At the end of practice on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin first spoke to the media before answering questions. Coach Tomlin was asked questions about specific players and position groups 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.
Benny Snell Jr.
Benny Snell will not play tonight in Tennessee because of an undisclosed injury that is not expected to be serious— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 25, 2019
After sitting out last Sunday against the Titans, Benny Snell is poised to get a decent workload in the final preseason game on Thursday night. In the 20 carries he has amassed in his two games of work, Snell has only rushed for 42 yards. But when it comes to making the roster, it’s more than just his rushing attempts that will earn him a spot.
Coach Tomlin was asked about what Snell needs to show in the last preseason game.
“He’s just got to continue the upward trajectory of what he has shown us up to this point. I’ll be really specific there. He made a kick off tackle in the first preseason game. He made a significant punt tackle in the second preseason game. Notice I’m talking about things other than the things that you naturally measure Benny Snell in regards to because he is trying to get on the football team and carve out a role for himself. He’ll probably cover a punt or a kick before he carries the football and that’s just the realities of it.”
Diontae Johnson is not dressed. Also sitting out are Joe Haden and Anthony Chickillo.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 25, 2019
I must admit, I’ve lost track of the various injuries Diontae Johnson has suffered since rookie mini camp in May. It has become quite troubling with him missing two of the three preseason games thus far, as well as numerous practices. When on the field, Johnson has shown why he was the Steelers’ second pick in the draft. Unfortunately, his time on the field has been limited.
Coach Tomlin was asked what Johnson needs to show on Thursday.
“Same thing. You can take that point and relay it to all the young guys. You can ask me individually, but I’m going to say similar things because it is a similar opportunity for all of those guys.”
One player who may be a Week 1 starter but could see some playing time this Thursday is Devin Bush. Already missing one game in the preseason, getting Bush some added work would be a good move for the rookie. And if Bush is playing, it gives Steelers’ fans even more of a reason to tune in.
Coach Tomlin was asked about how much he wanted to see of Bush in the final preseason game.
“Just like all those guys. Forget the level of productivity, these guys, their journeys, their careers are at such the beginning stages that they need every opportunity that they can get to prepare and take themselves through the preparation process and then go into the stadium and perform. They’ve got a chance to get better. He’s only done it twice. The more times that they can do that, that’s just growth and development for them.”
Christian Scotland-Williamson & Zach Gentry
Question of the day—Is the #Steelers #2 Tight End on their roster right now?— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) August 26, 2019
To say the tight end depth chart of the Steelers is a concern is no surprise to anyone. The fans know it. The Pittsburgh media knows it. Even Coach Tomlin knows it. Hopefully the players know it and step up their game Thursday night. Being the second or third best in the room isn’t good enough if these guys wish to earn a spot on the roster.
Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has seen from the tight ends, but he chose to specifically address Christian Scotland-Williamson and Zach Gentry.
“Not enough. Some of that’s to due to the lack of availability. Scotty’s (Christian Scotland-Williamson) missed some time. He will have an opportunity to come back this week. Zach Gentry has missed some time. Time missed is critical, obviously, in terms of opportunity. A lot of these guys are getting opportunity to lean on it here at the end, so there is big time urgency there.”
Steelers defense opens in nickel. No Mike Hilton, but Kam Kelly as the extra DB on the field.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 26, 2019
With a lot of talk about players trying out different positions during training camp, Mike Hilton has made the jump from practice field to preseason games. Lining up at safety, Hilton may not be used as only a slot corner like he was the last two seasons. With the added position flexibility, players like Hilton could change the overall make up of the roster by adding depth in multiple places.
Coach Tomlin was asked about Hilton’s role for 2019.
“We’re still carving out a lot of those things. I think versatility helps us. Not only his versatility but the versatility of the safeties. The versatility of guys like Cam Sutton. Interchangeable parts and versatility back there is useful.”
While the Steelers left Nashville Sunday night relatively injury free, Sean Davis was the most concerning situation in regards to availability. Not believed to be serious, Davis should be back sooner than later if all goes according to plan. But with no injury report during the preseason, Mike Tomlin prefers to not give much details on his player’s status.
Coach Tomlin was asked is he had any clarity on Davis’ injury.
“I do not.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: