HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN NOVEMBER 5, 2008
Coach Mike Tomlin:I guess I will start with a quick update on Ben and his situation. His injury stands as it has been in recent weeks; the MRI test that we ran on him on Monday; it is very similar but it is not the same as it has been. We are in a situation where we will see where it is from day-to-day like we have done. He hasn't practiced very much on Wednesday over the course of the season so we went out there and Byron threw; we will see where he is in the morning. Also, we re-signed Paul Ernster at punter. We feel like at this point he gives us the best option in that regard. We appreciate Mitch's (Berger) efforts but we decided to go in that direction at this time.
Does Byron Leftwich's performance in the second half influence whether he will play or not?
No, it won't. Byron understands his position here as well as anybody who has been in his position. He realizes that he is the backup quarterback; he is ready if called upon. That is the mentality that he has. I think that the unique thing about his situation is that he has been able to practice some on Wednesday's such as this and get some quality snaps that some people in his position don't get. Hopefully that helped him on Monday night; hopefully that will help him if he is called upon in the future.
Will rest help Ben get healthy?
I don't think that he is any more susceptible to injury than if he was given a clean bill of health. The answer to the question regarding health is maybe. I think that it is one of those injuries that is going to be better in the offseason like a lot of injuries that those guys have down in the locker room.
Why did you guys go a different direction at punter?
It is just that he gives us the best option at this time. We appreciate Mitch's efforts but quite honestly it wasn't up to snuff. We have experience with Paul; he lost a heavily contested battle with Mitch during training camp and in the pre-season. We have some continuity there with him; he has spent a bunch of time working with Jared (Retkofsky) our snapper, and has held some for Jeff (Reed). We feel like that transition has a chance to be real fluid.
Ben said that the second half will be better and that he has not played up to par:
Ben has his opinion, and if it is about helping us win and be better, then I concur. In terms of what we are going to do over the second half of the season and making predictions, that is not my thing. I am just focused on what we need to do against Indianapolis this week and specifically what we need to do today.
Troy (Polamalu) dinged his thumb in practice?
He tried to catch a Dennis Dixon ball, so he jammed himself up a little bit. He should be fine.
Can the decision on Ben go up to the last minute?
Ideally you do not like to do that, but we have done that this year. As a matter of fact we did that against Jacksonville. We may be in that situation again but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now I am just interested and excited to see what he potentially looks like in the morning, and then go from there. I am always going to be optimistic.
Have you talked to Ben about his play?
I have talked to Ben as recently as this morning regarding his play.
Given his competitiveness, does he play?
It really depends on where he is at the end of the week and is he capable of being Ben. If he is not, we will go with Byron.
Can you trust him in what he says with whether or not he can play?
I am going to do more than listen to him. We have medical people that provide quality opinions that we value. All of those things will be factors into the decision-making process. Really, this week's decision at this point is no different than the decisions that we have made in the last three, four, or five weeks in regards to his health.
Do you just let Dick LeBeau do what he wants with the defense?
It is a little bit of both; Dick LeBeau knows what he is doing but I have a job to do as well and I have opinions. It is less about who gets the credit and more about the quality of work that we put out there from my standpoint. I get involved in a little bit of everything that goes on.
Who do you give credit to for the sacks?
We have to give credit to the rushers, specifically 92 (James Harrison) and 56 (LaMarr Woodley). People are feeding off of their performances and they are feeding off of one another. At the same time, like I always say, you get sacks because of coverage as well. I think that the guys in the back end are doing an excellent job as well. I don't want to leave them out in terms of recognizing what we are doing in terms of putting pressure on the quarterback. They are playing at a high level as well; guys like Troy; guys like Ryan (Clark); guys like Ike (Taylor); and Bryant McFadden when he was healthy; and Deshea (Townsend) when he is healthy. They are doing a very nice job in the back end.
How is Willie Parker doing?
I think that he is going to be fine. Hopefully he can come in here and be ready to practice tomorrow; we didn't let him practice today. We will see where he is in the morning.
Does Byron having played twice a season against the Colts have an advantage for you?
I went back and looked at some of the games that he played in the past; he is familiar with those guys and what they do schematically. It is untold whether that would be an advantage to us at this point. I am pretty familiar with what they do too.
Do you have any other injury updates?
No, not at this point.
What was your reaction to Barack Obama winning the presidential election?
I don't have a reaction. I prefer to focus my efforts on football publically. I have an opinion but it is my private one.
Ernster will be the holder?
*What were your thoughts on how Mewelde Moore did returning kicks against Washington?
I thought that he did a nice job. We are a developing football team in the return game; both returning punts and kickoffs. It is good to have him back in that phase. Continuity is going to make us all better. We lost a little continuity when we had to take him off of that phase because of how much tailback he was playing. We are excited about getting him back out there and getting him some continuity with that group. He is still our red zone backup punt return decision maker; we like what he does in that regard. He does a lot of things for this football team.