It's been a long preseason, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for their final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers this Thursday evening at Heinz Field. Head coach Mike Tomlin made it a point early in his Tuesday afternoon press conference to mention that any established starters on the roster, or any players who the Steelers know what they have to offer, will not see the field against the Panthers.
You can count players like Le'Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Lawrence Timmons and Heath Miller on that group. Bad news if you are attending the game, but good news for the overall health of the team.
When asked about the standing of the roster battle between Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Sammie Coates, Mike Tomlin spoke highly of Heyward-Bey's versatility and attention to detail.
"He understands how we do business," Tomlin said about Heyward-Bey. "He buys into it ... He's very versatile, knows all the wide receiver positions and is an integral part of the special teams unit. I have a lot of confidence in him."
Though it was obvious that Tomlin favored Heyward-Bey in comparison with Coates, he still had semi-positive notes for the rookie.
"We expect increased detail in his work and better fitness," Tomlin said on the rookie from Auburn. "I like the work he's done to this point, his arrow is pointed up and we expect that to continue to be the case."
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant and his four-game suspension were brought into the discussion along with the two-game suspension of running back Le'Veon Bell.
When asked whether or not it bothered Tomlin that two players were suspended for the same thing at the beginning of the season, Tomlin simply replied, "yes," and declined to provide much more to that answer. Despite the multiple attempts by the Pittsburgh media to get coach Tomlin to dig into the mistakes of his players off the field, Tomlin refused to go into detail about either Bryant's or Le'Veon Bell's case, sticking to the basis that they made their mistakes and they know they hurt the team, and that his further elaboration on either case does nothing to help either situation.
After Michael Vick saw his first preseason game in a Steelers' jersey, Tomlin declined to say that he was the undisputed no. 2 quarterback for the Steelers going into the 2015 regular season.
"There's a lot of ball left to be played to determine that," Tomlin said on the decision of who will be Ben Roethlisberger's first replacement.
Tomlin also made it almost certain that Tyler Murphy's capacity with the Steelers will be purely at the wide receiver position and not at quarterback, stating that it would be unlikely to see him under center for the upcoming game against the Carolina Panthers.
Tomlin took the time to justify the decision to trade away a sixth round draft pick for kicker Josh Scobee to the Jacksonville Jaguars, saying that the opportunity for an experienced player met the right time for the Steelers' need at his position.
"The positives outweighed the negatives on that decision," Tomlin finished on the Scobee question.
The Steelers host the Panthers this Thursday at Heinz Field. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.