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14 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin during Tuesday’s press conference

The Steelers head coach held his weekly press conference with the Pittsburgh media ahead of their matchup with the Saints.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

With the Steelers coming out of their bye week and looking to get their 2022 season turned around, 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.

T.J. Watt & Damontae Kazee

Two players who the Steelers are optimistically looking to return in Week 10 off of the Reserve/Injured List (IR) are T.J. Watt and Damontae Kazee. Coach Tomlin was asked if Watt and Kazee are available for Sunday how much it changes and elevates the defense as a whole.

“I just think that remains to be seen. I think I’ll let their contributions speak for themselves, but obviously those are two veteran players that are NFL capable, and obviously, they’re going to be positive contributors to our efforts if available.”

In a later question about T.J. Watt, Coach Tomlin was asked what it tells him that Watt was able to come back from his injury and knee surgery.

“T.J. is who he is. It’s not mystical, the things that he’s able to do, and so I don’t know that any of us are surprised with what he’s capable of getting done. We eagerly await his return.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked Watt’s level of involvement as he was working his way back.

“He didn’t make any plays if that’s what you’re asking.”

In a later question about Damontae Kazee, Coach Tomlin was asked if having a three safety look is something the Steelers could show going forward rather than having an extra cornerback or linebacker.

“I just think this era of specialization, particularly defensive specialization to match offensive personnel groupings, is a big component. In three-safety defense or big nickel, as a lot of people refer to it, it’s one of the things that’s in vogue to combat two-tight end personnel groups, particularly when one of those tight ends is a vertical up-field type and a guy that’s wide receiver like. So, we explored that some and it was an asset to us, and it’s reasonable to expect us to continue in that vein.”

Pat Freiermuth

One player who hopes to take advantage of the middle of the field in the Steelers offense is tight end Pat Freiermuth. Coach Tomlin was asked about how the passing game changes with Chase Claypool no longer on the team, and in his response he specifically mentioned the area the field Pat Freiermuth is utilized.

“I don’t know that it does. As I mentioned, it’s not just the depth at the position that we were comfortable with in terms of making that move, but just the space of the field in which Chase had made a lot of plays for us also is the space of the field where Pat Freiermuth makes a lot of plays for us. So, it’s reasonable to expect him to get continually highlighted in that area as well.”

Kenny Pickett

The Steelers rookie quarterback has sometimes been taking the bait when certain members of the media ask particular questions. Playing the media version of “telephone,” Coach Tomlin was asked to comment on a partial rephrase of a Kenny Pickett reply to a question following the Eagles game in regards to seeing better study habits from teammates.

“I don’t know what he was referring to there, so I’m not going to try to add any color to an opinion. I believe our guys study at an appropriate level, and I’ve seen that continually throughout this process whether it’s a bye or normal game week. I’m not going to add any color to an opinion that I’m not highly familiar with.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked how much he is looking at what Pickett has done well and tailoring what they want him to do going forward with what he showing to be a strength.

“Obviously, given the position that he plays and the significance of it, that is a component of the equation. Certainly.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has seen from Pickett that fits into this category. In his response, Tomlin repeated an answer that he had given earlier about the offense in general.

“Again, like I outlined, the pocket movement, the misdirection passing have been a point of really efficient work for us.”

Jaylen Warren & Najee Harris

The Steelers have been utilizing two running backs so far in 2022, and the more effective running back statistically, Jaylen Warren, is the one getting the less carries. Coach Tomlin was asked if Najee Harris is still being affected by his injury from the preseason.

“To what degree, I don’t know. He’s playing, so obviously he’s healthy enough to play. I’ll let him speak to that, but both guys have been available to us. We’ve gotten some awesome contributions from Jaylen, and it’s reasonable to expect that to continue. Like I mentioned when we were talking about a division of labor and who’s done what and who’s done what well, I know that was a topic of discussion and very evident in our tape review.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he would look at Jaylen Warren as a featured back as part of the offense when they talk about making changes.

“He’s a quality back that’s made some plays. We’ll keep giving him an opportunity to do so, and maybe he’ll write that script.”

William Jackson III

The Pittsburgh Steelers may be adding two new pieces to their secondary beginning in Week 10 in William Jackson III and the aforementioned Damontae Kazee. Coach Tomlin was asked how beneficial it could be for the secondary to add a couple veterans at this point in the season.

“I think anytime you get veteran presence, it’s an asset to you. Been there, done that guy. Both guys are that. I don’t necessarily view them as one in the same. Kazee’s been a part of the program from the outset; we signed him in the offseason. Will’s contribution will be determined by his availability and how quickly he’s able to learn some of the nuances of what it is that we do, and his ability to communicate and function as a collective.”

Larry Ogunjobi & Malik Reed

One area concern for the Steelers this season has been the effectiveness of their pass rush. Coach Tomlin was asked about the pass rush starting to come around and how much adding T.J. Watt into the mix could help. In his response, Coach Tomlin also mentioned Larry Ogunjobi and Malik Reed.

“I think it remains to be seen. Obviously, we’re optimistic. And I think it’s beyond Watt. I think it’s the availability of guys like Larry Ogunjobi and development of new guys like Malik [Reed], who’s not new to the game of football at this level, but obviously is new to us. So, gaining that understanding of what we’re asking them to do and how to work as a collective is a component of it, for sure.”

Connor Heyward

With the Steelers moving on from Chase Claypool, one option they have on offense is playing more two tight end sets. Coach Tomlin was asked how he has liked the performance of rookie Connor Heyward so far and if there’s more opportunity for him and the tight end group.

“I think we’ve gotten some mileage out of multiple-tight end personnel groups, and I think there’s obviously some more meat on that bone, yes.”

Mason Cole & Diontae Johnson

One question that was unanswered going into the Steelers season is where they would find leadership on offense. Coach Tomlin was asked who he is seeing stand out in the locker room when it comes to leadership In his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned players who have already been outlined such as Kenny Pickett, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris. Tomlin also mentioned players such as a Mason Cole and Diontae Johnson.

“I think we have a number of guys that have displayed leadership. I think Kenny has been consistent in that area. I also think Mason Cole is a hub of communication of the offensive line. He’s displayed consistent leadership. Pat Freiermuth is an emerging leader. Najee is an elected captain. Diontae [Johnson] is a guy that’s taken an active role in the development of some younger people in his position. So, it’s coming from a lot of areas, but I think that’s a reasonable expectation.”

In a follow-up question about Mason Cole, Coach Tomlin was asked what he is seeing from him this season, particularly noting that he has not been penalized in 2022.

“I think he’s been steady Eddie, not only in performance but in presence, in communication. He’s a quality veteran football player.”

Arthur Maulet

One player at the cornerback position for the Steelers who has not missed any games this year is Arthur Maulet. Coach Tomlin was asked what else Maulet has shown and his growth as a player in his second season with the Steelers.

“Man, he’s really good in first and second-down football, blitzing, run game stuff. He’s a solid tackler. His level of communication and the quality of his communication really has dramatically improved. I think that’s a reasonable expectation from year one to year two, this being year two, being a contributor for us. I think that’s been evident in his play and in particular when he’s in there to this point.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Maulet had any inside knowledge of the Saints as he played there a few years ago.

“He’s got a few helmets in his basement.”

In a later question that started out talking about slot receivers on offense, Coach Tomlin specifically mentioned Arthur Maulet and Damontae Kazee when it came to how to approach the slot position.

“I think we’ve been having that discussion continually during this season. The different types of athletes that play inside; there are guys that are vertical slots, there are guys that are non-vertical slots, that are zone winners, that are man winners. I just think that’s a component of the specialization of the game, and that’s why you see different types of defensive packages. Guys, like Arthur Maulet playing down against some of that stuff, guys like Kazee playing down against some of that stuff. It just speaks to the specialization that’s occurring in today’s game.”

Steven Sims

One player who started the season for the Steelers on the inactive list has found himself a potential important part of both offiense and special teams moving forward is Steven Sims. Coach Tomlin was asked how his play has given him confidence to put him in the lineup and be able to trade a player like Chase Claypool.

“He’s been a guy that’s made some plays when given an opportunity and when available. He’s electric with the ball in his hands. He flipped the field on us a few weeks ago in the kick game. So, we’re excited about giving him a continued exposure to see if that continues.”

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.