Updated: Jul 24, 2021
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger's longtime teammate and close friend Maurkice Pouncey retired this offseason, which created a big void at the center position. The Steelers selected Kendrick Green out of Illinois in the third round and he's the favorite to be the starter in Week 1 when the Steelers play the Bills at Highmark Stadium.
"You'll never fill the shoes of Maurkice Pouncey and I don't think Kendrick's trying to do that, which is good," Roethlisberger said yesterday after the Steelers' first training camp practice. "Pouncey's in a class of his own and that's what made 'Pounce' so special. The relationship we had will never be duplicated.
Roethlisberger also mentioned that Green got first-team reps in practice and everything went smooth for the first outing.
"But what happened today was Kendrick made calls, we didn't fumble any snaps, so I'd say that's a good first day," Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger said Green stayed in Pittsburgh during the summer and got work in, so he knows that the rookie has a strong work ethic.
“He’s got a passion for the game, a passion to be the starting center,” Roethlisberger said via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He knows the roles and shoes he is filling. He stayed here during the break (since minicamp) and worked and met with coaches. I checked in on him. He’s taking this personal."
"He wants to be the best. He doesn’t want there to be a dropoff, and that’s a good attitude to take.”
Mike Tomlin revealed after yesterday's practice that Green will start in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys on Aug. 5. Likewise, for second-year defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. who will open as the first-team slot cornerback.
"These guys come to work, particularly when they have been exposed to some of the things that he's been exposed to," Tomlin said. "He's played Big 10 football. He's been in some big circumstances. We'll see what the process does to him, but not a bad issue or a bad start from today's perspective at all.
"This is our first day working in a training camp-like setting, but he's been working extremely hard dating back to the spring since we acquired him with classrooms, zooms and so forth. So, he just had an opportunity to show some of that today.
"A one-day sample, but we thought it was important to get those guys that we're trying to get to start in the Hall of Fame Game as much work as we can. There's no indication of where they are in terms of their career. You can label him a starter if you choose. He is. He's a starter for the Hall of Fame Game if that means anything."