The Pittsburgh Steelers had their first regularly scheduled praxtice of Week 1 of the NFL season. Even though he had his formal press conference on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin once again spoke to reporters following practice on Wednesday. Despite being much shorter than the previous day, 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.
Being the first day he returned to practice as a full participant, it’s no surprise T.J. Watt was the subject of multiple questions yet again. To start, Coach Tomlin was asked what it was like to have Watt back at practice.
“Thought he looked good. He was engaged. He’s been a full participant in walk-throughs and things of that nature. He’s a smart guy. He can learn from watching others and it’s evident in watching him work today.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question about if he noticed a difference in other players with T.J. Watt being back.
“I was watching us practice. I understand you guys have a lot of questions specifically about that, but I was watching us work.”
Coach Tomlin was later asked what he thought about T.J. Watt being voted a captain the previous year but not this season.
“Those guys vote and their votes speak. I’m not interested in interpreting it. I just report the news.”
Coach Tomlin was then asked if he will ramp up Watt’s practice activity over the next two days.
“We’re going to continue to push forward and prepare for this game. I don’t have anything uniquely scheduled for him, no.”
Even though he answered the question the previous day, Coach Tomlin was yet again asked if he expects Watt to play on Sunday.
“Like I said yesterday, I’m proceeding with that assumption.”
Devin Bush & Joe Schobert
The Steelers have some players who joined the team after the beginning of the preseason who may or may not be at full capacity for Week 1. With Joe Schobert only having one preseason game with the Steelers and Devin Bush returning from injury this season, it’s not exactly clear how these two players will see the distribution of snaps. Coach Tomlin was asked if he has figured out the division of labor between Bush and Schobet.
“We’ve got options there. We’ve got two guys that are green dot capable, as you guys like to discuss. The reality is there are multiple helmets on the sideline, and you have the option between series to determine who that “green dot” is. So, we’ll exercise those options and leave it a little bit mystical”
Tre Norwood & Cam Sutton
With the Steelers not announcing who will be playing in the slot cornerback position, the player who saw a lot of snaps in the last preseason game, Tre Norwood, is still an option. Coach Tomlin was asked what Norwood has brought to make the Steelers more versatile in how they deploy the secondary. In his response, Coach Tomlin also brought up Cam Sutton.
“We saw it in on his Oklahoma tape. As a young guy, he played outside corner. The older he got, he played inside. He played at safety. That was an attractive thing to us in the same ways that Cam Sutton’s Tennessee’s tape was attractive to us. He’s proven that versatility by giving us detail in terms of the things that we’ve asked him to do to this point. It’s good to have a couple really versatile guys that create the interchangeable parts that allow a defense to function, particularly in sub-packages.”
Melvin Ingram III
With T.J. Watt returning to get more snaps at outside linebacker, other players will also need to find their role. Coach Tomlin was asked if Melvin Ingram will need to develop some chemistry with Watt.
“I’m not concerned about that at all. One guy plays on the left, the other guy plays on the right. If they’re both doing a really good job they meet at the quarterback.”
A replay of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen on the Steelers YouTube channel HERE.