The 2021 NFL regular season is moving into the final two games and the Steelers have put themselves in a must-win situation for the rest of the season. Even though the Steelers have an extra day with their next game being on Monday night against the Cleveland Browns, 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.
With only two games remaining, many are looking at this being Ben Roethlisberger’s final games in a Steelers uniform. Coach Tomlin was asked if he was getting a sense that it is Roethlisberger’s last home game and if it would impact anything.
“You know, I don’t know that it’s going to impact anything relative to what we intend to do or what he intends to do. Like I’ve mentioned several times, when that subject is broached in these settings, Ben has really done a nice job of setting the pace regarding that throughout the season. He’s been singularly focused on the next challenge in where we are in terms of the here and now, so it’s been easy to follow his lead in that regard, and I’m sure we all will do the same as we press forward toward Monday Night Football.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked how he would sum up what Roethlisberger has done at Heinz Field in his career up to this point.
“To be honest with you, we don’t have enough time. I mean, I’ve experienced 15 years of Hall of Fame caliber play as it pertains to Ben. My focus and his focus this week is this game and preparing for this game and performing well in this game. I’m sure there will be an appropriate time in the future where I’ll get an opportunity to sing his praises, and I will gladly do so. It just doesn’t feel like the appropriate time as we zero in on this opportunity that is Monday Night Football this week.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question if it was possible they could simply turn the offense over to Roethlisberger and give him the keys early in the game.
“I’m not opposed to that. Ben is always a component of planning, particularly as it pertains to starts. He’s a guy that’s been on the job 18 years at the quarterback position. You know, it would be foolish for us not to include him in the process, so I’m not going to pretend like that has not been a component or a part of the discussions as it pertains to the development of plans to this point in the season.”
The Steelers defensive line has been struggling as they continue to allow their opponents to rack up a lot of rushing yards. Coach Tomlin was asked about the challenges young players could face this week as they prepare for a big game against an opponent they have already succeeded against. In his response, Coach Tomlin specifically mentioned Isaiahh Loudermilk.
“When you’re talking about young players that you’ve mentioned, it’s less about the opponent and it’s more about their growth from game to game and the things that they can do to get better. You’d better focus on the you. They’re just writing the beginnings of their professional football story. For example, last week was Loudermilk’s first start and he had some quality experiences in game. How does he build upon that? The nameless gray faces that we play are secondary as it relates to some of the things that you suggest regarding young people and establishing themselves as consistent varsity players.”
Pressley Harvin III & Corliss Waitman
With Pressley Harvin III missing Sunday’s game due to the death of his father, Steelers brought back punter Corliss Waitman who spent 2020 training camp and part of the season on the practice squad with the Steelers. Coach Tomlin was asked if he expected to have Harvin back this week, and in his response he also mentioned Waitman.
“I know the services for his father are at some point this week. It’s our intention to be extremely supportive of him. We’ve been in communication with him. We’ll see where the roads lead. Meanwhile I’ll say that I’m really pleased and appreciative of Corliss and glad that we were able to reacquire him. Our previous past shared experiences I think really provided a lot of comfort for us going into the stadium in Kansas City, and if we need to use him again, I’m sure, particularly with an additional week’s work, we’ll have an increased level of comfort this week.”
There was a report over the weekend that the Steelers did not expect to have Stephon Tuitt back at any point of a 2021 NFL season. Coach Tomlin was asked if he could give any clarity to the report.
“I have nothing to add regarding anyone that’s on injured reserve that I didn’t mention in my opening. Thank you.”
Dan Moore Jr.
One of the biggest tasks the Steelers offensive line has to worry about against the Browns is defensive end Myles Garrett. Coach Tomlin was asked if they need to be aware of times where rookie left tackle Dan Moore Jr. could be left one-on-one with Garrett.
“We’re highly aware of it. We’re aware of when he’s in the game and when he’s not, but there’s also some challenges because they play him on the left side, they play him on the right side. It depends on whether he’s in conjunction — the last time with (Jadeveon) Clowney or with Takk (Takkarist McKinley) or others. Certainly, we’re highly cognizant of where he is. In my opening I talked about the fact that he’s a game wrecker and we’ve got to work to minimize that. I’m sure I said similar things in the opening the first time we played them, but that’s why they play the game and that’s why they move him around and that’s why he is the challenge that he is. So, we’ve got some work to do there, but also from time to time when you play a 65-, 70- to 75-snap game, someone is going to have to block him one-on-one from time to time, and who better to do it than your left tackle. I’m not running away from that, and Dan Moore is not running away from that, either. That’s just a component of ball. I was just looking at tape this morning, and I saw Villanueva got put into one-on-one circumstances a few weeks —on a play action pass against him a few weeks ago and it was a sack fumble. That’s just the challenge that is Myles Garrett. It’s week in and week out. It’s not one snap, it’s 75 or so snaps, and so there’s some urgency there that’s required.”
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