Fresh off the Steelers disappointing loss to Baltimore, head coach Mike Tomlin was back at the podium to speak with the media ahead of Week 15. With an injury to monitor at the quarterback position, 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.
Kenny Picket, Mitch Trubisky, & Mason Rudolph
There were a lot of questions asked about all three quarterbacks on the Steelers roster, so let’s just get to it. Coach Tomlin was first asked if Pickett cannot start on Sunday if he would go with Rudolph or Trubisky.
“I’m going to work both guys this week if given an opportunity if he’s not able to participate. But really, I’m taking it day by day from a quarterback decision-making standpoint. His availability day to day is such a key component of it. So, I’m not even looking toward the end of the week, I’m really kind of just looking at what tomorrow looks like and playing it by ear from that perspective. All three guys are sharp guys, all three guys have been participants in our game planning, particularly of late, and all are very capable of playing the position and playing the position at a high level within what we’re doing right now. So, we’ll take it day to day and play it by ear.”
For the next question, Coach Tomlin was asked what he liked about what he saw from Trubisky on Sunday.
“I thought we moved the ball fluidly continually. That’s what you’d better have when you have a veteran backup like him. The reps that he misses during the course of the week is made up for by his cumulative experience and expertise, if you will. We felt that. We didn’t feel any reduction in what we intended to do once Kenny went down, and I thought we continued to move the ball fluidly. As I mentioned, we just didn’t make enough plays, particularly when the field got short, we have to do a better job of taking care of the football.”
The next question asked of Coach Tomlin was, with Trubisky being number two most of the season, what is it about Rudolph that now has him in the conversation.
“We work both guys. Both guys have remained engaged, and it’s really kind of been 2 and 2A, if you will. There’s a scarcity of reps. But again, as I mentioned, when you’ve got veteran backups, guys with a cumulative body of work, particularly in Mason’s case, haven’t been exposed to us and having been here and the receivers potentially that he would work with and all of those things. Oftentimes, when you’re talking about a guy ascending within that position, you’re calling on past experiences as a catalyst for how you move forward.”
The next question asked Coach Tomlin if there was concern with the concussion protocol since Pickett was allowed to go back onto the field and if he believes things need to be amended.
“Not at all. I know anytime there’s an injury, you guys love to chew that up over the course of the week. But as I mentioned, when someone’s in the protocol, they’re evaluated by the experts, they’re either cleared to participate or not. Even when they are, which he was, they watched him continually, as they continued to watch him, they decided to pull him, and that’s the reality of it. So, enjoy. Have at it.”
The next question asked Coach Tomlin if he is concerned that Pickett is in the concussion protocol for the second time this year.
“Not for me, because I’m not a medical expert. I gain my position, my confidence, my levels of concern, any of the things that you would ask along those lines, from the medical experts. I’m really comfortable in that.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if the experts have expressed any concern.
“I haven’t met with them yet today.”
In another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he has to proceed with more caution because Pickett has been in the protocol before.
“Not at all. Not at all. I’m really comfortable with where we are. As I’ve mentioned in the past when we’ve had injuries of this nature, I’ve got nothing but great admiration and respect for our medical experts. People come from all over the world to visit with our guys and from other sports as well. So, I’ll let them do what it is they do.”
The next question I asked if Pickett is cleared would Coach Tomlin consider not putting him in the game because it’s his second time in the protocol this season and if he would think more about the longevity of his career.
“Again, I lean on the expertise of the medical experts, guys. You guys can ask me all the medical levels of caution and optimism questions you want. I lean on those medical experts. I am not. So, whatever they decide is what we do. There’s really not a lot of discussion there.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Pickett is cleared if he will play.
“If he’s cleared.”
The next question asked Coach Tomlin if this is an opportunity to speak to Pickett about him trying to fight to make a play versus not taking these type of hits in the future.
The next question asked Coach Tomlin about Mitch Trubisky being aggressive enough to move the ball down the field but overly aggressive by throwing interceptions and what is the line between them.
“That’s the balance that we always walk, aggressive pursuit of victory. I’d rather say woah than sic ‘em. It’s something to manage, but I’d rather manage that than manage to the opposite of that.”
And the last quarterback question, Coach Tomlin was asked how Rudolph stayed locked in this season as if it’s been different for him this year being the third option.
“He’s been the same guy from my perspective. He’s probably better equipped to answer the how. But I see the same guy, still see the same level of urgency, attention to detail and competitive spirit.”
Cam Heyward, DeMarvin Leal, & Isaiahh Loudermilk
The Steelers struggled mightily to stop the run against the Ravens. Coach Tomlin was asked about Cam Heyward‘s comments following the game how they knew what plays were coming and still couldn’t stop them and if they need to look at personnel situations upfront with such players as DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk.
“I think you’re continually having those discussions regardless of the outcome of plays or games. I just think that that’s just the function of football at this level. Each week we formulate plans, we do the schematics, we divide the labor up. We look at the minutia. It’s players and plays. Best players, best plays, particularly in the weighty moments. So, the division of labor, how finely divided and all of that, is ongoing, continual discussions. No doubt.”
The Steelers unfortunately had a significant injury to defensive lineman Chris Wormley who has reportedly torn his ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season. Coach Tomlin was asked the significance of the loss of Wormley for the rest of the season.
“It’s significant, but each week, man, we look at the guys that are available to us and we put together schematics to highlight who’s available. We work to minimize who’s not, so this week won’t be any different. We’ve had weeks where others are unavailable, and we’ve leaned more toward him, and so he’s going to be unavailable and we’re going to lean more toward others and their skill sets and what they might be able to provide us.”
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