Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers held practice at Heinz Field p on Monday, it was before the pads went on when head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media in what will become his typical Tuesday press conference. 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.
Before Tuesday’s press conference, it was unclear if Coach Tomlin would be treating first-round draft pick Najee Harris more like a starter or a first-year player. Coach Tomlin was asked how he planned on handling Harris on Thursday in regards to playing time.
“Really, there’s nothing to juggle. He’s a rookie. He needs the process of game preparation and then, ultimately, play. We’ve got our opportunities for him to do that. We’re going to make sure that he participates in all four of those processes. We’ll determine how much he plays, but the preparation process, the process of readying yourself to play, is something that I believe all those young guys need, regardless of their potential roles for us once the regular season starts. I just want to get them to as many stadiums and watch them prepare and watch them establish routines that make them comfortable, that maximize their ability in a game-like setting. So, I’m excited about watching him do that for the first time. I think he’s going to learn and grow from it, aside from the actual playing the game, just the process leading up to play. And like I said, we’ll determine tonight or tomorrow potentially how much that is.”
Dwayne Haskins & Josh Dobbs
One of the biggest questions going into a preseason game is how the playing time will be distributed between quarterbacks. Coach Tomlin was asked about his plans to use the quarterbacks Thursday and he specifically discussed Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs.
“Not necessarily so. I think we made a decision today in anticipating that maybe Dwayne will finish first half and Dobbs will finish the game because we’re going to work two-minute today and we’ll have two sets, and those are the two quarterbacks we chose just in anticipation of trying to get the guy’s game-ready that could be in the game at those moments. But that’s as far as I am down the road in terms of identifying how much guys are playing and things of that nature. You’ve just got to kind of forecast for the efforts of work. So those two guys will get the two-minute, and those are the probable guys that could be in the game at those moments on Thursday night.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question about Dwayne Haskins growth and development.
“He’s grown by leaps and bounds. He does a good job of communicating with coaches, with players, gaining an understanding of what we’re trying to do schematically and his role in it, gaining a rapport with the receivers specifically, trying to do the things that we want him to do in the drill work that we do. We’ve made an emphasis that drill work is football-like but not necessarily football, and so we have certain things that we emphasize under those circumstances. I think he’s done a nice job of that. I think a lot of guys have.”
After hearing that Ben Roethlisberger will not be playing on Thursday night and the breakdown to end each half with Haskins and Dobbs respectively, Coach Tomlin was asked who will be the starter at quarterback on Thursday night.
Jordan Berry & Pressley Harvin III
One interesting camp battle which can begin to play out on Thursday is that of being the Steelers punter for 2021. Coach Tomlin was asked if the two players will split halves in the first game.
“I’m undecided. Both guys are working today. They’re trading punt for punt in the live punt period. We’re excited about watching that. We’ll determine some of that other stuff later.”
In one of the first practices of training camp Coach Tomlin said Kendrick Green would start at center in the Hall of Fame Game. Coach Tomlin was asked how he would handle Green’s playing time on Thursday.
“It was the same thing I said in response to the Najee (Harris) question. Regardless of their potential roles here on September 12th, I think it’s important that all young guys go through the process of preparing themselves to play and being ready to play and utilizing all four opportunities to grow in maturation in that way, to find a routine that really elevates their game and allows them to play and play with consistency. I like what I’ve seen from him. He’ll get a lot of opportunity to play, but again, like I mentioned in the opening, we’re just focused on today’s work and what we have to do today. We’ll talk about those things this evening in terms of detail and when and how much he participates.”
A replay of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below as well as on the Steelers’ YouTube channel.