Mike Tomlin press conference

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sat down with the press corps to talk about Saturday's preseason opener against the Detroit Lions. Here's the transcript (minus dead wood):

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Good afternoon. I'm excited about our first opportunity for preseason action coming up here with Detroit. As always the first time out, we're concerned with the things we do, the nature with which we play. Is it physical enough? How we block, how we tackle. Do we play within the rules of the game? How do we play technically? I'm looking forward to seeing where we are in regards to those things. Looking forward to seeing the play personality of some of the young guys, the new guys. Looking forward to watching how those players acclimate themselves in that element of the game. Special teams, of course, how they contribute in that area is going to be big. And overall just generally excited in taking the next step in terms of development of our football team, and that's stepping inside a stadium and playing an opponent. Questions?

Q: How long will the starters play?

A: We're looking at 8 to 12 snaps or so. We'll probably stay inside that.

Q: Have you determined the QB rotation?

A: No. We're going to make you come to the stadium and check that out. We're somewhat undecided about those things. I think that's been the best thing about the way we've approached this quarterback situation thus far. We've started with a plan. We've been very clear about that. We'll provide enough fair opportunities to have a productive camp and preseason, and at the same time we'll get clarity with our quarterback situation. I think we've stayed true to form thus far and we'll stay true to that as we get into the games.

Q: Will all four quarterbacks play?

A: Again, undecided.

Q: Will Maurkice Pouncey play both guard and center?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you ruled anyone out?

A: Again, undecided along those lines. You rule guys out due to injury and so forth. We're going to be very cautious about that and wait till the last minute. Some of these guys that have battled injuries and have had limited practice time, you want to be cautious about. A guy like Jason Worilds may be healthy enough to play but has practiced very sporadically and I'm not going to put him in that kind of position. Maybe people like him may be on the borderline in terms of health and having the ability to play, but I may choose not to play them.

Q: Do you want to give an extended look to guys like Jason Dwyer?

A: Guys like Jonathan Dwyer get an extended look whether they want it or not. That's the nature of preseason games particularly in Game 1 and in Game 4. On an 80-man roster, when you're talking about removing 22 to 25 of them 12 snaps in, the remainder of snaps go to guys like Jonathan Dwyer and Thaddeus Gibson and guys like that. There are going to be a bunch of snaps. It's going to be 35-plus snaps for guys in the position those men are in. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, those guys are going to play a bunch of snaps. They're going to get more than they bargained for on Saturday night. That's no question.

Q: Who will your return men be?

A: We're going to start with (Stefan) Logan, but we're looking to evaluate Emmanuel Sanders. We're looking to evaluate Antonio Brown as a punt returner. May or may not look at (Antwaan) Randle El. We know he's a capable return man. We may not be interested in seeing him the first time out. We're going to provide a few balls to Logan and we're going to take a look at these two young receivers, one as a punt returner and one as a kickoff returner.

Q: Will Jeff Reed or Daniel Sepulveda kick off?

A: Undecided. We've seen that both guys are capable. Really it depends on how many times we kick off.

Q: How has Logan developed as a receiver?

A: I kind of stifled that development somewhat because of the many things we've asked him to do. He spent the vast majority of the offseason working as a running back. This is a guy with a unique skill set, in terms of the ability to break people down in open grass. We've been very fluid in how we've aligned him and put him in situations to find that open space. For a guy that's never played the position, he's grown by leaps and bounds. He's a willing guy. He's got great natural skills. We like what he's done. But he's going to make this team or not make this team based on what he does as a kick returner.

Q: What positional battles are you excited about watching Saturday?

A: Every one of them. I am. It's the unknown. It's the thing that keeps you coming back. It's the thing that's exciting about preseason football. I love preseason football, contrary to some people. You know, I'm excited to watch Antonio Brown and some of the guys who've caught my eye out here on the practice field, to see if they can take the next step. It's going to be a fun evening.

Q: Would you not like to see the preseason reduced to two games?

A: I love the preseason. Give me more.

Q: How has Flozell Adams performed?

A: When you talk about personalities, Flozell is one of the interesting ones. He's been stretching in Dennis Dixon's spot since he came here, but Dennis hasn't asked him to move yet (laughs). Flozell's doing great; so far, so good. He hasn't taken the transition to right tackle lightly. He's had moments when he's excelled at it and he's had moments that have been frustrating for him. But he's a pro. Some of the things he does technically you see other guys at his position picking up on because he does it so well: the use of his hands, the flashing of his hands. He's been a good addition. So far, so good at the right tackle spot.

Q: Is there a chance Ben Roethlisberger won't play at all?

A: Yes, there's a chance.

Q: Will Isaac Redman play any fullback?

A: Yes, he'll get opportunities there. We need a little bit more clarity there. Live action kind of defines who's in the driver's seat in roles such as that: lead-blocking roles, situational roles, short-yardage roles. Isaac Redman's going to have an opportunity; Frank Summers, David Johnson Sean McHugh, all of them will have opportunities in all four preseason games to state their case.

Q: Coach, what do you expect from some of the rookies?

A: I expect them to get extremely tired extremely quickly because that's what happens to all rookies. They cover the first kick and they can't believe how fast it is and how intense it is. Usually it takes a couple plays and then they get their feet back on the ground and they get a measure of where they are. That's what's going to happen to these guys. These guys here are no different than any other crop of guys that've come through. They're going to hyperventilate a little bit. It'll be fun to watch.

Q: What do you like about the rookie WRs? They show maturity in terms of catching the ball and creating separation. But they're still new to the nuances of what we're doing here in this league. No question they have miles to go in that area.

Q: Is Redman playing teams?

A: Yes. He's on all the teams. He's a wing, a personal protector on punt; he's on the front lines on kickoff return and kickoff. He's potentially a four-phase guy. When you're trying to etch out the kind of role he's doing, that usually encompasses that kind of labor.

Q: Is Lawrence Timmons ready for a breakout year?

A: He better be. It's time. Lawrence has been around here long enough and he's ridiculously talented. That's the standard.


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