In a media conference ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mike Tomlin repeatedly mentioned player exposure.
Towards the end of the conference he states, “ My mentality is we need exposure and information in terms of decision making, and that’s the ultimate guide… I just need to see certain things from people and when I see enough, I’ve seen enough.“
Interestingly enough the order in which the players will play in the next contest is Trubisky, Pickett, and then Rudolph. In their first pre season game against the Seattle Seahawks Pickett finished out the game. Tomlin said the change was because “we just simply want to see Kenny in more varsity action.“
Is Pickett closing the gap between himself and Mitch Trubisky?
Najee Harris is the starting running back for the Steelers, there is no question about that. Yet, because running back can be a grueling position, it is important to have depth at the position.
That is why both rookie Jaylen Warren and third year Anthony McFarland Jr. were talking points. In the first preseason game Warren amounted 6 carries for 34 yards and 4 receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown. McFarland recorded 7 carries for 56 yards. Solid performances for each of the young backs.
For Mike Tomlin the information he gathered from the two performances was, “… incomplete. At this juncture, your ability to put performance on top of performance is a big component of ball at this level.”
Simply speaking to know that they have shown enough, they have to remain consistent in their output on the field. So be sure they will be a part of the exposure Tomlin is focused on.
Gunner Olszewski is going into his 4th season in the league and is fighting for a position on the Steelers after three previous years with the New England Patriots. Although he is listed as a Wide Receiver, he looks to make his impact on special teams.
Why does this matter?
Gunner brings something that Tomlin is always looking for. ” I can’t say enough about the toughness that he displays. I just think that is the distinguishing trait… You can’t have enough tough guys in this game.“
Not only is toughness a desirable trait in NFL locker rooms, it forces the people around you to make decisions. It exposes them to hard work for the sake of competition.
Oftentimes in the offseason and preseason the young players are in the spotlight. The future stars take center stage, leaving current stars sidelined until the start of the regular season.
Two time Pro Bowler Minkah Fitzpatrick is that star. He has a solidified starting position on the Steelers defense. Tomlin elaborates on a kind of exposure that Fitzpatrick is able to bring to his team.
“Minkah is a serious competitor, and it shows in environments like this. He always wants in: He wants to cover receivers, he wants to tackle running backs, he wants to blitz. He’s a football player, a guy that loves football. He’s a guy that loves competition… He’s always about it and he’s always ready to work.”
Fitzpatrick gives young players a model of excellence in the league. Going into his 5th year in the NFL Fitzpatrick is already seen as a leader of that defense and a the embodiment of the Steelers standard.