The 2021 NFL regular season is underway and teams are starting to get into a routine with what occurs during a typical game week. Heading into a week with an extra practice due to playing on Monday night, the Steelers won’t have their first official practice of the week until Thursday. Even with everything else pushed back a day, head coach Mike Tomlin held his regularly scheduled press conference on Tuesday. With many players discussed, it’s time for another players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.
One item which was brought up several times throughout the press conference was the Steelers faked field goal and subsequent injury to Chris Boswell. Coach Tomlin was asked If he believed there should have been a flag for a hit to the head.
“‘I’m not getting into that. I know that (Shawn) Hochuli spoke about it and gave a statement regarding it after the game at the request of you guys. No color needs to be added for me. It’s in our rear view. We’re moving on to the next one.”
Pressley Harvin III, Cam Sutton, & Ben Roethlisberger
Another issue with the injury to Chris Boswell was the players who would be available to fill-in as the kicker and holder in place of an emergency. Coach Tomlin was asked if Pressley Harvin was the emergency kicker and how those things are determined. In his response, Tomlin stated Ben Roethlisberger is the emergency holder.
“We have an emergency kicker, and he’s a component of that. We have an emergency snapper. Ben is our emergency holder. But sometimes you get in those circumstances just because you have somebody identified. It doesn’t mean that you’re comfortable or doesn’t mean that they’re varsity. So,although there’s somebody that occupies the position, you still have decisions to make on whether or not that that’s the most prudent thing to do. I remember years ago, I had James Harrison identified as the backup snapper. I knew James wouldn’t leave it short. And he didn’t. He came into the game and he snapped the ball over the punter’s head for a safety. You think about moments such as that when you’re in these unusual circumstances, and it’s a component of decision-making no doubt.”
In a follow up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Cam Sutton being used as the holder and if those players knew they were not going to be called upon.
“Guys had a can-do attitude. Guys wanted to ante up and kick in in any way that they could. I don’t know some of the things that you talked about in terms of who was doing what to my back. But we had a plan, and we were going to execute that plan, and I appreciate the willingness of guys to lend themselves to the calls in whatever way they felt like they could.”
For the second straight game, offensive tackle Zach Banner was inactive after coming off the Reserve/Injured List. Coach Tomlin was asked if the cohesion going on between the offensive line would inhibit him from inserting Banner into the lineup.
“It does not, no.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked what Zach Banner needs to do in order to be active on game day.
“He needs to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s healthy. He’s been given clearance from a health standpoint. He needs to knock the dust or the rust off and prove that he’s a viable guy that can help us win a game, and that’s done with repetitions in practice and in competitive circumstances. We’ll keep doing that and we’ll see where the roads lead us this week.”
Dan Moore Jr. & Kendrick Green
Part of the Steelers recent success leading to victories in their last three games is due to improved play on the offensive line, including rookie starters Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green. Coach Tomlin was asked how his rookie lineman took on the responsibilities in such a big game.
“Their play is one thing, and it’s getting increasingly more steady and more consistent and good over the course of play. That’s a reasonable expectation of talented young people. I’m equally as impressed with their demeanor. You get in hot AFC North road venues and things of that nature, playing against the type of people that they played against, and it was cool to have conversations with them, and to see them engaged, and to see that the moments weren’t too big for them,and they could communicate. And not only communicate what was happening on the field, but just communicate in general. They’re built for it. Oftentimes, through the Draft process, you work your tails off to find out whether or not they’rebuilt for it, but you don’t really get confirmation of that until you’re working with them. I think we’re getting confirmation, particularly in the two minute dimension.”
Taco Charlton & Derrek Tuszka
After trading Melvin Ingram, the Steelers depth at outside linebacker consists of Taco Charlton and Derrek Tuszka. Coach Tomlin was asked what he has seen from Charlton in practice to make him believe he is ready for this role.
“He’s a talented guy. That’s why he was taken where he was taken in the Draft. Shoot, I think he was taken before T.J. Watt. But he’s long, he’s athletic, he’s got an appetite for the rush component of play. He’s good with his hands against tight ends and tight end-like people. He’s an outside linebacker that spent some time as a defensive lineman in this League and in college. Those guys usually play with heavy hands and it makes them good in the run game. Very similar to Melvin Ingram in that way. There are a lot of things for us to be excited about in terms of what he might be able to contribute to us moving forward.”
In a later question, Tomlin was asked if seeing Charlton and Tuszka in a game made him more comfortable in order to make the trade involving Ingram.
“Huge component of it.”
T.J. Watt, & Alex Highsmith
Now with Ingram gone, an even bigger percentage of the snaps at outside linebacker will likely rest on T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Coach Tomlin was asked if he feels that what he has seen so far from his to outside linebackers is sustainable.
Many Steeler fans are still patiently waiting on the return of Stephon Tuitt. Coach Tomlin was asked once again for an update onto it and whether or not he’s nearing return to practice.
“It is a weekly update, but it’s very similar to last week. It’s been a good week. He’s getting better. No negativity in terms of anything to report regarding his work back to return, but not close enough to put any color to it more than what I just described.”
Isaiahh Loudermilk, Isaiah Buggs, & Henry Mondeaux
Against the Browns, the Steelers used a lot more of their base package in order to help stop the run. Coach Tomlin was asked what he saw from young players on his defensive line who were called into more action. In his response, Tomlin mentioned several players who were already outlined previously.
“Those guys have been playing increasingly more in recent weeks anyway. It’s just born out of the attrition or the adversity that the game of football presents. We’re playing without Tuitt. We’re playing without Tyson Alulu. So as those guys gain our confidence, they will get more reps. Loudermilk being an example of it. He’s a rookie and he’s gaining our confidence through what he does here day to day. You give him more reps when he earns more reps. Derrek being an outside linebacker that’s new to us. Taco, same thing. The more confidence they earn, the more opportunities they get to contribute. There are other guys that are in similar circumstances but are further down the road. Isaiah Buggs has been here longer. Henry Mondeaux has been here longer. It’s about those new guys, probably. Those are the guys that are getting the increased reps because they’re gaining our confidence through what they do here day to day. We know that they have detail in their business, and so those are the guys that get an opportunity to put their hand in the pile and help us secure victory.”
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