The Pittsburgh Steelers conducted their first mandatory minicamp practice of 2018 on Tuesday and after the session was over, head coach Mike Tomlin met with the media and explained a few of the differences between these set of practices and the three week of OTA practices that concluded last week.
Coach Tomlin recaps our first day of work at minicamp. pic.twitter.com/6Ytbw2qi3a
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 12, 2018
“Not a lot of significant difference in terms of the nature of which we work relative to OTAs but there is little subtle differences. We are able to maintain them here, by rule, for a larger portion of the day and really, we get an opportunity to evaluate them in that way,” Tomlin explained. “To give them more information, to simulate what is like a training camp day in a lot of ways. We’re excited about that end of it.”
Tomlin made sure to point out several times during his short Tuesday afternoon media session that these offseason practices that are conducted prior to training camp are merely for teaching and that not much should be read into which player is working with what unit and especially when it comes to the new players on this year’s roster such as veteran inside linebacker Jon Bostic.
“I don’t know enough about him to talk about is improvement,” Tomlin said of Bostic when asked about things he needs to improve on. “I think not only for him, all the new guys, I look forward to getting to know them and not going in with any preconceived notions. I look forward to them showing their football acumen and abilities in a football-like setting, which is training camp. This is not an evaluation setting, this is a teach setting.”
Tomlin gave a similar answer when asked about Steelers rookie tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and his early development this offseason and if the plan is for him to have a more expanded role now that the team has lost tackle Jerald Hawkins for the remainder of the year due to an injury he suffered a few weeks ago.
“Right now we’re just focused on teaching of people and not a division of labor in that way,” Tomlin said.
When asked late during his media session if younger players are limited during the offseason practices when it comes to grading because the team hasn’t yet practiced in pads and won’t until training camp begins, Tomlin once again emphasized that this time of the offseason is for teaching only.
“I’m not grading them,” Tomlin said. “This is a teach setting. I mean what I say when I mean that we’re not evaluating them. Yes, there are certain elements of the process that we’re evaluating. How they learn, how they take in information, how they retain information, but the football evaluations, which you speak of, physicality and tackling is a part of the game. So, you’re setting yourself up to make poor decisions. You’re misleading them when you frame what’s going on here in that way. I won’t do it.”
Day-two of Steelers mandatory minicamp will take place on Wednesday and the third and final session is scheduled for Thursday.