The 2021 NFL regular season is moving through the final quarter and the Steelers and the Steelers have started off with a victory. Since it is scheduled to be a regular week of work, Mike Tomlin held his typical Tuesday press conference. 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.
Pressley Harvin III
Early in his press conference, Mike Tomlin said it was the Steelers net punting which put them in bad field position in the first half of Sunday’s game. Coach Tomlin was asked how he addresses consistency with Pressley Harvin at this point of the season.
“He and we smile in the face of adversity and we send him back out there. We’re going into game 14 or so, this guy hadn’t played 14 games at Georgia Tech, so he’s facing the challenges that most rookies face that are significant contributors from wire to wire like he is. There’s going to be some ups and downs during the course of the journey. I have the perspective of being in the job that I’ve been in a long time and have an understanding relative to that, and so we’re committed to him and his talents. We’ll keep sending him out there. We expect him to work his way through it, and we’ll expect him to smile in the face of adversity that his rookie season is presenting to him and grow from it.”
Minkah Fitzpatrick & Terrell Edmunds
In a press conference on Monday, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick discussed how he and Terrell Edmunds have become a one–two punch. Coach Tomlin was asked about the communication between their two safeties and the trust that the coaches have in them.
“You know, they’ve gotten continuity. They’ve played together for a number of years, both former first rounders from the same draft. They’re getting to the point in their career where their snap experience aids them individually and collectively, so we’re just reaping the rewards of that continuity and that gained experience that they have individually and collectively. I think it’s reasonable for that to manifest itself in terms of menu variation, disguises, communications, all the things that make safety play critical, and particularly when you’re facing good people such as Mahomes and Kansas City.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about another statement from Fitzpatrick’s press conference on Monday where he said paying attention to your body is just as important as anything else at this point of the season, and if he was going to keep having physical practices.
“You know, I didn’t acknowledge that I planned on keeping practices physical this week, so I agree with Minkah. We’re going to take care of their bodies.”
In another later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he saw improvement with the Steelers tackling despite giving up so many rushing yards. In his response, he specifically mentioned Fitzpatrick.
“Boy, I did. I thought Minkah was exceptional in the game. We still had gap integrity issues that we’ve had, particularly in recent weeks, and to be quite honest with you, at times that comes when you’re playing with some younger and inexperienced guys and guys that are at the outset of their career in terms of gaining footing. There’s going to be some breakouts, there’s going to be some lack of gap integrity. I thought that Minkah was exceptional in Tennessee at minimizing some of that damage, and with his open-grasp tackling, I don’t know how many tackles we credited him with, 12 solos or what have you, the nature of those tackles, those are angle open-grasp tackles. I can’t say enough about what Minkah has done in that area in an effort to shore up that component of our play. And we’ve still got miles to go to be quite honest with you, but the efforts that he’s provided us has been a shot in the arm in terms of minimizing some of their damage.”
T.J. Watt & Joe Haden
An ongoing theme in this press conference was Coach Tomlin discussing facing adversity. Coach Tomlin was asked how players like Joe Haden or T.J. Watt learn to face adversity the way they do.
“To be quite honest with you, when you’re young and inexperienced you’re capable of blinking when things get tough. When the road gets narrow you make mistakes, you lack detail, you lack focus, you lack communication skills and so forth. The more that you’re in those circumstances, you learn,and you’re shaped by success, particularly in those experiences, and it’s reasonable to expect there to be more awareness because of those experiences, more communication, more play making, more comfort, if you will. So that’s why it’s significant.”
It is opening statement, Coach Tomlin mentioned having an Kevin Dotson practice as he looks to come back from the Reserve/Injured List. Coach Tomlin was asked specifically if this means the 21-day window is going to be officially activated for Dotson.
“Correct. Correct. I intend to start the 21-day window of his availability this week.”
Sunday’s game against the Titans saw Najee Harris with the fewest rushing yards of his young NFL career. Coach Tomlin was asked if he is seeing teams paying more attention to Harris as the season goes on.
“You know, no doubt. I think he’s — with each game tape, he’s more of a known commodity, and so he gets attention that’s reflective of that. It’s just like teams are paying more attention to (Ja’Marr) Chase in Cincinnati now than they were earlier in the year. He had to run by a few people before that became real. I think young players earn their reputations throughout their rookie year, and over the course of the season people respond to accordingly based on what it is they see. I would imagine Parsons is getting more attention in Dallas in terms of getting him blocked than he was in September, for example.”
Robert Spillane & Carlos Davis
Joe Haden was not the only player to get back on the field against the Tennessee Titans after missing time due to injury. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he saw from Robert Spillane coming back from his injury and if he expects to get more from him in the coming weeks. In his response, coach Tomlin also mentioned Carlos Davis returning from injury.
“I was appreciative of his efforts. It was good to get him back in uniform. We worked him in in the ways that we worked some of the other guys in that were working their way back, Carlos Davis, Joe Haden. We had them all on a pitch count. It’s reasonable to expect that to continue and increase where earned, and Rob did a good job,and we’ll see where this week leads us.”
The biggest injury news from the Steelers Week 15 game was tight end Pat Freiermuth going into the NFL’s concussion protocol. Coach Tomlin was asked if Freiermuth is unavailable this week what his options are at tight end.
“You know, I haven’t spent a lot of time pondering the hypotheticals. You guys got our roster, not only our active roster but our practice squad. Our answers are in house if he’s unavailable.”
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