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Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on Mitchell, Artie & Deebo

  • No harm intended:  Safety Mike Mitchell was flagged for a roughing the passer call on Chiefs' quarterback Alex Smith on the final play of the third quarter, after Smith had connected with Kareem Hunt for a 37-yard gain. Mitchell hit him in the back of the knee, and Smith took exception to it after the game.

"I mean, when you get hit in the back of your knee like that, I didn't understand how that happened," said Smith.

Coach Mike Tomlin said that while yes, the penalty was deserved, that there was no malice on the play as Mitchell was tripped by Anthony Chickillo and then fell into Smith.

"My view is what you guys saw," said Tomlin. "He got tripped by Chickillo and it was unfortunate. But it's part of ball. He should've been penalized. There is strict liability there and rightfully so. Player safety is big.

"But if you saw the play you know there is no mal intent or egregiousness there on his part. He got tripped. But Alex doesn't have eyes in the back of his head and in game he doesn't know that. It's reasonable for him to have the response that he had."

A time to grow: Artie Burns had a busy spring and summer, spending time during OTAs, minicamp and training camp doing something not many cornerbacks in the NFL want to do. He had to cover Antonio Brown on a daily basis.

And now, it's paying off for the Steelers, who are ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL in pass defense.

Burns will have a big test this week going against Bengals receiver A.J. Green, and while his work against Brown wasn't necessarily set up to prepare him for such matchups, it sure doesn't hurt.

"It was just about the growth and development of Artie as a second year guy and making a point to him that you have an opportunity to go against one of the best in the world on a day-to-day basis," said Tomlin. "You better be game for the challenge. He was, and I think he has improved because of it. I think it is helpful to him. It's helpful to Antonio to be challenged in that way by young talent. I just think it's good for the overall team atmosphere.

"If it produces anything beyond that great, but those were the intentions at the time." 

Deebo alert: After being inactive for two weeks, William Gay was back on the field Sunday and his presence was definitely felt. Harrison had three tackles and sacked Alex Smith for an eight-yard loss on third-and-10 on the Chiefs final drive of the game. From the sounds of things, we could be seeing more of Harrison moving forward.

"I am open to it," said Tomlin. "I am open to him being a positive contributor to our efforts. I know he is capable. Sometimes the circumstances might be ideal, sometimes they might not be. We will weigh that week in and week out."

Tomlin praised Harrison's attitude and how he has handled the situation, stressing his team first approach in everything he does. 

"James knows I am going to put the interest of this group above anything else in terms of how we prepare, who we utilize, and how we utilize them," said Tomlin. "He is a competitor, he wants to be a central reason why we are successful. I know that. I also know he is a great team player. He always has been. It's not written and talked about enough. You guys like to write and talk about workouts and things of that nature, silliness. This guy is an awesome, selfless team player. Those that are around him know about those things."

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