- Right on point: The Steelers defense has given up a lot of yards in the air in their first two games, ranked 31 overall in the league in pass defense, but what they aren't giving up are points. The Steelers held the Redskins and the Bengals to only 16 points, and Coach Mike Tomlin likes what the secondary has been doing to contribute to that effort.
"I have been pleased with what they have done thus far," said Tomlin. "They have largely kept the ball in front. They have particularly been stout when the field gets short and have been good on possession downs. Those are the things that define a secondary and particularly define a defense.
"But there are more plays out there for us. We have to continue to work to capitalize on opportunities. We have touched some balls that weren't caught over the course of the first couple of weeks. We have had some known issues be successful against us. You acknowledge there are going to be some unforeseen things, particularly at the beginning of the season, but there have been some known things that have bitten us. We have some work to do, but I have been largely pleased with their work, their efforts on a day-to-day basis and their level of communication. I think all of that leads into positive winning performances."
Stepping up: Punter Jordan Berry has been solid in the early goings of the 2016 season, and was particularly strong against the Bengals. Berry pinned the Bengals inside the 20-yard line five times, averaging 42.3 net yards on eight punts. Berry gave the Steelers defense a huge advantage in the field position game.
"It's just been the natural progression," said Tomlin. "He won the job a year ago and gave us some quality play. He has been in our offseason program and knows what is expected. I think you are seeing the performance that is associated with that."
Embracing the challenge: Tight end Xavier Grimble has bounced around since entering the NFL in 2014 as an undrafted rookie with the New York Giants. Since then he has bounced around from the San Francisco 49ers to the New England Patriots, back to the 49ers, and to the Steelers practice squad last year. This year he earned a spot on the 53-man roster and is making an impact in the blocking game, but also the passing game. He has his first NFL reception against the Bengals, a 20-yard touchdown. Tomlin said he liked what he saw from Grimble when they brought him in last year, and he is continuing to grow.
"He was a guy that had some talent," said Tomlin. "A young guy, an early out guy that experienced maybe some bumps and bruises associated with that. He has been extremely professional and worked hard on a daily basis to get better since he has been here, whether it's on the practice field or in the weight room in the offseason. I think we have all watched him evolve as a person and a player, like young guys are capable of doing. I think he is doing a good job of embracing challenges that are facing him on a week-in and week-out basis and being a positive contributor to our efforts at the tight end position. We just want that increase in production and growth to continue and I know he feels the same way."