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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tuesday with Tomlin

If I've been asked once, I've been asked a thousand times already this season about the Steelers' cornerback situation.

Why isn't Brandon Boykin playing? What's up with Cortez Allen? It goes on and on.

Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Ross Cockrell is the team's nickel cornerback - at least at this time. That could certainly change since the Steelers have other options there in Boykin and Allen.

But for now, Cockrell is the guy in the nickel and Antwon Blake is going to continue to play.

Save all the analysis from Pro Football Focus, that's what the Steelers are going with for now.

"As we sit here today, but obviously we have some preparation time," Tomlin said of Cockrell remaining as the team's nickel. "We have to evaluate Cortez and his practice performance and availability.

Boykin, as you can see, wasn't part of the equation.

The Steelers haven't necessarily been unhappy with Boykin, but he had an opportunity after Week 1 to get into the lineup and strained his hamstring the Monday after the opener against New England. That gave Cockrell an opportunity to show what he could do in practice and he has done nothing to lose the job.

But that doesn't mean the Steelers won't use or need Allen or Boykin moving forward.

At this point, however, the Steelers have allowed an NFL-low five passes of 20 or more yards - they gave up 50 such plays in 2014 - and are 13th in the NFL in pass defense, with a large chunk of the passing yards having been allowed in the fourth quarter of a blowout win over San Francisco.

The pass defense has been good and the Steelers aren't about to make a change to mess with that.

* Speaking of defense, Tomlin said today that the issues with the run defense against the Ravens last week were because the Steelers were intent on shutting down Baltimore's play-action passing game.

That meant the safeties and corners basically ignored the running backs coming out of the backfield and stuck with their coverage responsibilities.

In the first three games, the Steelers allowed 162 yards on 57 rushing attempts by opposing backs - a 3.2 yards per carry average. Justin Forsett nearly had that himself for the Ravens, hitting the Steelers for 150 yards on 27 carries.

"They got significant chunks via play-action pass going into the game, so we wanted to attack that to minimize those chunks," Tomlin said. "We realized in doing so, we might expose ourselves to some run. We probably exposed ourselves to a little more run than we anticipated, but you give them credit for executing from that standpoint."

* Tomlin said Ryan Shazier will open the week as questionable to return against San Diego from his shoulder injury but did note that the linebacker had improved "dramatically."

Expect Shazier to play. But Tomlin's wording is to make sure the second-year linebacker continues to practice all week.

* Daniel McCullers (knee) and Markus Wheaton (ankle) are also expected to be back this week, while Matt Spaeth is probably more on the doubtful side of questionable with a broken hand.

* Tomlin said the Steelers don't have to activate Martavis Bryant's until 4 p.m. Monday if they want to play him against the Chargers and said they probably wouldn't make an announcement about their intentions until 3:58 on Monday.

Expect Bryant to play.

14 comments:

ibygeorge said...

"We probably exposed ourselves to a little more run than we anticipated, but you give them credit for executing from that standpoint."

Don't the coaches ever adjust when the games plans aren't working?

ibygeorge said...

"We probably exposed ourselves to a little more run than we anticipated, but you give them credit for executing from that standpoint."

Don't the coaches ever adjust when the games plans aren't working?

Anonymous said...

Ross Cockrell has simply been a revelation.

Steve Goff said...

Ceratainly I have asked about the db situations - mostly because I was rooting for a hometown guy (Fogg) to make it. I have also wondered about Boykin along with much of Steelers Nation. I admit my questions were pretty much answered with Cockrell and Blake the other night. Cockrell was a revelation and Blake really brings the wood (reminds me of the old days a little bit). If those two can stay healthy and keep growing, then more power to them and all the better for the D. The defense is looking far better at this point than I would have ever guessed when camp opened. Credit goes where credit due.

Thanks again Dale.

Marc said...

"But Tomlin's wording is to make sure the second-year linebacker continues to practice all week."

please clarify that stmt if you can, dale. does the head coach seriously need to incentivize shazier to practice?

Dale Lolley said...

It's something he does with ALL young guys. He jabs them verbally. He takes shots at them, etc. Wants to see what they are made of.

Lance Stalnaker said...

The key here is that this defense is quietly playing very well, and they are only going to improve. Having quality DB's on the shelf is a good problem to have here in Pittsburgh, we have been so concerned with the secondary, we just don't know how to react...This team has been short, Bell, Bryant, Pouncy, Shazier, and now Ben. It's scary to think how good they might be if healthy come December. We just all have to hope they keep above .500 until Ben returns, and stay/get healthy for the stretch. It is going to be a very interesting season, but there is no doubt that this team if healthy can play with and beat the leagues best, Here We Go!

Lance Stalnaker said...

Dale, I like the jabs, we all know that Shazier has all the talent in the world, but we need him to be a leader now, and Tomlin knows that. Just wait until this kid puts it all together, the physical and mental, can't wait!

Birthday Boy said...

Dale, it appears Tomlin is also mulling over which player to release. Which players do you believe he is seriously considering?

Birthday Boy said...

Not sure why you suggest the game plan wasn't working. The game plan was specifically to limit Flacco, in which they succeeded. And obviously, to limit them in overall scoring, in which they succeeded, as well. Considering how often our offense stalled, and how poorly our punter then did, holding them to 20pts in regulation was very good.

Anonymous Brian said...

Well, there was the blitzing and also Shazier being out and the missed tackles (league-wide or not) not to mention Yanda and Osemele are good. Big tests for the pass D with Rivers and Palmer. I think Tomlin is "obviously," as he would say, right about needing to get pressure with fewer rushers - especially Monday night.

I would cut, as usual, Archer, which means it won't happen.

Excited about Bryant coming back.

Anonymous said...

Missed tackles are a league wide problem but a recent article on Steelersdepot shows the Steelers have missed more tackles than any team in the league this year.

So this league wide problem is hitting us worse than other teams. It's a real issue.

Anonymous said...

If Cockrell can be a dependable, Bryce McCain-esque replacement, then bravo. That'll be two years in a row Colbert (+ scouts, Tomlin, Rooneys, etc) have nailed a free agent CB.

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