As the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers continue to practice for training camp at St. Vincent College on Saturday, we were also graced with a media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. For that reason, it’s time for another installment of the “players mentioned” article. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.
With a lot of eyes on the Steelers 2022 rookie class, tight end Connor Heyward has been coming up with some noteworthy plays before the Steelers put on the pads. Coach Tomlin was asked what he liked about Heyward‘s practice and how it might be able to translate.
“He’s highly competitive. He warmed up to the competition and his skills were on display. He didn’t shrink in the face of it.”
As expected, T.J. Watt is bringing a lot of energy to the Steelers defense so far in training camp. Coach Tomlin was asked what it’s like to see Watt thriving in this kind of environment.
“T.J. [Watt] is being T.J. [Watt]. We appreciate that. He loves football. He loves to work; he loves to compete. It’s guys like him that you really want the young guys to pay close attention to. They have resumes and things that are respectable, but to watch him day to day, I think that’s where the real learning occurs. You see why they’re able to build the resumes that they have.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Watt seems more energized to be at camp this year as a full participant.
“I’d be lying if I said yes, he’s always energized.”
There were a number of former Steelers players at practice on Saturday as well as other days so far in training camp. With the announcement of Heath Miller going into the Steelers Hall of Honor which had him in Latrobe for the day, Pat Freiermuth, who missed practice with a hamstring injury, was seen speaking with Miller during practice. Coach Tomlin was asked what it meant to have another player who he coached make it into the Hall of Honor. In his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned Pat Freiermuth as well as a number of former players.
“It’s great to see big Heath Miller. It’s a cool thing to be in this position long enough to have guys that come back and receive recognition for their playing days. But, equally as important is for them to come back and share and spend some time with a current player. I smiled when I watched Pat [Freiermuth] talking to Heath. We have Vince Williams here today, and Max Starks. We had Aaron Smith yesterday. That brotherhood, that fraternity, you can’t describe it, but you feel it. It is appreciated.”
Although it did not involve Pat Freiermuth, a follow-up question about Miller only seemed appropriate to include in order to give more context. Coach Tomlin was asked his favorite recollection of Heath Miller on the field.
“I just love the fact that Heath [Miller] worked in silence. You talk about a man of few words, Heath [Miller] was a man of no words. But you felt the intensity in his demeanor and in his play. I just think it’s a unique thing when a quiet guy is still able to display intensity, and you feel it in his presence.”
On the fourth day of practice, Kenny Pickett finally got an opportunity to run a play during the Steelers “7 shots” drill. Coach Tomlin was asked If that was something that Pickett earned or if it is just part of the process of playing and getting his reps.
“The reps are going to come. Not only for him, but for everyone. We are at the very early stages of this. Everyone is going to get an opportunity to show their capabilities for sure.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked what he made of the throw Pickett made in “7 shots.”
“There were a bunch of throws, I’m not going to hang my hat on one particular play.”
Despite not participating in team activities, Diontae Johnson will continue to be a topic of discussion during training camp. Coach Tomlin was asked if he expects to have Johnson available when they put on the pads.
“I’m not making any guesses about participation. I deal in reality, with who we have working and what transpired today. We’ll see what happens as we move forward.”
In the absence of Diontae Johnson, one player making a push for the Steelers roster is wide receiver Anthony Miller. Coach Tomlin was asked his thoughts on Miller.
“This is his first opportunity to be on the train when it leaves the station. Oftentimes, we pick guys up and they get on a moving train going through the course of a season and so forth. It’s good that he’s had the totality of the off season and the learning process. I think that being a component of the entire process is showing in a positive way.”
Mike Tomlin’s media session can be seen HERE on the Steelers YouTube channel.