Audio & video from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin press conference on Thursday August 19th. Tomlin addresses the upcoming preseason game against the New York Giants on Saturday night and takes questions from the local media. In the process of transcribing and will post transcript as soon as I am done.
Mike Tomlin: Good afternoon. We are excited about playing out second preseason game in New York against the Giants. We are excited about having to go into a hostile environment and working on some things that goes with that, silent counts and so forth, how the crowd can affect the game offensively. We hope that the crowd is going to be hostile and I am sure it is going to be a fun time. Just looking for growth and development from our guys. We are going to challenge some guys in new and different ways, guys are going to see more of the things they saw in the first game, some guys we want to ask to do new and different things. We asked Daniel Sepulveda to kick the ball off in this game. We are going to have Antonio Brown returning punts and kicks where primarily his focus was offense a week ago. We are going to play Ben this week at quarterback. We have some exciting things that we are on the cusp of here, but it is just part of the process and the second opportunity for us to play inside a stadium. I look forward to doing that and playing a game. On the injury standpoint, Jonathan Dwyer is doubtful with his shoulder injury. Steve McLendon and Chris Scott will be out of the game. Other than that we are going to play ball.
Question: What’s the quarterback rotation?
Mike Tomlin: It’s not finalized as of yet, no. Similar to last week, some of those decisions are made last minute in the preseason. That is just how it goes.
Question: How many snaps for the starters?
Mike Tomlin: We like to think 24 or so, but we will play it by ear. We are going to see enough and when we’ve seen enough that’ll be it.
Question: How will you handle the center position?
Mike Tomlin: It is going to be Justin Hartwig. We are going to rotate Maurkice (Pouncey) in and Jonathan Scott in maybe some with that group if we get enough of looks with those guys like we did a week ago with Jonathan Scott and Flozell Adams. We will continue to look at those guys and hopefully get an opportunity to see those guys in some with the ones.
Question: Where is Jonathan Scott? Is he in your mix?
Mike Tomlin: Everybody with a helmet on is in the mix. That is why we come to training camp. We have 80 guys trying for 53 spots.
Question: Why are you rotating Adams out?
Mike Tomlin: We just want to see Jonathan Scott. It’s no secret that coming into the off season that Willie Colon was our right tackle. We’ve got some guys that are working, so we want to see them.
Question: How much does your plan change from this week to last?
Mike Tomlin: Very little. We are just going to play football. We are more concerned about seeing what guys are capable of doing. Part of that is making sure you are running things they can execute. It’s not going to be anything crazy.
Question: Anything you didn’t get accomplished here?
Mike Tomlin: I measure training camps by seasons. That has always been the case with me. I’ll let you know how the training camp is, hopefully in February.
Question: Disappointed that Eli Manning is not playing quarterback in this game?
Mike Tomlin: I don’t care who they play. Very rarely am I concerned about our opponents. When you’re trying to be very good, you need to focus on the things that you do and not the things you can’t control. Your opponents and who they play is irrelevant.
Question: Why just one goal-line drill at camp?
Mike Tomlin: We are going to get some opportunities through the four preseason games. We like what we saw here from the guys, from a combative standpoint. We saw enough in other instances: short yardage, special category periods, and so forth. Our nine-on-seven and team run periods have been really productive and good, so we didn’t feel it was necessary to give them another shot at it.
Question: Is Jason Worilds doing well enough to get an extensive look?
Mike Tomlin: He is going to get a look. I don’t know if it’s going to be any more extensive than anyone else in his position.
Question: Jonathan Dwyer’s injured again. Is your frustration growing with him?
Mike Tomlin: I don’t deal in frustrations. I don’t deal in emotion. I just deal with what I look at. The reality is that he’s not on the field so he’s not helping himself.
Question: Ben admitted to being nervous about getting back out there. Is that normal for him?
Mike Tomlin: Yes. He’s nervous quite often, big games and so forth. He has never been bashful about stating that. That’s been my experience with him.
Question: How do you handle him being nervous?
Mike Tomlin: I’d be nervous if he wasn’t a little edgy. I think all of us are edgy at times — big games, new experiences. You’ve got to acknowledge this is a new experience for him. If he wasn’t nervous I’d would be concerned.
Question: What are you looking for in your first-team offense this week?
Mike Tomlin: Ring the scoreboard up would be good — every possession. We’ll see if we get what I’m looking for. No, I just want to see these guys compete and grow and come together, to execute, to utilize some of the things that come with time spent together, hard counts and such, working counts, really doing a nice job communicating, picking up unique and obscure looks, maybe things that hadn’t seen before. Just showing an overall understanding of the nuances of the things we’re trying to get done. The same can be said for the defense as well, and the special teams units. I think that’s a part of the process of where we are. We have been working quite a bit, starting to push through this thing a little bit. This is our second preseason game. I want to see growth and development in all areas.
Question: Have you hammered home ball security?
Mike Tomlin: I didn’t. I assumed that they understood that it’s unacceptable. If they didn’t, it’s going to be unfortunate for them.
Question: Is competition at positions always good?
Mike Tomlin: I’m a proponent of competition. That makes my job easier. I think that that is the truest motivator. These guys are competitors, man. They’ve competed all their lives. That’s why they are here. When you pit those guys against one another in competitive situations that’s what makes them go. It is the truest motivator.
Question: Is it a tendency to take the foot of the gas when you leave here? Or were your comments yesterday merely your due diligence?
Mike Tomlin: It’s just due diligence. It’s something that you think about or at least you concern yourself with it a little bit as a coach during this time of year, because when you change location and change routines, it’s a natural human response to think that you’re shifting focus. I just want to make sure that the team understands that we’re not shifting focus. We are, when we come back from this game, going to be in Pittsburgh and working out in our facility. We are going to lose some of the things that come with training camp, but we are still very much in the development of our football team. Our goals and focus remain the same. We need to determine who the 53 are and the roles within them.
Question: How’s the competition at left cornerback?
Mike Tomlin: The guys are working hard. I think that Keenan Lewis has really had a good camp and I’m sure he’s maybe prepared to take the next step. He’s a second year guy who was put in some interesting situations last week against a quality, quality receiver in Calvin Johnson. We are going to continue to give him looks and exposure, and if he makes enough plays and gets our attention we’ll consider playing him if he is worthy.
Question: How does that fit in with Bryant McFadden?
Mike Tomlin: He’s doing a rock-solid job. He’s re-acclimated himself to being here and how we do things. We like B-Mac. We like the way he not only plays but works. We like the kind of teammate he is. That’s why we brought him back.
Question: How is Ryan Mundy doing?
Mike Tomlin: He’s doing some nice things. We have several packages that several people are capable of playing in. I’m sure he could be a candidate for some. He has multiple jobs. He’s capable of playing other spots. That can be said about a lot of people.
Question: Did you set a kickoff coverage unit?
Mike Tomlin: I haven’t looked at how we have lined it up just yet. Some of those play times, rotations, and group decisions are made at the 11th hour of the preseason. I don’t know if you’ll be looking at a first-team kickoff.
Question: How is the fullback position looking?
Mike Tomlin: It’s good. We have some guys working. Frank Summers is working there. Sean McHugh, David Johnson are working there. Of course we have put (Doug) Legursky back there in some short-yardage and goal- line situations. I like the way those guys have represented themselves thus far, but we have some more work to do and hopefully a lot of opportunities to do it.
Question: Will Stefan Logan and Emmanuel Sanders also be returning kicks?
Mike Tomlin: It depends on the number of kicks that we get. My initial thought is to make sure that I get exposure to Antonio Brown, particularly doing both. It’s the same opportunity that was given to Logan last year in the second preseason game in Washington. It’s about giving young guys opportunities. Last year Logan caught our attention. He did so again in week three of the preseason. And of course in week four down in Carolina he ran the opening punt back and won a spot. We are going to provide opportunities to young people and Antonio Brown is going to get that opportunity. If we get a nice number of kick opportunities, hopefully they’ll be punt-return opportunities and not kickoff-return opportunities, and then maybe we will consider putting someone else in there. If we get a bunch of kickoff return opportunities that mean they are ringing the scoreboard up. Not good.