STEELERS vs. CHARGERS
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2009 AT HEINZ FIELD KICKOFF 4:45 P.M. Head Coach Mike Tomlin - Thursday, Jan 8
Ryan Clark, how's he doing?
He appears to be fine. Of course he hasn't hit anybody this week, but we are all systems go with Ryan. He's playing, so he's 100 percent.
How do things change with a one-and-done elimination situation? Does it change preparation?
It really doesn't. I have a one-and-done mentality during the regular season. That's just the way we approach this thing. For me it's no different.
Has the week seemed longer? What is the anticipation like?
It hasn't. I enjoy the process that is required to prepare to play. For me I was excited about Thursday practice. We had a chance to get better than the Wednesday practice. I am excited about tomorrow. Tomorrow we have some situational football. I enjoy the process. Preseason, regular season, postseason, it's all the same to me.
Have you seen practice improve over the week?
I thought today was better than yesterday. Nothing wrong with the energy and enthusiasm. I thought the quality of the detail was the best it's been all week today.
Can you compare the film of the Chargers from now than from before?
They are finding ways to finish games. The film really isn't very different. They've got quality coaches. They got all-star, Pro Bowl caliber players. They are a good team. They've found a way to finish games when their backs against the wall. That's a sign of a good team. We respected these guys the first time we played them. We narrowly escaped with a victory. Really we have the same level of respect for them now as we did then.
*How's Ben now that he has practice?
Have you seen players approach LaMarr Woodley differently in the last eight games as opposed to the first, specifically because he hasn't had as many sacks?
I really have not. Sacks are really just that. They are not a measure of performance for an individual or for a unit for that matter. A lot is dictated by someone's ability to create and get sacks. The speed of which the ball comes out being one of them. There are so many things that are outside the control of a player from that standpoint. What we ask from him and what we ask from everybody is to put the pressure and he has provided that. There has been no difference in his performance, whatsoever from my standpoint. Production yes, in terms of sacks, but he is playing well. He's playing at a high level.
Is there any way to train the body for the cold? Is the weather going to be a factor?
Weather is not going to be an issue. We are in a divisional round of playoffs. If anybody is concerned about the cold there is a strong chance they're going to go home.
*Is the chess match fun, what worked last time you might get away from because they expect it? Is that the fun part of preparation?
I think it always is. Not only because we play them twice in a season, but from a coach's standpoint you know who Norv Turner is. I have played Norv Turner in probably three cities Norv has been in. It's a Norv Turner week for me as a coach. That is what makes our job exciting. It never is going to be the same. It never is. But from a coaches standpoint you like that reference of match-ups and things that have happened in the past when you pit you wits against another well-coached football team.
Has he changed with his personnel, in Oakland and Washington?
I think we all do to a degree. That is part of coaching. But the core beliefs, whatever they are, show through regardless of location.
How would you identify a Norv Turner football team?
Pre-snap shifts and motions; power running game; Play-action pass.
San Diego's punter (Mike Scifres) had a great game last week. Last year you scored a touchdown on a kickoff return. How important will special teams be?
What happened last year is irrelevant now, what their punter is doing now is relevant. He is a heck of a player. He had a big game last week. No question the field position battle is going to be big in this game. They have stellar all-star players in their special teams unit. Not only the punter, but (Darren) Sproles is a duel return man. (Kassim) Osgood, their big wide receiver, is special as a special team's player. They are very good and are well-coached in that area. We'll be challenged in that area, but I think it's one our guys embrace. I know the core guys in our special teams unit have taken it personal this year to be a reason that we win and have done a good job thus far. It should be exciting this weekend.
What have you learned about Dick LeBeau working with him?
He is a better guy than he is a coach and that is saying a lot.