Steelers vs. Panthers: Tomlin Tuesday


Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave his final press conference of the preseason as the team prepares to face the Carolina Panthers on Thursday in their preseason finale. The Steelers will rest the majority of their starters, as with the Panthers in preparation for the final roster cuts, due Saturday afternoon.

Tomlin addressed a number of topics including the Martavis Bryant suspension.

"“My comments about Bryant’s suspension are similar to those of Kevin Colbert. We are disappointed that it has come to this, but while we are disappointed, we are going to remain supportive in whatever actions that are necessary in terms of him moving past the actions that caused the suspension. We are committed to that, but more importantly than that, he has to be committed to that.” – Mike Tomlin"

Bryant was coming into this season with some high expectations after finishing 2014 with 26 catches for 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Tomlin admitted that the team knew about the possibility of the suspension this offseason and that is what led to drafting Sammie Coates in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

"“We are not surprised by it. We have known about the possibility of it for some time. In a lot of ways it directed our course of action throughout the offseason, specifically drafting Sammie Coates because of the potential of this event. So we are going to deal with it the best we can. Again, I am disappointed, not only for him on a personal level, but he let his teammates down, this organization down, his family and friends, and obviously Steelers Nation.” – Mike Tomlin"

What I considered a luxury pick the Steelers made in the third round of the draft actually turned out to be pretty valuable. While Darrius Heyward-Bey is going to be tapped to initially fill in for Bryant, Coates has the opportunity to step in gradually like Bryant did last season.

One thing that might help Bryant change his “habits” is seeing that he can be replaced. The Steelers can put a reasonable amount of faith and trust in Bryant at this point, knowing they have already secured a backup plan.

Tomlin previewed the Steelers’ preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. The two teams have closed out their preseason against each other each year since 2003.

"“This has become a preseason tradition for us, playing Carolina in the last preseason game. It’s the last opportunity for many men to state a case for themselves, or to be a part of this thing, or to define their roles within this thing as we move forward. We respect that. We respect that more than with our words but also with our actions. We have a lot of guys vying for spots. I look forward to watching them meet the challenge and show what they are capable of.” – Mike Tomlin"

Expect a lot of the Steelers’ starters to be in street clothes on the sidelines for this game.

Tomlin also addressed the trade to acquire kicker Josh Scobee from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers are on their third kicker of the year since losing Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley to injuries.  The team traded for Scobee ahead of the roster cut deadline as opposed to finding him or another kicker on the waiver wires.

"“We had a need, and that’s a big-time position. You get an opportunity to get a unique and established guy like that, and what he did for over a decade in one place, his resume is his resume. It speaks for itself. You get an opportunity to do that, it is something you should strongly consider. We did that. Obviously we felt good about it. We thought the positives outweighed the potential negatives, so we did it.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin wasn’t going to bite on the question about if the defense’s performance against Buffalo and throughout the preseason so far was cause for great concern.

"“I don’t know if I can five a fair assessment of it. We haven’t seen it in its totality. I think it’s just an element of preseason play. Oftentimes if you are looking to feel good about something, you can convince yourself of that. If you are looking to scare yourself regarding something, you can convince yourself of that. I am neither. We will see when we get to New England a few Thursdays from now.” – Mike Tomlin"

That statement is pretty representative of the NFL preseason. If you’re looking at a team’s play in the preseason to tell you something positive, you’re going to find it. If you’re looking at them to find something negative, you’ll find that too. The slate is wiped clean once the regular season kicks off.

That being said, I am one fan that is definitely still alarmed that at the end of the preseason we don’t know what we have on defense. But, just like Tomlin said, we’ll find out in New England.

You can listen to Tomlin’s entire presser right here.

Next: Steelers Cody Wallace: More than just a backup

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