The Pittsburgh Steelers are enjoying their first win of the season in their home opener but are gearing towards their next opponent. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin took to the podium on Tuesday to review the previous game, update injury statuses, preview the upcoming game and answer questions.
Tomlin reviewed the play by the Steelers against the San Francisco 49ers by explaining that the team improved situationally on offense and in defense.
"“We moved the ball in a similar manner in which we did before but we were able to finish drives.” – Mike Tomlin"
He also noted that the team was able to improve defensively from their first week performance but they wouldn’t be resting on their laurels for very long.
"“We’re not going to wear our hands out patting ourselves on the back.” – Mike Tomlin"
"“Daniel McCullers does have some swelling in his left knee. We will look at that. That may limit him and affect his availability but we will know as we go throughout the week as we monitor his practice participation or availability in that area. I haven’t checked on Cortez Allen’s status this week. Last week, he wasn’t able to practice enough for me to decide to play him. We’ll check his knee inflammation this week and we’ll base those decisions on practice availability and performance, like we did a week ago. Not to my knowledge (does his knee require surgery). Not at this juncture.” – Mike Tomlin"
In previewing the upcoming matchup against the St. Louis Rams Tomlin couldn’t discount the challenge the Steelers will have in going up against former Pitt defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
"“Aaron Donald is their man inside and up front. I know quite a bit about Aaron Donald, probably too much. The things I know about him don’t help me sleep easy. This guy is extremely talented, but he’s also a hard worker. I spent a couple of months this offseason – February and March of 2015 – getting out of my car in the parking lot out here and running into Aaron Donald as he came into work out at Pitt. I think he left the Pro Bowl and went straight back to work. That doesn’t surprise me. The way his professional career is unfolding is not a surprise to those who know him.” – Mike Tomlin"
Tomlin also acknowledged the job of protecting against Donald will lie with the offensive line as well as with Ben Roethlisberger.
"“We have to do a great job of protecting the quarterback, but Ben also has to do a great job of getting the ball out. We have to do a great job of running, and mixing the run and pass and play-action to stymie their pass rush. They’re very good at what they do. That’s where the challenge of this week starts – the protection of our quarterback is big.” – Mike Tomlin"
Speaking of the running game Tomlin couldn’t help but mention the return of running back Le’Veon Bell from serving his two-game suspension. Although DeAngelo Williams is leading the AFC in rushing yards (204 with three rushing touchdowns) is playing above and beyond expectations, the Steelers are happy to accept Bell back into the offense.
"“We get Le’Veon Bell back this week. We are excited about that. But we are excited about having both guys. I can’t say enough about the contributions of DeAngelo Williams. He’s been a good asset and acquisition for us. He’s working hard to compete and contribute in all areas.” – Mike Tomlin"
When asked about how the division of labor will go between the two backs Tomlin was definite that Bell is the starter.
"“I am going to play Le’Veon Bell. If 26 is available to use we are going to use him.” – Mike Tomlin"
It will be a big test for the Steelers to put together back-to-back wins early in the season, something they haven’t been able to do for the past few years. If they can follow up last week’s performance with an equally strong one in all phases they will keep rising among the contenders.
On to the Rams!
Obviously Count = 9
You can listen to Tomlin’s entire presser right here.
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!
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