Steelers News

Tomlin Itching To Take Evaluation Process Into Stadiums

The NFL saw its first in-stadium action last night since the Super Bowl, with the Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars squaring off in the Hall of Fame game. It doesn’t really matter who wins, of course. It’s the work that goes into it and the individual and collective performance that coaches value.

And for the Pittsburgh Steelers, after nearly two weeks of work at Saint Vincent College, head coach Mike Tomlin is ready to start taking the evaluation process into those arenas, something that he brought up multiple times after yesterday’s practices when asked about certain competitions.

“They’ve had their moments”, he said, via the team’s website, when he was asked about some of the wide receivers perceived to be on the bottom of the roster, like Steven Sims, Tyler Vaughns, and Tyler Snead. “I really think that story gets told once we start getting into stadiums”.

The Steelers have plenty of other wide receivers that they want to see in stadiums, like rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III, as well as relatively recent veteran acquisitions like Miles Boykin and Anthony Miller, the latter a midseason practice squad pickup in 2021. Most of their quarterback room is new to the roster, as well.

So is much of the offensive line, which includes two new veteran starters added via free agency in the form of James Daniels at right guard and Mason Cole at center. Asked to evaluate the progress of that group, Tomlin said, “I could make judgements, but we’ll be in a stadium in a week or so and more information will be available to us in terms of evaluating, and I’m one to always display patience in that regard”.

The Steelers may have one of the most physical and football-like training camps in the entire NFL, but there is no replicating a true game setting, not even joint practices with another club. Even the environment of the stadium, with a paying audience, provides an ingredient in the recipe that must be tasted.

Not everybody gets into the preseason—some choose to skip it altogether—but it is always a part of the offseason process that we value. Again, it’s not about the actual game itself, the scoreboard largely being an afterthought, but it’s the purest opportunity to evaluate the growth of players that we are offered.

So I find myself on board with Tomlin. I think most of us are ready to take this process into the stadiums and see what these guys look like. How the offensive line holds up in such an environment, especially when the head coach can’t simply change the down and distance to conform to what he wants to work on, is going to be something many of you, I’m sure, will be concentrating on along with me.

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