The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for another primetime matchup this week. This time they’ll be heading to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Sunday Night Football. The Panthers have started a strong 2-0 and now have a healthy Cam Newton back to go along with their strong running game. The Steelers need to rebound from their blowout loss last Thursday night against Baltimore.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media Tuesday afternoon to go over the team’s preparations, the injury updates, the matchup against the Carolina Panthers, as well as answer questions.
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In response to the loss against the Baltimore Ravens Coach Tomlin reiterated the biggest issues of the game for the Steelers were primarily self-inflicted. The penalties, turnovers, and piss-poor tackling (my words, not his) are a “recipe for disaster” particularly on the road for any team. The Steelers have averaged 10 penalties a game through two games so far this season. When asked how he would compare that to last season where the team averaged five penalties per game Tomlin reminded that there has been only two games played and he expects the team to adjust and correct the mistakes which are obviously hurting them on drives.
When addressing the Carolina Panthers and their many offensive weapons you don’t have to look farther than their quarterback, Cam Newton. Mike Tomlin said that Newton has a “hand cannon” and can move around when plays break down. While the Carolina Panthers have struggled running the ball so far this season, averaging less than 90 yards per game and just over three yards per carry, the Steelers defense still must tighten up their run defense after giving up 330+ yards so far this season.
On the injury front, Tomlin said that they’ve had full participation so far in practice with the exception of RB Dri Archer (ankle) and NT Steve McLendon (shoulder). Those two will continue to be evaluated throughout the week. Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore has made his return to the practice field and will be monitored as he returns to full contact.
As far as contact goes, the issue of the bad tackling certainly came up in Tomlin’s presser as well as in questions from the crowd. Tomlin was asked how he would go about coaching the team to improve their tackling when live tackling is prohibited in practice per the CBA.
"“Often times is about a plan or an approach and having a hard-core plan and recognizing the positions that your position puts you in, the manner which you approach the ball from a variety of positions on the field and having a plan to execute fundamental tackling accordingly,” said Tomlin. “I think the more that you play, the more you are in positions on footballs and you are approaching the ball inside out, you learn to maintain that consistency, or you learn to chew up the free grass associated with a guy who has to cover great distances. All of those things can be done in a practice setting without actually tackling, and we have been emphasizing that. We’ll continue and we’ll expect the tackling to improve because of it. It’s just about improving on a day to day basis and some fundamental things individually and collectively.” – Mike Tomlin"
Tomlin also said he expects players like Marcus Gilbert and Justin Brown, who’ve made some glaring mistakes in games to rebound. He said that Ben Roethlisberger is fighting through some pain as a result of the hit against him by Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw, which drew a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty.
Obviously count: 18
You can listen to Tomlin’s entire presser here.
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!