Mike Tomlin will draw up the Pittsburgh Steelers' game plan for the Kansas City Chiefs with Landry Jones in mind as his quarterback.
Tomlin said during his weekly press conference that he will monitor the progress of Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Vick, but "it's appropriate that we build that planning behind and around Landry Jones. He's the healthiest of the group. He's healthy and he provided a winning performance in the waning moments of that game last Sunday."
Roethlisberger is nearing a recovery from a sprained MCL. He's missed three games, practiced a bit last week and plans to practice this week with the intention of returing to play Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Vick suffered a slight tear in his hamstring during a scramble during the first series of the second half last Sunday.
"We'll first lean on the medical experts," Tomlin said. "Then we'll look at their ability to protect themselves and their ability to perform." And if Roethlisberger or Vick prove healthy enough to play, and can protect himself in the pocket, Tomlin said "we'll make necessary adjustments to our plan accordingly."
Jones performed well in his first career regular-season appearance. He completed eight of 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 149.3 in rallying the Steelers from a 10-6 deficit to a 25-13 win.
In three preseasons, including the last one, in which Tomlin said Jones "played more preseason snaps than anyone in the history of the National Football League," Jones posted a cumulative passer rating of 67.6.
Yet, Tomlin was peppered with questions about why -- in light of Vick's struggles -- he hadn't used Jones earlier.
"Doing it in a regular-season game is a little different than doing it in a preseason game," Tomlin said. "We're happy for him. We're happy for us. But that's the largest reason why there wasn't any consideration for him prior to being installed in the game."
Doesn't Jones -- who's led the Steelers in preseason snaps each of the last three years -- have a better understanding of the Steelers' offense?
"It's not about what they know," Tomlin said, "it's about what they're capable of executing. Like I just said, we hadn't seen Landry execute anything in a regular-season stadium. Knowledge in the comfortable seat of a third quarterback with a clipboard in a classroom setting is one thing. Playing in a hostile situation with the game on the line is another thing."
Considering the quarterback situation, and the fact the Steelers just lost left tackle Kelvin Beachum for the year with a torn left ACL, to go along with the other injured starters, Tomlin called his team "extemely fragile."
Robert Golden stepped in for Will Allen (ankle) at strong safety last week and played "well above the line," said Tomlin. "I thought he took a significant step based on his performance from Monday night, which is a reasonable expectation given he had a week to prepare."
The new starter at left ackle, Alejandro Villanueva, is also expected to improve with a week to prepare. He stepped in for Beachum on Sunday and played 44 snaps.
Villanueva is a 6-9, 335-pounder who was moved from tackle to wide receiver at Army, was a war hero in Afghanistan and then returned home to play defensive end during the 2014 preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles cut him, the Steelers picked him up, put him on the practice squad and promoted him to the active roster prior to this season.
Tomlin explained the origin of his interest in Villanueva:
"We were playing Philadelphia last year in the preseason," he said, "I looked across the field during the anthem and there was a guy standing over there about a head taller than everybody else saluting during the anthem, and it kind of got my attention. I wanted to know about this enormous human being over there saluting. He had the frame of a tackle, he has a tackle background. We thought it was worth our time to take a shot at it and he's proven that it has been worth our time."
MEDICAL REPORT (Cont.)
* Tomlin said that Maurkice Pouncey -- on injured reserve with an ankle/fibula injury that's enduring an infection -- has not undergone a second surgery and Tomlin remains hopeful he can return at some point this season.
* With Roethlisberger and Vick injured, Tomlin said "Who the backup quarterback is going to be, I do not know. Health is a big element of that. Maybe it's neither."
If that's the case, the Steelers might activate rookie wide receiver Tyler Murphy from the practice squad. Murphy played quarterback at Boston College and has split time with the position groups since signing with the Steelers last spring.
* Defensive end Stephon Tuitt sprained his right knee on Sunday, but Tomlin said "I saw him walking pretty good yesterday. We'll see what (Wednesday) holds."
* Of the Steelers' injured first-round linebackers, Tomlin said, "I would imagine Jarvis Jones (hip) will be well enough to participate this week, as will Ryan Shazier (shoulder)."