| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Steelers notebook: Tomlin relents, gives players slight respite

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Mark Kaboly podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, June 19, 2014, 8:30 p.m.

A handful of teams around the league canceled the final day of minicamp. Mike Tomlin decided to cut the Steelers a break as well.

The Steelers coach cut the final mandatory session short by one whole period.

Tomlin typically lets his players leave early on the final day of minicamp. He made his team go through nearly the full practice Thursday, although he moved them to the indoor facility for the final hour because of heavy rain.

“He told us his mind was already made up, so it didn't matter (that it rained),” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “When you go 8-8 two years in a row, we don't get any free passes. We need all the time we can get, and there are a lot of young guys on the team.

“We need as many reps to squeeze in before training camp.”

The Steelers have a lot of new faces at spring practices. Forty-eight players on the 90-man roster weren't on the team last year at this time.

“Since we have such a young team, we expected it,” guard Ramon Foster said. “Guys need that extra work, and I was OK with it. Coach T gave us a heads up that we were going to be here because he didn't want guys booking flights early in the day. It was a known thing.”

Not that difficult

It's said that a Dick LeBeau defense isn't easy to learn.

Free agent safety Mike Mitchell seems to think it's not that difficult.

“I don't think it has been hard at all,” Mitchell said. “Coach LeBeau and Coach (Carnell) Lake are both great teachers with what they are asking us to do here. ... I don't want to say easy, but they have made it easier on me to pick up the playbook. They are asking things that you just have to know and remember that is different from other defenses that I played in.”

Mitchell, who will replace Ryan Clark next to Troy Polamalu on the back half of the Steelers' defense, has had to learn three defenses in three years, so he's used to picking things up on the fly.

“It's not like this defense is rocket science,” Mitchell said.

Needs more work

Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant has made great strides getting ready for the start of training camp. But the fourth-round pick out of Clemson needs more seasoning.

“I am nowhere near where I need to be heading into training camp,” Bryant said. “I still have to get in shape and still have routes to work on. I have a lot to learn.”

Bryant has been strictly playing the “Z” wide receiver position. The “Z,” or flanker, position tends to play off the line of scrimmage more and gets to run more deep routes.

Bryant, who averaged 22.2 yards per catch in college, is getting his share of deep passes in practice.

“It comes with the position, but they are adding a little more to see what I can do,” Bryant said.

Wanting more

The Steelers were 25th in the league in sacks a year ago with 34, their lowest total since 1990. They are trying to improve that total by emphasizing more pass-rushing drills.

“We haven't done as many of them in the past, and the entire defense is starting to be better for it,” linebacker Chris Carter said.

Carter might benefit the most from the extra work put on pass rushing. He came out of Fresno State four years ago known for his pass-rushing ability.

“Coming out as an original pass rusher in college, and now we are getting back to all that stuff,” Carter said. “I feel that stuff made me a better player coming out of college, so now that we are finally getting back to that is helping me.”

Odds and ends

Linebacker Jason Worilds was excused from the final minicamp session by Tomlin. … The Steelers will not reconvene until July 25 in Latrobe.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
  2. Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
  3. Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills
  4. Steelers notebook: WR Bryant sidelined after minor procedure on right elbow
  5. Steelers notebook: Officials discuss new game ball procedures
  6. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  7. Ability to clog the trenches crucial to Steelers defense
  8. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  9. 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
  10. Inside the Steelers: QB Jones continues to get majority of snaps
  11. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski