Last year, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin put his team through a very physical training camp that included quite a few live tackling sessions that started as soon as the pads were put on. So does Tomlin expect a repeat of last year? It sounds like it.
“I would anticipate it,” Tomlin said Friday during his first training camp press conference. “I know that I’m excited about seeing some of these guys play and seeing what they’re capable of and I know that they’re excited about doing what they’re capable of. And really, the only way to do that is to play football. I enjoyed the spring and summer, but that’s spring and summer. Now we’re here in training camp and we’re going to do what we do in this type setting, which is to compete.”
When pressed further about whether or not we’ll see some tackling this year, Tomlin did not hesitate to deliver a short and direct response.
“Absolutely. See you Monday.”
During the offseason, the Steelers added speed during not only free agency with the addition of safety Mike Mitchell and wide receiver Darrius Heyward- Bey, but the draft as well. Tomlin was asked to comment on the speed narrative, but made it clear that he thinks it’s overrated.
“Speed is speed. Good defense is really predicated on being where it is you’re supposed to be and good tackling,” said Tomlin. “Speed is an awesome asset, but it’s not going to be the defining asset for us. It’s going to be our ability to play collectively, smart and be where it is that we’re supposed to be and be a good tackling group.
“Obviously, we’ve got some young people that are capable of infusing some speed into the unit, but we’re not going to hang our hats on that. We’re not going to talk too much about it. Seems like too much has been talked about it already. It’s football, it’s not a track meet.”
While the Steelers didn’t have a track meet on Friday, they did have their annual conditioning test. While the team has yet to take the field for a practice, Tomlin seemed to like what he observed on reporting day.
“I like the look in the eye of the group and the way that they performed at the run test was impressive,” he said.