Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin met with the media on Tuesday, and here are some of the key points.
– The injury front doesn’t seem to be as dire as originally thought. Dennis Dixon is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday morning, so obviously he’s going to be out for the next couple of weeks.
Trai Essex has a sprained ankle, and there seems to be some concern as to whether he’ll be able to play. If he can’t, Tomlin said Doug Legursky will start at right guard.
Other than that? Tomlin sounded very optimistic about Max Starks, Casey Hampton, Emanuel Sanders and Jason Worilds all being ready for Sunday. Tomlin said Byron Leftwich’s knee hasn’t been an issue in workouts, and they don’t see it being an issue at this point. He also added that workouts are different than practice and game situations. As of this moment, Charlie Batch is in the “pole position” to start on Sunday, but only because he’s the only quarterback with a “clean bill of health.” As the week progresses Byron’s ability to go will determine the practice reps, and, ultimately, who starts on Sunday.
Regarding the injury situation, Tomlin said: “We’ll take it. Such is life in the National Football League.”
– There are no plans at this point to add a third quarterback. That seems to indicate they feel confident in Leftwich being ready. When asked if Antwaan Randle El will be the No. 3 quarterback, Tomlin referenced (and laughed) that they also have Arnaz Battle and Hines Ward, even citing Ward’s 400-yard passing performance in the Peach Bowl when he played at the University of Georgia. (I knew the Steelers cornering the market on quarterbacks-turned-wideouts would come in handy one day.)
– Is this a new Tomlin-ism? “You have to have 10 toes in this thing.” Hey, when the rubber meets the road…
– Tomlin was asked about the center-quarterback exchange issues on Sunday, and he seemed to think it was Maurkice Pouncey having some problems with a number of variables, including the cadence and the need for a silent count, as well as the revolving door of quarterbacks, including one (Batch) he didn’t work with much in training camp.
– Tomlin is convinced that Lawrence Timmons was playing like this a year ago when he wasn’t limited by the high ankle sprain.
– Weather will, once again, be a factor.
– Regarding the Emanuel Sanders vs. Antonio Brown roster spot, Tomlin said Brown certainly made a very convincing argument and a good case for himself, but also laughed and said “I’ve been known to be tough to work with.” I’ll say this: Both guys have made an early impact on special teams. Sanders made two tackles in coverage in Week 1, while Brown, of course, scored a touchdown and had a 20-yard punt return.