Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on Avery, Marcus, Diontae & more

Next man up: The Steelers depth at inside linebacker was wiped out heading into Sunday night's game against the Bills, with Vince Williams on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, Robert Spillane placed on the Reserve/Injured List, and Devin Bush already on IR.

So it was up to newcomer Avery Williamson, acquired via trade from the New York Jets earlier this season, and Marcus Allen, a converted safety, to hold down the fort.

And they did just that.

Williamson led the team in tackles with 11, including nine solo stops.

"I can't say enough about his work and his work to get up to speed and embracing the responsibility of being a central communicator for us," said Tomlin. "He was better. It is reasonable to expect him to continually get better with each opportunity, but I can't say enough about his efforts in those areas."

Allen, who has very little experience at linebacker on the NFL level, was second in tackles with eight, including five solo stops and a tackle for a loss.

"Can't say enough about a guy like Marcus Allen, who's new to the position, who's new to the number of snaps he had and getting the type of effort that we got from him," said Tomlin.

Responding well: During his press conference a week ago, Tomlin showed his displeasure with dropped passes, clearly stating if guys don't make the catch, the ball won't come their way. 

"They can catch the ball, or they can get replaced by someone who will catch it," said Tomlin. "It's just as simple as that. Like I've often said, I expect guys to make routine plays, routinely. When there is a pattern of that not happening, we have to look at who we are throwing the ball to."

On Sunday night, after Diontae Johnson dropped the ball multiple times, Tomlin did what he said he would and sent him to the bench in the first half. Tomlin gave the young receiver another chance, and he responded. Ben Roethlisberger hit Johnson in the third quarter for completions of five and six yards, and Johnson caught one for 17 yards in the fourth quarter.

"I thought he responded appropriately," said Tomlin. "He didn't pout. He waited for his next opportunity and when his next opportunity came, he was productive. So, we'll move forward."

A lot on the line: When the Steelers take on the Bengals on Monday Night Football, there will be a lot on the line with the potential of winning the AFC North with a victory. But coming off two straight losses, Tomlin knows they have their work cut out for them.

"There's a lot on the table for us," said Tomlin. "We are excited about primetime football. We essentially laid an egg last week on primetime football, so we are excited about getting another opportunity at that.

"We are back in the AFC North in divisional play. If you want to dominate the NFL and be one of the teams in contention to dominate the NFL, it starts first and foremost with divisional play. We have an opportunity to play a divisional game and secure an AFC North title.

"Those are tangible things that have our attention and excitement as we work this week. For us, it's about assessing who we have available to us and sharpening our sword for the battle that lies ahead. We expect to get the very best of Cincinnati. That's a rivalry-type game, if you will. It's an opportunity for them to have a feel good in the midst of a trying circumstance of a season for them. It's Monday Night Football. We understand and expect all of that."

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