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Tomlin Tuesday: Top 4 vs. Panthers

  1. Not ruling anything out: While the Steelers are making their own roster cuts, getting down to the mandatory 75-man roster on Tuesday, they are also monitoring the waiver wire to see who is being released around the NFL. And while Tomlin likes the competition he sees right in front of him, he never will rule anything out.

"I have been pleased with the internal competition but also at the same time I'm open to answers from whatever direction they might present themselves," said Tomlin. "I respect what goes on this time of year and know that there are capable players out there that can add value to us.

"We've utilized it in the recent past. Cody Wallace wasn't a guy that spent a lot of time with us last year in the preseason but ended up being a valuable member of our football team and a positive contributor to our efforts, particularly as we got into the end of the season. So I'm not opposed to it, although I will acknowledge some of the competitive things that have gone on here with the guys that we are working with."

  1. Taking advantage of opportunity: Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was slowed by a concussion during a portion of training camp, keeping him out of the preseason opener against the New York Giants but seeing limited playing time against the Buffalo Bills.

Heyward-Bey, an unrestricted free agent signing this offseason, made the most of his opportunities against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, finishing with three receptions, including a 33-yard touchdown.

"He's done some real good things and some really good things of late after he came back from his concussion," said Tomlin. "I'm just as pleased with what he's provided us from a special teams standpoint as I am what he's doing at wide receiver. I really like some of the things he's shown us in the kicking game of late. Some things that quite frankly I didn't know he had in terms of his willingness and ability to cover punts. His willingness and ability to block for punt returners. It's attractive and he'll be given an opportunity to display those things, along with his wide receiver play in this game."

Room to grow: Linebacker Jarvis Jones has made great strides since his rookie season, just a year ago when everything was new to him. But Tomlin feels Jones still has plenty of growth in him, something he thinks will happen for the young linebacker and others on defense as the season goes along.

"I like the work that he's done," said Tomlin. "By no means is he a finished product. Jarvis is a type of young guy that I expect him to continually be on the rise not only through the remainder of the preseason, but as we get into the season. Sometimes you think as you push forward toward opening day that you can take a snapshot of individuals and the group and that's the finished product. Really that's far from the case. I expect him, I expect us to continually get better even as we push through opening day and into this season because the reality is ultimately if we're going to be the type of team that we need to be and want to be and individuals that we need to be and want to be, we're going to be continually in growth and develop particularly from a young guys standpoint.

"Young guys like Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt have proven that they're probably capable (and) are going to be components of what we do defensively. But I'd imagine if things go according to plan they're going to be much better players at the end of the year than they right now."

A leg up: Punter Brad Wing was expected to face tough competition during training camp and the preseason from veteran Adam Podlesh, but after he didn't report due to family circumstances it's just been Wing handling the punting duties. While he has had some ups and down, Tomlin likes what he sees from the first-year punter.

"I'm excited about what Brad is doing," said Tomlin. "He probably took a little step back in performance last week, but we added a few other things to his menu that we hadn't asked him to do. Let's see how he responds this week. I know that one of the things that's impressive about him is during the course of this thing when he's had negative days or negative drills he always does a good job of responding to it and that shows growth and the mental makeup that I desire and we desire, so we'll continue to work with him."

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