Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held his normal Tuesday press conference today to talk about the upcoming game this Sunday at Heinz Field against the Cincinnati Bengals and also to talk about the Sunday night 13-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Tomlin also gave an injury update on safety Troy Polamalu, center Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Chris Carter and linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
As far as injuries go, Tomlin said Woodley has been in the building today and worked out. He appears to be moving towards game readiness and they will watch him throughout the week. Tomlin says they like where he is with his hamstring. Carter is questionable at best with his hamstring injury suffered Sunday night. Larry Foote also has a hamstring injury now and they are going to watch him this week. His injury is not as serious as the one Carter has according to Tomlin. Polamalu has not had any concussion symptoms since they returned from Kansas City and all things are positive towards his potential participation this Sunday against the Bengals. Tomlin says obviously they will continue to err on the side of caution with him and he will have to pass a battery of test in order to participate. Tomlin feels comfortable at this point that will happen. Tomlin cautioned he would not assume anything though with his health or anyone else. Pouncey is coming off of a stomach virus and it may limit him at the early portion of the week. He is dehydrated and has lost a significant amount of weight per Tomlin. Tomlin says they expect both Arnaz Battle and Stevenson Sylvester to put themselves in a better position to play this week after both sat out against the Chiefs. Both will be monitored throughout the week.
You can listen to the audio of the press conference below and I will be adding more talking points shortly.[audio:http://www.steelersdepot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/mike-tomlin-week-13-bengals-press-conference.mp3]
Tomlin opened by praising the play Sunday night of Weslye Saunders, Ryan Mundy and Jason Worilds. Tomlin says those are the types of contributions they need from young and emerging players.
Another positive from Sunday night was the four defensive turnovers, an area they hope to continue to improve in. Tomlin said the 3rd down conversions on offense might have been their worst performance of the season. Tomlin thinks that was the difference in the production offensively as it did not produce more snap opportunities. Tomlin also noted the poor play in the redzone as they were 1 of 3 with the fumble. Tomlin says they have to get 7 in the red area and if they don\’t at the very least need to get 3. Tomlin also said he would like to see more production out of the return game as well, both punt and kickoff.
Tomlin calls Bengals receiver Andrew Hawkins an emerging player says they used him on the week side in empty formations down in slot or coming out of bunches on the strong side. Tomlin says they like to use him to break down pressure with matchups against non-corner like bodies. Tomlin compared him to a Wes Welker the way they use him.
Tomlin says the Andy Dalton to Jermaine Gresham connection has improved even more with A.J. Green being banged up. Tomlin said Dalton is making good and quick decisions and taking care of the football. Tomlin called Geno Atkins the hot player for the Bengals on defense as of late with his disruption inside.
Tomlin says they have always envisioned both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders in the return game, but have done it less this year due to the health of Sanders. He want to keep both of them in play moving forward.
Tomlin says the receivers need to work on getting more separation moving forward and make sure to make more competitive catches as he called them. Says Chiefs did a good job executing defensive gameplan Sunday night at staying close to the receivers
Tomlin says Polamalu was asymptomatic relatively quickly Sunday night, they always err on the side of caution especially with head injuries. He thinks it will be a non-issue this week, but reiterated they would not assume anything when it comes to head injuries. Tomlin said he did lobby to get back in the game, but he and the others always do.
Tomlin said the scuffle before the game Sunday night was minor to his understanding. Says some words between Steelers wide receivers and Chiefs defensive backs were exchanged, but it was broken up quickly. Tomlin says it was a non factor and that they were there to play football.
Tomlin says he is confident that Mike Wallace will work hard to bounce back from his bad performance Sunday night, but said he will let his performance speak for his performance going forward. Tomlin said the participation of Hines Ward will continue to be determined on a week to week basis and he had a bigger role Sunday night. Tomlin says they have a lot of guys capable to help them win and it provides awesome dilemmas moving forward and he embraces that. He says the opponent could dictate the participation.
Worilds is doing some nice things as of late per Tomlin and his special teams play has not dropped off as he gets more defensive snaps. Tomlin says it is good to see a young guy emerge and get more snaps with the first team defense and continue to embrace his job that he has had for some time on special teams.