At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin first spoke to the media before answering questions. 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.
Steelers release depth chart and have Barron and Williams as starting ILB and Bush as a backup. I would not read anything into Tomlin's first depth chart. The only reason why he does one is because the league makes him do it. It's basically by seniority, for the most part.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 6, 2019
One of the Steelers free-agent pickups this offseason, Mark Barron finds himself both filling a position of need as well as in a battle of playing time along with rookie Devin Bush. Coach Tomlin was asked about the addition of Barron and if it made the Steelers more flexible schematically.
“We’re going to discover that I think as we get into this journey. That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned that it’s awesome that we have the 53 set, and now we’re working hard to define the division of labor that highlights the skills of those within it. As we get into our game plan and things this week, the utilization of him within the linebacking corp is an example of that.
Sean Davis & Kam Kelly
Kameron Kelly conformed he got 1st-team reps at free safety Monday because Sean Davis still is dealing with injury.— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 2, 2019
Missing most of the preseason with various injuries, Sean Davis’ absence has given former AAF player Kam Kelly a chance to showcase his skills in the Steelers’ secondary. Coach Tomlin was asked if Davis will be ready to practice by Wednesday and, if not, his thoughts on Kelly.
“I don’t know. We’ll see in terms of Sean Davis’ availability. I like what I’ve seen from Kam Kelly. He’s had a good preseason and I have a great deal of confidence in him.”
I see Mike Tomlin is already pumping the brakes on Devin Bush playing time in New England. I hope he is kidding. Need to throw Bush into the deep end. Can't beat NE with heavy dose of Bince and Barron. Need Bush. The X-factor.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) September 3, 2019
The highest draft pick for the Steelers in almost 20 years, Devin Bush has many Steelers’ fans excited about the defensive upgrades. Coach Tomlin was asked about balancing playing Bush versus easing him into his first game.
“We’ll be discussing that as we develop the plan. I don’t have the answers for that as I stand here. In the long term, those answers will be based on how he performs based on the amount of work that we give him. So there is a certain element that won’t be answered as we step into a stadium Week 1, but I’m comfortable with that. There’s a lot of things that you can’t answer on a Tuesday before your opener because you haven’t been in a stadium yet. We will know more about ourselves when we walk out of that stadium, as will all the other 31 teams in the National Football League.”
Steelers DT Javon Hargrave said he expects to play out the final year of his contract without an extension, but he's not concerned with that. "That’s what it’s looking like...Just focused on having a good year this year and hopefully we win the Super Bowl."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 2, 2019
Coming off of a very strong 2018 season, Javon Hargrave is ready to step in and take more snaps than the 43.6% he saw on defense last year. Coach Tomlin was asked about his thoughts on Hargrave during camp and his importance to win his match ups on first down.
“I thought he had a solid performance in camp and in the preseason. I like how he continues to add to his portfolio. I often kid him, a nose guard is like Blockbuster Video- he better diversify. A nose doesn’t get an opportunity to play much, so he better reinvent himself as a sub-package rusher. And he’s done that over the last couple of years because of that challenge and thus he has made himself more useful to us. So it doesn’t matter whether or not he is a major component on first down or if they choose to play in that mode, he still has an opportunity to contribute to our efforts. He still has an opportunity to impact the game because of how he has developed as a sub-package rusher.”
After a strong preseason, Mason Rudolph won the Steelers' No. 2 quarterback job and will back up Ben Roethlisberger this season barring unforeseen development, per sources.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 30, 2019
It was of no surprise when Mason Rudolph was named as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup for the 2019 season. Coach Tomlin was asked about what Rudolph did to separate himself for Joshua Dobbs as the Steelers number two quarterback.
“He took very good care of the ball. He showed the natural maturation process that we expect from second-year players. First of all, he showed up in great physical condition. I think he showed a guy that has been a lap around the track in that regard. I think it set the stage for a more consistent performance. I think he’s grown a lot in terms of his understanding of how we attack people and his role within the offense and I think it showed in his play. All of those are reasons why he’s the back-up quarterback. It is all very fluid just like all of our jobs. I think one of the things you have to relay to a team, particularly at this portion of the season, particularly because we have a lot of young guys that are living out their dreams, guys wanting to make the 53-man roster, etc. They will continually earn those roles in those positions in the group day to day. It never ends. There’s not opportunity to breathe a sign of relief, if you will. It won’t be for Mason, it won’t be for any of us.He better earn that second quarterback job daily. If not, Dobbs will be waiting. That’s just the nature of this thing at this level. We relayed that, not only to the quarterbacks but to all the guys. This is just the beginning for us. How we proceed, the division of labor, what we ask guys to do, the amount of which we ask guys to do, whether or not they continue to be here is based on performance. That’s just professional football.”
The highest-graded DBs through the 2019 NFL preseason.— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) August 30, 2019
Terrell Edmunds (86.7)
He’s looked better this preseason though, with a forced fumble and two pass breakups from his 66 snaps on the field.https://t.co/mZsVLnAvRD pic.twitter.com/cW0U6d08Lq
Coming into his second season, Terrell Edmunds is ready to make the big jump in production that the Steelers have come to expect once players finish their rookie season. Coach Tomlin was asked about Edmunds stepping up in playing the Patriots a second time.
“I’m sure. He’s been in the stadium with them before. He stood back on his half field and made eye contact with 12 and understands what it means in terms of some of the line of scrimmage play and other things. So I’m sure it’ll be useful to him, but I’m sure he’ll have that experience in a lot of circumstances this year as a second-year player. ‘Hey, I’ve been here before.’ I think that’s why it’s reasonable for people in my position to expect and increased quality of play in all of those guys, and that’s why we’re not bashful about challenging all second-year players in that way.”
Hear from Ramon Foster, Chris Boswell, Javon Hargrave and others following today's practice. pic.twitter.com/mFLqSD2lmp— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 3, 2019
With his 2018 woes hopefully behind him, Chris Boswell is ready for a fresh start for the 2019 season. Coach Tomlin was asked what Boswell did to win the kicking job and his confidence in him moving forward.
“He was really consistent throughout the process. He essentially answered all of the challenges that we presented to him. And we, in this room, openly talked about some of the challenges that we created for him in practice and in stadium situationally and so forth. He was really consistent.”
Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here: