With the Steelers getting back on the winning side of things on Sunday, there were a lot of questions at the Mike Tomlin press conference on Tuesday. 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.
Cam Heyward, Larry Ogubjobi, & Chris Wormley
The Steelers got some nice play from the middle of their defensive front on Sunday. Coach Tomlin was asked about the key to getting all the short yardage stops they did against the Buccaneers. In his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, and Chris Wormley.
“We moved the front a little bit. I probably think that helped. Oftentimes, when you’rein short-yardage circumstances in a hostile environment, it’s challenging for the offense. The lack of use of cadence and some of the things that their office had to deal with, I think it’s reasonable to expect your defense to be stout in home-game environments and short yardage,but I don’t want to slight the efforts of guys like Larry O and Cam and [Chris] Wormley. They did a good job of winning the blades of grass battle up front.”
Coming off the bench in the third quarter, Mitch Trubisky did what was needed in order to secure the Steelers victory. Coach Tomlin was asked what he liked from Trubisky in the fourth quarter.
“Just his aggressive pursuit of victory.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Trubisky mentioning the 24-hour rule following a game and how it’s critical to move on to the next opponent in that time.
“I think that’s crucial for everyone. I know that Monday morning when I pull into this lot, it’s on to the next one and I expect our team to reflect that. That’s just standard business for us, regardless of circumstance.”
In the beginning of the press conference, Coach Tomlin said Kenny Pickett will be the quarterback if he is cleared to play on Sunday from the concussion protocol. Coach Tomlin was asked what went into the decision to stick with Pickett especially after the way Trubisky played in relief.
“There’s really just not a lot to talk about it. We’re not going to blow in the wind. We’re going to be somewhat steady. I’ve been consistent in my messaging regarding decision making in that position. I think it helps those that are playing. I think it helps the team in terms of who to follow. We’re not going to flip the script now.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he would have to get the backup more snaps just in case since Pickett is in the concussion protocol.
“It just depends on what they’ve been cleared to do from a participation standpoint. Oftentimes, someone’s in the protocol and they’ve got complete clearance in terms of full participation, so you let them participate. Sometimes it’s limited, and you limit their participation. When it’s limited, obviously, it provides additional opportunities of reps for others. So, he’s been given full clearance from a participation standpoint relative to his position. He’ll take all of his reps tomorrow unless something changes.”
James Pierre, Quincy Wilson, Elijah Riley, & Josh Jackson
The Steelers had to call on a lot of players to step up in the secondary on Sunday with four of the regulars out due to injury. Coach Tomlin was asked if players like James Pierre, Quincy Wilson, Elijah Riley, and Josh Jackson did enough to put themselves in the conversation for future usage.
“I think their individual and collective efforts are an asset to them and us moving forward. We’ll make week-to-week decisions on who we utilize based on the people that are available to us and the matchup component and what gives us the best chance to win. It’s great to have viable guys, it’s great for guys to prove that they’re viable. We’ll see where that leads us.”
One player going against his former team this Sunday is Steelers All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, if he can return to action. Coach Tomlin was asked when Fitzpatrick first came on his radar and what it was about his skill that made him so appealing to acquire via trade.
“Man, when he was at Tuscaloosa. We realized that we didn’t have a draft pick high enough to seriously consider him, but it didn’t stop me from going to Tuscaloosa twice that year and kind of getting to know him. That probably helped us in terms of making a quick decision about being interested in him. That’s why oftentimes in draftprep, we do our due diligence whether something is realistic or not in terms of us being in a position to do business with someone. He’s just a quality player through and through on all levels. He’s a professional, he can make plays anywhere you put him, he loves football, he’s a good teammate.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked how much he was involved in the decision to trade for Fitzpatrick.
“I mean, I’m involved in all our major decisions. I’m not going to get too deep into that. I don’t know what you’re looking for there to be quite honest with you. They’re Steelers decisions. We make collective decisions,and we stand by them as a collective.”
Terrell Edmunds & Tre Norwood
There were other players who also stepped up with the number of injuries in the secondary as Terrell Edmunds returned after missing a game and Tre Norwood got another start. Coach Tomlin was asked what went into Edmunds performance this week. In his reply, Coach Tomlin also mentioned Norwood.
“He was productive. We got him down around the line of scrimmage some. Being the only veteran in that group, I can’t say enough about what he was able to do in terms of holding that group together on the field, doing a good job of communicating formally and informally. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Tre Norwood is a unique communicator for a backup. He’s a sharp guy, he’s really good in that area as well. But I’m appreciative of Edmunds’ efforts.”
One player who was asked to fill a lot of different roles in the Steelers defense this past week was linebacker Robert Spillane. Coach Tomlin was asked what Spillane was doing that was so unique.
“In some instances, he was representing the nickel. In some instances, he was representing the down safety or box safety. I live by the philosophy of when you’ve got red paint, you paint your barn red. You guys hear me make that cliché all the time, and what it means is that if we have unusual depth at a position, then we need to create schematics to highlight that depth. If we’re thin at another position, we’d better create some schematics that minimize that lack of depth. We were running short in the secondary, we had all our regulars at inside linebacker, and so in some instances, through schematics, Robert was playing nickel and some instances he was playing box safety and his versatility and the depth at that position allowed that to happen, and we’re appreciative of his contributions.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked what allows Spillane to do that.
“He’s a smart guy.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if what they did with Spillane was because of coach Brian Flores.
“No, I mean, a lot of it’s because Spillane’s smart. Again, coach intelligence and stuff is less significant than is made out to be from time to time. It’s about what players can retain and what they can execute under the fire that is competition. Those are probably the most important variables when you talk about coaches’ contributions to planning and play, particularly from a familiarity standpoint. It just is what it is.”
One of the biggest plays on defense in Sunday’s game was when Devin Bush knocked away the two-point conversion pass which would have tied the game. Coach Tomlin was asked what Bush’s performance looked like after looking back at the film.
“Man, I thought his performance was really solid. I think he’s been really solid and on the upswing all year.”
It has been reported that the last player to often leave the locker room is running back Najee Harris. Coach Tomlin was asked what goes into Harris‘ mindset that he takes things in so much.
“That’s routine for him, win or lose. He’s always last out. He’s always reflecting and thinking about what transpired and trying to learn and grow from the experiences that transpired. He’s a young guy, but he’s still called to be a leader. He understands the gravity of where he is and the responsibilities that come with being him, and he’s just always trying to get better. That’s just a component of his ‘get better.’”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if that is something he sees resonate with the rest of the team.
“I don’t know that his teammates hang around long enough to really witness some of it, to be quite honest with you. It’s usually me and him because it’s usually me and him.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he noticed a difference with Harris without the steel plate in his shoe.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not going to acknowledge some of those medical tidbits that you tend to have from time to time.”
A report surfaced this week that part of the reason the Steelers made a switch at quarterback in Week 4 was due to an altercation at halftime between Diontae Johnson and Mitch Trubisky. Coach Tomlin was asked if that was a factor in Kenny Pickett coming into the game and if there was any truth to it.
“If it were, do you think I would share that with you in this environment? Probably not. Our business is our business and I understand that in today’s climate oftentimes there’s leaks, our business gets in the street. But I’m not going to acknowledge it or confirm it or deny it in these settings. I’m just not. I don’t have enough hours in my day for it. The things that happen among the collective from time to time is normal business. Everyone wants to win. If it transpired, it’s good, it probably means there’s a couple guys that wanted to win. If it didn’t transpire, it probably means that it should have because we’re aggressively pursuing victory, and sometimes that’s emotional.”
Calvin Austin III
One player who is set to return off of the Reserve/Injured List sometime soon is rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III. Coach Tomlin was asked how Austin has done over the last two weeks of practice and if he could get in to the lineup.
“I thought he improved a little bit last week. He knocked a little bit of the rust off. We’ll see what this week holds. We’ve still got a little bit of time there in terms of making the determining factor about his inclusion.”
For more information on Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out the podcast below:
If you want to watch Mike Tomlin’s press conference, you can see it in its entirety below.