Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on JuJu, Donald and more

No issues: His numbers don't jump off the page at you, with 33 receptions for 459 yards and three touchdowns through eight games, but numbers don't tell the full story of JuJu Smith-Schuster's season.

Smith-Schuster has been drawing the attention of the opponent's best corner, and this week that will likely be Jaylen Ramsey. He is holding up to the challenge, and he said he has been getting open, but with three different quarterbacks so far this season it's been challenging getting him the ball enough.

"How he has done and (how he has done) relative to statistics are probably two different things because it doesn't happen in a vacuum," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "I've got no issues with how he's handled himself relative to some of those matchups, but statistics might not tell the story because of a lot of things going on around him.

"I like his work. I like his professionalism. I like how he wins his one-on-ones. Hopefully it's a catalyst for us, in terms of getting more traction and consistently moving the ball offensively."

Being productive: From the outside looking in it might appear the Steelers are bringing more pressure on defense, especially with 29 sacks through eight games.

Tomlin, though, said that isn't the case but rather the pressure is working better. In addition to the sacks, the Steelers have 22 takeaways, 11 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries, ranking second in the NFL in takeaway ratio with a +11.

"I don't know that we are bringing any more pressure than we normally have," said Tomlin. "I think we are just having more success with the number of people that we bring. If you look at the ratio of people to rush to coverage, I don't think that we are functioning any differently than we have in recent years. When we are rushing four, that four is getting significant pressure. And even at times when we are rushing three, like early in the game, Bud Dupree got a sack early in the game, that was in a three-man rush.

"I don't think the ratio has changed or our mentality in terms of how we deploy our people, I just think we are getting big time productivity out of those that we do bring."

Familiar foe: The Steelers offense will face one of their biggest challenges of the season going against reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Donald, who had 20.5 sacks last year and five so far this year, can disrupt any and every play.

While the Steelers don't see Donald on a frequent basis, Tomlin is more than familiar with what he is capable of after seeing him play at the University of Pittsburgh. Tomlin said it was during Donald's senior year there he knew how dominant he could be at the NFL level.

"I think it became evident that what you were looking at was not relative to who he was playing against and more just about him," said Tomlin. "He has an unbelievable work ethic. He has unbelievable talent in terms of strength and quick twitch. He has built in leverage for the game. His stature is an asset to him. He is always underneath people. He wins one-on-ones, physical confrontations because he has a combination of unbelievable athleticism and unbelievable strength.

"I am not surprised by anything we are seeing from him. I would imagine the Rams aren't either and that's why they took him as high as they took him in the Draft."

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