On the run: Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about Le’Veon Bell, and reports that he will return to the team for Week 8 of the season, following the team’s bye week. Tomlin didn’t address Bell, as has been the case since he isn’t signed, saying he will talk about the guys that are here.
He was willing to talk about the player who has stepped up in Bell’s absence, James Conner.
“I like what James has given us, particularly in the passing game,” said Tomlin. “He has been really consistent in that area. James Conner has been really solid. Both with the ball in his hands and without.”
Ready if needed: Vince Williams suffered a hamstring injury against the Ravens on Sunday night. Tomlin said Williams will be given an opportunity to practice this week, and that will be a guide for whether he will play or not this week.
If Williams can’t go on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Matthew Thomas is a player who could step into the spotlight. Thomas made the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie free agent and has been impressive, contributing mainly on special teams to date.
“He has done some nice things and he has gotten better each and every day,” said Tomlin. “You see some of the result of that in some special teams production. He has had some special teams tackles the last couple of weeks. Ran down and made a significant tackle on kickoff inside the 20 this past week. Had a kickoff tackle on Monday night in Tampa. He is playing some gunner for us. He has some talents. He is learning what to do as he gains more knowledge and a good baseline in play. He will be given the opportunity to play when it presents itself.”
Stabilizing force: The Steelers secondary has had its ups and downs this season, from injuries, to bringing new players into the fold through the NFL Draft and free agency.
One player, though, who has been steady in the defensive backfield so far is third-year safety Sean Davis.
“Sean has done some really good things for us,” said Tomlin. “He has been a stabilizing force in the midst of a lot of transition. Whether it’s guys missing time due to injury, or new people. I think he has been really good and really solid, a good communicator. He has grown in that way. Challenging him as a guy that is getting into the sweet spot in his career to really grow in terms of a communicator. That is something that is critical to the safety position.
“We’re asking him to do more things and rightfully so. He is a guy who has been around here. Whether it’s in the deep middle, deep half field, or down in and around the box. He is showing a wide variety of skills.”