Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin met the media today for his post bye week press conference in preparation for the Sunday night road game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tomlin gave an injury update on LaMarr Woodley, Emmanuel Sanders, Arnaz Battle and Ben Roethlisberger and answered several questions pertaining to the win over the Cincinnati Bengals in week 10. Below are the talking points from the press conference along with the audio.
Injury wise, Tomlin said the team is moving closer to health. Safety Troy Polamalu was slowed during the bye week with some rib discomfort and they will see where the week takes them with him. Tomlin fully expects him to play against the Chiefs. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a right thumb fracture but it is not to the extent of the one that Jay Cutler suffered. He will be able to play and it is unknown how it will affect his play right now. Tomlin said they will sort through those things as he practiced in a limited capacity on Monday. Tomlin said the standard will be the standard with him. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley is working in a limited capacity this week coming off of his hamstring injury and Tomlin said they are going to continue to take his participation day-to-day. Tomlin said you can say the same thing about wide receiver Arnaz Battle with his right hamstring injury. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders appears to be working himself back and Tomlin thought he had a productive day on Monday. They will see how he responds to the work moving forward and they will make him available accordingly. Tomlin ended the injury recap by saying he is not ready to characterize any of the injured out at this juncture.
Tomlin said it was a restful bye week and a productive one. They had an opportunity to work on some situational football like redzone and 3rd down with some some of the younger, less experienced players. Tomlin thought it was productive from that standpoint.
Tomlin said Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko is extremely sharp football guy and a very quick study. Thinks he is very good above the neck and makes good decisions. He knows he will be excited to play the Steelers.
Tomlin said main concern is stopping Dexter Mccluster and Jackie Battle as he anticipates Chiefs to lean heavily on their running game. Tomlin went on to praise receiving core of Chiefs.
Says Chiefs have top talent on defense and says they will be very conscious of where Tamba Hali lines up at.
Tomlin thought Roethlisberger threw well on Monday and noted that there is a pain tolerance and comfortable issue there. He is not overly concerned with his ability to be effective moving forward with the thumb injury.
Tomlin praised the development thus far of Antonio Brown, but said that he expects that type of growth from all of his second year players to grow by leaps and bounds as Tomlin put it.
As far as the playing time for Hines Ward moving forward, Tomlin said that is yet to be determined as they start formulating the game plan for the Chiefs. Tomlin said obviously Ward is a capable man as are some others and he will do what is best to give the team an opportunity to win.
The meeting last week with Roger Goodell was productive according to Tomlin as they exchanged some ideas. He says the meeting was born out of a discussion with Art Rooney II and the commissioner as they thought it would be a good idea for everyone to sit down and talk. Tomlin said it was good bye week stuff but is now in his rear-view mirror.
Tomlin said the team is fortunate to be 7-3 while having a -10 turnover ratio. He says they need to work on doing a better job at getting the football especially in significant moments of a game and have to continue to do a good job of protecting the ball offensively. Tomlin said he will not tote the -10 like luggage. He understands how important turnovers are to winning football games.
Tomlin said Jason Worilds has played above the line while filling in for Woodley.
As far as the fewer snaps for Cameron Heyward is a result of Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood being highly conditioned and playing well. He said he has no reservations about playing Heyward and that they are not worried about him from a snap count or development standpoint. Tomlin also noted a reason was that they have been playing quite a bit of sub-package football of late with only 2 defensive linemen on the field.
Tomlin close by saying Steve McLendon has been playing solid and is the main backup to Casey Hampton at nose tackle at this juncture.