The Queen of Denial

Upon his official introduction as a member of the Steelers, Patrick Queen spoke softly but let it be known he’s here for all of it.

-Playing for Mike Tomlin.

-Playing the role of ex-Raven-turned-traitor, the latest “villain” in a rivalry that has seen plenty on both sides.

-Being a leader.

-Being the Steelers’ next Ryan Shazier.

-And, last but not least, being the player Queen is convinced he was on his way to becoming during his last two seasons in Baltimore.

Queen’s first two seasons with the Ravens were uneven, reflective of what you might expect from a player who was drafted 28th overall in 2020 as a 20-year-old.

They were also enough to compel the Ravens to trade for Roquan Smith mid-season in 2022, not the only reason but a factor in Baltimore’s decision to load up at inside linebacker.

Smith, one of the best in the business at the position, quickly became Batman in Baltimore. But Queen soon became “an elite Robin,” to borrow a phrase Tomlin has used to describe Alex Highsmith complementing T.J. Watt at outside linebacker.

If there’s a concern regarding how effective Queen might be with the Steelers, it’s whether his game can continue to grow and thrive as it has during the last two campaigns now that Smith is no long Queen’s running mate.

It’s a legitimate question, but also one for which Queen has an emphatic answer.

“I just learned how to lead, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Queen said of the impression left on him by Smith. “I wasn’t as vocal as I should have been. You definitely learn a whole lot of stuff from him.

“He’s a great guy, a very vocal guy in the locker room, the cafeteria, on the field. He just carries himself well. Just being able to see him, learn from him, see how he plays the game, how fast he plays, just all the stuff that he does. He’s a great person and great player for a reason.”

Queen emphasized how ready he is to take all of that stuff and run with it with the Steelers.

And how he intends to waste no time in doing so.

On a defense that already includes Cam Heyward, Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, Queen intends to lead.

“That should be Day One,” Queen insisted. “I don’t think there’s time to wait. I think that’s Day One when I step in, that I gotta be that guy. That’s why I came here, just to be that guy.

“I think it’s going to be a natural fit. I don’t think I have to force anything. I don’t think I have to step out of my comfort zone or be anything else besides what I am now. That’s just going to naturally flow.”

The expression on Tomlin’s face as Queen spoke at the Steelers’ South Side practice facility last week left no doubt the Steelers’ head coach concurs.

The vibe from Tomlin back on March 15 can best be described as “giddy,” even though he didn’t speak. As he observed Queen, Russell Wilson and DeShon Elliott speaking with the media, Tomlin’s ever-present smile and his constant nods of agreement and approval in response made him resemble a life-sized bobblehead.

Such optimism and anticipation isn’t misplaced in Queen’s case.

Queen’s the best player the Steelers have acquired this off-season, the once-and-for-all solution the team has been seeking for the hole in the defense left by Shazier’s career-ending injury since December of 2017.

Wilson has a higher profile and a much more established track record.

But Wilson is coming here to be much more of a game-manager than Patrick Mahomes.

Queen has been brought aboard to be a game-wrecker, much the way Smith is in Baltimore.

“He definitely helped, definitely learned a lot from him,” Queen acknowledged. “At the same time, I gotta go out on that field. I gotta perform. I gotta play. I gotta tackle. I gotta do these things. I gotta catch the ball.

“When it comes to ‘he made me,’ I think I was already on my path that I’m on right now. It just took a little time and I started hitting that stride the third year, beginning of the third year. And once he got (to Baltimore), he helped me even more.

“Now it’s my time.”


AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens

Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content