In his final press conference in Latrobe for the Steelers’ 2019 training camp on Thursday, head coach Mike Tomlin briefly addressed the media and answered questions. Coach Tomlin was asked about specific players in regards to their recent play and his expectations for the upcoming game on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but highlights players about whom Tomlin was asked questions.
Much like last season, Mason Rudolph is starting the Week 2 game of the preseason, this time at Heinz field. After a great showing last week, Rudolph is getting the chance to work with many of the first-team players for the Steelers, as well as face the first defense put on the field by the Kansas City Chiefs. This could be his only start of the preseason depending on what Tomlin decides for Week 4, and Rudolph is poised to make the best of his opportunity.
Coach Tomlin was asked if he’s seen Rudolph’s aggression.
“I have, and I know that that’s his intentions. I think one of the things that really attracted us to him out of Stillwater was that level of aggression. The way that he attacked the defense vertically and threw the ball. I know that that’s his style, that’s his demeanor, and it’s showing more and more consistently.”
Tomlin was also asked if he had any expectations of Rudolph working with the starters.
“I don’t know that there’s a black or white answer to that. I just believe in quarterback play regardless of what group they’re in. If they’re doing their job and doing it at an acceptable level, they’re capable of moving their group.”
One of the players who has constantly been mentioned about having an impressive training camp is Cam Sutton. Playing throughout the defensive secondary, the third year player is hoping to carve out an important role for the 2019 season. Nestled in the same draft class as T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner, Sutton is ready to prove his worth in the NFL.
Coach Tomlin was asked about the areas Sutton has improved the most.
“Details and increased versatility. He’s always been a detailed guy, he’s always been versatile, but I have seen an upswing in both. I think those are positive attributes to his resume when he came out of Tennessee and as he gets into his career has proven to be legitimate and real.”
Rudolph just threw a beautiful ball down the left sidelines to Johnson. Beat Layne on the play. #Steelers— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 15, 2019
With Coach Tomlin stressing that a player’s best ability is their availability, it is paramount for Dionte Johnson to get onto the field Saturday night. Missing last week’s game, Johnson has been working his way back in order to show the Steelers’ coaching staff what he can do “in stadium.” While his spot on the roster should not be in danger as the Steelers’ second pick in the 2019 NFL draft, earning a helmet on game day would become more difficult if Johnson’s health continues to be an issue.
After saying he hasn’t seen enough of Johnson, Coach Tomlin was asked if he needs to be on the field more.
“He was yesterday, and he will be today. For a lot of young guys, particularly battling nagging injuries, it slows their growth and development and it slows us to get an opportunity to get to know them. But not anything unusual about that.”
Matt Feiler is pulling away with starting right tackle job. Okorafor will compete with him. #Steelers— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 9, 2019
Although nothing has been officially announced, the battle for the starting right tackle position is over. Matt Feiler has shown he’s the best right tackle on the Steelers to a point where he’s rarely played in his starting position due to filling in at guard for most of training camp. Once the starting job is announced before the start of the regular season, Feiler will be one of three former undrafted free agents starting on the Steelers offensive line along with Alejandro Villanueva and Ramon Foster.
Coach Tomlin was asked if Feiler has played more at guard because of injuries or because of his abilities at the position.
“We like some of these young tackles. They’ve done well in the groups they’re working in, so we want to get a chance to evaluate them against stiffer competition, but at the same time, we want to give him reps and keep him ready to go. He’s guard capable so he’s able to serve both masters, if you will, by doing so.”
Other News and Notes:
Tomlin said Mason Rudolph will start vs KC Saturday night. Josh Dobbs will relieve him.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 15, 2019
Tomlin said the sand is running through the hourglass for guys trying to make an impression. #Steelers— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 15, 2019
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: