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11 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin in Tuesday’s press conference

The 2023 regular season is underway. After a week off following a come-from-behind victory of the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers are back into their normal weekly routine. As is typically the case, head coach Mike Tomlin took to the podium on Tuesday to address in the media for Tomlin Tuesday. With plenty of questions asked by those in attendance, it is once again time for a players mentioned article. Remember these are players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

With so many players, I’ll stick to just the questions.

Kenny Pickett

Coach Tomlin was asked if during their self analysis over the bye week if anything was revealed specifically about Kenny Pickett that he could improve or tweak to get better in the second half of the season.

“Certainly, but again, it doesn’t behoove me to outline it in great detail in environments like this. Rest assured that every team in the National Football League delves into self-analysis during bye weeks, and they comb through it,and they look critical at every component of what it is that they do. Whether it’s strategy or schematics, the division of labor or the development of individual players. And so, we didn’t do anything cutting edge or unique in that regard. Just rest assured we did our due diligence.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Kenny Pickett being less consistent throughout the game but very good at the end.

“He doesn’t shrink in those weighty moments. He’s a competitor. Those are some of the things that really attracted him to us in the draft process. We saw it next door at Pitt. I’m not surprised when it revealed itself again. And it’s just innate in some people. When things get thick, some people shrink. Some people smile in the face of it, and it brings out the best of them. I’ve always thought it brought out the best in him.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he had explored any unique opportunities to get more out of Pickett earlier in the game.

“Every day of my life.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about where Pickett has improved versus where he was at the end of last season.

“Guys, we’ve talked about this repeatedly. He’s comfortable in his shoes. The unofficial things that come with his job, he’s probably more cognizant of. He probably has more latitude to be cognizant of it because he’s more comfortable with the surface level things, alignment assignment, communication, getting in and out of the huddle, things of that nature, pace of play. And so, oftentimes experience provides you with a broader view of what it is that you’re doing that allows you to touch more people and do things in a more detailed way. And that’s probably reflective of him and the quarterback position transitioning from one to two.”

Dan Moore Jr.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Dan Moore is healthy if he will start at left tackle.

“That’s a big if. We have some work ahead of us. He’ll be given an opportunity to show his progress over the course of the week. And we’ll make that decision at the appropriate time. It doesn’t behoove us to make hypothetical statements in the early portions of the week. He looked pretty good yesterday; we’ll see what a week leaves us.”

Broderick Jones

Coach Tomlin was asked what he felt Broderick Jones gained from starting the last game.

“The in-helmet perspective of play that you can’t get anywhere else but playing. But he hasn’t been deficient in learning in any of the other venues. And so, it’s just a process and opportunity.”

Joey Porter Jr.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Joey Porter Jr. is further down the path to where he might be closer to getting starters time.

“I think with each week they all are. And so, there are several variables at play. It’s what it is that they do and the quality in which they do it. But it’s also the opportunity and as always, the case in team play. Things and decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. You can be somewhat pleased with the progress of a player in terms of the direction that they’re moving, but the opportunity has to be there. And so, we challenge all of these guys to not be patient. This is not a patient person’s business. It doesn’t behoove them to be patient. We ask them to work while they wait for their opportunity, and then put their readiness on display. And to this point, some of the guys that you’re asking about, Broderick Jones, Joey Porter Jr., have done a really good job of that. And so, we’ll wait for continued opportunities and increased opportunities for them and check their progress as we move forward.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked what was the opportunity presented for Porter to get more time against the Ravens.

“Evolution in him and us. Like I mentioned, with each passing week we gain an understanding of what particularly the young guys are capable of. We’re gaining a better understanding, particularly at the early portions of the year about how to best divide our labor up in an effort to win a game. And so, we did against the Baltimore Ravens what we thought was necessary to win that game. And we’ll continue to do so.”

Diontae Johnson

Coach Tomlin was asked what Diontae Johnson brings to the offense that they missed without him.

“Expert route running. He’s a route runner. Vertical, non-vertical, he can create separation at break points. That is his distinguishing trait, but that is no secret.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked how much that expert route running could help Kenny Pickett early in the game.

“Very much.”

George Pickens

Coach Tomlin was asked about the development of George Pickens while Diontae Johnson was out due to injury and if he saw him take a step forward considering all of the expectations.

“That guy is taking a step forward every day of his professional life. If you want to frame it in that way and make a story about it because Diontae has missed some games, have at it. But he is a second-year player,and it’s reasonable to expect him to get better each and every week, because this is his second lap around the track and exposure to the National Football League. So, he is getting better period. Not because or not because of anyone else’s presence or lack thereof.”

Najee Harris & Jaylen Warren

Coach Tomlin was asked about the decisions when it comes to the division of labor and how he makes the decision with Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris having pretty similar numbers.

“Individually. You know, decisions are made by guys like me, day in and day out in this business. Some of it is very black and white information. Some of it is gut oriented. Some of it is a mix of the two and that’s how it gets done. So, I try not to do it specifically with a cookie cutter because you miss opportunities to get better. There’s variables and unique variables in all circumstances that require analysis. And so, I’m comfortable enough in my skin and in my position that I don’t make cookie cutter decisions. I view them on an individual basis, and I’ve outlined in great detail that both guys are going to be significant components of what we do and have been and will continue to be. And how we choose to divide the labor up on the game in and game out basis is continually evolving.”

Keeanu Benton

Coach Tomlin was asked how he thought Keeanu Benton played in the last game getting more snaps.

“Again, that’s a young guy that’s utilizing all his avenues to get better. The opportunity avenue has been increased for him because of Cam Heyward’s injury. And I think with more exposure, he’s playing more consistently and getting more comfortable. And so, I’m excited about the continued trajectory of that.”

T.J. Watt

Coach Tomlin was asked a question about minimizing Cooper Kupp as they were the last team to hold him without a catch back in 2019. During his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned several players that are so skillful they are really difficult to minimize and included T.J. Watt.

“Man, 2019 was a football life ago. I think (Jared) Goff was his quarterback. And so, you know, I’ll answer your question without referring to 2019. It’s very difficult to minimize a player of his caliber. And it’s, you know, whether it’s a receiver or whether it’s a talented rusher like Aaron Donald or whether it’s a talented veteran quarterback like (Matthew) Stafford, man, usually it’s multiple things. And usually,you’re working to minimize as opposed to shut out. Significant players find a way to make plays. Week in and week out, people block T.J. (Watt) with two people, and week in and week out T.J. (Watt) makes plays for example. And so, that’s just the nature of this thing when you’re dealing with quality players. I’m sure game in and game out people put two people on LeBron (James) in basketball, but he’s still LeBron (James). And so, that’s what elite athletes do. And I don’t think any of us in this business are surprised by elite athletes doing what elite athletes do.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Coach Tomlin was asked if teams were going away from Minkah Fitzpatrick or if they need to have more splash from him.

“Minkah’s (Fitzpatrick) going to make his plays. There are blocks of games in the past maybe where T.J. (Watt) is not getting sacks, T.J. (Watt) is going to get sacks. Minkah’s going to make splash plays. That’s what all pros do.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Fitzpatrick being used a lot more in the slot and if that’s something that will continue or if it was based on the matchup.

“You know, we expect him to be Minkah no matter where we utilize him, to be quite honest with you. We moved him around in the past as well.”

Mike Tomlin’s complete press conference can be seen here:


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