(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
There was a heavy emphasis on the Steelers tight ends yesterday with Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth both speaking with the media after practice. Tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts spoke with the media before practice, as well.
There have been glowing reports about Freiermuth in the early portion of training camp and general manager Kevin Colbert revealed yesterday in a press conference with the Pittsburgh media how Mike Tomlin feels about the rookie tight end out of Penn State.
“Every time he makes a good catch, coach [Tomlin] says, ‘That’s good. Can you block?’” Colbert said via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Blocking has never really been Ebron's strong suit, and that was apparent last year, especially when he attempted to block Chase Young, which resulted in Young tackling Benny Snell Jr. on a fourth-and-goal stop.
Across the board, the Steelers were awful at running the ball last year, ranking dead last in the league, averaging just 84.4 yards per game. And Ebron's hoping to get things right this year when it comes to being better in the run blocking department.
“I feel like that’s something we were all terrible at last year. As you saw, there was a lull in the running game,” Ebron said. “As a complete unit — offensive line and tight ends — I feel like we should all do better. If you want to get paid, you have to be able to block. That’s a pivotal part of our focus this year.”
Ebron also said that he's changed his approach in regards to run blocking and wants to be a complete tight end now.
"I changed my attitude, he said via Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghSports. "I don't always have to be dominant on third down or in the red zone. I need to be a full-on tight end."
According to Ebron, Roberts has labeled the tight end room this year as "Bad Ass."
“Tight ends, we should be bad asses,” Ebron said. “We should be able to block bad-ass. We should be able to run bad-ass routes, and we should be able to score on anyone in a bad-ass way. That’s the mantra for our room.”
Ebron is a lot more outgoing and talkative than Freiermuth, who's a rookie and just wants to put his head down and work. However, while their personalities may be different, they have the potential of making quite a tight end duo this year.
“We play really well together and feed off each other’s energy,” Freiermuth said. “He’s going to be the loud guy who gets the fans going. I’m just going to go out there and make plays and keeps quiet. Opposites attract, and that’s what’s kind of going on right now.”
Roberts believes Ebron and Freiermuth will really shine in the offense led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“Having Freiermuth here will take some of the lifting (away from Ebron),” Roberts said. “And those guys together I think have an opportunity. I want to use the word dynamic in the sense of them working together and fitting into the thing that we asked them to do offensively.
“I think it gives you the flexibility because we’re so talented that we added some pieces in our run game. That’s going make it difficult for a team to defend because we have the ability to run the ball really well, and then with the skill set of Pat and Ebron in these early camp [practices], it looks like we’re going to be able to do some things, as we still have a Hall of Famer in Ben [Roethlisberger] that’s going to be able to dial it up."