At the end of his weekly press conference on Wednesday before the Pittisburgh Steelers took the field for practice, head coach Mike Tomlin answered questions from the media. Coach Tomlin was 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.
this time it's Devlin Hodges finding Johnny Holton deep down the field for a big gain #Steelers— Tony Serino - Locked On Steelers (@steelercountry) August 7, 2019
If it seems as if Mike Tomlin has been asked more questions about fourth-string quarterback Devlin Hodges than Ben Roethlisberger or any of the other Steelers quarterbacks, that’s because it’s true. After struggling early in camp, Hodges has come on strong as of late and is making the push for more playing time on Friday.
After clearing up any confusion by stating Joshua Dobbs will start followed by Mason Rudolph, Coach Tomlin was asked if they will get to Hodges for some playing time on Friday and what all he has seen that he liked.
“The moments out here haven’t been too big for him. Obviously, the confines of a stadium are different. We’d like to get him some play. We’ll see how the flow of the game goes. We’re working with the intentions of doing that, but sometimes things unfold a little bit differently once you get inside the stadium. So those are the intentions. He’s been deserving of the opportunity. I’m sure he’ll get it here this week or the next.”
Through 11 practices the Steelers placekicking battle looks like this:— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 7, 2019
✅Chris Boswell 28 of 29.
✅Matthew Wright 24 of 28.
Many Steelers fans believe if Chris Boswell would have had a better 2018 season, the Steelers would have been in the playoffs. The numbers support this conclusion, but luckily the training camp numbers appear to be much improved from last season.
Coach Tomlin was asked how he will distribute the kicking opportunities as it pertains to Boswell.
“Our intentions right now is to go every other kick regardless of circumstance. We’ve done that out here. You guys have felt that, whether it’s punting or kicking, and that’s our intentions as we go into the stadium.”
Tomlin was later asked another question about Boswell and his performance so far this preseason.
“He’s been solid, but we haven’t done anything yet. We’re stepping into a stadium for the first time. That’s exciting. We put him in some situations out here, but we’re just beginning to unfold the story line in terms of the consistency there, not only for him but for all of those guys.”
Ola blows up an attempted reverse. Mason tried to block him but quickly thought better of it #Steelers— Tony Serino - Locked On Steelers (@steelercountry) August 3, 2019
In the absence of T.J. Watt, Ola Adeniyi has taken his opportunity and run with it. Even with Watt’s return, Ola has earned a significant amount of playing time for Friday night.
Coach Tomlin was asked if he viewed this as Ola’s second year since he played so little in 2018 due to injury.
“I don’t view this as his second year. He didn’t play enough. He’s done some nice things here and displayed growth and development. Obviously, he’s been a part of the program, so there’s some benefits from that perspective in terms of knowing expectations and understanding environments and know the turns in the road so forth that first-timers don’t. But he doesn’t have enough playing experience- on-field playing experience- for that to be a real asset to him. I think he’s preparing with that in mind.”
Some thoughts from @steelers camp after my visit there Wednesday:— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) August 8, 2019
1. The young WRs are promising, but Donte Moncrief sounds like the front-runner for WR2 at this point.
2. Rookie LB Devin Bush is impressing the… https://t.co/onpgKNHxgr
It would be safe to say that the biggest thing Steelers fans are looking forward to Friday night is the debut of Devin Bush. After all, he is the highest draft pick the Steelers have selected since Plaxico Burress in 2000.
Coach Tomlin was asked about the excitement around the debut of Bush and how they are planning to use him.
“We’re going to determine that. Obviously, he’s going to play. We’re still in the process of determining how much. It really kind of depends on his overall readiness and health, and the health of those around him. Such is life this time of year. It’s very fluid from a day-to-day availability standpoint. That’s why I’m not going to make any hard and fast determinations about who’s playing and who’s not from a health standpoint. I’m just going to leave the light on for everyone.”
Ben to Samuels on a slant for a TD #Steelers— Tony Serino - Locked On Steelers (@steelercountry) August 7, 2019
With all the hype around Benny Snell coming out of training camp, Jaylen Samuels is sometimes the forgotten running back in line to make the 53-man roster, having put up 142 yards against the Patriots in Week 15 last season. Samuels has shown he is a capable backup.
Coach Tomlin was asked if Samuels has carried over some of the things he was doing well at the end of last season.
“Yes he has. But really it just starts with the overall level of conditioning. There’s a significant difference in his level of conditioning in this setting this year as opposed to least year. And it’s reasonable to expect that. The same could be said about James Washington. But I think it’s a springboard for both guys and others in their class to get an increased level of production and consistency. I’ve gotten that from him.”
The player who might have the highest expectations to make the largest second-year jump is wide reciever James Washington. It took Washington a long time to get acclimated to the NFL last season, but if he can hit the ground running come Week 1 of the regular season, the Steelers should be blessed to have great options to choose from in receiver-heavy packages.
Coach Tomlin was asked about what he sees from Washington on the practice field and how he can transition that into a game.
“All second-year guys that applies to. He’s done some good things out here. It’s going to be a great opportunity for him on Friday night in the stadium as it will be for others.”
Sean Davis: “I want to be a full participant by next week. That’s my goal.” #Steelers— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 7, 2019
Trying to fight his way back from an injured finger, Sean Davis is entering a contract year if he does not work out an extension with the Steelers by the beginning of the regular season. With the depth at safety a concern entering training camp, getting Davis back onto the field would be a much-welcomed addition.
Coach Tomlin was asked if Davis is needing more reps or if he’s been held out practice as a precaution.
“It’s not a precaution. He had an open wound on his hand and it had to heal. He’s just starting to work his way back to us. He needs the work- they all need the work.”
Although some have been doubting his ability to function effectively as a number one receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster is primed to have a monster season. If other receivers can emerge to help draw off some coverage, JuJu should be able to be in Pro Bowl form again in 2019.
Coach Tomlin was asked if he can replicate the coverage in practice that JuJu is going to see during the regular season.
“I’m not worried about what others do, or what others might do from a game-planning standpoint. We just have to put our pieces in place. We’re at the stage of development where we just need to learn what it is that we’re doing and be where it is that we need to be and make the necessary plays. That’s further down the road, to be quite honest with you. I’m not going to make any assumptions about how anyone’s going to play him or us at this juncture. Really, it’s about his and our growth and development.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: