The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Training Camp is now complete as the team has now moved practices to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Since it is still the preseason, head coach Mike Tomlin once again spoke to reporters following practice. Even though it was somewhat brief, there was still enough 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.
There are a number of players fighting for possibly even just a practice squad position or to not be one of the five cuts the Steelers make on Tuesday. Coach Tomlin was asked specifically about one player who is fighting for a spot on the team in safety Donovan Stiner.
“He’s a young guy that’s working hard. Not getting a lot of opportunities but not making a lot of mistakes. He’s shown the ability to learn from the reps of others and that’s a good quality for a young guy to have.”
One of the Steelers starters who saw his first action of the preseason on Saturday was safety Minkah Fitzpatrick who was seen at practice on Monday with a wrap on his leg. Coach Tomlin was asked about Fitzpatrick‘s status moving forward.
Cam Sutton, James Pierre, & Justin Layne
The Steelers have had a hard time in evaluating their players to take over the slot cornerback position as injuries have really hampered some players’ availability. Coach Tomlin was asked if he liked what he saw with Cam Sutton playing on the inside and James Pierre as the outside cornerback.
“We hadn’t focused on that element of it because that’s what we know. We know Cam is inside capable, so we spent some time focusing on others. But as we get towards the end, we need to tool him up and get him ready to go as an option in that space, and that’s why we’re having the discussion.”
Ina follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if it is difficult for a player to move from the inside to the outside and back during a game.
“Very easy for him. But difficult for others. But that’s one of the things that attracted us to him even going back to the draft process. We often laugh about the night before his pro day in Knoxville. We were blown away by his football intellect and that’s proven to be true over the course of his time here.”
Coach Tomlin was asked another follow-up question if James Pierre has done enough on the outside at cornerback where they would have the freedom to use Sutton on the inside. In his response, Coach Tomlin brought up Justin Layne as well.
“We’re still squirreling those nuts. He’s got another big game. He got some practice this week, he, and others. He and Layne are doing a good job. We’ll keep watching.”
Another player who saw his first action of the 2021 preseason was veteran cornerback Joe Haden. Coach Tomlin was asked about Haden‘s comments that he was just as fast as he was when he came to Pittsburgh from the Cleveland Browns.
“Hey, if he said it, I agree with him.”
Something a number of Steelers’ fans have been complaining about was not being able to see quarterback Dwayne Haskins operating with the first team offense. Coach Tomlin was asked if there was something that Haskins has yet to show that has kept him from getting first team reps in games.
“No, we just have a rotation that we subscribe to. We’ll get opportunities to present ourselves out here in a practice setting. You get opportunities in a game. It’s not about what group you’re working with, it’s about the work that you do within the group. That’s messaging that we’re relaying to all players. Some guys might want varsity action, but if you’re in a JV game, you’d better look like a varsity player. That’s an analogy that we’re drawing with all the guys, and you can apply that to him as well.”
A replay of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen on the Steelers YouTube channel HERE.