Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first padded practice Sunday, head coach Mike Tomlin took questions from the media. Being the first session with full contact of the 2019 season, many questions were asked about performances of specific players.
Coach Tomlin surprisingly went into detail on several players, but gave a response on each of the following five players. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who contributed in a big way, but more so was who Tomlin answered questions about.
Benny Snell Jr.
Benny Snell got plenty of work as a rookie running back in his first practice in pads on Sunday. Between having impressive runs in 11-on-11 action and being given the most reps in backs on backers, Snell had plenty of opportunities to show the coaching staff his abilities. His biggest highlight of the day was a 12 yard run up the middle.
Coach Tomlin was asked specifically about the extended work Snell received in the backs on backers drill.
“We’ll take a good look at the tape. When you’re a young running back you’re going to get called out a lot there.”
While Devin Bush wasn’t the main standout at practice, his first-round draft status makes him a player of discussion. Bush reportedly held his own in the backs on backers drill. He also had a pass break up which was a near interception of Josh Dobbs.
Coach Tomlin was asked about his impression of Bush’s first opportunity in pads.
“I wasn’t watching him, I was watching the group. He didn’t stand out negatively. I imagine he did some real good things today. We’ll take a look at the tape.”
Based off the reps given the 1st 3 days of camp. Artie Burns is the proverbial "Next Man Up" at outside CB for the Steelers if something happens to Joe Haden or Steven Nelson. Today was 800,000 pieces of proof:https://t.co/xIEhlNfrUY— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 28, 2019
Artie Burns was first mentioned in the post game press conference in regards to overcoming adversity. Coach Tomlin instantly brushed off the entire notion, but was asked a follow up question about Burns’ production.
“He’s playing solidly, but we’re just getting here.”
Burns earned an $800k roster bonus Sunday.
When Sean Davis went down with an apparent dislocated finger, Kam Kelly took over the first team reps. A product of the AAF, Kelly is believed to make a push for a roster spot in 2019.
Coach Tomlin was asked about Kelly’s work and his ability to play multiple positions in the secondary.
“He’s shown good versatility. He’s played some safety, he’s played in some underneath sub package positions, he appears to be quick learner, he appears to have detail in multiple spots. That helps his cause and ours.”
After the backs on backers session, one clear winner was Ola Adeniyi who won most of his matchups.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 28, 2019
The player who had the most buzz about his performance in Sunday’s practice was Ola Adeniyi. Winning his one on one battles in drills and team activities, Ola has gone from a player who was possibly on the roster bubble to being projected to get significant regular season snaps. Granted it was only the first practice in full gear of the 2019 season, determining Adeniyi’s 2019 production may be a bit premature.
Coach Tomlin was asked merely a general comment about Adeniyi’s production to this point.
“Ola’s been flashing and showing some burst and finishing some rushes. It’s been some really good competition between him and Hawk (Jerald Hawkins) specifically. Good young tackle- outside linebacker competition thus far with guys like Hawk and Chuks (Chukwuma Okorafor) and Zach Banner and some of those outside edge rushers.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: