Tomlin: Brown, Steelers need 'great clarity' on roles

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Now that the Steelers' 2016 season has come to a close, it's time for the organization to reassess its goals and priorities.

Pittsburgh came up short once again against a high-caliber opponent in the postseason, and whether their latest failure was due to suffering untimely injuries or being outcoached, the Steelers will go into the offseason with a lot of questions regarding how they operate and communicate.

The Steelers capped off a week of controversy surrounding Antonio Brown's six-figure Facebook Live broadcasting of Mike Tomlin's postgame speech with a blowout loss to the hated Patriots on national TV, an unfortunate sequence of events that has called into question what's really going on behind the scenes in Pittsburgh.

When asked about Brown's recent behavior, on and off the field, Tomlin explained how he plans to deal with not only Brown, who is one of the league's rising stars and personalities, but his entire roster in the future.

"I'm going to continue to challenge him in the ways I've challenged him over the course of his career," Tomlin told reporters Tuesday, "to continue to find new ways to be an impact player for us, to continue to grow within the role that is his role on this team. He's a dynamic player. There are responsibilities that come with being a dynamic player. I'm going to ask him to continue to grow in those areas.

"But that's not a response to anything that transpired over the course of the season or even at the end of the season. That's normal operating business for all returning players. I think it's important that we have great clarity about not only what their roles are formally, but what the informal responsibilities are associated with those ever-growing and ever-changing roles. Our conversations will be no different than they've been in regard to those things, but the same could be said about all the players."

Pittsburgh has a wealth of talent at its disposal every year. The Killer B's (Brown, Ben, Le'Veon Bell) can beat you in multiple ways and set records in the process. Pittsburgh's long-maligned defense is finally coming into its own, led by young talent in Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree and Stephon Tuitt.

There's a lot to like in Western PA for years to come, but is Tomlin able to manage the drama that is cropping up with it? And most importantly, can he channel his players' self-interests -- especially Brown's -- and make them the team's interests?

Editor's note: NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala previously reported that Brown visibly pouted on DeAngelo Williams' second quarter touchdown run. He did not get upset after the touchdown.

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