And so it contines! Looking at the players mentioned in Mike Tomlin’s press conferences carries on as the team wore their game uniforms for an evening practice at Heinz Field on Saturday. 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. This time, half the players listed were brought up by Tomlin in his responses.
One of the unsung heroes on the Steelers defensive line is Tyson Alualu who is going to be asked to step up even more in 2020 with the departure of Javon Hargrave. Knowing Alualu is the second-oldest player on the Steelers behind only Ben Roethlisberger, Coach Tomlin was asked what young defensive linemen can learn from the veteran.
“He brings a consistent professional approach. He brings an attention to detail from a technique standpoint. His fine motor skills relative to his position are excellent, but he drills it. So if a young guy’s watching, he’ll see the process that he goes by in terms of developing it and maintaining it and enhancing it through the team development process. And so he’s a good teammate in that regard and, obviously, we’re glad to have him.”
Bud Dupree & T.J. Watt
The Steelers’ pair of outside linebackers became one of the best tandems in the NFL in 2019. Coach Tomlin was asked what he has seen so far from his two stellar edge rushers.
“Just a continual maturation process of themselves as individuals, but also them as a tandem. It’s fun to watch the cooperative work. They challenge one another daily. They hone their fine skills during special teams periods. Some of the unofficial things that they do, the routines that they have formed is things that you see when you’re looking at a special tandem. And I know that is their intention to be what it is we need them to be, which is special.”
Vance McDonald & Maurkice Pouncey
Discussing injuries which occurred during practice on Saturday before he took questions, Coach Tomlin revealed long snapper Kameron Canaday was dealing with a knee injury. When Coach Tomlin was asked about the back-up long snapper position, he brought up McDonald and even Maurkice Pouncy who was not in attendance at practice.
“We’re determining who that is at this juncture. We have some candidates we’ve worked with in that capacity. We’ve worked Vance McDonald in that capacity. Maurkice Pouncey has worked in that capacity in the past. So I don’t know that anybody has a lock on that position. This process will reveal that to us.”
Marcus Allen, Mike Hilton, & Antoine Brooks Jr.
One of the favorite drills of both the coaches and Steelers fans during training camp in “backs on backers.” Coach Tomlin was asked about safety Marcus Allen participating in the drill and if it was a position where he was being considered. In his answer, Coach Tomlin brought up other defensive backs Mike Hilton and rookie Antoine Brooks.
“We’ve rotated a lot of secondary guys down to running-backs-versus-linebacker-like competition because, particularly the safety position, is linebacker-like. Yesterday in a tackling drill we brought Mike Hilton and Antoine Brooks down with the linebackers. Today, we’re in a blitz drill, we brought Mike Hilton and Marcus Allen. So some of those safeties, particularly those that play in the box, we bring them down to running back competition because the responsibilities of their job are linebacker-like.”
Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here: