Mike Tomlin press conference

Mike Tomlin met with reporters to discuss Saturday's preseason game at Washington. Here's the transcript:

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Good afternoon. We're excited about taking this next step. For us, it's a significant one of course: Going to D.C. to play the Redskins, our first time stepping into a hostile environment playing a road game, some of the issues that you have to deal with in terms of being a road team, silent counts and so forth. It'll be interesting to watch our guys deal with that element of the game, but also, more importantly, it's just the second time out. We got our feet we in terms of playing live football last week. I look for some guys to take a significant step in terms of some things that we're talking about: We need to play harder; we need to play faster; we need to play smarter. That's what we talked to the team about, particularly the young people who just played their first bit of NFL football a week ago. We expect those guys to have adjusted to the tempo of the game. They know what to expect and to be quite honest we expect the quality of the detail of their work to vastly improve. The great thing about it is that I'm sure the Redskins are taking the same approach to the game and are stressing the same thing to their people, so I'm sure we'll have a great competitive game. I look forward to it.

Also, kind of coupled with bringing camp to a close, which has been awesome up here. Can't say enough about how fluid the things run up here at St. Vincent, and I guess it's just built over years of a working relationship. It was seamless for the most part. Got a little bit of everything we were looking for, including the weather. We got a little heat, got a little rain, and so forth. It's really been great. The people up here have been spectacular.

Q: How long do you expect the starters to play?

A: We're going to play them roughly, maybe a quarter and some change, what we normally do. We're going to extend their play a bit by maybe at least a series than what we did last time out, but we'll always play it by ear. Circumstances of the game, what happens, particularly early on, may dictate that. But that's our intention as we sit here today.

Q: What are you looking for from your first teams?

A: I'm looking for high quality execution. I'm looking for them to improve. I'm looking for more dominant-like performances in the trenches, both offensively and defensively. Better game management in a lot of areas. Coach-to-player communications, some things that may not be interesting to the people outside of our locker room, things that we need to do to push forward to our opener.

Q: Isn't it hard to get into a rhythm when you're only playing a quarter in these games?

A: No, this isn't the first time these guys played football. They're really kind of re-acclimating themselves to the process. It's not like it's totally foreign to them. It's not, quite honestly, a difficult thing to do. We're just going through the process of getting ready, at least mentally, to play 60 minutes. Still, like everybody else in the NFL, opening-weekend second-half football is uncharted waters because everybody's guys are kind of new to that. I think that's an adjustment that all teams go through, so from that standpoint our problems are no different than anyone else's, so it doesn't make it significant.

Q: Will you hold anyone out?

A: Again, it's the preseason and I don't have to make those decisions at this point, and I intend to let those be 11th-hour decisions because we're not on any timetable.

Q: What about your plan for the backup quarterbacks Saturday?

A: I'm not willing to say that (Charlie) Batch is only going to get two throws this week, but we're committed to the development of the young guys, so (Dennis Dixon) is going to get more time than Charlie.

Q: Who'll be first to return punts and kickoffs?

A: Stefan Logan's going to get the first look this week at both punts and kick returns. I wouldn't read too much into it. We just came in with a plan that we were going to get a chance to see some guys. We looked at Mike Wallace and Joe Burnett last week. This week it's Stefan Logan's turn. We'll see what next week holds for us.

Q: Did you by and large accomplish what you wanted to this camp?

A: I don't evaluate camps because ultimately we're here to prepare for this season, and how we perform this season will kind of give me a barometer of what we did good and maybe what we need to look at. So, if I make some moves at the end of camp it's really more logistical things, how things can be more fluid. I really don't evaluate the camp in terms of checking off what I perceive to be a to-do list. Successful camps don't mean anything unless you have a good season.

Q: If you had your druthers, would you keep camp up here a little longer and go back? What are the positives and negatives of both?

A: You know, I wouldn't mind being the Latrobe Steelers, man. We'll play the whole season out of here. I love it because I don't have to deal with the problems of life, man. I don't have to take my trash out on Tuesdays or anything else. I'd just have my kids and my wife up a couple days a week and have dinner with them and then get back to business. That's just my mentality. I'm not sure that everybody shares my approach.

Q: Did you just get yourself in trouble with your wife?

A: Probably, but she's been married to me long enough. I think she knows the animal she's dealing with.

Q: Will some of the young short-yardage guys get a chance earlier in the game?

A: Maybe, but again we haven't made those decisions yet. Some of the situational football decisions like that we really wait until the 11th hour. We'd really like to focus on being in a camp mentality, working on the day-to-day improvement, skill development, things of that nature, and we deal with some game-specific things when we have to. Haven't addressed that with the staff or the guys at this point.

Q: How's Dixon picking up in year two?

A: His physical skill of course is obvious. He's a talented guy. I'm more concerned about some of the things that you get from playing, and standing in the huddle in front of people, and having to rise up in moments. I like what he's doing in regards to that. We'll just continue to work with him.

Q: Ben Roethlisberger got rid of the ball quicker to hit Mike Wallace in stride for a long TD yesterday. Has there been a conscious effort to have the quarterbacks throw to him more quickly?

A: This guy can run. If you're not careful he can run out of your range, so it is something that you take into account. But it's decisions and things you take into account anytime you're working with a new guy, or a quarterback is working with a new guy. There are some things that are significantly different. I think that because we've connected with him on some plays, you see him getting in kind of a comfort level. But not only Ben, it's Charlie and Dennis as well. He's logged quite a few snaps with all three quarterbacks.

Q: How about the buses showing up this morning?

A: A little mental warfare. You know how it goes. Sometimes people need to be horribly disappointed and then asked to perform.

Q: How did they perform?

A: They did pretty well. They did pretty well.


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