On the Canton turf, Hartley, rules football

Coach Mike Tomlin talked about a variety of things in advance of the Steelers' game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville:

Q. After Tuesday's practice, the first one the team had following the loss in the Hall of Fame Game, you said you were pleased. What did you like about the session?

The Pittsburgh Steelers return to training camp practice at Saint Vincent College following their appearance in the NFL/Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio

A. Just the general energy and enthusiasm. We spent the morning evaluating the game video and analyzing that, and I thought the guys came out ready to take a next step. Once you've been in a stadium, you answer some of the mystical questions about the development of the group, but more important than that, it gives you big-time direction about how you move forward. So we spent the morning analyzing the video, and the guys were energized about having that direction about how we move forward and they displayed it with their energy and play at practice.

Q. What did that Tuesday session tell you about the group?

A. I try not to paint with a broad brush. It just showed me they were ready to attack this week's challenges, and ultimately you measure this week's success on how we play in the game. I'll reserve judgment, but I do like the mode in which they're attacking. I think it's a window into the type of group they're capable of being. When you get into the regular season, Wednesdays are a big day, and you want a group that comes in on Wednesdays energized and ready to go, because you lay a foundation upon which you build the rest of the week.

Q. Do you think the condition of the playing surface in Canton contributed to the knee injuries sustained by Cameron Stingily and Shaun Suisham?

A. I don't spend a lot of time analyzing injuries in that way. I acknowledge that injuries are a part of the game, and maybe the surface was sub-standard, but injuries are as much a part of football as blocking and tackling. It's about how we respond to it and move forward that I generally concern myself with, not only in terms of the guy who is injured and how he attacks rehabilitation, but as a football team how we close ranks and continue to progress.

Q. What do you like about your new placekicker, Garrett Hartley?

A. That he's a battle-tested NFL veteran. He has kicked in big games, so that's not foreign to him. He's got a nice demeanor to him, and he performed very well at our tryout.

Q. Did you go to the Tuesday morning tryout for the kicking job?

A. Yes.


Q. Is there any way to put stress on those guys in that situation to make it more difficult than a controlled practice situation?**

A. There are ways, and I do utilize them. But it's not out of the ordinary in terms of some of the things you might see me do at a training camp practice. I move around in their personal space. I engage them in conversation and ask them questions as they're trying to prepare themselves. I give them an indication of what it is we're going to do and then change the script mid-stream to see their willingness and ability to adjust.

Q. Any game-planning for the Jaguars tonight?

A. Not a lot. At this juncture of development, it's more about playing rules football and getting a sense that the guys are capable of reading keys and playing. Playing blind, if you will. We want to see who can analyze formation rules and play rules football in an unprepared kind of way. It's very fundamental in its approach, and I think that's important at this time.

Q. Rules football. How would you explain that to a civilian?

A. During the course of the regular season, you spend six days preparing for the seventh day, and so you end up knowing a lot about your opponent. Personnel, personnel characteristics, situational characteristics, formation characteristics. All of that is done to reduce the possibilities of things you might see and anticipate what they might run in order to put you in a position to execute. This time of year, those things are less important than what it is you're doing and how it is you do it. From that standpoint, I say we play rules football in that we're going to make calls and we're going to live by the rules of those calls based on what it is we see.

Q. So it's based more on athletic ability and the ability to adjust on the fly?

A. And who knows football. Who knows the techniques. Who knows how to key and look at what they're supposed to look at. It's a good barometer of their fundamentals.

Q. Be where you're supposed to be, and see what you're supposed to see?

A. Absolutely.


Q. You have said that "young guys freeze up sometimes." How do you know if that's a fatal flaw, or something that can be cured?**

A. Time tells the story. I joked about Lawrence Timmons' poor performance in the 2007 Hall of Fame Game, and he has overcome that. But there were some men who played poorly in that game whose names you don't know, who didn't overcome it. There's two sides to that coin. The guys need to know, more than anything, that they can move on past that negativity.

Q. Did Landry Jones take a step forward in the game against the Vikings?

A. I thought he did, particularly in the first half. There were a lot of positive things done by him and the offense in that half, and in some instances he didn't get the necessary support that you would like, in terms of taking care of the football, and securing the football. But there were some nice things from him, particularly in the first half. I thought it waned a little bit as the game went on.

Q. In the second quarter, trailing by 7-3 and with a second-and-goal from the 1-yard line you had Landry Jones attempt three straight passes. Was that to test him in a situational football setting?

A. It's a big part of the evaluation process to put a guy in situations that highlight his playmaking skills and his ability to deliver. To his credit in those instances, even though we didn't convert, he put the ball in catchable positions in three out of three downs, and that's what you look for from a quarterback standpoint.

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