'Ready' Is In Eye Of Beholder

They ended the preseason winless but they'll enter the regular season optimistic. "Ready or not," Mike Tomlin assessed ... Read more from Mike Prisuta:

... after Thursday night's preseason-ending, 25-10 loss at Carolina. "I feel comfortable with the men that we'll walk into battle with next week, if that's what you're asking."

That was, in fact, what I was asking late Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

An alternative would have been to ask Tomlin about a game in which Landry Jones, Derek Anderson and Little Jimmy Clausen did the quarterbacking. I figured we'd all suffered enough by then.

And, like Tomlin, I'm comfortable with what the Steelers will send into battle on Sept. 8 against Tennessee. But we won't really have a feel for this team and what it's capable of until the inevitable attrition starts to become a factor.

Can they get Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell back before they start losing more critical components? And what happens then?

For now it's time to look ahead to what a relatively healthy, transitioning team thinks of itself and its prospects for 2013:

* Ben Roethlisberger on the preseason: "It's one of those things, there's some good and some bad. For me the excitement is it's over, it's time that we can really get going and focus in on the season and what we need to do.

"The No. 1 goal is to get out of the preseason healthy, especially the big boys up front (the offensive line). I think they did.

"I like that we're still the underdogs and we're the ‘nobody team' and everyone's counting us out. That's still fine with me."

* Ike Taylor is likewise ready, more than ready.

"I missed all of last December," he said. "Football couldn't come quick enough for me in the offseason."

He's ready to play some football, and he likes the Steelers he'll be playing football with this season, likes the makeup of this team.

No news there.

"I'm going to always like that no matter how the outside feels," Taylor said. "As long as I have this Black and Gold on, I'm ready to roll.

"It's cool; we know what we have inside the locker room. From the outside looking in everybody has their own opinion, their own perspective; can't knock ‘em on that. All we need to do is win some football games and prove everybody wrong."

Ike perceives these Steelers as "a very humble team, a very hungry team. Good mix between young and old. I feel good about us.

"I have no concerns. That's for reporters to have concerns, speculate; write their own opinions. As players we just have to go out and play football."

* Larry Foote perceives the Steelers as ready, willing and able. Foote also suspects NFL teams from Atlanta to Seattle perceive themselves in a similar fashion right about now.

"Here we come, we're ready," he said. "I'm quite sure the other 31 teams are saying the same thing. We look good on paper, that's about it.

"I'm not going to know until the end of the day when we see how many chips we have."

Foote feels at the end of the preseason the way he did heading to Latrobe: There's a lot for the Steelers to hang their hats on, "the guys that are returning, starting with our quarterback, Ben," Foote said. "We're returning the No.1 defense."

The Steelers will also be counting on "some unknown guys," guys "who are going to have to step up to get us where we need to go."

That's an unknown that was never destined to be definitively decided in August.

"We're gonna be action-packed," Foote said of the defense. "Ain't no secret what we're going to do. People know what we're going to do.

"It's always going to go down to, are we going to win our one-on-one matchups? We do that we're going to be alright."

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