Mike Tomlin Answers Fan Questions, Addresses Running Backs

Keith Srakocic, The Associated Press

By: Jessica Costello

Last week, Pittsburgh Steelers‘ head coach, Mike Tomlin answered questions from fans during the fan phone call through Steelers Nation Unite. Tomlin answered numerous questions, while one fan sparked interesting answers from Tomlin.

Tomlin was asked about the running back position and what approach the team would take during the 2020 season. The head coach is known for sticking with the featured running back approach, but a fan asked if they’ll go with a running back by committee (RBC) with the addition of Anthony McFarland Jr.

“I’m a feature runner type guy by mentality,” Tomlin said. “I think that if you have a featured runner, it gives them an opportunity to drop a stake in the ground and allows others to rally around him. It gives you a set of core run plays that he specializes in and you find a rhythm in that way.”

A concern looms around the health and preserving the ability of running back, James Conner. But Tomlin doesn’t seem to give an indication of giving him a lighter workload if he’s on the field. But Tomlin also talked about the possibility of having other rushers available if needed.

“But there’s no question in today’s game that a feature runner needs to be supplemented,” Tomlin said. “Supplemented by guys who are capable of doing similar things in case he misses time, but also supplemented by guys who are capable of doing different things to maybe challenge the defense in different ways. I think that’s just the makeup of our group right now.”

Tomlin also adding that health will always be a factor come game time, and added how Benny Snell Jr. has his similarities to Conner.

“James is a feature runner and a proven guy when healthy,” Tomlin said. “We’re excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020. Benny Snell is a guy who plays with a physical style in a similar manner as James and might be capable of being a James type guy if James is unavailable.”

Tomlin went on to talk about what adding Anthony McFarland Jr. will add to the team.

“We’re excited about McFarland who brings a different component. He’s got catch quickness, is quick to speed, and is capable of producing big plays in open spaces. We like the collection of guys we have in the group,” Tomlin said.

The list in the running back room is quite long right now so which names will make the 53-man roster is still to be determined.

Coach Tomlin also went on about the newly signed fullback, Derek Watt.

“I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the addition of Derek Watt at the fullback position,” Tomlin said. “We’re excited about him. We’re excited about what the group is going to do largely. But usually, when it’s doing well, it’s because you have a lead dog out front and that guy is the featured runner.”

What do you think, Steeler Nation? What will that 53-man roster look like when it comes to the running back room? And do these new additions to the squad help the 2020 Steelers? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!


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