Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ sixth training camp practice Thursday, head coach Mike Tomlin took questions from the media. Although the emphasis during practice was on red zone situations, Coach Tomlin was asked questions about specific players and took the opportunity to discuss some others. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but more so about how Tomlin answered the questions.
Vance McDonald & Trevor Wood
Long snapper Kam Canaday left practice early with a groin injury and was taken for an MRI. In his absence, Vance McDonald snapped on field goals and Trevor Wood snapped on punts.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 1, 2019
It’s not common place in the NFL for a head coach to talk about other players trying their hand at long snapping. But when long-snapper Kam Canaday was unable to finish Thursday's practice, both Vance McDonald and Trevor Wood took over the duties. Wood was a long-snapper on a limited basis in college and is also listed at that position. McDonald was the team’s emergency long-snapper last season, a position which has not been called into action since James Harrison was forced to snap in 2008 when Greg Warren was injured.
Coach Tomlin was asked about young guys that have worked at different positions and if their versatility and adaptability are something they specifically look for. Tomlin gave an explanation specifically with McDonald and Wood from Thursday’s practice.
“Kam (Canaday), our long-snapper, had some tightness and wasn’t able to finish practice. We saw a couple of tight ends- Trevor (Wood) and Vance McDonald- snap, long and short. Their day job is tight end. We know their both capable. They both got an opportunity to display that in the course of practice today. That’s just kind of what this journey is about- young guys with versatility. Young guys that are capable of of doing multiple jobs is an asset.”
Benny Snell Jr & Devin Bush
Snell takes a run to the edge with a lead blocker and is met by both Bush and Edmunds. Those two in the middle are an athletic combo that will give Butler confidence in their range to be more aggressive and exotic in his looks. #Steelers #dkps— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 1, 2019
It is always interesting to see how rookies are adapting to the NFL during training camp, Interestingly enough, Steelers’ fans have been able to see their top four draft picks matched up frequently thus far. Diontae Johnson and Justin Layne have been paired against each other on the field with Johnson getting the majority of the praise to this point. Additionally, Devin Bush and Benny Snell, Jr. have squared off several times in training camp.
Coach Tomlin was asked about specifically matching up Devin Bush and Benny Snell, Jr. against each other in passing drills.
“They both come with the same resume, which is very little. You know, and so you pit young guy versus young guy. It’s a level playing field to see their natural skill set and aptitudes, where their floor is, and who’s able to dominate that match up. Maybe get a more seasoned and experienced guy. And so, that’s just and example of some of the match up related things that we do. A lot of the drill work is centered around that. You earn your way to varsity snaps, if you will. A lot of those things is young guys versus young guys, looking for consistent dominance. And you show that, and you get the opportunity to see Jaylen Samuels or Tyler (Matakevich) on the other side of the ball.
The most expensive free-agent signing in Steelers’ history, Steven Nelson comes to Pittsburgh after four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. Nelson signed a $25.5 million contract for three years, giving the Steelers hope he is the missing piece to the puzzle to complete their secondary. Securing four interceptions in 2018, Nelson had twice as many as any Steelers’ player last season.
Coach Tomlin was asked about the defense creating more interceptions and Steven Nelson’s reputation for getting them.
“It’s going to be an asset to us. We expect it to continue. I just like his overall general approach to the work. He’s a consistently ‘up’ performer. He’s a detailed guy. You see how he’s opportunistic. We’re looking forward to him being opportunistic for us.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: