Mike Tomlin, Dwayne Haskins Focused on Relationship Before Football

Mike Tomlin is focused on "Dwayne Haskins the person," and the Steelers' newest quarterback is taking notice.
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PITTSBURGH -- Dwayne Haskins has a lot to prove to the Pittsburgh Steelers before his future/reserve contract becomes something more. 

Right now, the third-year quarterback and former first-round pick isn't doing much. He's a member of a four-man group looking for two backups. In front of him is a future Hall of Famer and the player the Steelers, expect to be that Hall of Famer's replacement. 

Haskins isn't letting it hinder his work, though, or his love for this team. Only a few weeks into summer camps, there's a noticeable connection between Haskins and head coach Mike Tomlin. 

On Wednesday following minicamp practice, Tomlin spent some time talking to Haskins on the field, one-on-one. 

"I've been more concerned about Dwayne the person, kind of getting to know him and getting an understanding of what he's been through and how that's shaped him, affected him positively and negatively, how it's affected the growth and development of his game," Tomlin told media during minicamp. "I think, more than anything, Dwayne and I are just trying to get to know one another. I think it starts there, and then we can focus on some things relative to the game itself. I leave some of the minutia and some of the detail about his football development between him and Sully [Mike Sullivan] and [Matt] Canada. I just want to get to know the young man and help him grow in that way."

That effort hasn't gone unnoticed by Haskins. The quarterback has grown fond of his new head coach in recent weeks. While his hopes of one day becoming a significant member of this team are those that will take at least another season, his relationship with Tomlin is something he's looking to grow now. 

"Relationships are everything," Haskins said. "On the field, off the field. Definitely an environment and circumstances that have a lot to do with your success of the field.

"Coach Tomlin has been a great guy as far as getting to get to know me, as far as what I need to do as a quarterback and what I need to do off the field and things of that nature," he continued. "He's been very hands-on with me and our communication. I'm grateful for a Hall of Fame coach to take the time he's taken as far as helping me out. He's made that known to me."

The Steelers' expectations of Haskins are extremely difficult. A quarterback competing for a roster spot is simply being looked at to do just that - compete. 

Haskin's expectations of himself are a bit bigger. 

"My expectations here are to make everyone who decided to take a chance on me look good, and work as hard as I possibly can. Let my work speak for itself," Haskins said. "Of course, I want to take after Big Ben, but that comes with due time. Just doing everything I need to do on a day-to-day basis.

"They expect a lot out of me as far as just being prepared and being the best version of myself."

And while he battles to establish a new home in the NFL. One he hopes is more long-term than the one before, he's leaning on the guidance of his coach and the relationship they're quickly building.

"He's been a great motivator, just being able to talk to me," Haskins said. "He plays defense and talks a little stuff to me on defense. He tried to get me to throw the ball into coverage. I'm learning not to do that.

"He's been great. Everything I've heard about him has been true and everybody loves him around here so I see why."

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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