Following the team's minicamp session on Wednesday afternoon, Head Coach Mike Tomlin took time to answer questions on an array of topics, including this year's rookie class, where he is looking for improvement from individual players and position groups, and more. However, it was not a group of media members and reporters that were asking the questions. This time, all of the questions came directly from fans as part of a live fan forum conference call with Steelers Nation Unite.
The Official Home of Steelers Nation, Steelers Nation Unite provides live, interactive events that connect members directly with the team, including opportunities to talk live with Team President Art Rooney II, Vice President and General Manager Kevin Colbert, Tomlin, current players and Steelers Legends. Fans can join Steelers Nation Unite for free at SteelersNationUnite.com, and just by signing up, will receive access to events like this throughout the year, not just during the season.
With the team wrapping-up its official offseason workouts this week, fans were interested in knowing about a number of things, including how the offensive line is continuing to progress after losing the top backup to free agency in the offseason and suffering an injury during OTAs.
"I like where the group is. We've got some very specific areas there in terms of opportunity to really rise through the ranks," said Tomlin. "We lost Chris Hubbard in free agency. He was our swing tackle a year ago. We drafted Chuks [Okorafor], a young, talented guy. We also had [Jerald Hawkins], who was another young, talented guy, but Hawk got hurt a couple weeks back. So it's going to be really interesting to watch the growth of the young tackles and who ascends within that area of competition. Some of the known guys, the front line group, they're in really good physical condition, they're healthy, and they're preparing themselves and getting ready to go."
Tomlin was also asked about the defensive side of the ball, and specifically what areas the unit is focusing on as they look to continue to improve in 2018.
"We're developing in a lot of ways. More than anything, we've got some significant young talent that we're infusing into the group and learning their skill sets. Guys like our top pick Terrell Edmunds, free agents like Morgan Burnett and others. Part of us determining what we're going to be in 2018 is getting a sense of what and who those guys are, their strengths and leaning on some things that highlight what it is they do and staying away from some things that maybe minimize their capabilities," said Tomlin.
"You can't get away from the personnel element of it, who's available to us and how we're going to utilize their talents. We're going through a transition at the linebacker level and going into a season without Ryan Shazier and his unique talents. So we'll do some things differently, we'll plan differently, and we've done that. I look forward to watching it unfold inside stadiums."
Tomlin also addressed a number of other areas, and even offered advice to a fan who called in and asked for some tips on coaching Pop Warner football in Alaska this fall. To hear what he had to say on that and many other topics, head to SteelersNationUnite.com to listen to the full replay of this exclusive event.