Tomlin: Roethlisberger to Sit, Kickers to Rotate vs Bucs

Hear more from the Steelers' head coach before first preseason game

Josh Rowntree
August 07, 2019 - 2:03 pm

Mike Tomlin is, as he so often puts it, “leaving the light on” for nearly his entire team as it heads into Friday’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Bucs. 

Ben Roethlisberger is the only player Tomlin mentioned who will definitely not play in the game, though it is anticipated that several established veterans will not suit up, as well.

“We’re not going to exclude anybody from potentially participating in the game from a health standpoint,” Tomlin said. “I know there’s been a number of guys that have missed a game or two here, but I’m not going to exclude any of those guys. We’re going to remain hopeful, knowing that the opportunities to play in stadiums are few and far between.”

Joshua Dobbs will start at quarterback as, to this point, he has held onto his backup spot despite pressure from Mason Rudolph. That said, Rudolph is anticipated to see a lot of time. Fourth-string passer Devlin Hodges could see the field, though Tomlin said that is still up in the air.

“It’s going to be a good litmus for us,” Tomlin said. “It’s that time. We’ve competed against ourselves. It’s time to stand in front of someone that’s less familiar and do so at Heinz Field. We’re excited about that.

“We’ve been playing controlled football in a training camp like setting. It’s going to be really good to see who can take the skills that they’ve displayed here or learned here and put it in a real, fluid football environment and think and play on their feet.”

Speaking of feet, the camp battle for the kicker position will make its way into Heinz Field, as incumbent Chris Boswell will split opportunity with rookie Matthew Wright. 

“Our intentions right now is to go every other kick, regardless of circumstance,” Tomlin said. “We’ve done that out here. You guys have felt that, whether it’s punting or kicking.”

The Steelers, on three occasions, have pitted Boswell against Wright in back-and-forth kicking contests. 

Boswell has made 21-of-22 kicks, which have ranged from chip shots to a 54-yarder his nailed at Heinz Field during Sunday night’s practice. The only kick he has not converted was the same night, from 50 yards. Wright missed three of eight kicks Sunday, including a 37-yard attempt.

As it stands, it is Boswell’s job to lose.

“He’s been solid, but we haven’t done anything yet,” Tomlin said. “We’re stepping into a stadium for the first time, that’s exciting. We put him in some situations out here, but we’re just beginning to unfold the storyline in terms of consistency there.”

The Steelers released the team’s initial depth chart Tuesday. Rookie first-round pick Devin Bush was listed on the second string, behind veterans Vince Williams and Mark Barron.

Bush will play Friday, but how much is still to be determined, according to Tomlin.

Despite Tomlin not ruling him out, safety Sean Davis will likely be one of the veterans who will not play. But that is due to injury, not status.

“He had an open wound on his hand and it had to heal,” Tomlin said. “He’s just starting to work his way back to us. He needs to work, they all need to work.”

Hear more from Mike Tomlin’s press conference below.