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Labriola On

'Keeping it simple' a motto for preseason opener

LATROBE, Pa. – It's the preseason opener, this game on Thursday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia, and that means several things:

"There always is a lot of excitement," said Coach Mike Tomlin during today's news conference at Saint Vincent College. "There always is a lot of angst, because it is a first time for many of these guys in a professional setting."

There's that, and also this:

The outcome of the game won't count in the standings, but that doesn't mean the game isn't important. There will be no game plan formulated and implemented, because the opponent doesn't really matter. There will be no attempt to win with trickery. There will be no attempt to help players with schemes. There will be none of that, because a preseason opener is to evaluate individual players' worthiness for a career in professional football.

"We'll be thoughtful about what we want to see from them, and what we really want to see from them are the things we really emphasized in competitive situations here on campus. Fundamental things," said Tomlin. "We want to see good pad level. We want to see good hand usage. We want to see good tackling. We want to see good ball security on the offensive side. We want to see good awareness on the defensive side. We want to see the guys display a good understanding of the rules changes, particularly on special teams and the points of emphasis. We spent a good bit of time working in those areas."

"If we show solid effort in those areas, I think it will be a pleasing performance."

In the recent past, Tomlin's procedure has been to keep many of the team's front-line players on the sideline for the preseason opener. He didn't go into detail regarding whether that again would be the case, but he did say this about his plan for the four quarterbacks:

"I haven't determined how I'm going to use them in totality, outside of the fact Ben (Roethlisberger) will not play."

"We haven't solidified any particular play-or-no-play or number of reps. It's safe to assume that some of the guys who have missed time because of injury will not be playing in this game. Guys like Vance McDonald and Bud Dupree and Antonio Brown and T.J. Watt probably will not participate in the game. Largely we want to leave the light on for as many guys as possible, (including) those who are experiencing the soft tissue or day-to-day injuries. I don't want to cross those guys off. You don't have to at this time of the year."