For whatever reason, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not mincing words when he met with the media Thursday leading up to the team’s Week 3 preseason game at Heinz Field against the Indianapolis Colts. Tomlin was very precise in his description of player expectations, as well as just how the team is preparing for their upcoming game.
The theme for this week was to give an actual game-week feel, and that included just how the team practiced and prepared for the Colts. There is some game planning going on, but nothing to the extent of what will be done in the regular season when the games really count.
There was a lot of information disseminated, so sit back and digest all that went down as Tomlin fielded questions.
- Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and James Harrison will all play Saturday, to some extent. The duration of their playing time will likely depend on the quality of work they perform as a unit, and individuals. With Harrison back, it will be interesting to see the workload between T.J. Watt and Harrison. Landry Jones, everyone’s favorite backup quarterback, is also trying to make his preseason debut this weekend.
- After the Steelers’ Week 1 game against the Giants, Tomlin called Arthur Moats “an eleventh grader in a JV game”. Moats was being praised for his performance, but when Tomlin used the Junior Varsity tag on Thursday, it wasn’t in a good way. He was referring to James Conner’s special teams play. Stating how Conner was “JV as a special teams performer”. Message received for the rookie running back, but Tomlin chalked his lack of performance up to him being injured in Spring workouts (hamstring) and the majority of training camp (shoulder) when the teaching was really going on. I’m guessing Conner will be better this weekend when it comes to his role on special teams. Just a guess.
- Tomlin praised both Coty Sensabaugh and Mike Hilton, stating both deserve to get a look at more playing time with the starters. Tomlin expounded on Sensabaugh calling him a savvy veteran who has merited a consideration to start on the outside. With that said, Saturday’s game should be a big one for both Sensabaugh and Ross Cockrell. Tomlin also talked about newcomer Deshaun Phillips, and mentioned how he is an “NFL capable” player who will have a chance to prove himself when he arrives in Pittsburgh.
Special Teams are actually good?
- Danny Smith has long been the whipping boy of the fan base, but so far this preseason his units have been ‘en fuego’. Forcing fumbles, pinning teams deep in their own end, blocking punts and taking a punt back to the house. You name it, and they are doing it. Tomlin cited the maturation and growth of players like Tyler Matakevich and Anthony Chickillo as examples of why the ‘teams are improving, but also said Jordan Berry has been playing extremely well so far this preseason. Their arrow is certainly pointing up.
- When asked about Roethlisberger’s comments on the new offensive “wrinkles” the team has installed, Tomlin mentioned how this has been an ongoing process the entire Spring, and throughout training camp. He also added this process was occurring whether Le’Veon Bell was there, or not. How fast Bell can pick up these wrinkles, whenever he returns, could be what determines whether or not he is inserted into the lineup immediately, or has to get acclimated to the new system.
Hope you are listening Senquez
- At the end of the media session, Tomlin was asked whether it was a safe assumption how Senquez Golson would have to get back to practice soon if he wants to stay in Pittsburgh. Tomlin stated, “That would be a safe assumption.” Well then. It seems the organization is at the end of their rope with Golson, and rightfully so. Time to shape up, or ship out, for the former Ole Miss cornerback.