Tomlin Takes

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Tomlin: 3 things to know vs. the Browns

  • Tunnel vision: Everybody is talking playoffs. And it's understandable. It's the number one topic for NFL fans right now, and for the Steelers, they still have a shot to get into the postseason if they defeat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday and the New York Jets lose to the Buffalo Bills. But, the one person who just wants to talk about the Browns, and let what happens after that happen, is Coach Mike Tomlin.

"We are just focused on this week's challenge," said Tomlin. "Nothing has changed in that regard. It's a week-to-week league. It has to be. Anybody who has been in it for any length of time understands that. I think you are setting yourself up for failure if you view it any other way. So we are focused on our preparation for Cleveland."

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Feeling fresh:** Tomlin understands that as a season wears on players bodies take a beating; that the wear and tear on them increases. He knows the importance of keeping things fresh. And for the defense, that has meant rotating players into the secondary, including safety Shamarko Thomas against the Ravens, a player who hasn't seen many snaps on defense this season.

"He is a guy that does things well, particularly on 1st and 10 in the run game," said Tomlin. "We wanted to highlight that and utilize that. We're always looking to be inclusive in terms of the number of guys we can use in our defense, particularly as the season wears on. That is just the latest example of it.

"We've infused Brandon Boykin into the mix more so over the second half of the year. We have infused Robert Golden into some defensive packages over the second half of the year. That is what you do this time of year. It provides some freshness, it provides an opportunity for someone, and it provides a look that is maybe isn't on video. That is why you include new people and new schematic approaches as you approach this time of year."

  • Communication lines open: Second-year linebacker Ryan Shazier is steadily developing into being one of the key cogs as far as defensive communication goes, and Tomlin said he likes the direction he is headed in that avenue.

"He is a sharp young guy, but he is just that, a young guy," said Tomlin. "He is very much in development from an understanding of nuances of the game, particularly when it comes to being a hub of communication that is associated with his position. He has missed some time due to injury that hasn't been beneficial to that growth and development. Largely, day in and day out I like his approach to getting better, his attitude in which he works. We are excited about the trajectory of his development not only as a player, but as a guy who acts as a hub of communication for our defense."

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