‘They Did A Really Nice Job’: Mike Tomlin Pleased With Performances Of Mykal Walker, Trenton Thompson
Short-handed and working in two new pieces defensively Sunday in a hostile environment against the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin came away pleased with the performance of the two key new pieces in linebacker Mykal Walker and safety Trenton Thompson.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday during his weekly press conference, Tomlin praised Walker and Thompson for their work against the Browns, with the two new faces seeing their first extended action defensively on the season.
“I was really pleased with the level of communication and the quality of that communication, particularly guys in the interior portions, communication portions of our defense. Guys like Mike Walker, man, guys like Trent. I thought they did a really nice job,” Tomlin said regarding the two veterans, according to video via the Steelers’ YouTube page. “It’s not easy, but I thought we, particularly after the first couple of series, we really settled down and operated with really good fluidity from a communication perspective. And I’m thankful for that.”
Against the Browns, Walker played 63 snaps defensively, while Thompson played 58. The two played very key roles, seeing action as nearly every-down pieces. That is a tall task for new faces to handle right away, especially coming up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster the way the two did.
Walker graded out at a 59.8 overall from Pro Football Focus, including a 55.2 against the run and a 63.1 in coverage. He finished with two tackles and had one miss on the afternoon, which came one play before Cleveland’s rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
Thompson had a strong game, finishing with a 67.4 overall grade from PFF, including a 63.2 against the run and a 65.8 in coverage, breaking up a pass in the loss that should have been an interception and a possible pick-six. He allowed just two receptions for 13 yards on the day.
Though the Steelers had communications issues early in the game, which was to be expected, the defense settled down and played well, especially in the second half. Walker and Thompson were key parts of that. Tomlin had high praise for veteran linebacker Elandon Roberts on Tuesday, too.
“Elandon’s a great communicator. He’s a veteran. It’s one of the reasons why we were attracted to him and free agency. He more than answered the call,” Tomlin said of Roberts’ ability to get the Steelers lined up correctly Sunday.
That was expected with Roberts though. That’s why he was brought in. He handled the green dot with ease Sunday and played very well in an every-down role, turning in a career-high 15 tackles, though it did come in a losing effort.
Pittsburgh continues to add reinforcements to the roster and the practice squad, signing linebacker Blake Martinez to the 53-man roster Tuesday and adding linebacker Myles Jacks and safety Eric Rowe to the practice squad Monday. But Pittsburgh has some comfort in Walker and Thompson, thanks to their performances Sunday.