Hearing from Coach Mike Tomlin

On Pouncey, good coaching, the bus ride to Canton

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Throughout the 2010 NFL season, Coach Mike Tomlin will provide his insight and observations to Steelers.com on a variety of topics pertaining to the team and the National Football League.

Q. Was Maurkice Pouncey's value obvious from the time he stepped onto the practice field for OTAs in the spring?

A. Not really in the OTAs, because I'm really not a big proponent of football in shorts. But when he stepped into the huddle in Latrobe and was carrying his pads the way he does, it was obvious he was going to be a really good player really quickly.

Q. What was it that you saw about Maurkice Pouncey at camp that made you think he could play away?

A. Consistency in performance. Not over a number of weeks, but simply over the course of a week. I don't think many people understand the number of opportunities a young man gets over the course of a week in a training camp setting to prove they belong or are capable. The opportunities are many, and over the course of four or five days of full-padded work with very little dip in performance, you knew that was a window into potentially what this guy was capable of being this year.

Q. You're not a coach who throws a lot of praise at rookies, but you've always been complimentary of Pouncey. Why is that?

A. He has been consistently better than any other rookie I've been around. Ever. I'm a straight shooter. I've always been that. I call it how I see it. If praise or recognition is deserving, I'm willing to do it, even if it's grudgingly. It's deserving in this instance.

Q. As a coach yourself, what do you consider good coaching?

A. Providing your guys with what they need to be successful in any and all circumstances. It's just that. It's not about ideas. It's not about being on the cutting edge schematically. It's making sure your guys are in the frame of mind and have the ability to perform and perform at a high level. Individually and collectively.

Q. How do you know what an individual needs, or what the team might need?

A. Some of it's innate. Some of it's also learned over time. But many of the things, particularly when you're talking about bringing out the best in people individually, is innate.

Q. What about the bus ride to Canton?

A. It was the right thing to do on so many fronts. It was an opportunity for us to support a man we all love and admire in Dick LeBeau, but it was also an opportunity to go to Canton, Ohio, and to appreciate the game of football. The history of the game of football, and the men who were being recognized for doing it at an extremely high level. I just thought it was an educational field trip for a football team that was worth the potential risk of adding another road trip to the group, because that's essentially what we did.

Q. Does your job change at all from the regular season to the playoffs?

A. My job continually changes. It really does, to meet the needs of the moment. The moments are heightened and change in playoff football, and I have to be understanding of that and light on my feet. Different guys, individually and collectively, deal with the stress or the urgencies of single-elimination football differently. I've got to have a pulse of individuals and of the group to provide them with what they need to do the job in the midst of all that.

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