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Mike Tomlin: There are a lot of things we need to do better

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Pittsburgh Steelers offense hasn't exactly set the NFL on fire in the first season of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. Following a defeat to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football that left his squad tied for last place in the AFC North, head coach Mike Tomlin began his weekly press conference in a usual, upbeat mood, looking focused to try and get his team back to a .500 record at 2-2.

Tomlin also made a quick note to mention the shirt he was wearing, which was directed to Cam Heyward and his inaugural Cam's Kindness Week campaign.

When focusing on Pittsburgh's Week 3 efforts against the Browns, Tomlin praised Cleveland's Nick Chubb, specifically, and Cleveland's run game, as they controlled the ground against the Steelers during the contest. "Sometimes, you need to give Cleveland credit, give Nick Chubb credit," Tomlin said for earning a rugged AFC North victory."There are a lot of things we need to do better," Tomlin said. "We've been better with every outing," but "haven't done enough to win the last two football games."

Tomlin was excited about getting back home to Acrisure Stadium to play the New York team. He highlighted the familiarity with former Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, who is New York's primary signal-caller until Zach Wilson returns to full health. "He still has a very big arm, he's good in big moments," Tomlin said of Flacco.

From Zach Wilson's perspective, he's more of an "unknown," according to Tomlin. He spoke about Wilson's speed, mobility, and arm talent for such a young player, which could give the defense fits if Wilson suits up and they're not careful.

"The fact that we're unfamiliar with [Wilson] is probably more significant from our perspective, weighing out his talents, strengths, how he sees the field, et cetera," Tomlin added.

Additionally, the running back tandem of Michael Carter and Breece Hall will be seen as threats to the Steelers defense. First-round pick and former Ohio State wideout, Garett Wilson, was also mentioned as a player to watch, per Tomlin.

The powerful defensive line could cause some problems for Pittsburgh's offensive line, Tomlin said. New York's defensive backs, including first-rounder Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, are viable players in the secondary. Tomlin labeled the rookie Gardner as an "instinctual, confident, long, fast player. "He's a really talented guy," Tomlin said, citing his high draft position.

On the injury front, punter Pressley Harvin III was dealing with some "inflammation in the hip area" after Week 3. It remains to be seen if the Steelers will make any official transaction with Harvin being the team's only punter.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is in the concussion protocol and will be updated throughout the week, according to Tomlin.

Kevin Dotson has an ankle injury and defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon has a hamstring injury, which may limit their participation in practice throughout the week, Tomlin said.

Montravius Adams is now listed as the starting nose tackle, replacing Tyson Alualu. "He's been playing better than Tyson," Tomlin directly stated. 

In T.J. Watt's absence, Tomlin's mindset is to focus on the players he has at his disposal. "T.J.'s absence is a component of what's going on with us," he said, but Tomlin believes the proper approach is to try and play to the strengths of the players on the field.

"I like to think we are [using the whole field] from an intention standpoint," Tomlin said when asked about the offense's play-calling and execution of plays on offense, "but it always doesn't play out that way for a myriad of reasons."

When describing the run game, Tomlin said, "I'm continually encouraged, whether it's Warren carving out a role for himself," or "groups within the group," Tomlin was impressed by what he's seen from his young running backs.

When talking about potential changes to other starting positions, such as quarterback, Tomlin said, "I'm open to whatever that entails, but at the same time we're not going to blow in the wind. We're in a no-blink business. Sometimes, you have to smile in the face of adversity."

You can catch the Steelers-Jets game on KDKA-TV this Sunday afternoon, with the kick-off set for 1 p.m.

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