Yes, it says 19.
As the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers continue their preparation for the upcoming season, we were also graced with an official media session from head coach Mike Tomlin it what will be his last media session at St. Vincent College. 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.
On Thursday before Coach Tomlin’s press conference, quarterback Mitch Trubisky said he would like to play more than two series in the Steelers upcoming preseason game. Coach Tomlin was asked how much he anticipated Trubisky being out there.
“I’ll play it by ear just like I did last week. When I see enough and when I know I’m there, I’ll know it. That’s just the mentality that we have.”
Najee Harris & Chase Claypool
There are numbers of players coming back from injury hoping to play on Saturday night. Coach Tomlin was asked if Najee Harris has done enough in order for him to play, and Coach Tomlin brought up Chase Claypool in his response.
“Again, right now I have an inclusive mentality. We’ll see how the rest of his work progresses throughout the week. There have been guys like him that are getting on this moving train, like Chase Claypool and others. Right now, I have the mentality that I’m going to be inclusive regarding their performance, but we’ll see what the rest of the week holds from a preparation standpoint.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about where Najee Harris stated he would like to get a few carries sometime before the regular season and how to gauge what the player wants.
“I want him to get a couple carries, so I’m in agreement with him and there’s nothing to gauge.”
In yet another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about a conversation he had with Najee Harris and how he compared him to another running back and if Coach Tomlin would mind sharing who that player was.
“I would. I would mind sharing. I like to keep our conversations between us, really.”
In his opening statement, Coach Tomlin said he wanted to see Kenny Pickett go against some of the varsity players on Jacksonville’s defense. Coach Tomlin was asked if that meant he will be playing with some of the Steelers starting offensive linemen.
“Yes. Again, you know, we give the guys individually what it is that they need. We’ve got some young starters in the offensive line. It’s reasonable to expect those guys to still be in the game when he gets in the game. Certainly.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Najee Harris seeing a drastic jump in Kenny Pickett from rookie minicamp and where he has seen the most improvement in Pickett.
“That is so reasonable to expect. With each passing day, guys get better with exposure. I don’t want to overstate it. The maturation and developmental process is happening, probably at the rate that it should. We have been pleased with the process, certainly.”
Jaylen Warren & Anthony McFarland Jr.
The Steelers have been getting good production in training camp and their first preseason game from the reserve running backs of Jaylen Warren and Anthony McFarland. Coach Tomlin was asked what more he wants to see out of them.
“I think they’re carving out niches for themselves and showing capabilities and really kind of answering some of those questions, but I would probably characterize it as incomplete at this juncture. Your ability to put performance on top of performance is a big component of ball at this level. Whether it’s on the practice field, and we’ve seen some of that, or in the stadium, I just think that’s a big component of it. Both guys that you mentioned performed well a week ago, and I’m excited about seeing them step into a stadium again and show those talents again.”
At the time, it was believed the Steelers brought in Gunner Olszewski to primarily be a kick returner. Coach Tomlin was asked about Olszewski carving out a role as a wide receiver.
“He is, and I can’t say enough about the toughness that he displays. I just think that’s a distinguishing trait. It doesn’t matter what we ask him to do, he brings the type of spirit that’s attractive from a toughness standpoint and you can’t have enough tough guys in this game.”
Kendrick Green & Kevin Dotson
One notable battle for a starting position is between Kendrick Green and Kevin Dotson at left guard. Coach Tomlin was asked how Green has done at guard and how much has Dotson’s injury impacted the competition.
“It has impacted it. Both guys are performing well, but obviously KG [Kendrick Green] has had more exposure and more work, so it has been a factor. Availability is a big component of sorting out some of these battles, and that’s just the reality of it in this game.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked who is starting this game at left guard.
“KG will start.”
Calvin Austin III
One Steelers draft pick who did not play in their first preseason game due to injury was Calvin Austin III. Coach Tomlin was asked if he anticipates Austin being able to get any preseason action weather in this game or the next.
“I’m just looking at a couple of days at a time. I know he’s not scheduled to play this week; we’ll see what next week holds next week.”
When asked on Thursday, quarterback Mason Rudolph said he would like to receive more first-team reps than what he has seen. Coach Tomlin was asked how to balance the egos of the quarterbacks throughout the process.
“There are no egos. Those guys have done a heck of a job. I don’t have any negative experience from that perspective. They’ve been encouraging one another, and they’ve been highly competitive. It’s been awesome. Obviously, you want guys that want significant reps.”
Arthur Maulet, Cam Sutton, Tre Norwood, & Miles Killebrew
Coach Tomlin was asked about the evolution of the slot cornerback position as there has been a change in the slot receiver position throughout the NFL. In his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned Arthur Maulet, Cam Sutton, Tre Norwood, and Miles Killebrew as well as Karl Joseph who is currently on the Reserve/Injured List.
“No question. Arthur Maulet and Karl Joseph were working as run-down nickels, if you will. Guys like Cam Sutton and Tre Norwood are pass-down sub package players, and so there’s bigtime specialization. There are big nickel packages. [Miles] Killebrew plays in big nickel versus two tight end personnel groups. There’s just specialization. It’s a component or specialization of the game, so if there’s something going on one side of the ball, it’s reasonable to expect there’s a mirrored development on the other side of the ball.”
There has been a lot of opinions lately about the play and attitude of linebacker Devin Bush going into his fourth season. Coach Tomlin was asked if Bush is a three-down linebacker or if that is to be determined.
“To be determined. I like the work those guys are giving us.”
Ahkello Witherspoon & Levi Wallace
Another battle for what is believed to be a starting position is a Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace at cornerback. Coach Tomlin was asked if anyone had separated themselves in the competition.
“Both guys are performing well, we’ll continue to watch it. I’m glad that we have them. Obviously regardless of how it sorts out, both guys are going to play significant roles and we’ll just keep watching.”
With so much focus being on new players to the Steelers, sometimes the veterans do not get as much asked about them. Coach Tomlin was asked what Minkah Fitzpatrick has shown that he didn’t know and what type of camp he has had.
“Minkah is a serious competitor, and it shows in environments like this. He always wants in. He wants to cover receivers, he wants to tackle running backs, he wants to blitz. He’s a football player. He’s a guy that loves football, that loves competition. He’s just a good guy to have in an environment like this because it’s never a down day with him. He’s always about it and he’s always ready to work.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Fitzpatrick and Najee Harris usually being the last two guys on the field at the end of practice and if it’s an Alabama thing.
“It’s probably because Minkah makes him. Minkah’s kind of a “big bro.” He’s known him since he was 18, and those sill waters run pretty deep.”
Mike Tomlin’s media session can be seen HERE on the Steelers YouTube channel.