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

The 2023 regular season has reached the midway point. With the Steelers coming off a short week because of playing on Thursday night in Week 9, they are now back to the regularly scheduled portion as a game week.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 mostly stick to just the questions.

Broderick Jones, Chuks Okorafor, & Dan Moore

There were numerous questions asked about the Steelers three offensive tackles, both individually and collectively. In the first question, coach Tomlin was asked what he saw from Broderick Jones’ tape and if he will continue to start at tackle.

“You know, I thought he did some really good things. I thought we did some really good things. And so, it’s probably worthy of an extended look, considering he did those things,and we did those things on a short week. And so, I’m not going all the way in, but we’ll probably take another look at him and see what it looks like this week.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked what has to happen this week since there’s an “or” between Jones and Okorafor.

“We’ll determine that throughout the week. It means exactly what it says, ‘or.'”

In another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked what makes Jones better suited for right tackle than Moore.

“You know, I don’t know if he is better suited. He’s the young guy and oftentimes the young guy is the one that has to display versatility.”

In yet another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked what stood out the most about Jones’ play on Thursday.

“I just thought he did a really good job in general. I thought he did a really nice job on the second level, for example.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked how much of a factor Okorafor acting out late in the Jaguars game came into moving Jones into the starting lineup.

“A significant factor.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Moore has shown a better level of play at left tackle versus right tackle.

“He is significantly better at left than he is at right.”

Joey Porter Jr.

Coach Tolman was asked the comparison between Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr. about the process of being able to work a corner into the lineup compared to an offensive lineman.

“Just because of packages and so forth, backup corners play more than backup offensive lineman. Just like backup receivers play a lot by nature of their position and specialization in personnel groupings, particularly those that happen in situational ball. There’s more opportunity for younger perimeter players to get on field physical development. No question.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about the faith they showed in Porter and making his second start yet following a receiver like DeAndre Hopkins.

“Yeah,but you know, it’s good that Joey (Porter) wants an assignment like that, but it has to be good for us. And there were a lot of things that you guys don’t write about that made it advantageous for us. You know, a lot of their run game went away from D hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and so, Joey (Porter) didn’t have to worry about a lot of run game fits and dealing with (Derrick) Henry. All of your screens went away from him and so, he didn’t have to worry about screen fits. And so, there’s a young guy with some natural coverage abilities and skills and some other components of his game of growing and developing and just by virtue of traveling with D hop some of those other things got minimized. And so, there’s always a lot of depth to decisions and oftentimes it’s some other things that are equally as important as some obvious things in terms of decision making. Particularly when it comes to matching people up.”

Najee Harris & Jaylen Warren

Coach Tomlin was asked about the formula that saw a more balanced snap count between Harris and Warren.

“No different. We just converted some third downs earlier. And so, you’re probably able to feel it more than games where we’re not converting third downs early in play.”

Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Kwon Alexander, & Mark Robinson

Coach Tolman was asked about the challenge of replacing the production of Cole Holcomb. In his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned all the other inside linebackers.

“He was playing really well. You know, it was somewhat of a luxury man. We thought we had three really capable inside linebackers that we were dividing the labor up among two positions among three capable guys, and that’s a really good thing when you have an opportunity to do that. We really can specialize and allow guys week in and week out to do the things that they do best. They can remain fresher. And so, it was a pleasure to have that collective talking about Cole (Holcomb) and Elandon (Roberts) and Kwon (Alexander). Now we simply got two guys for two spots. And so, it’s more of a traditional rotation. Obviously, it could create more opportunity for a guy like Mark Robinson in his second year, but he’s not going to get the type of involvement that Cole (Holcomb) had. And so, what we had was a luxury. What we have now is probably more of a traditional division of labor at the inside linebacker position.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Alexander gives what they need to replace Holcomb.

“Yes, he does.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked in what ways Alexander gives them what they need.

“As I mentioned we had a luxury when we had all three, but we’ve got two really capable guys now who are going to act in more of a traditional fashion. And so, we don’t feel like anything’s lost in that regard.”

Keanu Neal

Coach Tomlin was asked if they could use Keanu Neal as more of a linebacker in passing-down situations.

“We’ve been doing that anyway.”

Kenny Pickett

Coach Tomlin was asked about Kenny Pickett’s 75 quarterback rating during the first three quarters and if there’s something particular not happening for him.

“What is his rating in the fourth quarter?”

After getting he answer of around 108, Coach Tomlin continued to answer the origional question.

“Well just ask it from that perspective. He’s awesome in the fourth quarter, man he rises up in those moments. He wants to be the reason why we’re successful. He prepares his tail off. In some instances where people run from challenges, he runs to challenges. And so, that’s why his performance is so good in the fourth. Those other quarters we’ll work on.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Patrick Peterson, Darius Rush, Damontae Kazee, Diontae Johnson, & Calvin Austin III

This may be a record for the number of players mentioned in one response as the previously mentioned Keanu Neal was also listed. Coach Tomlin was asked about making changes in the secondary due to the injury to Minkah Fitzpatrick and how he felt Patrick Peterson played at safety as well as how Darius Rush did the jumping on a moving train.

“You know, Pat (Peterson) did what he always has done. His movement inside was very similar to his movement inside when Minkah (Fitzpatrick) was there. It was really about a guy like D rush (Darius Rush) getting an opportunity and guys like (Damontae) Kazee and Keanu Neal playing every down. And so, you know, I liked the work that those every down guys did. It was really good to get D rush in the fold and him to show that he was capable of executing assignments. It would’ve been nice for him to make that splash play at the end, but appreciative of his readiness and his display of capabilities. And now we get an opportunity to move forward man. It’s a growth opportunity. And really that’s something to be said when you deal with injury. There’re some challenges in terms of dealing with injury. People get expanded roles, people have to grow up etc. But on the other side of it, man there’s depth and growth. Diontae (Johnson) missed a significant block of time, for example, the growth in Calvin Austin over that time period is an example of that. And so, it is a challenge to play without Mink (Minkah Fitzpatrick). But I am excited about the growth opportunity and expanded roles that others get to do and display in the midst
of it.”

George Pickens

Coach Tomlin was asked about building upon where defenses are double teaming George Pickens to take him away.

“You know, that’s just everyday business when you got a dynamic guy. I think we even talked about it some in here last week that he dictates oftentimes that it’s two on one football. And so, it’s an 11 on 11 game. And so, when he’s getting that type of attention, a guy like Diontae (Johnson) is going to have an opportunity to have volume catches, or you’re going to have an opportunity to have a light box and your run game is going to have an opportunity to be effective for example. And so, man, we appreciate his talents. We respect what people do to minimize his talents, but we function as a collective. And there’s some benefits for our collective when people make the type of commitment that they made recently to try to minimize his impact on the game.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Pickins has expressed any frustrations to him over the course of the season.

“Heck yeah, man. He expresses his frustration all the time, man. He wants to be significant. He wants to be a reason why we’re successful. Man, y’all don’t begrudge that. I want guys who want the football. I want guys who want to be central reasons why we’re successful. And so, that’s a non-issue to be quite honest with you.”

In another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about working through the frustrations of a player like Pickens.

“Like breathing, it’s easy. I know it’s a cute story for you guys, but it is a pebble in my shoe, to be quite honest with you in terms of the things that I have to do in an effort to get this group ready to play this week. Our focus is on the Green Bay Packers and what we’re all going to do in this football game. And I can’t state it any plainer than that. It’s like reality television, the way you guys follow social media and write stories about it.”

In yet another follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about balancing it being good for other players when Pickens is double teamed but acknowledging that Pickens is one of the best play makers and still try to get him the ball.

“It’s really not that difficult to be quite honest with you. Guys get moved around in the NFL. When Diontae (Johnson) was down, we moved him around quite a bit in an effort to get him free, and there’s benefits from that. As I mentioned earlier, when I was talking about growth associated with lack of player availability, we’ve moved him around significantly during that block of time when Diontae was unavailable,and we’ve found ways to get him the ball and be successful. And so, there’s a byproduct of that that’s probably a component of this discussion that you mentioned.”

Keeanu Benton & Cam Heyward

Coach Tomlin was asked what he has seen from Keanu Benton recently and in his response he mentioned Cam Heyward.

“Growth every single week with every outing, and I thought last week was a significant step. He plays the run well, he plays the pass well, he’s able to play both in mix downs. He’s growing and growing fast and it’s important because we need him to. But again, he probably, his process, his maturation process was probably accelerated by the additional reps that he got during the time that Cam Heyward was unavailable as well.”

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


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