The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing their preparation for the Carolina Panthers on Friday night. In a more informal than normal weekly press conference before the team took the field on practice on Wednesday, head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to reporters and answered a lot of questions. 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.
Joe Schobert & Melvin Ingram III
In his opening statement, Coach Tomlin said there will be a number of players not seeing the field Friday night for the Steelers. Coach Tomlin was asked specifically about newcomer‘s Joe Schobert and Melvin Ingram and if they will get some snaps against the Panthers.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of who’s playing and who’s not. Just rest assured, many of our regulars won’t.”
Mason Rudolph & Ben Roethlisberger
Another statement in Coach Tomlin’s opening remarks was that Dwayne Haskins would be starting on Friday night. Coach Tomlin was asked if Mason Rudolph would see any snaps and in his reply he also mentioned Ben Roethlisberger.
“He and Ben will not play.”
One position which seems to always intrigue Steelers’ fans during a preseason is that of kick/punt returner. Coach Tomlin was asked if Mathew Sexton had opened his eyes with his two punt returns so far this preseason.
“No, that’s the beauty of this process. We were studying the history of the series this morning in the team meeting and talking about what a platform this game is for guys to springboard to success. We talked about a guy about ten years ago named Stefan Logan that nobody knew and really didn’t have a position, but he kept adding in the return game. He had about an 80-yard punt return in the Carolina preseason game and really ran his way onto the football team. Matt’s had some moments. He’ll have an opportunity to put an exclamation point on his work like a lot of guys will.”
Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, & Kendrick Green
Although not referred to by name, the Steelers first three draft picks were the subject of a question dealing with “the three rookies who may get a lot of reps in the regular season on offense.” Coach Tomlin was asked how much the maturity and mental acuity came into play when they were being evaluated for the draft.
“We’re always trying to get a complete picture of our prospects, but some of the things you mentioned never really get confirmed until you get a chance to work with somebody day-to-day. The rest of it is just speculation. That’s why we get out and get our boots on the ground and visit guys, Pro Days, and things of that nature, in an effort to unearth some of those things. But we value all of that.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked how he was able to confirm his previous statement based on the time he had with those three players.
“We’re all still very much works in progress and those guys are included in that, no doubt.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if it had changed from where he had previously stated Najee Harris would play in all for preseason games.
“It has. He won’t.”
With Stephon Tuitt still on the sidelines this preseason, defensive lineman Chris Wormley has been the biggest benefactor of the playing time. Coach Tomlin was asked how Wormley has progressed.
“He’s done a great job with the additional reps that he’s gotten but we’re not surprised by that. He’s been a part of us, and we re-signed him in the offseason because of that expertise.”
The biggest roster move this week was the Pittsburgh Steelers placing Antoine Brooks Jr. on the Waived/Injured List. Coach Tomlin was asked if Tre Norwood‘s ability to play in the nickel had any role in the release of Brooks.
As previously mentioned, Stephon Tuitt has yet to get on the field for the Steelers this preseason. Coach Tomlin was asked if there’s a time table for Tuitt’s return.
“No, I don’t want to speculate.”
Dwayne Haskins & Josh Dobbs
With Roethlisberger and Rudolph not playing on Friday night, the quarterbacking duties will fall to Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs. Coach Tomlin was asked there were any particular areas of growth he was looking for in Haskins this week.
“I’m just interested in seeing him play more. This process is fair in that everybody gets an opportunity to show their skillset and we work hard to get to know them. He’s new to us and so the additional reps and exposure is good for him and for us to get to know him.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if each player will get an entire half of play.
“Again, we’ve got a plan, but we’ll play it by ear. We’re always committed to being light on our feet to get the information we desire.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked what it is about Carolina’s defense that could make Haskins uncomfortable.
“They’ve got a varsity group. They have talent at all levels. Burns is a talented man up front. Brown is a talented man up front from Auburn. They’ve got quality linebacker play. They’ve got a first rounder at corner and they’ve got a top-notch young safety. Like any professional group, their first wave of terror is that. There’s some talent, they’re well-schooled, they’ve got detailed fundamentals. It’s going to be an awesome challenge and platform for him.”
Kalen Ballage & Benny Snell Jr.
Another statement from Coach Tomlin in his opening remarks was that Benny Snell Jr. would finally see the field this preseason. Coach Tomlin was asked if he has seen enough from Kalen Ballage to this point and if he will get as much of an opportunity as Snell.
“He’s gonna get some opportunities, but as I mentioned in the opening, Benny hasn’t been playing because of health, so we’re excited to get him to display his health and his talents.”
Dan Moore Jr.
Despite being a 2021 fourth-round draft pick, a lot of the Steelers fans have been impressed with the play of Dan Moore Jr. on the offensive line to a point he should be considered for a starting job. Coach Tomlin was asked if Moore would be moving from side to side on Friday.
“He’s been playing both and he’ll continue.”
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.