The Steelers head to Miami Sunday for the first of three road games. As is customary, Mike Tomlin held his weekly press conference. Here are the paraphrased highlights:
* Brandon Marshall is unique because of his ability to run after the catch. He was targeted 17 times last week and caught 10 of them. We have to minimize the damage, sort of like we did with the Falcons’ Roddy White in Week 1. Davone Bess is also very good, he works well in the slot, and is a tough matchup problem in a zone defense. …
RE: concerns about Marshall and Bess — We’ve played teams with multiple receivers who can play. That’s the story of the NFL. The challenge is to minimize yards after catch, and contain the deep ball. Part of that is on the pass rush.
* Cameron Wake — we’re very aware of this guy. We pursued him when he came over from Canada like we did with Stefan Logan. He’s disruptive, they move him around, he has a relentless motor. Sack-fumbles are his thing. (When asked how close he was to signing him, Tomlin said, “Not close enough. He’s a Miami Dolphin.”)
* Vontae Davis appears to be an emerging elite cornerback in this league. He is a very good tackler, has good ball skills. He’s consistently physical.
* Injury-wise, Brett Keisel is out this week. Trai Essex continues to work back from an ankle sprain. He’s questionable. We’ll see.
* Rashard Mendenhall has a left shoulder contusion, but those are the bumps and bruises that go along with being a featured ball carrier. He will play Sunday. (When asked about any concerns that Mendenhall has been overworked through five games, Tomlin said, “I’m concerned about his carries but we had limited options during the first four games. I hope to limit that going forward, either with passing the ball around or more Isaac Redman.” He added: I think both Mewelde Moore and Redman are capable third-down backs.)
* Doug Legursky suffered an MCL sprain during the Browns game but he returned and should be available Sunday, not limited in anyway. As for who will start at right guard, I’m not sure yet. We’ll have to see how he and Essex look the rest of the week.
And because you knew it was coming…
* RE: Deebo hits — I know what you guys know (in terms of what the NFL will do). The hit on Massaquoi is still under review. My opinion is my opinion. I’m all for player safety — I’m a proponent of it. I think we need to safeguard the men that play this game, and we also have an obligation to provide as safe a game as we can — at every level.
I’ve been involved in discussions about player safety. We have to “lower the strike zone,” to keep players safe and to increase the chances of winning (due to fewer penalties). … We coach a lowering of the target to reduce the number of helmet-to-helmet hits, and reduce the number egregious or flagrant fouls.
Why does Dennis Dixon not run? Because the National Football League is a dangerous place for non-runners.
I didn’t see Harrison’s comments, re: injuring people/hurting people. He says a lot of things he doesn’t necessarily mean. He’s a tough talker, like most guys in this league. You want to see the real James Harrison, talk to him on a Tuesday when he’s walking through the building with his son. … RE: punishments — I’m a proponent for whatever punishment the NFL deems necessary. Particularly when it comes to player safety.
* Ziggy and Nick Eason are both capable Keisel replacements. Who starts is yet to be determined but both will play. I would like to see more from Ziggy.
A potential option to adding depth along the defensive line is using the practice squad, but we’ll know more later this week. Six guys is more important in September than it is now, when guys are in in-season football shape.
* We’re going to continue to pit Manny Sanders against Antonio Brown in the hopes that we can continue get third-down conversions like we had against the Browns. We want to help them with that by providing competition.
* I’m not concerned about the road games. I acknowledge it. We play one team this week and that’s our focus. I love playing on the road. There’s not much about the NFL that I don’t enjoy.
* I saw the Juan Timmons you see today even as far back as ’08 when he was in the sub-packages.
* I agree with Ben’s grades (B-/C+) if he wants me to, but I just want to win football games.