Second-year receiver Antonio Brown continues to emerge in the Steelers offense, making his first NFL start against Cincinnati on Nov. 13 and becoming a threat for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"I think, like I expect of all second-year men, he is improving in all areas," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "In route-running, coverage recognition, being quarterback friendly and just an overall understanding of the game and how he fits in the big picture. That's what we expect of all second-year men, to grow by leaps and bounds in all areas and he has done that to this point."
Brown is second on the team in receiving with 44 receptions for 626 yards and has become Roethlisberger's go-to guy on third downs.
"A lot of that goes back to Mike (Wallace)," said Roethlisberger. "People are rolling (coverage) over to Mike and we put Antonio on the back side where he's singled up a lot and when you get single coverage and a guy that's as talented as he is, with body control, with his hands, he's got the speed to run deep. He just has a lot of tools (and) he puts in the extra work."
Roethlisberger said Brown is someone that wants to learn as much as he can, asking questions and trying to make sure the two are on the same page.
"If you watch us during practice he's constantly by my side," said Roethlisberger. "I don't want to say this in a negative way but he's like a gnat. He's just always right there and it's good because he's coming to me asking, 'OK, Ben on this play do you want to do this, do you want me to do this?' And I think that's awesome because I know where he's going to be and that's one of the biggest reasons why I think we've been so successful on third down and that back side because I think the extra communication that he puts in and that we put in together."
Rookie defensive end Cameron Heyward might not be getting as many snaps these days, but Tomlin said it is not a reflection of the number one draft pick's play.
"I think more than anything it is that Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood are highly conditioned and playing well," said Tomlin. "I have no reservations about playing Cam. He is a positive young man. He is working extremely hard. He has a bright future.
"But in regards to snap count and so forth, we have been playing a lot of sub-package football and that includes two defensive linemen as opposed to three. We are not worried about where he is from a snap count standpoint or development standpoint. I think all of those things are positive."
Tomlin said the meeting he and Steelers president Art Rooney II had with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives last week in New York went well.
"I thought it was very productive," said Tomlin. "We exchanged some ideas. I think the meeting was born out of a conversation between Art and the commissioner. They thought it would be productive for all of us to sit down and talk. I thought it was very productive. It was my first opportunity to see the new offices. They were impressive. It is good bye week stuff. That is in my rear view as I sit here today, and I am solely focused on the preparation and our challenge that awaits us this week in the Kansas City Chiefs."
Tomlin declined to reveal what they discussed, but it is speculated that it was in regards to what are deemed legal and illegal hits.
"I'll leave the conversation I had with those guys between them and myself," said Tomlin. "I think that's appropriate. I'll say this, I appreciated having an opportunity to visit with those men and get their perspective on some things and be able to give mine."