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Tomlin on the Ravens

Posted Nov 18, 2012

Coach Mike Tomlin looks at this week’s opponent – the Baltimore Ravens:

Q. Is Baltimore a different team because of the injuries they have had?

A. I just think that they’re evolving like all teams evolve, like we’ve evolved. They’re not the same team that they were in 2011 or 2010 and for obvious reasons. Players ascend, players descend, just like on our football team. Teams usually try to play to their strengths and work to minimize their weaknesses. I think they’re doing a nice job of that.

Q. How much does the look of the offense change with Byron Leftwich at quarterback instead of Ben Roethlisberger?

A. It doesn’t change very much. Obviously we’re going to cater some things to highlight Byron’s skills and play to his strengths, but essentially our offense is our offense. We’re going to remain within our personality tonight.

Q. Did you see Leftwich’s veteran personality establish itself during the week of practice?

A. Certainly, and not that I was surprised by it. Quite frankly we expected it. You give a guy like Byron a week to prepare and we can expect him to play quality football tonight.

Q. What does Leftwich bring to the table?

A. He’s a charismatic leader. He communicates well. He’s got a ridiculously strong arm. There’s not a spot on the field where he cannot place the football, and we have to make the Baltimore Ravens defend the whole field tonight, both horizontally and vertically.

Q. Who will get the bulk of the carries tonight for the Steelers?

A. Rashard Mendenhall is going to start tonight. He’s healthy, and so we’re going to do that, but you’re going to see all of the backs. I’m talking about Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer as well.

Q. The Chiefs seemed to be intent on running the football to their right, or at the Steelers left side. Do you anticipate the Ravens might try the same thing?

A. We expect the Ravens are going to stay within their personality. Obviously there are some things to be gleaned from the video, but the Ravens always strike me as a team that plays to their own strengths. They are who they are, and that’s why they have been so consistently successful.

Q. Why are the Ravens plus-9 in turnover ratio?

A. Primarily because they take care of the football. They have only had nine turnovers over the course of the season. When you’re doing that, when you’re taking care of the football, you have an opportunity to have a good turnover ratio.

Q. Has the Ravens defensive philosophy changed since the season-ending injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb?

A. It doesn’t appear that it has. They’re still the Baltimore Ravens and they still try to apply pressure to the quarterback, they still believe in their ability to play man-to-man coverage on wide receivers, and they’ve still got Ed Reed back there in the middle of the field doing what Ed Reed does.

Q. Does Leftwich have to pay attention to where Reed is during the pre-snap period?

A. He does pre-snap, but more importantly he has to pay attention to where Ed Reed is post-snap. Ed Reed is always a guy who is going to give you some quality disguises pre-snap, and from a quarterback standpoint you have to find him with your eyes before you deliver the ball downfield post-snap. That’s probably the most significant element of it.

Q. Jimmy Smith, the Ravens starting cornerback opposite Lardarius Webb, had surgery to repair a sports hernia earlier this week. The Ravens seem to be thin at cornerback. Can you take advantage of that?

A. Well, we’re kind of thin at wide receiver as well. I like our body of guys vs. their body of guys, and that’s whether Jimmy Smith is playing or not. Our mentality with regards to that matchup has not changed.

Q. What has Terrell Suggs shown you since coming back so quickly from that Achilles injury?

A. Just a resilient warrior’s attitude. Just that he’s out there on the grass, I think is an amazing thing. Defensive Player of the Year type guys are rare creatures, and he is that. He’s a factor in every game he has a helmet on, and so we are aware of what he is capable of tonight.

Q. What concerns you about Jacoby Jones when he is back to return a punt or a kickoff?

A. He’s building a reputation as the most dangerous return man in football this year. The tape tells that story. He has two kickoff returns for touchdowns already this year, and he’s also returning punts for them. He built quite a reputation for the Houston Texans in that regard, so we have to strike a blow for the cause in trying to minimize what he can do tonight.

Q. Do you have Drew Butler and Shaun Suisham keep the ball away from him, or make him chase it?

A. Only if game circumstances dictate that, but we’re going to stay within our personality initially.

Q. Do these two teams really hate each other?

A. Yes.

Q. Is that a good thing?

A. I don’t see anything wrong with it in sport. Sometimes in today’s sport world, we try to pretend to be friendly, and nothing is wrong with a good, hardcore rivalry every now and then.

Q. Will having two meetings in three weeks intensify the rivalry?

A. I think it’s going to be intense for no reason at all. But these two games over the next three weeks are not going to hurt what is going on between these two teams.

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