Over the course of the 2011 season, Coach Mike Tomlin will take some time to address issues regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League:
Q. You have what you call competition periods during practice – backs-on-backers, LBs vs. TEs, and others. How do you decide which drill to run and when to run it?
A. It's a general rotation, but at times I want to give guys opportunities to respond to successes and failures. There have been instances where we've gone with the same drill in back-to-back days, in essense to give someone an opportunity to respond to a performance from the day before. It's competition. We're going to pit those guys against one another and we're going to be unashamed in terms of doing that. Hopefully, their compettivie spirit shows.
Q. There are no more two-a-day practices during training camp. In terms of your job as an evaluator, what did you used to learn from two-a-days?
A. More than anything, it's not about what people are capable of, it's more about what they're willing to do. Their pain threshold, their level of conditioning – the things that you can see when you break people down in training camp settings happen much more quickly when you can work them twice a day as opposed to when you can work them only once a day. We'll get the same information, but it's just going to take more time to do it in this situation.
Q. So you still believe you can still push their limits under these new guidelines?
A. I definitely think we can still get to the deep end of the pool. We've already had one guy (Dorian Brooks) check out of here.
Q. Have you seen some players who are completely overwhelmed?
A. Yes, at times, but that's not out of the ordinary. Every year that I've been here I've seen some players completely overwhelmed. These situations kind of bring that out of young men sometimes. From that standpoint, it's very normal.
Q. Is there a training camp phenom, in your mind?
A. I don't buy into camp phenoms, to be honest with you. I'm looking for guys who distinguish themselves in all settings, be it in the classrooms, practice fields, walk-throughs, and particularly in preseason game stadiums. It's a cumulative body of work as far as I'm concerned. But I'm excited. There are some candidates, and I'm excited about watching those guys proceed.
Q. One of the new rules allows for 46 players on the game day roster, and the 46th guy doesn't have to be a third quarterback. How you see that being used?
A. By me, that's to be determined based on the 53-man roster and ultimately the 46 guys we choose to suit. But obviously, there are some common thoughts and themes going on out there – that the third quarterback will be an inactive player if teams choose to have three quarterbacks on their 53, and that last active jersey will provide an opportunity for a return specialist, for special teams phenoms or things of that nature. I see it just generally across the board being utilized in those areas – whether it be a specialist on special teams, a kickoff or punt returner where teams haven't had that luxury in the past, or maybe some kick coverage guy who doesn't fit into a position, a half-linebacker/half-safety kind of guy. Or maybe it turns out to be an offensive package guy, whether he's a wildcat quarterback or something of that nature. It's going to provide a great deal of flexibility, and I think it'll be very entertaining for the fans.
Q. Do you have to be more tolerant of mental errors this summer, because of no offseason program?
A. No. The standard is the standard, regardless of circumstance. I truly believe if you're consistent in that area, guys adjust and perform to it. I think our mental error tally sheets confirm that, because at practice there haven't been more than there are under normal circumstances.
Q. You have said consistently that Antonio Brown is highly-conditioned. What do you mean by that, and how can you tell?
A. He can run all day. He's running before practice, he runs all day during practice, he probably takes more repetitions than anyone at his position, and then he's one of the last guys to leave the practice field after it's over. It's a great character trait. Guys don't wilt when they're highly conditioned, their mental errors don't increase over the course of a bunch of snaps. And more important than anything else, that conditioning is allowing him to get the number of snaps necessary to improve technically, and he has done that.