Maybe you’ve heard, but there is a belief out there that the Steelers defense is getting up there in age (and at certain positions, they are … but they also have some young depth behind them as well, particularly on the defensive line).
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about this multiple times at his first press conference of the season on Tuesday, and with each and every question seemed to grow more and more irritated.
He finally suggested the discussion motivates the old guys, saying “Keep talking about how old they are. That makes my job easier.”
– On a semi-related topic, the health of outside linebacker James Harrison was discussed briefly with Tomlin joking that the former defensive player of the year was “sandbagging” the media with the talk about his ailing back. Later, Tomlin was asked if second-year outside linebacker Jason Worilds would be an option to take a few snaps in Harrison’s place, or if middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons would swing outside as he’s done in the past. He said that Worilds has definitely improved and him seeing the field a bit more is an option, as is moving Timmons outside if needed, and that all options would be explored.
He also added that he expects “James to be James” on Sunday.
– Near the end of the press conference somebody asked Tomlin how this season compared to the start of last season when the Steelers were going to be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season. The easy answer would have been to say something along the lines of, we have our franchise quarterback for the season opener this year, but Tomlin instead went with, “I haven’t really thought about last season.”
– Tomlin expects the Ravens to be a “salty” bunch.
– The Ravens have quite a few new starters this year, particularly both starting cornerbacks (Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith. Combined they have one NFL start) which inspired Tomlin to suggest the Ravens know more about the Steelers (whose roster has pretty much been set since the beginning of camp, with 20 of 22 starters returning) coming into this game than the Steelers know about the Ravens.
– Tomlin “understands and acknowledges” that the Steelers are “going into a lions den on Sunday.”
That reminds me of the great quote from Brian Billick way back in the day:
“When you go into a lion’s den, you don’t tiptoe in. You carry a spear. You go in screaming like a banshee and say, ‘Where’s the son of a bitch?’ “
Hopefully the Steelers bring the spear on Sunday.