If you look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 starting defense that they fielded for their Week 1 game against the Denver Broncos, you will see that seven of those players are no longer on the roster. In fact, of the 26 players that were on that Week 1 53 man roster, only 12 are currently on the 2014 team.
During a Friday night interview with SiriusXM Radio prior to the team’s practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium, head coach Mike Tomlin talked about all of the turnover since 2012.
“I love veteran players. We had a great time with that core group of guys, but a lot like life, time moves on,” said Tomlin. “We’ve got some exciting new young guys that were working with.”
This year, the Steelers do indeed have a lot of younger faces on defense and Tomlin was asked about the challenges of coaching a veteran team as opposed to younger one like he has this year.
“For me, I try to be what the team needs me to be and obviously, this is a different group, different from some other groups that I’ve had,” he said. “When you’re in training camp situations and you’ve got a veteran-laden group, your concerns are about getting them ready and getting them out of camp.
“When you’ve got a young group, you want to think about the ways that you can challenge them and get to know them. It’s just the nature of this thing and providing them with what is that they need to be ready for the season.”
Tomlin did say, however, that having a few veterans still around does have it’s benefits.
“The beautiful thing, you’ve got a guy like Ike Taylor that’s here to pass on the history and the legacy, and what it means to play defense here. And he does a great job along with Troy [Polamalu] and others in that regard,” he said.
So what about veteran cornerback Ike Taylor, who is entering his 12th year in the league and his 8th playing for Tomlin?
“Ike Taylor’s an old dinosaur. I’m going to take him out back and shoot him like Old Yeller at some point,” joked Tomlin.