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Tomlin on IR guys, AB, Browns' gambling

Posted Jan 3, 2016

Coach Mike Tomlin addressed a variety of issues leading up to the game in Cleveland.

Q. With a player who has an injury that is going to rule him out of a game, or a player who already has been ruled out of the upcoming game, what’s your policy about taking them on road trips?

A. On a case-by-case basis, if their presence can be helpful to us in terms of winning the game, I’m a supporter of them coming. If they add no value, then I’m probably not. And I deal with it all on a case-by-case basis. There have been times this year, for example, Kelvin Beachum has traveled with us, maybe because of some of the obscure fronts and things we see in situational ball, so he could be an extra set of eyes for Al Villanueva because Beachum takes a good, professional above-the-neck approach to the game. Shaun Suisham has traveled some this year to be a stabilizing force in assisting some of our young specialists if the environment dictates. The bottom line for me is they have to be useful to us in some form or fashion.

Q. Are the injured reserve guys allowed to be around the team during the week of an NFL regular season?

A. Certainly.

Q. Is there any value in having those guys on IR around on a daily basis, and not necessarily the ones you believe can help the team in the way you were just describing, but to teach them about life in the NFL?

A. Absolutely. But not at the expense of those you are preparing to play. For example, Senquez Golson has had a very good year in this building day-to-day, by getting stronger and learning the game and getting better in all of the areas where he can get better outside of playing. But we’re not going to work with him at the expense of working with the guys we have to get ready to win a game this week.

Q. Injured reserve guys, in general, if they’re not here then is there somebody keeping track of them? Are there any requirements?

A. They’re not floating in the wind, by any stretch. All of them are here, really, unless given permission not to be. A better question is: if they’re not here, then why?

Q. Are they a part of your day-to-day schedule? Are they guys you will deal with on a regular basis during a season?

A. I connect with those guys just about daily, but you don’t see it. Their schedules are a little bit different than the rest of the pack. Just about every day I walk out of my 9 a.m. team meeting, and the guys break up into offensive and defensive unit meetings, and I usually go downstairs and share a few minutes with Senquez Golson because he’s working with our strength staff at that time. They all have individual schedules and regimens that are geared toward what it is they need, and it’s different depending on the guy, depending on the injury, depending on where he is in his career, depending on what position he plays. The big thing is we cater each individual program so each guy can get what he needs from an individual rehabilitation standpoint and from a get-better standpoint.

Q. Do you think it’s important to make these guys on IR or PUP – list guys, as you call them – feel a part of the program?

A. No. There’s a certain loneliness to injury. There’s a certain loneliness to rehabilitation. We don’t hide from that. Their mental fortitude and commitment to work is tested in those moments, much more than it is when they’re active and playing. So we don’t bury our head in the sand. We challenge them in that way, and we watch them. Ultimately, careers are usually defined by how you deal with those moments, and learn and fight and grow from them. Usually, there are guys who have experienced injuries in their past who can help guys who haven’t. Unfortunately a guy like Maurkice Pouncey has some experience in bouncing back from it, and he knows what needs to be done, and he knows the mental approach he needs to have to getting back to us as quickly as he can. And he’s able to share that with Le’Veon Bell and guys like Senquez Golson.

Q. But you did say you touch base with them almost daily. Wouldn’t that make them feel part of it?

A. I just touch base with them to make sure they’re doing what it is they’re supposed to do. Usually if they’re so fragile that you need to make them feel good about where they are, they’ll struggle.

Q. Antonio Brown was voted the Steelers MVP for the third time. What does he mean to you?

A. Forget what he does in stadiums – and I’m not discounting that because I think all of us are amazed from time to time by what he’s able to do as a football player – but I’m most impressed by his commitment to being what he is. The things he’s willing to do on a day to day basis, the things that nobody sees, I think those are just as special as the things we all enjoy when watching him play on weekends.

Q. Is he the most valuable receiver in the league?

A. There are guys I appreciate and respect. I know Dez Bryant is a really talented guy and a very meaningful guy for his team, and then there is Calvin Johnson, and there are others. I’ll say this: I wouldn’t trade Antonio Brown for another receiver in football. He’s that important to us, and he’s that appreciated here.

Q. Johnny Manziel has been ruled out of the game against the Steelers. What do you expect from his replacement, Austin Davis.

A. Davis is a guy who has more game experience than Johnny Manziel, and I expect that to show. I don’t think their menu is going to be reduced in any form or fashion with his presence. This guy has played a lot of football in the NFL. He played a lot of football when he was in St. Louis when Sam Bradford was injured. He’s going to call on that inexperience, and they’re going to call on that experience in terms of how they approach the game.

Q. Do you envision the Browns being a gambling team in all three phases in this game?

A. I really don’t have any idea on how they intend to play it, and such is life at this time of year in the National Football League. What I am comfortable with is what it is we need to do and how we’re going to play. We’ll see about some of those other things – maybe they play traditional football, solid fundamental football, or maybe they throw caution to the wind and take the calculated risks associated with a team that’s playing its last game of the season. It doesn’t matter to me. Regardless of what they throw at us, we need to be successful today.