Tomlin's transcript

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin fielded questions from the media about Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and more upon the resumption of OTAs on Tuesday.

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Good afternoon. Sunny or no, indoor or out, it's kind of good to be back at work, particularly with some of our draft picks and free agents, some of the young men we haven't seen here in a couple of weeks. It was a productive day from that standpoint, but really it's just about moving forward and getting better every day, having a little bit better detail in regards to work every day, little bit better displays of conditioning on a daily basis, really, just the overall development of our football, and it was a good start today. We look forward to getting two more here this week and using it as a springboard for the remainder of the offseason. Questions.

Are there any injuries that you're dealing with?

No, no injuries to speak of. Hines (Ward) is progressing well with the hamstring injury that he sustained in minicamp. He's running a little bit. He's getting treatment. We expect him to continue to get better and join us at some point.

Did Troy Polamalu just take the day off?

I didn't realize he wasn't here. Thanks. (Pause) I tend to focus on the guys that are here, and that's probably a good approach to have with voluntary offseason conditioning and work and so forth. As a coach, you can be a miserable person worrying about the ones that aren't. You can have a productive day when you focus on the ones that are, and I tend to do that.

Byron Leftwich worked with the first team again. Is he the starting quarterback?

There are going to be opportunities to work with the first group for all three guys. Byron has gotten the bulk of the work to this point. I will acknowledge that.

Will you know by the end of OTAs who the starter's going to be?

No, I won't necessarily know who the starter is per se by the end of the OTAs. I did make a comment last week in regards to how I'm approaching it, and this is how I intend on approaching it. I really don't believe it's an effective approach to go in with a pure open quarterback competition, if you will. There simply aren't enough snaps to go around. We'll go in with a pecking order, if you will, and the opportunities to show what you're capable of will be based on that pecking order. All three guys will be given an opportunity – not an equal opportunity. That's just the nature of this game and the nature of this business. I'll make those judgments based on intuition and knowledge that I have of the men at an appropriate time and we'll proceed. They'll understand that and move forward. In general, I think it's good to go in with a pecking order, if you will, in your mind. I think it's good information for the men, in terms of where they are. I think it's good information for a football team. I just think it's the appropriate way to approach it. I can't really think of any pure three-headed quarterback battles that have worked out favorably, in recent history or long-term history, in the National Football League.

Does that go for all positions?

I really think it's exclusive to the position of quarterback. The divvying of snaps, the leadership, the things that the team needs to know in terms of the direction; that's critical at that position and that's the approach that I'm taking.

Do you intend to take all four of these quarterbacks to camp?


When do you expect to see Ben Roethlisberger at OTAs?

I'm just going to wait for word from New York just like everyone else and I'm not going to speculate until I get that word.

Have you talked to Ben in the last few days about the work he's doing by himself?

I've talked to Ben quite frequently about a myriad of things.

Do you have any idea when he might be back? And is it important for him to be here?

I like those loaded questions. Um, I don't have any idea because I'm not the decision-maker. I could speculate but that would be fruitless. It is important to work; that's why we work. How important it is is based on the individual. He's a veteran player. He's been entrenched in this system for quite some time. I would imagine it's less critical for him than it is for others. Time will tell.

Are you confident he can get the work he needs outside of this facility?



I'm not confident.

What are the rules about talking to him?

He can't participate in official offseason activities, which is OTAs, meetings, and such.

Is he allowed to show up here?


Why isn't Thaddeus Gibson here?

He's a quarter-school guy. They're not allowed to participate in the offseason until the work at their individual institution is done. He also is in school himself, so it's critical that he finish what he started. There'll be plenty of time for him to get acclimated. Will it require some catch-up? Will he be behind? Yes, in the short term, but that's just short-term misery. If he's committed, I think in the long term it'll be less of an issue.

Could you talk about Jonathan Dwyer? He looks like he has good size and speed and explosion.

(Chuckles) He's a rookie wearing shorts.

Why are you not confident that Ben won't get the work that he needs?

I'm trying to sell this Pittsburgh football, this voluntary football. It would be unintelligent of me to say that him being here is not significant when I'm in the process of recruiting others to be here. I'm not going to be stupid.

How many receiving positions does Antwaan Randle El know?

One of the attractive things, if you will, about a veteran player such as Antwaan Randle El, or Arnaz Battle for that matter, is position flexibility, the ability to execute at a high level at multiple positions. Both guys provide that for us and both guys have been and will continue to be challenged in that area.

Have you noticed Leftwich's loss of weight?

Yeah, he's been like that since he's been back from Tampa. I guess that Florida sunshine will do that to you.

Per the starting quarterback situation, is it safe to say that one will be eliminated prior to training camp?

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I know that information's important to you guys, particularly in regards to the matter. I know that it's newsworthy. But I'm not going to give you bad information for the sake of providing you information. Some of these things are not decisions that need to be made in the short term, so I'm not going to make them. We'll address those things at the appropriate time. Decisions, in terms of division of labor, reps, who's here, who's not, who's participating at what level in regards to the preseason and so forth, those decisions will be made. They just won't be made today.

The LaMarr Woodley contract situation appears to be a difficult one and he's being asked about it a lot. Do you see him being able to separate that from football?

Absolutely. One of the attractive things about LaMarr Woodley is that, man, he is a football-first guy. Very rarely is he distracted by things other than the game when he's in a professional environment, when he's preparing himself, and when he's playing. That's a part of being a professional athlete, particularly in today's NFL with the uncertainty regarding labor. One thing I know is that he has a contract for 2010. He's committed to working for 2010. That's our mentality. We haven't had any discussions and really haven't pondered a bunch about that. I know he's going to get asked that question; he knows he's going to be asked that question. But, really, it's irrelevant in regards to what we're doing here today and how we're approaching what it is we have going on right now. Like a lot of things, those questions will be answered in time, probably not in a timely enough manner for you all. Thank you.

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