal with the team in January after flaming out in Washington.
After minicamp practice on Wednesday, Tomlin spoke about the approach he is taking in terms of bringing Haskins along.
“Really, I’ve been more concerned about Dwayne the person, kind of getting to know him and getting an understanding of what he has been through and maybe how that has shaped him and affected him positively and negatively—how it has affected the growth and development of his game. I think more than anything Dwayne and I are just trying to get to know one another. It starts there and then we can focus on some things relative to the game itself,” said Tomlin, before noting that he has delegated some of the other aspects of prepping Haskins to his subordinates.
“I leave some of the minutiae—some of the detail about his football development—between him and Sully [Mike Sullivan, quarterbacks coach] and [offensive coordinator Matt] Canada. I just want to get to know the young man and help him grow in that way.”
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Haskins Wants to Show ‘How Much He Loves Football’
Thus far, Haskins seems to be adjusting to life with the Steelers just fine. Speaking to the media after practice on Thursday, he said, “Coming here to Pittsburgh, I just wanted to prove to my coaching staff and my teammates how much I love football. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be here and just showing that my mind is in the right place and that I’m willing to work to be able to show my talents and be able to work and earn a spot here.”
To be sure, teammates have already noticed his arm talent, including Roethlisberger, who recently said that Haskins’ “release and throwing mechanics are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.”
Moreover, he seems to be getting along well with the three other quarterbacks in the team’s QB room, including incumbent third-string Josh Dobbs (who he has known since college) and QB2 Mason Rudolph (with whom he worked out with earlier in the offseason).
He’s even comfortable ribbing Roethlisberger.
‘A big Big Ben fan’
“I’ve been a big Big Ben fan for a while,” he noted during Thursday’s interview session. “I remember I was seven years old when Ben won his first Super Bowl. I tell him all the time about how old he is,” said Haskins with a laugh and a smile.
“It’s funny that he’s still playing at a high level,” he added.
But the fact that he won’t be doing so much longer is why the Steelers need Haskins—or Mason Rudolph, or a future draft pick—to step up sooner rather than later.
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