Mike Tomlin's press conference

Mike Tomlin was pleased with the run test and the overall condition of his world champion Pittsburgh Steelers. He's also dealing with some minor injuries and one player on the PUP list, and laughed off the Michael Vick rumors. Here's the transcript from Friday:

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

All are present and accounted for. I'm very pleased with the running test. Everybody was above the line. We can get started.

There are some minor injury issues: Stefan Logan will start camp on the PUP list. He suffered a mid-foot sprain while training. He can run straight ahead, but some of the things associated with football – unanticipated change of direction, things like that – he's not ready to go.

Guys who'll start in a limited capacity, meaning they will practice in some form or fashion, are Justin Hartwig -- he has a right great toe injury from a month or so ago -- will be limited. He'll quickly be up to speed but we're going to crawl before we walk with him. Deshea Townsend has a mild hamstring that happened while training for camp. We're going to start him in a limited capacity. Troy (Polamalu) has the same thing, hamstring. Heath Miller has a sports hernia situation that he's recovering from. That was addressed really early in the summer. We'll be guarded with him. We'll crawl with him as we get started and make sure he's fine as we move forward. Darnell Stapleton has some swelling in his knee and we're going to be cautious, particularly when we're talking about two practices a day. Other than those and Stefan, all systems are go.

Q: Is Heath's injury related to his previous sports hernia? Did he have surgery?

A: He did have surgery. I don't know if it was directly related to what he dealt with in the past. We were quickly able to address it because he's familiar with what it felt like. Notice that he didn't go the last couple of Organized Team Activities. We had it looked at. We acted pretty quickly and got it out of the way. He should be ready to go but we're going to proceed with caution with him to make sure that when fatigue sets in we don't move backward instead of forward.

Q: Did he do the run test?

A: He did. He did a nice job.

Q: Who's your center right now?

A: Darnell Stapleton of course played some center, A. Q. Shipley, Doug Legursky, and of course Hartwig's going to be participating in a limited fashion. Those are the men that work at the position. A couple of guys I mentioned are limited – Hartwig and Stapleton – so it might mean opportunities for young guys Doug Legursky and A.Q. Shipley.

Q: Concerned about avoiding the letdown that occurred after Pittsburgh's last Super Bowl?

A: I'm not concerned about avoiding anything that happened three years ago. When you use the term letdown, you proceed with the assumption that this is a continuation of something that happened in the past. The '08 Steelers are the '08 Steelers. We're here team-building for '09. We're not assuming anything. That's the biggest thing. We're guarding against feelings of entitlement. We're still going to be blue-collar and humble and start the process of building our football team.

Q: Worried about Ben Roethlisberger at all?

A: I have no question about Ben's mindset or anybody else's mindset for that matter. That civil case is just that: It's civil. We'll assume that he's going to handle that business as his personal life, and we're going to proceed professionally. And the standard of expectation in regard to Ben is the standard of expectation. I would imagine that he's not the only guy on our football team that's had a civil proceeding of some kind in their life. We're just going to focus on football.

Q: The rumors are flying that Michael Vick was in Pittsburgh today. Was he?

A: I don't know whether he was in Pittsburgh or not. I'm in Latrobe and everybody else in our organization is. Here's the thing: I'm not going to address directly any potential free agents. That would be fruitless. The list could go on and on. It could be endless. I will say this: We'll be prudent and do our due diligence in exploring people who could potentially help us win. Guys that can throw, run, block, tackle on a professional level, and that doesn't exclude anybody in this (press) room.

Q: Is your relationship with Vick's new mentor, Tony Dungy, relevant at all?

A: It's relevant for conversation, but again I'm just focused on the Steelers that are here, not potential free agents.

Q: Were you curious to see how well Casey Hampton would do in the run test today?

A: I was curious. You're always curious about the big man, and he's probably the biggest of the big men. But he did a nice job, as well as a lot of the other guys.

Q: Is Troy's hamstring related at all to last year?

A: No, not at all. Some of these guys approaching camp start to press it because you'd like to start in the best condition. As you approach camp, things like that happen, especially with skilled athletes, high-maintenance body types like a Troy, a Deshea. It's not going to affect us in the long run. He won't start the way he'd like, but it's not going to affect how we play ball.

Q: Will Heath be OK for regular season?

A: Certainly. Certainly. Again, like all the guys I mentioned, I'd rather err on the side of caution if you're going to err so we're ready to play ball in September.

Q: Do you embrace being called Super Bowl champs?

A: I'm not going to be resistant to those things. They can call us whatever they want to call us. What they call us is irrelevant. It's more about what we do, what we're willing to do. No question we've got a capable group. We know that. We're not going to run away from that.

Q: Will the O-line play better after playing together?

A: You hope that it will, and not only together but let's look at the men individually. Guys are coming into their own. A guy like Willie Colon is a veteran football player. He's moving into the prime of his career. A guy like Justin Hartwig is no longer the new guy in the locker room. He's a Steeler. He's been there before. And it goes on and on and on. And we made a commitment to Chris (Kemoeatu) and Max (Starks). They're in the prime of their career. You would anticipate these guys improving individually, thus collectively.

Q: Does Trai Essex have a legitimate shot at winning the right guard spot?

A: He does. Trai is in a similar position professionally. He's been around, made himself valuable because of position flexibility. He has a desire to be great. He wants to be in the huddle with the other starting 10 and you have to respect that. He'll be given the opportunity, but that's all he'll be given. Who walks out of that tunnel for us opening day in the starting lineup will be determined by what we do here.

Q: Has that position flexibility hurt him in competing for a starting spot?

A: No it does not, not in my opinion.


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