As the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Tuesday for the first “mandatory” session, we were also graced with a media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Since he was asked about a number of players following the team’s activities, a “players mentioned” article is able to make a brief appearance before the lull in football activities kicks in for several weeks. Remember these are players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.
A player whose added muscle this offseason has been the topic of discussion is Steelers’ second-year running back Najee Harris. Coach Tomlin was asked about the muscle Harris has added and if he is the size that he wants him to be to play at this time.
“I think he’s exactly what he was last year at the end of last year. I got no issues at all. So, nothing really to add, no color.”
With the Steelers loss of several wide receivers from the 2021 season, many are looking for second-round draft pick George Pickens to step into a prominent role. Coach Tomlin was asked about Pickins comfortability with the route tree and where he is in the learning process.
“Very much in development. He’s got a lot of talent but he’s raw. But that’s okay. That’s why we have coaches that’s our job to help him grow and develop, not only him, but all of them. He’s got a lot of talent. We drafted him where we drafted him based on that talent. It’s our job and his job to develop the skill that allows those talents to show regardless of circumstance.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if that is normally a multi-year process or if it can be a summertime process.
“It’s different for every person. Experience has taught me that some guys learn rather quickly, some guys don’t. It will be revealed to us through development.”
Despite looking for a new contract, Diontae Johnson told the Pittsburgh media that he wants to take a leadership role this season and lead by example. Coach Tomlin was asked what he sees from Johnson in terms of leadership. In his response, Coach Tomlin also mentioned George Pickens.
“I would agree with that. Diontae is not a big talker. He’s more of a doer and I can appreciate that, and I’m aligned with that. Just putting his head down and working every day. He’s going to provide quality examples about how to go to work and there’s going to aid guys like (George) Pickens in the maturation process because he has visual examples of what he needs to do and how he needs to do it.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question about what it means to have Diontae Johnson at practice even while he’s hoping for a new contract.
“They’re all here.”
Although he retired last week, this was the first chance for Coach Tomlin to comment on the retirement of Stephon Tuitt. Coach Tomlin was asked about his thoughts and the state of the Steelers’ defensive line.
“I’m excited about the guys we have here to work with in that regard. Obviously, we’re supportive of Tuitt and his decision and we’ve released a statement in that regard. It’s been a pleasure to work with him. And we wish him nothing but the best moving forward. But our energies and all our attention are focused on the guys that are available to us. We can waste a lot of time talking about who doesn’t play for us.”
Another player looking for a contract extension is All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Coach Tomlin was asked about having a plan for Fitzpatrick‘s involvement.
“I don’t, we will play it by ear.”
One of the new players to the Steelers defense for 2022 is inside linebacker Myles Jack. Coach Tomlin was asked about what Jack brings to the defense.
“I think that’s going to be determined, again like I mentioned earlier in this setting. We’re not challenged in a lot of the ways that reveals some of the questions that you guys are asking. It’s the adversity that the journey presents. Right now, everybody’s undefeated. Not only us, but 31 others.”
Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here: