Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin once again met the media for his weekly press conference to talk about the status of the injured players and preview the week 17 game this upcoming Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Injury wise, Tomlin said running back Mewelde Moore (knee) and guard Doug Legursky (shoulder) are probably on the outside looking in according Tomlin and will be out this week. Moore is recovering still from his MCL sprain while Legursky is probably going to be a week away with his left shoulder sublexation suffered Saturday against the St. Louis Rams. All of the other injured are in play this week said Tomlin. Linebackers LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle), center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) all have a shot at playing Sunday per Tomlin. He said hopefully they get all of those guys back this week. If the guys are healthy enough to practice this week, his intentions are to play them. Tomlin admitted he his aware that there are some scenarios that could unfold on Sunday that would allow them to improve their playoff position. He noted that one of those includes them beating the Browns on Sunday.
Below is the audio from the Tuesday presser and I will add more recap and talking points below.[audio:http://www.steelersdepot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/mike-tomlin-week-17-browns-press-conference.mp3]
Tomlin opened by saying he was pleased with the perforance on Saturday. He said anytime you shutout an NFL football team there is a lot to be excitted about. Tomlin praised the play of Trai Essex at center. He said his willingness and ability to play center was critical to their success Saturday under the unusual circumstance. He did a good job declaring fronts as well as snapping the ball and blocking. He called it a special afternoon for him.
Tomlin thought they ran the ball well collectively and controlled the line of scrimmage. He also thought the offense was good in the red area because of their ability to run the football. He liked the contributions Saturday from running back John Clay, safety Damon Cromartie-Smith and linebacker Mortty Ivy as it relates to special teams play.
Tomlin said not much has changed since the last time they played the Browns. He did note that Seneca Wallace has been playing quarterback for them the last few weeks and said he is unique and has some veteran savvy. Tomlin said he is very mobile and makes good, quick decisions. Tomlin noted his escapabilty. Tomlin noted that running back Peyton Hillis has been hot since the last time they played against him and noted how he went over 100 yards this past week against the Baltimore Ravens. Tomlin also highlighted the play of tight end Evan Moore as well on offense.
Tomlin called the Browns defense a top 10 like defense for the better part of the year. Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor and Joe Haden were just a few of the Browns players on defense highlighted by Tomlin. Special teams wise, Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs were highlighted.
Tomlin said that Essex has to prepare per normal this week for both the center and guard position like he has in recent weeks. He will get some center work this week along with Pouncey. Tomlin said he expects Pouncey to be out on the field on Wednesday.
The guys that are deemed to be healthy enough and prepared will play this week according to Tomlin. He has not determined how long some of those players might play on Sunday, but said that those are easy decisions to make as games and situations unfold. He said some of them are obvious.
Tomlin said he thought Charlie Batch really did some good things against the Rams, but his performance has no baring on how they go about making their decisions for this week. He liked not only the way that Batch played and performed, but how he led and communicated as well.
As far as Roethlisberger practicing this week, Tomlin said we will see on Wednesday.
Tomlin said he thinks they have run the ball effectively over the second half of the season and that he has been comfortable with what they have been able to do on the ground. He did say that he thought they could be better situationally in some areas. He noted the goal-line stand that the Browns had against them a few weeks ago sticks out in his mind. In terms of raw numbers, Tomlin said he has not been displeased with the run game.
When asked if Marcus Gilbert would be starting right tackle at practice on Wednesday, Tomlin said we will see. He called Gilbert a talented player and he has preformed well up until this point, but he has some growth and maturity things that they want to address with him. If he continues to address those, then of course he will participate. Tomlin said that nothing surprises him when it comes to rookies and that is probably an appropriate mentality to have in regards to them.
Tomlin joked that either he or Greg Warren would have likely been next up at center on Saturday had Essex also went down. He did add that Legursky could have likely finished the game had it come to that.
Tomlin said Jonathan Scott and Chris Kemoeatu both did nice jobs on Saturday and that is what they expect from them. Tomlin said talent is one thing, but what your are willing to do is more important and those guys continue to show that they are willing to do what it takes to win.