Q&A: Mike Tomlin

Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media from Steelers training camp in Latrobe. A transcript follows:


We start camp 2008. It's been a good day so far. All present and accounted for. By and large I thought conditioning was very positive. Some guys in great shape. They exhibited that out there at the test. And we march on. I'll take any questions.

Q: What was the test?

A: It was 8 100-yard sprints, where they jog 50 yards back and walk the remaining 50 yards with a continuous running clock. It's a great gauge for conditioning, but at the same time it keeps people safe from pulls and so forth by the way the test is structured. It's a little different from 40-yard dashes, if you will. We talked about it; we bounced it around. What we're looking for is making sure these guys are in great cardiovascular condition without exposing them to potential injury, because we're here to play football and I think we did that today.

Q: Do you have the same system as last year when the guys who showed up for all or most of OTAs were allowed to miss the run test?

A: Yes.

Q: How many guys didn't have to run?

A: I don't have that number. It acts as a reward for guys showing up, but also if they're showing up you know they're in shape.

Q: Was anyone unable to run due to injury?

A: No.

Q: Did you do this last year?

A: Yes. We did a different test, but the process was the same. It was similar, but we didn't have the jog back and the continuous running clock.

Q: Casey couldn't finish. Does he get a waiver on that?

A: No. He'll be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He wasn't able to finish the test. He's not in well enough condition to participate at this point.

Q: Is he overweight?

A: Yes.

Q: Badly?

A: He's overweight and he's not conditioned enough to participate at this point.

Q: What does he have to do to get back in? Will it take a while?

A: Hopefully it doesn't, but he won't wake up tomorrow and be ready to go. He's got to go through that process and we've got to take him through that process. We'll just live day-to-day with it until he's at an acceptable level of conditioning and weight.

Q: Is he the only guy?

A: He's the only one at this point due to conditioning.

Q: He didn't go to most OTAs. Do you see a correlation there?

A: No. There are guys who weren't there and came in in great condition. I don't think there's a correlation. It's about coming to camp ready to play football. Unfortunately he's not at this point.

Q: Will you have that with guys his size? Or are you disappointed?

A: I'm disappointed anytime we can't go full steam ahead with all our people. It's something that we'll deal with and something that he'll have to deal with, and hopefully we'll get it rectified in some sort of timely manner.

Q: How did he take the news?

A: He's disappointed. He's disappointed because he wasn't able to finish the test. When you're not up to snuff, disappointment comes with it.

Q: How will he get off the PUP list?

A: He's got to exhibit that he's in good enough condition to participate. I'll determine that.

Q: Will he re-test on his own?

A: No, but he'll be doing some things to get himself ready to go.

Q: Is there any other discipline that goes with that?

A: None that I'll disclose at this time.

Q: If anyone else hadn't finished, would they have been put on the PUP list?

A: Absolutely. It's part of registration like anything else when you talk about coming to camp. Guys got to come and report between 1 and 4 (p.m.), they've got to weigh in, they've got to take a physical, they've got to run a conditioning test. And in order to participate tomorrow morning you've got to get all those things done. Unfortunately, he didn't get an element of that done in a satisfactory manner.

Q: Why did you close off the test to the media?

A: I apologize for the miscommunication in regards to that. I know it's tough coming out here the first day and having the brakes put on you. It wasn't my intent. What I wanted was the guys to focus on executing the conditioning test. I didn't view it as public consumption. It was part of the registration process. It's not a practice.

Q: How did Troy Polamalu look?

A: Troy looked pretty good. He has a mild hamstring at this point from getting himself ready to play. We'll see where he is. We may hold him back initially some. We'll determine that in the morning, but he does have a mild hamstring. Of course, you saw it didn't prohibit him from running the conditioning test because he didn't have to sprint at full speed in the conditioning test. He's in great shape but we might be a little hesitant about turning him loose full speed tomorrow morning.

Q: Anyone stand out?

A: I was just impressed with the overall conditioning of the group.

Q: Anyone else you'll limit tomorrow morning?

A: Potentially Chris Kemoeatu. He's got a slight weakness in his tricep. We're going to get that thing looked at. We'll know more in the morning. But in terms of people potentially not participating at this point, Chris, Troy and of course Casey.

Q: Did the tricep bother him before?

A: No. I guess it came up in the last few weeks preparing to play football.

Q: Who would replace him at left guard?

A: Good question. We'll wait and see if he can participate.

Q: What are your expectations on camp?

A: It's really quite simple. We've come here to become a unified, hardened group that's ready to face the battles that await us.

Q: Some of the offensive linemen are noticeably slimmer. Did you challenge them?

A: I challenged all the men to come in in tip-top condition. We've got some men there that understand the gravity of what's in front of them. If their conditioning and their weight is a sign of how they're ready to go, then I'm pleased at this point.

Q: Casey's been around here for a while. Yet he's always had a weight problem. Does he not understand that? Or did he not understand something about this offseason?

A: No, I don't think it's lack of understanding. I just think different people have different struggles. Conditioning and weight appears to be one of his. It's nothing new. It's something that he's battled and I'm sure he'll continue to battle it. Just today, he's not up to snuff.

Q: Max Starks looks real thin. How much did he drop?

A: I don't have the list. But he is in great condition. He looks to be in great shape.

Q: Will you work differently with the offensive line as far as moving guys around?

A: We're going to move guys around some, probably not as much as maybe we did initially last year, but we are looking for position flexibility so we can get the best five out there.

Q: Willie Colon said vets resisted change last year. Would you agree?

A: I don't know specifically about that issue, but, you know, from a human nature standpoint we're all resistant to change. That's part of the process we went through last year as a football team. We don't take this process for granted because there's continuity this year. We've got to be open to getting better, to learning new things. Because there's familiarity, we can't take that for granted.

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