Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on takeaways, Pouncey & hunting

Protect the rock: The Steelers lead the NFL in takeaways with 30, split evenly with 15 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries.

This week, though, they go against an Arizona Cardinals team that has been protecting the ball in an impressive manner. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray doesn't give the ball away, with only six interceptions through 12 games. Overall the Cardinals have turned the ball over only nine times, so it's going to be a battle of wills.

"It's about Murray. He's got some impressive tape," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "For a young guy he is doing an awesome job of taking care of the football, and under adverse circumstances. They have been behind in some games, but as a unit they have only turned the ball over nine times all season. I think he has six interceptions and they collectively have fumbled the ball three times.

"Some of the things we have been able to hang our hat on and keep us in some ball games, particularly of late, the turnover, we just better not anticipate that being available to us in this game based on his and their body of work in terms of ball security. We can't get behind like we have been behind the last two weeks and think we're going to get second half turnovers and get back into this football game based on the way they have performed. They have done an awesome job and he has done an awesome job of preserving and protecting the ball, a really unique thing for a young quarterback in those circumstances."

Center of attention: Maurkice Pouncey was activated on Monday and placed on the Exempt/Commissioner Permission List. Pouncey served a two-game suspension for the incident that occurred at the end of the Steelers-Browns game on Thursday, Nov. 14.

Having Pouncey back is something that can only benefit rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges, who will rely on the steady veteran in the huddle and when the ball is snapped.

"He's our captain. He's a quality player," said Tomlin of having him back. "He's a leader on and off the field, so it's significant."

Gone hunting: They connected on the field against the Browns on Sunday, but they also have connected off the field in one of their favorite hobbies…duck hunting.

Hodges and James Washington hooked up four times on Sunday against the Browns, with Washington having 111 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Off the field they have formed a bond by going duck hunting, something they did the week before the Browns game and planned on doing again this week. It's that type of relationship that helps on the field and isn't unique to those two inside the Steelers locker room.

"Our guys spend a lot of time together on the field and off," said Tomlin. "I know that hunting trip probably garnered some attention because of the recent rise of both guys. That is not unusual behavior for those guys or any of our guys in terms of player's day off or after hours. You cannot be legitimately close unless you have a general appreciation and understanding and respect for one another. You gain that by working together and spending that informal time together. We encourage our guys to do all of the above."

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