At the end of his weekly press conference on Tuesday before the Pittsburgh Steelers took the field for practice, head coach Mike Tomlin answered football-related questions from the media. Earlier in the press conference, Tomlin answered questions pertaining to the passing of Coach Drake. Separating personal tragedy from football issues, Coach Tomlin finished up being asked questions about specific players in regards to their recent play and their role in the upcoming game. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but highlights players about whom Tomlin was asked questions.
Steelers’ CB Joe Haden, who was carted off the practice field today, suffered what is being described as “a minor ankle” injury, per source. Looks like major injury averted.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 7, 2019
When the report surfaced of Joe Haden being carted off the field last Thursday, half of Steelers Nation held their breath while the other half screamed in frustration. Luckily the cart was only used so Haden didn’t have to walk up the hill and the injury doesn’t appear to be something which would linger into the regular season.
Coach Tomlin was asked about the status of Haden’s foot/ankle.
“It’s a contusion. That being said, I don’t know that he’ll be participating today. We’ll continue to address injury situations the way we always do in training camp style. We’ve got a lot of guys working their way back on the grass today.”
Maurkice Pouncey just left practice with an athletic trainer. Smiled and waved to fans as he left, but something to keep an eye on. #Steelers— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) August 5, 2019
When Maurkice Pouncey left the Family Fest practice at Heinz Field on Sunday, August 4, Coach Tomlin described the injury as minor. While some reports stated it was a back injury while others suggested a leg ailment of some sort, details of Pouncey’s injury have been kept in-house to this point.
Coach Tomlin was asked what sort of injury Pouncey was dealing with.
“I don’t get into the details. He’s day-to-day. He’ll be back out probably sooner rather than later.”
The other third-round pick from the 2017 draft, Cam Sutton is still fighting for playing time anywhere in the secondary. Starting on the outside at corner on Friday, Sutton has also played in the slot and at safety.
Coach Tomlin was asked about Sutton’s play on the outside Friday night.
“I thought he did some solid things. He’s done some solid things out here playing on the outside. I think just a description of his performance and contributions to this point I think have been really solid. I think his versatility is really showing. I think he’s been above the line outside and inside, and I think that’s useful for him in terms of earning and establishing a role and, obviously, useful for us.”
Tomlin was asked a follow up question about what he thinks is Sutton’s best position.
“I think we are going to continue to determine that. Particularly as we get in stadium action. The work out here is football-like, but not football. We’ve got three other weeks of action awaiting us, so we’ll continue to work him and others and establish an opinion there.”
Rookie cornerback Justin Layne struggled in his preseason debut.— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) August 11, 2019
Overall defensive coverage grade of 44.9.
On 9 targets he allowed 8 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. https://t.co/LtnElGUmhO
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Justin Layne went through a lot of different moments in his first NFL game. Starting at corner opposite of Cam Sutton, Layne missed several tackles, two of which resulted in touchdowns. While his play did improve as the competition across the line of scrimmage diminished, Layne has his work cut out for him the next few weeks in order to earn a helmet on game day.
Coach Tomlin was asked his thoughts on Layne’s first extended time.
“It looked a little big for him at times. We talked openly about that today. That’s what I mean when I say we’re going to be really transparent. It’s a big business day for us. But I also told every member of the team not to over-analyze performances. Justin Layne is a very young guy who stepped in the stadium for the first time and had an opportunity to start and to start against an NFL starting quarterback because of injury and lack of availability of others. Maybe not necessarily because of what he did to get in that spot. Such is life in football and particularly in football this time of year. I’m sure it is going to be valuable experience for him, but not necessarily a positive experience for him. You also take another young guy like Ulysees (Gilbert) who made a lot of splash plays, but I pointed out to the team that those plays were made between plays 80-89 defensively. So the people that he was on the field with were not the quality of people that Justin Layne was on the field with. So we better not read too much into quality of performance. We all just better keep our heads down and keep working. That’s what the group intends to do, Justin Layne included.”
Ulysees Gilbert III
Ulysees Gilbert played 46 defensive snaps in almost 2 quarters. He finished the game with an elite overall grade of 92.2 — the 2nd-highest mark among the 53 off-ball linebackers who played at least 30 snaps in the first week of the preseason.https://t.co/bpVes79lf2 pic.twitter.com/tDmFyUcSBG— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) August 13, 2019
In one of the lighter moments of the press conference, Mike Tomlin referred to Ulysees Gilbert as “Ulysees Grant” while discussing young players when asked about Justin Layne. As for Gilbert’s performance, his statistics from Week 1 speak for themselves as he had 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception on a two-point conversion.
Coach Tomlin was asked if referring to him as “Ulysees Grant” was a slip or a nickname.
“A slip. You know how it is. I’ve got a lot going on.”
I have a feeling it will now be both.
After his struggles to get acclimated to the NFL his rookie season, James Washington wasted no time in year two showing why he was drafted in the second round. One only the second offensive play from scrimmage, Washington pulled in a 43-yard pass from Joshua Dobbs. Washington ended the night with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Tomlin was asked about the depth of receiver regarding players like James Washington and Tevin Jones.
“They played well. We’re excited about getting some others out that missed time. So, we’re just going to keep working, but I like the accounting that those guys have made of themselves.”
Tomlin was asked another question about Washington and what he is looking for when it comes to making catches and and gaining yards.
“All the things you just mentioned and others. A high level of consistency in play, to look like a guy that has done a lap around the track like we’re asking of all guys moving into their second year.”
The forgotten free-agent signing of the 2019 season, Johnny Holton showed why he was able to stick in the NFL for the three previous seasons. Hauling in two passes, one of which was for 59 yards, Holton showed he can be both the receiver and the special teams player the Steelers lost when they didn’t re-sign Darruis Heyward-Bey.
Coach Tomlin was asked how aware he was of Holton before the Steelers signed him in the spring.
“Very. He has NFL resume and tape.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: