Q&A: Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin updates the team's injury situation, special teams protections, the new old longsnapper, and much more:

MIKE TOMLIN, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

First I'll address some injury issues. Marvel Smith had some tightening in his back. We gave him a day off and protected him from that standpoint. Chris Hoke has a knee injury, not significant, thankfully. The MRI came back negative but he's going to need some time. We'll see where he is later in the week. Chukky Okobi has got a rib injury similar to what James Harrison had. We'll continue to monitor him, see where he is later in the week. Maybe he can play; maybe he can't. Jerame Tuman has some discomfort in his back. We'll see where he is in the morning.

Q: Is that the old pinched nerve for Marvel?

A: I don't know much about the history of it. I think it's just back spasms.

Q: COACH, Ben assumes he'll play more. Is he right?

A: That would be a good assumption but we're going to keep him guessing. We'll let him know later in the week.

Q: Mike, was it good to see Lawrence Timmons on the field again (even if he didn't do any hitting)?

A: Yes it is. It is. It's time to start marching back. We'll look at it day to day. I think the biggest thing is what he's capable of doing mentally and where he is from a conditioning standpoint. That's going to dictate how quickly he comes back.

Q: Did you send a message without sacrificing your kicker?

A: Yeah, we wanted to work on protection today. Didn't want to make Jeff queasy so we took him out of there. It's very important. It's a glaring weakness that we have and again that's just the nature of this league. When you show a weakness people are going to attack it. The only way we're going to make it disappear is if we make it disappear, so we came out today with the attitude that that was going to be the period today. We were going to address that issue. It's not a short-term issue. We've got to crawl back and respect that element of our football team and give it its just due.

Q: Is live field goal scrimmage rare?

A: We're going to do what we feel like we need to do to be a great football team. The only way to get better at something is to work at it. We felt we needed to turn the volume up in that area so we chose to do it. Whether it's rare or not really doesn't matter. This team's committed to doing what it takes to be great.

Q: You stressed this would be an important week. Did you get that response?

A: I tell you, I thought they took the field today. It's important that we have a finisher's attitude in everything that we do. They've done that to this point, even dating back to the off-season program. We just want to put an exclamation point on our training camp by having focused attention and great energy here in the last week. We don't want to ooze to the finish at anything that we do because that represents the game of football – how you finish drives, how you finish games, how you finish seasons. So we've thrown that challenge out to them and I like the way they responded today.

Q: You only have three days left here. Is that good news or bad news?

A: I could play the whole season out of training camp. I love it. I don't have to deal with any of the issues in life outside of football when I'm up here. I'd imagine the players have a different view of it. But that's okay too.

Q: Why did you sign the long-snapper?

A: We just wanted to get some competition in here. Of course, Jared (Retkofsky) is a young man we worked with back in the spring. Because of numbers issues and injuries we weren't able to bring him to camp. We're excited about taking a look at him to see where he is. The first opportunity we got to bring him in here, we did. We got some linebackers back healthy, so we brought him back in.

Q: Was that part of the problem on the block the other night?

A: There are a lot of problems regarding the block. Usually when we fail, we fail together.

Q: Why are the guards flopped on the field goal unit, as opposed to where they normally work?

A: Because in the field goal you put your opposite hand down than you normally do in offensive football, so they're just doing what comes natural. That's kind of standard really in football.

Q: When will you decide on the starting O-line?

A: I'm going to stick to the plan and the plan is that we're going to be very patient and open-minded and we think that the decisions are going to become crystal clear.

Q: Will you be looking at a new backup LT?"

A: We'll continue to take that as it comes. I think that decision will become clear as well.

Q: What's wrong with Derrick Jones?

A: Calf strain. He's chomping at the bit. He's a hard-working young man dealing with an injury right now.

Q: What was it like to see guys like Lawrence and Willie Parker and Alan Faneca back at practice?

A: Well, it's about time. But, no, that's just football. People are going to get injured, miss time, but the good thing is they're right-minded about the process of getting back out there. That crew has done that and now that they're out there it's time to get back to work.

Q: Do you still want to remain unemotional about roster spots in this week's game?

A: No. We're going to stick to the plan. We're going to judge guys on their cumulative work. The more we look at it and the more we remain open-minded, we believe that roles will define themselves.

Q: Is the long-snapper's job to get a piece of somebody?

A: First and foremost, his job is to snap the ball. After he snaps the ball he's supposed to get big and protect as much as he can. So that's the nature of the job, regardless of who we're talking about from a long-snapper's standpoint.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nMIKE TOMLIN, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers\r\n

\r\n\r\nFirst I'll address some injury issues. Marvel Smith had some tightening in his back. We gave him a day off and protected him from that standpoint. Chris Hoke has a knee injury, not significant, thankfully. The MRI came back negative but he's going to need some time. We'll see where he is later in the week. Chukky Okobi has got a rib injury similar to what James Harrison had. We'll continue to monitor him, see where he is later in the week. Maybe he can play; maybe he can't. Jerame Tuman has some discomfort in his back. We'll see where he is in the morning.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Is that the old pinched nerve for Marvel?\r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n\r\nA: I don't know much about the history of it. I think it's just back spasms.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: COACH, Ben assumes he'll play more. Is he right?\r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n\r\nA: That would be a good assumption but we're going to keep him guessing. We'll let him know later in the week.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Mike, was it good to see Lawrence Timmons on the field again (even if he didn't do any hitting)?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: Yes it is. It is. It's time to start marching back. We'll look at it day to day. I think the biggest thing is what he's capable of doing mentally and where he is from a conditioning standpoint. That's going to dictate how quickly he comes back.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Did you send a message without sacrificing your kicker?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: Yeah, we wanted to work on protection today. Didn't want to make Jeff queasy so we took him out of there. It's very important. It's a glaring weakness that we have and again that's just the nature of this league. When you show a weakness people are going to attack it. The only way we're going to make it disappear is if we make it disappear, so we came out today with the attitude that that was going to be the period today. We were going to address that issue. It's not a short-term issue. We've got to crawl back and respect that element of our football team and give it its just due.\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nQ: Is live field goal scrimmage rare?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: We're going to do what we feel like we need to do to be a great football team. The only way to get better at something is to work at it. We felt we needed to turn the volume up in that area so we chose to do it. Whether it's rare or not really doesn't matter. This team's committed to doing what it takes to be great.\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nQ: You stressed this would be an important week. Did you get that response?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: I tell you, I thought they took the field today. It's important that we have a finisher's attitude in everything that we do. They've done that to this point, even dating back to the off-season program. We just want to put an exclamation point on our training camp by having focused attention and great energy here in the last week. We don't want to ooze to the finish at anything that we do because that represents the game of football – how you finish drives, how you finish games, how you finish seasons. So we've thrown that challenge out to them and I like the way they responded today.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: You only have three days left here. Is that good news or bad news?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: I could play the whole season out of training camp. I love it. I don't have to deal with any of the issues in life outside of football when I'm up here. I'd imagine the players have a different view of it. But that's okay too.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Why did you sign the long-snapper?\r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n\r\nA: We just wanted to get some competition in here. Of course, Jared (Retkofsky) is a young man we worked with back in the spring. Because of numbers issues and injuries we weren't able to bring him to camp. We're excited about taking a look at him to see where he is. The first opportunity we got to bring him in here, we did. We got some linebackers back healthy, so we brought him back in.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Was that part of the problem on the block the other night?\r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n\r\nA: There are a lot of problems regarding the block. Usually when we fail, we fail together.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Why are the guards flopped on the field goal unit, as opposed to where they normally work?\r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n\r\nA: Because in the field goal you put your opposite hand down than you normally do in offensive football, so they're just doing what comes natural. That's kind of standard really in football.\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nQ: When will you decide on the starting O-line?\r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n\r\nA: I'm going to stick to the plan and the plan is that we're going to be very patient and open-minded and we think that the decisions are going to become crystal clear.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Will you be looking at a new backup LT?\"\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: We'll continue to take that as it comes. I think that decision will become clear as well.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: What's wrong with Derrick Jones?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: Calf strain. He's chomping at the bit. He's a hard-working young man dealing with an injury right now.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: What was it like to see guys like Lawrence and Willie Parker and Alan Faneca back at practice?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: Well, it's about time. But, no, that's just football. People are going to get injured, miss time, but the good thing is they're right-minded about the process of getting back out there. That crew has done that and now that they're out there it's time to get back to work.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Do you still want to remain unemotional about roster spots in this week's game?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: No. We're going to stick to the plan. We're going to judge guys on their cumulative work. The more we look at it and the more we remain open-minded, we believe that roles will define themselves.\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Is the long-snapper's job to get a piece of somebody?\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n\r\nA: First and foremost, his job is to snap the ball. After he snaps the ball he's supposed to get big and protect as much as he can. So that's the nature of the job, regardless of who we're talking about from a long-snapper's standpoint. ","mobileBody":"

First I'll address some injury issues. Marvel Smith had some tightening in his back. We gave him a day off and protected him from that standpoint. Chris Hoke has a knee injury, not significant, thankfully. The MRI came back negative but he's going to need some time. We'll see where he is later in the week. Chukky Okobi has got a rib injury similar to what James Harrison had. We'll continue to monitor him, see where he is later in the week. Maybe he can play; maybe he can't. Jerame Tuman has some discomfort in his back. We'll see where he is in the morning.

A: I don't know much about the history of it. I think it's just back spasms.

A: That would be a good assumption but we're going to keep him guessing. We'll let him know later in the week.

A: Yes it is. It is. It's time to start marching back. We'll look at it day to day. I think the biggest thing is what he's capable of doing mentally and where he is from a conditioning standpoint. That's going to dictate how quickly he comes back.

A: Yeah, we wanted to work on protection today. Didn't want to make Jeff queasy so we took him out of there. It's very important. It's a glaring weakness that we have and again that's just the nature of this league. When you show a weakness people are going to attack it. The only way we're going to make it disappear is if we make it disappear, so we came out today with the attitude that that was going to be the period today. We were going to address that issue. It's not a short-term issue. We've got to crawl back and respect that element of our football team and give it its just due.

A: We're going to do what we feel like we need to do to be a great football team. The only way to get better at something is to work at it. We felt we needed to turn the volume up in that area so we chose to do it. Whether it's rare or not really doesn't matter. This team's committed to doing what it takes to be great.

A: I tell you, I thought they took the field today. It's important that we have a finisher's attitude in everything that we do. They've done that to this point, even dating back to the off-season program. We just want to put an exclamation point on our training camp by having focused attention and great energy here in the last week. We don't want to ooze to the finish at anything that we do because that represents the game of football – how you finish drives, how you finish games, how you finish seasons. So we've thrown that challenge out to them and I like the way they responded today.

A: I could play the whole season out of training camp. I love it. I don't have to deal with any of the issues in life outside of football when I'm up here. I'd imagine the players have a different view of it. But that's okay too.

A: We just wanted to get some competition in here. Of course, Jared (Retkofsky) is a young man we worked with back in the spring. Because of numbers issues and injuries we weren't able to bring him to camp. We're excited about taking a look at him to see where he is. The first opportunity we got to bring him in here, we did. We got some linebackers back healthy, so we brought him back in.

A: There are a lot of problems regarding the block. Usually when we fail, we fail together.

A: Because in the field goal you put your opposite hand down than you normally do in offensive football, so they're just doing what comes natural. That's kind of standard really in football.

A: I'm going to stick to the plan and the plan is that we're going to be very patient and open-minded and we think that the decisions are going to become crystal clear.

A: We'll continue to take that as it comes. I think that decision will become clear as well.

A: Calf strain. He's chomping at the bit. He's a hard-working young man dealing with an injury right now.

A: Well, it's about time. But, no, that's just football. People are going to get injured, miss time, but the good thing is they're right-minded about the process of getting back out there. That crew has done that and now that they're out there it's time to get back to work.

A: No. We're going to stick to the plan. We're going to judge guys on their cumulative work. The more we look at it and the more we remain open-minded, we believe that roles will define themselves.

A: First and foremost, his job is to snap the ball. After he snaps the ball he's supposed to get big and protect as much as he can. So that's the nature of the job, regardless of who we're talking about from a long-snapper's standpoint. 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