It’s back by popular demand! The return of looking at the players mentioned in Mike Tomlin’s press conferences carries on as the team transitioned out of full gear for practice on Wednesday. As is usually the case, these players are not always ones Tomlin brought up himself but are specifically players about whom Tomlin was asked questions. In fact, several players were brought up by Tomlin before he took questions as either missing practice or updating a previous injury.
The Steelers were running some two-minute drill on Wednesday even though they were not in pads. Coach Tomlin was asked about a specific play where Ryan Switzer possibly caught a touchdown, but there was a question as to if the quarterback was actually sacked.
“We make a point of talking about the drills being football-like and not football. And so the essence or the emphasis in the two-minute are the plays that are made down the field, the game-mechanic things on both sides of the ball. The giving and receiving of information. The rush and the protection is less significant and is really tapered in that drill. So whether or not somebody is sacked or pressured is less relevant and it’s about the other elements of the drill. I wasn’t at a perspective where I could see what happened with Switz. I assume that he got in because the guys down there signaled it a touchdown.”
Tomlin was asked about Switer again later and his abilities as a receiver in the slot.
“He brings big-time experience to that position. Not only NFL playing experience but college playing experience. I’ve seen him in that position some at Heinz Field when he played at UNC. He’s a guy that understands that’s a niche for him. So he embraces the detail required to be successful in there. He’ll continue to carve out his role in this process like everybody else is, but he does bring that unique experience to that position specifically.”
Although he is entering his fourth season with the Steelers, JuJu Smith-Schuster is only 23 years old. When he was asked earlier in the week, JuJu said he brings being the “fun guy” in the receivers room. Coach Tomlin was asked about what Smith-Schuster brings to the table that is different than all the other receivers.
“I think he brings more experience than the rest and that experience provides a platform for expertise, wisdom, guidance, among other things. I’m just talking about intangible qualities that his journey separates him from the rest of them. His talents are his talents. They speak for themselves. He’s got a unique skill set. He’s very sturdy. He’s got strong hands. He’s a very good combat catch guy. But I’m more concerned about the intangible things that his journey to this point brings. He’s a young guy but he has a wealth of experience. He’s been to the Pro Bowl and things of that nature that the other younger guys in the room can lean on and glean information from.”
Jordan Berry & Corliss Waitman
One particular camp battle which has not been discussed much is at punter between Jordan Berry and rookie Corliss Waitman. Coach Tomlin was asked how difficult it is to judge a competition at the position with no preseason games.
“Shoot, you’re just talking about a portion of the of the issues relative to sort that out. How about the holding element of it as well, which is also a component of the job? But that’s the challenge that we’re all faced with. There’s a lot of those battles in terms of the division of labor that’s that’s worrisome in this environment. We’ll push through it. We’ll create a competitive environment. The guys have a lot to do with that—the way that they embrace the competitive practice atmosphere that we have aids in sorting some of those things out. But make no mistake, there’s many layers to that discussion and others and it’s a challenge that all of us globally are faced in this no preseason game environment.”
Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here: