Audio from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin press conference on Monday December 20th, 2010. Tomlin met the media on Monday for the short upcoming week 16 game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday and goes over the past Jets game. Tomlin takes questions from the local media and gives the injury update. Check out our notes and recap below as we add them. Will be updated over next hour.
The Tomlin reaction had not changed much after reviewing tape of Sunday’s loss to Jets and says team did not make enough plays to win the game and that the game got away from them at the end. Tomlin said there where lots of areas they could have been better, but went on to say that’s the case every week and even after a win. Tomlin said you have to tip your hat to the Jets because they made the plays to win at the end.
As far as injuries, Arnaz Battle as a shoulder injury and rib contusion and is touch and go this week. Heath Miller and Steve McLendon should be good to go this week. Troy Polamalu has lower leg discomfort and soon as it subsides, he will be back in the lineup. Aaron Smith is being fitted with shoulder brace moving forward.
Tomlin praised Panthers running game saying that they ran the ball over 40 times during the Sunday win over the Cardinals. Tomlin said that seems to be their formula based on the people they have and that will be this weeks challenge. Tomlin described Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart described as a patient runner and a guy the Steelers looked closely at when they drafted Rashard Mendenhall a few years ago. Tomlin said receiver Steve Smith is Steve Smith and noted his numbers are down, but that it has nothing to do with his level of talent.
Tomlin noted the Panthers line play of Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah. Says Gross anchors their line and is a rock solid type player. Tomlin said Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen put together a good performance on Sunday and put up a 100 plus passer rating on Sunday.
Tomlin praises Panther defense and said it starts with linebacker Jon Beason who is a really good inside linebacker and a 3 down linebacker. Says the Panthers use a decent rotation of people up front and noted play of rookie Greg Hardy up front.
Tomlin acknowledges that Thursday night football is a quick turnaround for the Steelers, especially because they are a veteran team. Says he has to be smart and preserve the guys as best he can. Says advantage gores to Panthers because they are a younger team. Tomlin said whether or not Troy plays, or anyone else plays is based only on their health.
Tomlin admits that he does not like how they qualified for the playoffs and called it crawling in on your belly. Says AFC North title is still in their sights, but that it all starts with playing winning football on Thursday night against Carolina.
Tomlin says decision to defer the opening kick depends on every game situation, the weather conditions and a combination of both at times. When asked about the flags being picked up most of the day, Tomlin said tt fell out of his waste band a few times, sarcastically. When asked if he would have liked to have seen it fall out a couple more times on a few of the Steelers deep passes, he said, “I coach.”
Tomlin said that rookie Emmanuel Sanders was the target on the next to last play of the game, but admitted that it is not un-common to see guys make a play on the ball like tight end Matt Spaeth did in that situation because of players routers overlapping.
When asked about Mewelde Moore running play that resulted in a safety, Tomlin said they have used all three running backs to run that play over the weeks and gave Jason Taylor credit for making a great play.
Tomlin would not say if Trai Essex will replace Jonathan Scott at left tackle.
Tomlin thought Ryan Mundy was solid and played above the line football.
When asked about the Flozell Adams flag, Tomlin said he did not know the details of what happened, but he did notice that the scuffle took place behind the line of scrimmage near the Steelers huddle and the Steelers have a right to that area.