Fine the way it is: Steelers kick off the preseason on Friday night against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, an opportunity for Coach Mike Tomlin to see some of his young players, newcomers and veterans in action for the first time this year.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this week that "I still believe we don't need four preseason games." His thought is to possibly reduce the number of games from four to three, and possibly eventually two.
Tomlin though welcomes the preseason and the opportunity it brings. "I like the preseason personally," said Tomlin. "I think it aids in the development of young players, specifically those at certain positions, like the quarterback position, having a rookie quarterback. Also having an obligation to get guys like Ben (Roethlisberger) ready. I like the four games from that perspective. I understand the discussion, I understand why a lot of us in this industry are delving into the discussion. But that is just my personal opinion.
"I have had an appreciation for the preseason going all the way back to my position coach days. I am a lover of football. I believe all of these guys here working have a legitimate chance. The preseason games give them the opportunity to put those skills on display. Not only for us, but for the other 31 teams. This process that is team development, division of labor and team building, I have a lot of respect for and I think the preseason games are a big part of it."
Providing opportunity:** William Gay has seen very limited action in practice during training camp, putting the pads on just once, when the team held their Family Fest practice at Heinz Field. Harrison, who works out maniacally on his own, doesn't need the extra reps that Tomlin said benefits the younger players.
"Really at this junction, we have been working him off on the side," said Tomlin. "It is less about James and more about providing opportunities for younger and developing guys. James is at the point in his career where he does not require a bunch of physical reps in order to be game ready. We are utilizing that for his good in terms of preservation. But also, the good of developing young guys like T.J. Watt. We will continue to monitor that. Those decisions are not made in a vacuum. Those decisions are made relative to him but also relative to the other guys of the group. The lines got a little short the other night, when we were in Pittsburgh so it was prudent to practice him. We will continue to play it by ear. I do not know what the future holds in regards to his participation. But rest assured that he will be getting on the moving train here at some point."
- Work ethic: Canaan Severin has had his ups and downs since entering the NFL. He was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent last year, was injured in training camp last year, missed the season injured, was waived this past May and then re-signed a few weeks later. When training camp started this year he was placed on the physically unable to perform list, and then activated a few days later.
Severin has yet to play a snap at wide receiver in the NFL, yet there is still something that has caught Tomlin's eye.
"He is a diligent and detailed worker," said Tomlin. "He is a guy that is a big body guy and plays that way. He is a willing and able participant in special teams. When you talk about guys that are down the line guys, guys that are trying to carve out a role for themselves, you can't have those discussions without talking about special teams. He has embraced those elements of play. That is part of the reason we are interested in getting an extended look at him."