15 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin in Wednesday’s press conference
As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepared to take the practice field at St. Vincent College for their final open practice ahead of Friday night’s first preseason game, head coach Mike Tomlin had his formal media session. 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.
Since there are so many quotes to get through, the questions will be condensed as much as possible.
Coach Tomlin was asked how much more he can learn about Kendrick Green at fullback during the preseason game.
It’s significant, not only him but anyone. What you see out here is one thing. What you see in the stadium is another. That’s why we’re excited about carrying the group into the stadium, because when the environment changes, sometimes the play does, as well. So, we’re interested in seeing who can take a level of play from out here and carry it into a stadium and then some.
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he has seen a change in Green’s demeanor and enthusiasm since adding the fullback role.
“I really haven’t. He’s a young guy that’s professional and wired in and is urgent in everything that he does. I’d be making it up if I told you I’ve seen some shift based on the things that we’re asking him to do positionally. He’s always wired in.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he was encouraged by what he seen out of Green at fullback.
“It’s been solid. We’ll keep looking at him and others. Again, specialization — we get in an environment like this, we’d better be open to secondary jobs and roles and getting to know the individuals and finding out what it is that they can do. It’s a bunch of those little stories going on around. I know some get more traction than others. But it’s just very much part of team development. I’m looking for a backup snapper, for instance, I’m not sure not highly interested in that. But there’s a lot of these roles, secondary roles and things that transpire in an environment like this.”
In another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Green is continuing at fullback because he was so good at it.
“We’re just — there’s an installation schedule at this time of year. Some of the things that you see in the practice setting and the volume of it is based on points of emphasis and installation schedules. The last couple of days, we’ve been focused on short yardage and goal line as we round out our readiness to go into a stadium for situational play. That’s probably why that’s getting more attention or a lot of attention right now. If we were working 3rd and long you guys probably wouldn’t be asking me about him.”
Najee Harris & T.J. Watt
Coach Tomlin was asked if the injuries to Najee Harris and T.J. Watt last preseason changes his approach with this year‘s games.
“No. Obviously we want to keep everybody upright, but injuries are a component of the game. We can’t live in our fears. We’ve got to get individuals and collectives ready to play. We’ll make the appropriate judgments on individuals.”
Damontae Kazee & Trenton Thompson
Coach Tomlin was asked about Damontae Kazee returning from injury and how he feels the depth at safety has developed. In his response, Coach Tomlin specifically mentioned Trenton Thompson.
“I could describe them as day-to-day at the safety position at this juncture. Some of the guys we’re just getting to know, to be quite honest with you. Trenton [Thompson] just got here a short number of days ago. Some of that is on-the-job training or getting to know while competing. Thankfully some of those guys have been in NFL environments before, so it makes you a little bit more comfortable, allowing them to play, although you might not have a very good knowledge of the capabilities of what they might be able to do.”
Coach Tomlin was asked if Minkah Fitzpatrick is healthy enough that he could play on Friday.
“Yes, right now everyone that’s healthy is scheduled to play.”
Coach Tomlin was asked if Kenny Pickett needs more reps in the preseason being so young compared to a veteran quarterback.
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he knows how much more reps Pickett will need or if it’s still to be determined.
“We’ll play it by ear. We’ll give him what he needs. It’s always my mentality. I’m open to all that healthy playing. How much they play will be determined by what it is they need for it to be a productive step in the process for him or week, and then we’ll deal with next week, next week.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he has a rough idea of what he would like to see from Pickett in his first preseason game.
“Really hadn’t thought a lot about it to be honest with you. Again, as I mentioned, in an environment like this, man, it’s probably prudent for us to be small picture. We had a good padded practice, Steelers versus Steelers. Tomorrow’s practice is geared toward Tampa, so tonight we turn our attention on some of those detail things and just how this press conference falls probably not really good for airing some of those detail planning questions relative to the game as I stand here right now. 12 hours from now I’ll probably have those answers.”
Coach Tomlin was asked how Anthony McFarland has developed over his first few years in the league and if he’s prepared himself for this year‘s opportunity.
“You know, I think he was a redshirt sophomore when we drafted him, so we realized that some development had to take place there. To his credit, he’s continually gotten better over his stay with us, and his role has kind of grown continually, as well. What’s transpiring right now is just probably a continuation of what’s transpired, and I’m excited for him and seeing if he can carve out an increased role for himself.”
Coach Tomlin was asked the severity of Kevin Dotson‘s shoulder after he was seen with it wrapped up following practice on Tuesday.
“None. He’ll be out there today.”
Coach Tomlin was asked what he has seen in Gunner Olszewski’s second year with the team as Kenny Pickett praised Olszewski earlier this week.
“You know, I don’t know about development, but Gunner is a guy that’s always urgent. He’s a tough guy. He’s a football player first and receiver second. You put him in competitive circumstances, he does football player-like things. That’s why he’s an attractive option maybe to Kenny and his teammates. The guy loves football, and he can’t hide it.”
Keeanu Benton, Breiden Fehoko, & Armon Watts
Coach Tomlin was asked about the new players on the defensive line they added this season and if they have provided what he was looking for at this point.
“Feel really good about NFL-capable guys at that position. The competition is going to be stiff, and particularly how things play out in stadium, it’s going to be a major component of it. Largely been pleased with the progress of that collective that you mentioned. Those with NFL experience I think at times have displayed that, and I’ve appreciated the pedigree of Benton. So we’re working.”
Coach Tomlin was asked about Patrick Peterson‘s work he’s been doing as a mentor to the young defensive backs.
“You know, that’s just what you do. That’s not my focus as a guy that evaluates him. I’m concerned about the quality of his play and his preparation and his approach to business. I’m getting familiar with those things, and that’s been pleasing. I appreciate his willingness to teach others and communicate in helping their developmental process, but it’s not something that is on the front of my agenda or has captured my attention overly. It’s just kind of what’s expected. It’s a cultural thing that we value. Experience teaches inexperience. Guys that have been here teach those that are new. It’s the right thing to do when you’re trying to move the collective in a certain direction.”
Coach Tomlin was asked what all he has seen from Kenny Robinson in his opportunity to step up and gain reps with the injuries in the safety room.
“It’s a guy that, first of all, has positioned himself to take the reps. I talk to these guys about reporting into an environment like this highly conditioned because it positions you to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. It’s obvious that he’s in good shape because the lines have gotten short at that position. He’s been able to absorb additional snaps, and because he is in great shape, he’s made good use of those snaps.”
Mike Tomlin’s complete interview can be seen here:
LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media ahead of our preseason game against the Buccaneers. https://t.co/xcWxmiksf7
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 9, 2023