The Pittsburgh Steelers dodged the weather at Heinz Field for 2021 Training Camp on Thursday. Since the Steelers were back on the field, we were also given the typical media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Therefore, it’s time to look at the 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.
Coach Tomlin was asked about what he’s like the most from the Steelers two minute drill. In discussing what happened, Coach Tomlin specifically brought up a play he liked by wide receiver Diontae Johnson.
“I just liked the competitive spirit. I liked the communication pre-snap on defense, I like the way the quarterbacks were working to challenge them down on the grass. You’ve got to take calculated risks in those moments, you’ve got to have a big play every now and then. I thought the play by Diontae when he reversed field and got out of the pocket of the defense and was able to get additional yards and get out of bounds is a type of play you’ve gotta have in those moments. It allowed us to get a chunk of real estate, it allowed us to preserve a time out. All of that is critical in that situation.”
When Coach Tomlin was asked about something he didn’t like about the two minute drill, he talked about the Steelers offense not making the right play with very little time left. Instead, Coach Tomlin mentioned safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and how he made the play that stopped the offense and ran out the clock.
“At 15 seconds, we’ve got to take shots at the endzone. When Minkah tackled that guy on the field of play right there, the game’s over, and we’ve got to have that level of awareness. It was annoying, yes, but I also acknowledge that the learning process is part of this. It’s an opportunity to teach but some of those guys have been around a little bit, and so I expressed that feeling.”
T.J. Watt & Stephon Tuitt
Always part of the concern throughout training camp are the players who do not practice each day. Coach Tomlin was asked about when T.J. Watt would be available to practice and he lumped him together with Stephon Tuitt.
“I’m just day-to-day to be honest with you. Probably the same level of participation with some others: Stephon Tuitt and others. I’m focused on the guys that are working and their opportunities and the process that this group is collectively going through.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question about if T.J. Watt was dealing with an injury.
“I don’t have to report injuries this time of year, so I won’t.”
Pressley Harvin III
One player who was noted for making a splash in regards to special teams was seventh-round draft pick Pressley Harvin. Coach Tomlin was asked about the hangtime exhibition Harvin was putting on with his punts on Thursday.
“He looked like Ray Guy a time or two, didn’t he? Yeah, those guys have been battling and we respect all the battles that are going on out here. So are the snappers. They don’t get a lot of attention, but believe me, we value it. The guys are interested in how they’re competing and we provide a platform for those guys to distinguish themselves as much as we can.”
Rico Bussey & Matthew Sexton
A young wide receiver who was turning a lot of heads at practice on Thursday was undrafted free agent Rico Bussey out of Hawaii. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he thought of Bussey’s play on Thursday and he brought up fellow wide receiver Matthew Sexton as someone who was making plays on a previous day.
“He made a play or two. But Sexton made a play or two the other day. You guys didn’t call Sexton over.”
One player who was noted for having an interception on Thursday was the other seventh-round draft pick Tre Norwood. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has seen from Norwood so far this training camp and if interceptions are a specialty of his.
“I hope so. He’s a sharp kid. He communicates well, and at this stage of the journey, that communication indicates understanding. So that’s a good place to be at for a guy in his spot. We’ll just keep putting him in position to do what he’s done thus far.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question about if Norwood will be getting into the competition for the slot cornerback position.
“Position flexibility we value, but we’re not doing a lot of that at this juncture. There’s going to be plenty of time to move people around. We just wanted to get him stable at safety first. There’s going to be opportunities for that. We’re working some others in some of the subpacket stuff. At the end of the day, we just want to know what all of them are capable of and have some flexibility there, and he’s obviously one of those chess pieces.”
Being a former first-round draft pick, Dwayne Haskins is a player who is likely to be scrutinized with every good and bad thing he does on the field. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has liked from Haskins so far in training camp.
“I like what he’s doing. He’s taking care of the ball but at the same time being aggressive. He’s dialed in been in the reps in which he’s not going. He’s building a rapport with the group of guys that he’s getting an opportunity to work with. And I think that’s a component of this that we don’t often talk about too is there’s a get to know in terms of the cohesion, particularly when you’re working with multiple groups and multiple people. And that’s a guy that’s getting some third group reps, that’s a guy that’s getting some second group reps, and so he’s got a lot of people to get comfortable with.”
Robert Spillane & Devin Bush
The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to have Devin Bush and Robert Spillane as their top two linebackers on the depth chart for 2021. Interesting enough, the two players have rarely seen the field together in their time in Pittsburgh. Coach Tomlin was asked about the importance of the relationship between Bush and Spillane.
“It’s about cooperative work and communication in a tandem. And it’s cool from my perspective because it’s generational. I watched it happen with Vince Williams and Ryan Shazier when they were young, and it’s really kind of born out of that, and it’s been passed down from duo to duo over the years in that room. That’s one of the cool things that happens in environments like this.”
A portion of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below as well as a link to the full interview on the Steelers’ YouTube channel.