Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on Avery, short yardage & more

A week to learn: The Steelers acquired linebacker Avery Williamson via a trade with the New York Jets on Nov. 2, and because of COVID-19 protocols he wasn't able to practice with the team at all last week, only attending meetings virtually.

Williamson did dress against the Dallas Cowboys, but was the only Steelers player who didn't see action in the game, something that was Coach Mike Tomlin's plan going in.

This week, with Vince Williams on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Williamson will see more snaps in practice, which will help him get a quick introduction to the defense.

"He's going to get a lot of physical reps and preparation this week," said Tomlin. "He prepared remotely last week. He is a veteran guy. We had no intentions of using him unless we were forced into it. Thankfully we were not.

"He gets a complete week's work this week with us and in the building, on the field with his teammates and I am looking forward to it."

Falling short: The Steelers struggled in short yardage against the Cowboys on Sunday, turning the ball over on downs twice when they couldn't convert on fourth-and-short, including James Conner getting hit for a loss of four yards on fourth-and-one from the Cowboys' 15-yard line.

The team was without fullback Derek Watt again on Sunday, still bothered by a hamstring injury, but Tomlin said that was no excuse for the performance.

"There are no excuses in terms of our short yardage failures. We own that," said Tomlin. "We have players at our disposal if we so choose. Henry Mondeaux has also played some fullback for us. We just weren't very good from a planning or playing standpoint in the situations."

Not so special: The Steelers had their struggles on special teams against the Cowboys, with Chris Boswell having an extra point blocked and missing one wide left. Boswell would have also had a missed 54-yard field goal, but a false start on Cameron Heyward negated the play, and Boswell hit from 59 yards out.

Tomlin said it wasn't just that aspect of the game that was a problem on Sunday, but special teams play overall.

"They were flat getting after us in the teams game," said Tomlin. "Not only in the block game, but they had a big punt return, a big kick return. They were a step ahead of us and they were aggressive, and you've got to give them credit for that.

"We'll just get back in the lab and get back to work this week with the intention of being better against the Bengals."

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