Q&A: Mike Tomlin

The Steelers held a rare Monday practice, after which Mike Tomlin answered questions from the Pittsburgh media. Ryan Clark, of course, was the featured topic.

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Good afternoon. Had a good bonus day today, kind of getting started laying the foundation for our plan this week against the Denver Broncos. Hit some blitz things, some 7-on-7s, some team. Tomorrow will be a normal Tuesday, in terms of players' day off. We'll come back here Wednesday, continue on with the process of formulating a game plan, schematically, things that are match-up oriented, etc., etc. We'll go through our normal process this week as we always do. But it's good to be back at work. Thought the guys were energetic. Much needed rest; great break in the action for us, but we're ready to get back on it and continue this journey that we're on.

Q: Where was Willie Parker?

A: He had an illness today, was actually running a fever, so we sent him to the docs. We didn't want him to deliver anything to anybody else. We anticipate him being fine.

Q: Is he the only one who's been kind of quarantined?

A: He's the only one who's sick today. I wouldn't necessarily call it a quarantine. I love the way you try to put words in my mouth.

Q: What's the prognoses for Travis Kirschke and Lawrence Timmons?

A: Both of those guys are questionable at this point. Again, this is the early part of the week. There is a little bit more optimism in regards to Lawrence than Travis at this point, but we'll let it play out as we always do.

Q: Has the decision been made on Ryan Clark? If not, when? And if so, how are you going to treat that as the week goes on?

A: Here's the situation with Ryan: Ryan and myself met with a team of physicians on Thursday. He's received medical clearance to play in this football game, so now the decision lies with he and myself. We're going to weigh all our options and evaluate this thing as we proceed throughout the week. It's not a decision that needs to be made now as opposed to later. We understand the elements of what he's dealing with. At some point this week he and I are going to sit down and decide what actions we're going to take. But he has received medical clearance from the docs, and that was Step One to even consider the possibility of allowing this man to play. His physical health, his well being, of course, is paramount. We're going to attempt to do what's right, we're going to weigh all our options, and we're going to come to a decision here at some point later this week. Really hadn't put a timetable on it at this point.

Q: Is it possible he could decide to play and you'd say no?

A: Yeah, oh, that's a possibility. Sure. Sure.

Q: Is it really that much more difficult to breathe there?

A: I don't have a problem breathing when I go to Denver.

Q: Can you tell (the air's thin)?

A: I can't. No.

Q: Santonio Holmes was talking about having the sickle cell trait as well. What precautions will be taken with him?

A: It's more than the sickle cell trait. There are a lot of people that play football in Denver with the sickle cell trait. Ryan is a unique case where it's the sickle cell trait and a combination of something else which I am not educated to speak on, but it is sickle cell trait in combination with some other pre-existing medical issue that creates it. So, Santonio is not at any unique risk, unless he too shares that same medical situation, which I believe at this point he does not.

Q: As a coach and a guy who cares for his players, what do you need to hear from the doctors? OK, Ryan, go?

A: I think before we considered anything we needed to hear just that, ‘OK, Ryan, you're at no extra medical risk to participate in this game than anyone else is.' He and I have received that, but we're still going to proceed with extreme caution. That's what we're going to do. We're not going to hurry the process. We're going to proceed through our week. He's going to take in information and reps and prepare to play in the football game. His backups are going to do the same. And then at the appropriate time, we're going to sit down and make a decision.

Q: Will you work in anybody else just in case they have to start?

A: Ryan is healthy enough to practice, so we're going to let him practice, but we're going to be prudent as well and give other people some reps. Those guys defensively are interchangeable. They're always prepared to play. We played Deshea (Townsend) at safety, we played Keiwan Ratliff at safety, Ryan Mundy, Tyrone Carter. Troy (Polamalu) hasn't practiced a lot here this year so it's provided an opportunity for those guys to ready themselves for action, so that's less of an issue, I think, as it could be if Troy practiced a lot this season. Those guys have gotten an extended amount of reps in terms of preparation to be prepared to play football games. Now, practice is one thing and games is another. We won't answer those things until we play on Monday night.

Q: Would Ty be the guy if Ryan can't play?

A: To be determined. I still haven't determined whether or not Ryan's not going to play.

Q: You signed Eugene Bright to the practice squad (in place of Kevin Brock). Is he a tight end or defensive end?

A: Tight end.

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