Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on AFC North, physicality and more

AFC North football: Last week Coach Mike Tomlin stressed the importance of the Bengals game to his players, an AFC North matchup with a lot on the line.

While the Steelers had a disappointing showing, losing 41-10, the message this week is the same.

"This is a ridiculously big game, and so it requires our time and attention," said Tomlin.

The Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on Sunday, with the Ravens in first place in the AFC North. No matter what the records are, though, expect a battle.

"AFC North football," said Tomlin. "You know the nature of this matchup and the history of this matchup. I've got a lot of respect for these guys. They're finding ways to win football games. They sit atop of the North, and so it is a big game for us.

"We've got a lot of things that have our attention as it pertains to Baltimore and the things that we need to do to minimize some of the things and people that they have. We've got respect for this matchup, we've got respect for Baltimore and what they're capable of, but for us, it's finding a formula that highlights our skills, our collective skills, in a positive way, and works to minimize some of the negativity that we all have and its impact on the game.

"We've got a big week from a coaching perspective strategically. We've got a big week from a player perspective in terms of some fundamental things and in the division of labor, but such is life in the National Football League. AFC North football. We're excited about being back in Heinz Field."

Getting physical: Following the loss to Cincinnati, Tomlin said the Bengals won the mono y mono battle at the line, winning the physical fight in the trenches.

With another physical team on the horizon in the Ravens, there is one way for the Steelers to regain that physicality.

"Effort," said Tomlin. "That man versus himself battle. We've got to challenge ourselves and we've got to dig down deep and be at our best in an effort to meet those challenges. In some instances, it's guys that are in expanded roles and I understand that. But that's life. One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity if he makes it an opportunity. We've been talking openly about that.

"I'm talking about winning the on-on-one battles, whooping blocks and making tackles. Coming off of blocks, the nature in which we combat people."

Extra work: Tomlin spoke during his press conference about players needing more work, and one player who is on that list is linebacker Devin Bush.

Bush, who missed a portion of last season with a torn ACL, is a player Tomlin said needs both physical and mental work this week.

"It's both because he's an extremely young guy," said Tomlin. "He's still very much growing in terms of awareness and the things that come with playing inside linebacker in the National Football League. And obviously, he needs physical work because there's a lack of volume of plays on his career resume.

"He's a guy that probably falls into both categories, like a lot of people."

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