The Playoffs are on the Steelers 2023 Wish-List

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By Ray Porter Jr.        

Latrobe, PA–Fresh off a 2022 season that saw them rebound from a 2-6 start to finish 9-8 and fall short of the NFL Playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers hope that falling short is not in the plans for 2023. Their expectation every season is the Super Bowl, and to accomplish that, it means making the playoffs, and to prepare for that, it must begin at Saint Vincent College for Training Camp.

“Good afternoon. Really excited about getting this team development process started with this group,” said Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. “We checked them in today and had a mandatory NFL seminar, and then we’ve done the conditioning tests. This evening we get into our foundational things, administrative meetings, getting to know one another, and starting this process of individual and collective development.”

When asked about second-year QB Kenny Pickett, who comes into the season as the full-time starter, Tomlin said, “That’s a complex question, to be quite honest with you, man. We’ve got to maintain possession of the ball. We’ve got to maintain scoring pace. We’ve got to be well-balanced. We’ve got to utilize our eligibles and their talents. We’ve got to protect our quarterback. There’s a lot of layers to that discussion. But that’s why we’re here.”

“As far as Kenny goes specifically, this is the second lap around the track for him like it is all our second-year players, so I think it’s reasonable for them to proceed with that knowing and that knowing to be displayed in their production and the consistency of their play. He’s no different than any other second-year player in that regard, it’s just that he’s our quarterback.”

In 2022, Pickett took over from veteran QB Mitch Tribusky in Week 4 and was the main reason why the Steelers finished 7-2 down the stretch. When asked about what he meant in the off-season when he wanted his QB to ‘Kill it,’ Tomlin replied, “We’ll see. He needs to be what we need him to be. I know that he’s preparing with that mindset, and I like his approach and his demeanor in that regard, but I think whether you’re talking about guys like quarterbacks or guys like me as a head coach, we need to be what our team needs us to be.”

When asked about RB Najee Harris taking a leadership role last season, Tomlin replied, “You know, just to continue to progress in the manner in which he has, not only inside the white lines but off of it. He’s a guy that’s shown a natural appetite for leadership and perspective, and it’s reasonable to expect that to continue, as well. Teams are continually evolving, man. Guys are ascending, guys are descending, and so forth, and you’ve got a talented young guy like him that shows an appetite for leadership, you want to cultivate all components of that discussion, not only in his game but the intangible things that he provides us.”

When asked if there are any perspectives that he usually gives to the rookies when they come into what could be considered a college environment, Tomlin replied, “You know, this is their first lap around the track, so don’t pretend like it’s not. Be open to growing and learning. Be a sponge, ask good questions, learn from others, what others say and do, positively, negatively. Just don’t try to pretend to be at a place that they’re not.”

Tomlin stated that every player has arrived, and no one is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He said his team is excited and so is he. “Just excitement. Guys are excited to be here, to be back, to be around each other, to begin this process. You feel it.”

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