The 2021 NFL regular season is underway and teams are starting to get into a routine with what occurs during a typical game week. That is, until the bye week appears and changes everything. As the Steelers get in practice early in the week before giving the players some time off, head coach Mike Tomlin did not hold his regularly scheduled press conference on Tuesday. Instead, he spoke with the media following practice. With several players brought up, it’s time for another players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players (mostly) where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster going on the Reserve/Injured List last week, it was assumed James Washington would see an increased role in the offense. Coach Tomlin was asked if Washington only saw eight snaps on Sunday because he was dealing with a lingering injury.
“No, it’s just matchup related.”
For the last two games, the Steelers have employed a third down defense in which Robert Spillane comes in as the only inside linebacker. Coach Tomlin was asked the rationale behind utilizing Spillane in this manner.
“He’s a capable guy. He’s played a lot in the past. We’re just trying to carve out a role for him to allow him to find some footing and be an available guy if called upon. He’ll have some in-game experience. We know he’s capable. Plus, the other guys, it gives them the opportunity to remain fresh. When people are running a platoon of backs at you, for example, it’s good to have some depth and play multiple people to match that. In recent weeks, and even in upcoming weeks, you should be able to anticipate a platoon of backs. Oftentimes, you combat that with a platoon of backers.”
After being utilized minimally the previous week, rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth had seven receptions on seven targets in Week 6. Coach Tomlin was asked why Freiermuth was a bigger part of the offense this past week.
“Again, matchup-related things, guys. Some weeks, some guys are going to be highlighted based on matchups, whether it’s schematics or whether it’s personnel related matchups. It’s just a component of the game. Guys don’t deliver the same stats week in and week out. It’s all over football. One week, somebody has a big game that provides a platform for somebody else to rise upand have a big game the subsequent week. It’s just a component of good team or unit play.”
Despite not being on the 53-man roster because he is on IR, I included Stephon Tuitt because a lot of Steelers fans continually ask about his status. Coach Tomlin was asked if he could give some clarity to the Tuitt situation.
“He’s still on IR and working hard and making progress. How close he is to returning to play, I do not have an answer to that as I stand here right now.”
Despite being moved back to the 53-man roster on Saturday, Zach Banner was not active for the Steelers’ Sunday night game against Seattle. Coach Tomlin was asked if Banner’s inactive status on Sunday was a reflection of where he is in the depth chart or if he was simply not ready to play.
“He’s in a good position. We’re in a good position. That’s just something that we want to look at on the other side of the bye. That was the decision that was made last week and has no reflection or bearing on the decision that we’re going to make in the upcoming weeks.”
If you want to watch Mike Tomlin’s press conference, you can do so by clicking HERE which will send you to the Steelers YouTube channel.