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The Steelers head coach was asked lots of questions in regards to the team’s current COVID-19 situation, plus a few other topics
It’s hard to believe the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 regular season has reached the halfway point. But as is like in the NFL, there is no time to dwell on the past as the Steelers are moving forward with their preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, this means Mike Tomlin’s weekly press conference. While not always asked about specific players, this week had several questions about players and Tomlin took liberties to bring up others. Remember these players are ones brought up during the question and answer period.
With Vance McDonald landing on the Reserve/COVID-19 List due to a positive test, it was almost certain at least one question would arise about the subject. Coach Tomlin was specifically asked about what determines if a player is allowed to travel with the team.
“You know, those aren’t decisions that are made by us. It’s really cut and dry. It’s all in the procedural policy of covid established in New York by the NFL. As long as he is negative and not showing signs of covid, he’s able to travel, and (Vance McDonald) was and we did. We don’t overanalyze it that way. We utilize all the mechanisms at our disposal to minimize the potential of interaction. We’re all masked up. We’re all exercising good personal hygiene and social distancing. We’re doing all the things that we are asked. That’s our mindset regarding it.”
Ben Roethlisberger was the subject of many questions on Tuesday. Between his knee injury and being a close contact who is in the COVID-19 protocol, there was plenty to be asked. Coach Tomlin was first asked about Roethlisberger’s injured knees and if it will affect his availability. During his answer, Coach Tomlin’s mic cut out and a portion of his answer was not recorded.
“Ben has some bumps and bruises associated with play that happened in the first half. He was able to come back into the game and finish the game… He is not in question.”
Tomlin was also asked if he could learn anything from past experiences when Roethlisberger played without practicing.
“I’m not overly concerned about it. This guy has been doing his job for 17 years. He’s got snap experience that he can call upon. We are still going to work extremely hard virtually to prepare. A lot of his work is above the neck anyway in terms of preparation. I have very little concern about it, to be quite honest with you.”
Yet another question about Roethlisberger was if he would be able to participate in Saturday’s walk-through if he is able to have enough negative tests.
If Ben Roethlisberger is unable to play on Sunday, the quarterbacking duties will fall to one of the Steelers’ other young players. Coach Tomlin was asked if it would be Mason Rudolph or Josh Dobbs playing on Sunday if Roethlisberger is unavailable.
“We are going to work both young quarterbacks this week. Mason is going to get the bulk of the work. That is the position that he is in, but we will play it by ear as we proceed through the week. I’m not opposed to playing anybody that increases our chances of winning based on what we are looking at.”
With Vince Williams also unable to practice this week due to being a close contact, Steelers new linebacker Avery Williamson may be able to get some much needed reps. Coach Tomlin was asked if it was better for Williamson to get more vacated reps in practice.
“Yeah, he is going to get a lot of physical reps and preparation this week. He prepared remotely last week and he is veteran guy, and we had no intentions of using him unless we were forced into it. Thankfully, we were not. He gets a complete week’s work this week with us and in the building and on the field with his teammates and I am looking forward to it.”
It was surprising to see Coach Tomlin talk about Derek Watt as if he missed Sunday’s game due to injury when he was not on the injury report all week. Coach Tomlin was asked if Watt reaggravated an injury and how having a full back could help the offense. Tomlin took the liberty to mention Henry Mondeaux as a possible fill-in at the position.
“Yeah, he took a step back as we got closer to game time, if you will, in terms of availability, but there are no excuses in terms of our short yardage failures. We own that. We have players at our disposal if we so choose. Henry Mondeaux has also played some fullback for us. We just weren’t very good from a planning or playing standpoint in the situations that you mentioned.”
For a full recap of Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out our podcast recap below:
Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here:
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 10, 2020