Q&A: Mike Tomlin

Steelers coach answers questions after 23-7 preseason win over the Detroit Lions.

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Good start for us. I stress that it's just a start. We're not going to judge it emotionally. We're going to get back in the morning and look at the tape technically, from an assignment standpoint, energy, all elements. It's going to be an awesome evaluation for us as a staff looking at the growth and development of these men and how they're coming together. I like the overall energy and the effort. Probably the most impressive thing about the outing is we played relatively penalty-free. Part of us being a good team starts with us not beating ourselves. I think we had pre-snap and post-snap penalties at an absolute minimum [2 penalties, 25 yards], and that was one of the things we wanted to do tonight.

Why didn't you play Ben Roethlisberger?

We framed this thing at the very beginning that we were interested in this guy having a productive camp and preseason, and we wanted to get clarity at the quarterback position. We acknowledge that because Dennis [Dixon] is a young guy, we wanted to provide him a lot of snaps. Based on that framework, we thought it was the appropriate thing to do tonight given the limited number of snaps that were going to be available with the first group. We thought that it would be better time served if we used Byron [Leftwich] in those instances, and Ben is going to have opportunities to play in the preseason. But with the number of snaps that we anticipated the first offense running tonight, it just wasn't appropriate to play him. He wanted to play. He was ready to play. He's had an awesome training camp thus far. We're going to continue to do what we set out to do in that this guy is going to have a productive camp and preseason. And we're going to get the clarity from the other men that we're looking for. It just wasn't in the cards for him tonight based on those circumstances.

When he does play, does it have to be with the first team?

We're not going to lock ourselves into anything. It was just the basis of our discussions and our decision-making tonight. I'm not interested in sending Ben Roethlisberger out there with the second group the first time out.

What were your impressions of the offensive line?

As an outfit, I thought we shot ourselves in the foot some, and that usually happens at the start of the preseason. We've got to do a better job holding on to the football. … We saw some four down, and that's always new. It's great that we're getting some of that in the preseason because we know what September holds for us in terms of the Tennessee Titans and Buccaneers and so forth. So it was some good work for us.

How did Isaac Redman play?

He played similarly to how he's played in training camp in that he's been very consistent. He has a personality: He's a downhill guy, he's patient, he has good vision, he finds holes, he finishes plays. So it's very encouraging.

How did Maurkice Pouncey play?

I have to look at the tape to get a legitimate evaluation of his play. He did play both positions and we were pleased he was able to handle that from the neck up. That's an indication things are going well for him.

Does Doug Legursky's appearances at fullback preclude him from a starting spot on the offensive line?

No. No, he's a guy that's capable of doing some other things and we quite simply want to highlight it. The more that you can do provides flexibility for us, from a personnel standpoint, and it really gets critical when we start talking about game-day hats in September. So we just want to cast a big net with some of those guys that have the skill set. He's a good short-area quickness guy, he's got good vision, and he understands the blocking schemes, so we utilize his talents in that way. We're working on Dorian Brooks to have the ability to do that, too. He has a similar body type and similar quickness.

How did Dennis Dixon perform?

I thought he did a nice job. I thought he moved our offense relatively well. I liked his composure. It was a good start for him.

Any injuries?

It looks like Jonathan Dwyer has a shoulder injury of some kind. It doesn't appear to be serious. He's in the process of getting that looked at right now. I don't information on that because it happened very late in the contest. Other than that, I think we are in pretty good shape. Again, going into the game, I held Jason Worilds as a precaution because he was battling a hamstring throughout camp. He may have been healthy but he has not logged enough practice time, in my opinion, to play effectively at this point. We look forward to getting him out there next week.

What about Antonio Brown?

Nice start.

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