Patrick Queen has some lingering rookie year beef with Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, but Ravens rookie Zay Flowers is in a different headspace entering Sunday's rivalry game in Pittsburgh.
Tomlin raved about Flowers earlier this week, saying in part that he’s “fearless.” Flowers saw the comments and was flattered.
"He's a legendary coach, so to hear that from him, it's unbelievable. It's like a dream come true," Flowers said Wednesday. "I always looked up to him. He was one of the few African American coaches in the league and that's been winning consistently for the past 17 years. For that to come from him, it meant a lot."
Tomlin saw a lot of Flowers because Tomlin's son, Dino, is a wide receiver at Boston College. The two played together last season. Flowers and Tomlin were both on the sideline at Boston College's first game of this season. Tomlin tapped Flowers on the shoulder and they hugged.
The Steelers could have drafted Flowers in April, and there was plenty of buzz about that possibility. They had the 17th-overall pick but traded up three spots to draft left tackle Broderick Jones instead. Jones is expected to make the first start of his career Sunday with veteran Dan Moore Jr. injured.
Did Flowers think he might end up a Steeler?
"Not too much, but when I talked to [Tomlin] at the Combine, I kind of had it in my head like, 'Maybe I'll end up here.' Because he had seen me play so much because his son was there," Flowers said. "So I thought there was a chance, but I never really pictured myself playing there."
The Ravens picked Flowers at No. 22 and they've been thrilled with the selection. Flowers leads Baltimore in receptions (24), targets (29) and receiving yards (244). Through four games, he's on pace for 102 catches and 1,037 receiving yards. Even when Flowers hasn't gotten the ball, he's still been a threat the Ravens have used to open up space for others.
Flowers is still looking for his first touchdown, however, and would love for it to come Sunday in Pittsburgh.
"I just want to go have fun, honestly," Flowers said. "I know it's a big rivalry and all that, but at the end of the day I'm going to have fun no matter where I'm at. I'm going to do what I do no matter where I'm at and go out and get this win."
Even though Tomlin said he's "never seen [Flowers] flinch" and "he will not be intimidated," the physical Steelers defense will try to change that in Sunday's game. Tomlin's comments aren't going to change how Flowers approaches the game.
"Nah, he's not buttering me up," Flowers said. "I'm going to be a dawg either way, with that comment or without that comment."