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Conference Call: Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin

Posted Oct 5, 2011

STEELERS HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN

(on Ben Roethlisberger’s condition and his chance to play on Sunday)

It is kind of what we expect.  Ben is a competitor and if he is able to go, then of course be in it today, tomorrow or Sunday of course he is going to do it.  We haven’t had a chance to do a lot today at this point, just some walk-throughs and things and he participated in that.

(on how important to it is to maybe get back a couple of offensive linemen)

For us it is not about who is coming back, it is about the preparation of the guys that are healthy.  We want to focus our energy on those guys, their preparation and ultimately their play.  Injuries are as much a part of this game as blocking and tackling.  We are not going to sit around wishing upon a star for those guys to get well.  The guys that are healthy will play for us and those are the guys we will focus on in terms of preparing for this game.

(on Max Stark’s mobility during his workout)

We did not work him out.  It was just a visit.  We haven’t seen him do anything physical at this point, but he appears to be in really good physical condition relative to what he has been in the past.

(on the Titans defense and how they have changed since last year)

I think the most impressive thing going on with their defensive video is the play of Cortland (Finnegan) inside in sub-package football as a nickel.  I really think it is awesome utilization of his natural skills and awareness.  He is doing an awesome job of it, not only creating plays for himself but for others.  It is pretty special.

(on shuffling around their linebackers because of injuries)

We are going to do some shuffling of course.  We are going to move Lawrence (Timmons) outside and we are going to play Larry Foote inside, but because of the continuity that we have with these guys being here and being position flexible in the past, we feel pretty comfortable that they are going to be able to play good quality football.  James Harrison got hurt against the Titans in ’08 in Nashville and Lawrence played over half the game at his position at outside linebacker.  Of course, Larry Foote has been a starter here in the past at the very position that he will be playing this week.

(on the offensive line injuries being the main reason why Roethlisberger has been sacked a lot)

That is an element of it, but we have also been in situations where we haven’t been able to strike a balance due to circumstances of the game, being behind and so forth where we have gotten somewhat one dimensional.  I think that creates more opportunities for people as well.

(on Matt Hasselbeck’s play and whether he can have a career year at age 36)

Certainly, particularly at the quarterback position.  He is playing great.  He is making all the necessary throws.  He is keeping negative offensive plays to an absolute minimum.  He has been an awesome shot in the arm for them.  I’m sure they will attest to that.

(on the differences in the Titans offense)

I like the growth and development of their tight end group.  (Craig) Stevens of course and (Jared) Cook being younger guys.  They are shaping into very good professionals and you see it showing up on tape and they are weapons.

(on Titans receiver Nate Washington)

It’s easy when talking about Nate (Washington), Nate loves to play football, he has a can-do attitude, he is a bringer as opposed to an energy drainer, and he loves to work. He was a good teammate for those reasons and others while he was here and it’s good to see that a young man like him is continuing to prosper.

(on why Nate Washington may be off to his best start)

It’s about opportunity for many people, I don’t think anybody in our locker room or their locker room for that matter would be shocked by what he is doing.

(on what other receivers he has coached compare to Nate Washington )

I haven’t really thought about that to be honest with you, I think they are all unique in their own ways. Of course Nate (Washington) has a nice skill set in that he is doing some nice work for them inside. He is very aware, he has nice stop-and-go, he can drop his weight, and of course he is capable of getting behind people which is what he did for us and really one of the reasons we drafted Mike Wallace when we lost him in free agency because we were looking to replace that element of our offense.

(on why they have struggled against the run)

Not only is it tackling, we have to do a better job of coming off of bocks and getting multiple people to the ball. That’s the beautiful thing about football in that way in that usually it’s not anything mystical, its nuts and bolts stuff, it’s whooping blocks and making tackles and we’ve got to do a better job than we have at this juncture.

(on the challenge of slowing down Chris Johnson)

The reality is when you play a guy like Chris, (Johnson) and of course we have several times over the last few years, is that he is capable of going yard on you any time you snap the football and that’s an element of it that you better respect and we do.

(on what message he is trying to send by wearing pads twice this week at practice)

We are not interested in saving bullets. We are into the here and now, and we need a good week’s preparation of course so we are not going to what is going to transpire three, four, five, or eight weeks down the road.

(on his thoughts about Titans DL Jason Jones)

I really have a great deal of respect for him and how he plays the game. We had an opportunity to interview him several times and get to know him when he came out in the draft, it’s really just kind of a unique story. A guy that went to Eastern Michigan as a skill guy, kind of outgrew that. You see some of the awareness things that come along with being a former big, skill guy. He is just a really good football player who plays extremely hard and we have a great deal of respect for him

(on if the changes in the CBA may have affected the tackling so far this season)

I don’t know if it’s changes in the CBA, it might just be the nature of what transpired with the offseason. I’m not ready to make any grand announcements in terms of my feelings about the effects of what we have gone through, I’m really just focused on what it is that this group needs, and right now that’s padded work.

(on if this week may be a ‘cross-roads’ game for the Steelers)

We kind of view all of them as cross-roads games, that’s kind of our mentality. 

(on why the Titans may be having success with their short yardage defense)

I’m not in position to compare it to what they have done last year. We played them so early a year ago, I can’t necessarily speak to what happened after we played them, but they are doing a nice job in that area this year.

(on the health status of the Steelers running backs)

We are going to hold Rashard (Mendenhall) today, but he is improved and he is probably going to work tomorrow. All of the other ones are working, of course, Mewelde Moore has a high ankle, it’s going to be tough for him to participate this week.

(on if Rashard Mendenhall may play on Sunday)

Again, I can only give you the information as I get it. He is not practicing today, but we are encouraged that he could potentially practice tomorrow. 

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