Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Family Fest practice at Heinz Field on Sunday, head coach Mike Tomlin briefly took questions from the media. While still on the field as players signed autographs, Coach Tomlin was asked questions about specific players in regards to their recent play. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but more so about how Tomlin answered the questions.
It was the most anticipated return of the 2019 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After being placed on the preseason PUP list after tightness in his hamstring following the teams run test the day players reported to camp, T.J. Watt made his preseason debut at the Steelers Family Fest. With high expectations for 2019, Watt’s return is a welcome sight for Steelers players, coaches, and fans.
Before taking questions, Coach Tomlin offered up a little information on Watt.
“T.J. Watt was ready to go so we worked him a little bit tonight and will continue there and get him on this moving train.”
Coach Tomlin was then asked how good it was to see Watt on the field after being out all of training camp.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t see him. He did some individuals. He did the prescribed work. I was really focused on some of the competition things. He’s ready to go, and it’s good to have him back.”
Although only entering his third season, James Conner has been getting the veteran treatment in some situations in training camp. While still continuing to get some work, Conner has been held back to a limited role in a lot of team activities. Earning his first Pro Bowl in 2018, Conner is the most experienced running back on the Steelers outside of fullback Roosevelt Nix.
Coach Tomlin was asked if he knows what Conner can do and if it’s the reason he is giving so many reps to the young guys.
“He falls in ‘give the reps to the young guys,’ not necessarily the first part of that. Everybody is going to get the opportunity to sharpen their sword and show what they’re capable of doing. We’re more interested in getting to know some of these other young guys right now. There’s going to be plenty of opportunities for James to sharpen his sword. We broke him out in short yardage and goal line. They’ll be other opportunities as we more forward. But we thought it was more important with the bulk of the work coming with some of the young guys later on this week when we step into this stadium, we thought it was important to give those guys the situational work here tonight.
Sean Davis is out of uniform and not practicing after taking part in warmups earlier.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 4, 2019
It has been a week since Steelers’ safety Sean Davis left practice with a dislocated finger. Although his absence has allowed the Steelers to get some young players additional work, Davis is a key player in the Steelers secondary alongside Terrell Edmunds. Entering the final year of this contract, Davis will be eager to get back on the field to make sure he is prepared to start the regular season in five weeks.
Coach Tomlin was asked if Davis was getting close to returning to practice.
“I don’t know. I’ll have an update for you, I’m sure, soon.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin fist pumps kicker Chris Boswell after making a 54 yard field goal during evening practice at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh. @PittsburghPG @PGVisuals @PGSportsNow #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/7yYKMN34Ec— Peter Diana (@peterdianapghpg) August 5, 2019
Of the players remaining from the 2018 Steelers, Chris Boswell is coming off of the most disappointing year. A Pro Bowler in 2017, Boswell only connected on 65% of his field goal attempts in 2018. Add in five missed extra points, and Boswell entered training camp fighting for his job after the team deferred his $2 million roster bonus. To his credit, Boswell has yet to miss a kick in a full team setting so far in 2019.
Coach Tomlin was asked about putting Boswell in pressure situations to kick during practice.
“We’re just getting started with exposing him to some pressure. I think one of you guys asked how we can create it in a training camp or team development-like setting. You saw examples of it tonight.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: