The Steelers bye week is in the rear view mirror and now it's full speed ahead preparing for the New York Jets this Sunday as the team searches for their first win of the season. One of the keys to getting in the win column is to improve the turnover ratio, a disappointing minus 11 that has the team ranked last in the category in the AFC and only ahead of the New York Giants (minus 13) overall in the NFL.
"We have to do a better job of preserving the ball," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We worked hard at that over the last week, and getting the ball, we've yet to get a turnover. We acknowledge that."
The Steelers are the only team in the league without an interception or a fumble recovery, and there has been a lot of emphasis placed on changing that statistic.
"Even though we're not practicing in pads, I think that ball security and getting to the football on defense are things that you can practice, regardless of circumstance," said Tomlin. "From a ball security standpoint, it's mechanics – the points of pressure on the ball and making it as a point of emphasis. Defensively, tackling, as big of a part of tackling as anything is the approach and making sure that you have correct angles to the ball, you have bent knees and ankles. We have an opportunity to do that every time the ball is snapped."
After struggling through the first few weeks of the season, left tackle Mike Adams has been replaced in the starting lineup by Kelvin Beachum, with Levi Brown also brought in to solidify the position.
But Tomlin said he still believes in Adams, who is now listed as the third team left tackle, and thinks he can work his way through his struggles.
"The most important thing is not what has happened to him at this point, it's how he responds to it and moves forward," said Tomlin. "I think it's going to have an opportunity to define him in his career. There are a lot of solid professional players who have been through ups and downs, demotions and so forth. The guys that show staying power, that respond to it appropriately, that roll their sleeves up and go to work, solid steady players. There are plenty of examples to choose from, but forget about examples. It's time for Mike to roll his sleeves up and work to find more consistency in his movement and technique so he can be the player we know and he knows he is capable of being."
Rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton, who had surgery on his right pinky finger during the bye week, is the only player that has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Jets.
"DaMon Cromartie-Smith is working with his left hip flexor injury. You can characterize him as questionable," said Tomlin. "Ramon Foster worked in a partial capacity (Monday) with his left pectoral strain. We anticipate him continuing to do so as we push through the week. What he is capable of doing in pads is going to be critical. We will get a look at that a little later in the week. Kion Wilson worked in a partial capacity as well."