One of the topics Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin discussed during a recent appearance on “The Pivot Podcast” was how running back and 2021 rookie Najee Harris could become a new in-the-locker-room and on-the-field leader following the retirement of longtime quarterback and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.
Harris, or any ball-carrier, can only lead so much in that role and at the position. As things stand today, free-agent acquisition Mitchell Trubisky is the favorite to emerge as Roethlisberger’s successor this summer over first-round draft selection Kenny Pickett and career backup Mason Rudolph. Tomlin hasn’t yet named a starter and seems to be preparing for a legitimate competition between the three during training camp.
Per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, Tomlin added on “The Pivot Podcast” that he is “excited about being uncomfortable” regarding his quarterback situation after he previously had a stabilizing force such as Roethlisberger serving as his QB1 throughout his Pittsburgh tenure.
“I just view the challenges of what lies ahead in that way,” Tomlin explained. “First of all, I’m looking forward to the anxiety associated with that uncertainty. To have to stand and deliver, to live out what we believe in — the standard is the standard. It’s like McDonald’s. You know what a No. 1 is. It doesn’t matter what corner of the globe, a No. 1 is a No. 1, and that’s what I want Pittsburgh Steelers football to be. So it doesn’t matter who puts their hands underneath the center, as far as I’m concerned. But, with all that cool stuff being said, it’s scary. But exciting.”
Multiple reports emerged this week suggesting Pittsburgh will ultimately shop Rudolph, in part so that Pickett can enter the regular season as Trubisky’s primary backup. It’s been said Pickett “has an uphill battle to unseat” Trubisky, but maybe the rookie can offer Tomlin some extra comfort and peace of mind with a handful of positive preseason performances.