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Tomlin on the preseason opener

Posted Aug 9, 2014

Coach Mike Tomlin offered his perspective on some issues surrounding this preseason opener

Q. What criteria do you use in terms of allocating playing time for the young/new players in the preseason opener?

A. I play the starters in this game, but I don’t want to play them enough where fatigue becomes a factor in their play. And then, I’m going to play the next wave of guys until fatigue starts to erode their play, where it becomes counter-productive. Then I finish it with the rest of them.

Q. In terms of each of those groups – the starters, the next wave, and the rest – what do you want to see from them in this preseason opener?

A. I want to see them play hard. I want to see them understand the situations the game puts them in. I want to see them play physical. I want to see them maintain an acceptable level of assignment football as fatigue and other variables set in.

Q. When you’re actually into the game itself, what would you not do to try to win a preseason game?

A. I would not get outside the pre-described play schedule. I’ll do anything within that predetermined playing-time schedule to try to win in terms of utilizing the people who are available to us.

Q. But you wouldn’t turn to one or both of your coordinators and tell them not to show a particular play or package in the preseason to keep it off the video your future opponents will be studying?

A. No. A lot of that is dictated ultimately by what the guys can execute. Some of the juicy stuff the guys can’t execute at an acceptable level right now anyway, so it kind of takes care of itself. I think if you’re really going into it with the mind-set of what the guys can execute, it takes care of those discussions.

Q. You often have said that your job as had coach is to give your team what it needs. What does this particular team need at this particular point of the preseason?

A. They need to be put into as many competitive situations, as many game-like situations as possible, in an effort to evaluate what they’re capable of, and also to teach them situational football. Because in order to excel in it, they have to understand it.

Q. What kind of rules will you have with Dri Archer in terms of bringing the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs?

A. Score (laughs). I’m not going to give him a lot of coaching points. I want to see what he does, and then we’ll go from there. I don’t want to over-coach those guys. So much of what return men do is innate, and so I just like to see what I’m working with, particularly initially, before I start coaching.

Q. At this stage of the process, how important is it to have your team go against another NFL team instead of the players just competing against themselves?

A. It’s time for that. This process of team development is just that – a process. And it’s time for us to play some unfamiliar faces, some unfamiliar schemes, some unfamiliar philosophies, because that’s what getting ready for opening day is about.

Q. Has Markus Wheaton shown the ability to become a starting wide receiver in the NFL?

A. He’s working towards that. He’s going to have these preseason games to solidify that. I like the work that he’s done thus far, but he’s still a work in progress.

Q. Will it be a gut feeling as to how long the starters play tonight?

A. It is. Generally I’m looking for between 10-12 snaps or so. I’m not interested in fatigue becoming an element of play for them in this game. We just want to get their feet wet, move the ball up and down the field, stop some balls in some situational things, and then let the young guys play.

Q. What will be the quarterback rotation against the Giants?

A. We intend to play all of the guys. We will start with Ben (Roethlisberger) and then go on from there. Sometimes game circumstances and how we’re moving the ball, particularly on third downs, dictate the number of snaps and ultimately the amount of snaps all of those guys play. But it is our intention to play all four quarterbacks.

Q. What is the advantage of having three former NFL head coaches – Mike Munchak, Todd Haley, and Dick LeBeau – on your staff?

A. They are guys who understand some of the things I have to do and some of the things that come with my job. But we all have jobs to do, and those guys take pride in being unselfish and delivering in their specific areas. Very rarely does it come up (that they were head coaches in the NFL), unless we’re teasing Todd about Kansas City (laughs).

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