STEELERS vs COLTS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2008 KICKOFF -- 4:15 P.M. STEELERS CONFERENCE CALLS VS. COLTS
HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
on what WR-Hines Ward means to the team and what he's all about)
"Hines plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He's just a football player first, a wide receiver second. There's no question that we feed off his energy and enthusiasm and genuine love for the game. He's a good leader and good veteran player for us."
*(on the quarterback situation)
"Really we're no different than we have been any other Wednesday here in the last month or so. Ben's not going to practice today. Byron's going to take snaps, and as we proceed during the week hopefully Ben gets better, and if he does, he'll be our QB. I don't want to make more out of it than what it is. It's just how it's been."
* *(on Bryon Leftwich giving people confidence that he can do it)
"No question he came in and delivered for us. We have a great deal of respect for what he's capable of doing. We competed against him as an organization in the past as well, when he was in Jacksonville. Just a great opportunity for him to step up and deliver for his teammates, and we're glad he's capable of doing it."
* *(on how similar safeties Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders are)
"I think they're similar in that when you turn the tape on, they're arguably the fastest people on the tape. They really play with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm and I think the people that play with them feed off of that. I think that's what makes them who they are as players."
* *(on how important Polamalu is to their scheme and if he has freedom to roam in the defensive backfield)
"He's a very important part of what we do because he has what you can't coach. He has great instincts. He trusts them. He's a splash playmaker. We need his kind of effort."
* *(on Polamalu and Sanders being freaks of nature) "I would agree with it, but I'd also say that a lot of times people underestimate what those kind of people and those two guys, particularly, are willing to do to prepare themselves to play. It's not all instincts. Those guys are professionals. They work extremely hard at what it is they do and they prepare themselves to perform."
*(on the importance of the safety position today compared to what it was years ago)
"Those guys are asked to do so much in today's NFL. They're not one-dimensional players. The strong safety is not a box player. The free safety is not a hole player. If you're going to be good defensively, those guys have to have a bunch of skill sets to be capable to do a lot of things, whether it's playing half field or center field or asserting into the box and being the eighth run defender. Today's NFL safeties have to be complete players in that regard."
* (on Polamalu's personality)
"Troy's not as quiet as you think among his peers, particularly in the locker room. He's well-liked. He's got a great personality. I think he just would prefer to kind of move under the radar if you will. He's not interested in being famous."
* *(on Tony Dungy saying there was never a doubt that Tomlin would be a success)
"It means everything to me. Coach has been a mentor to me, no doubt. He sets the standards for guys like myself that are trying to make our way in this business. It's just knowledge being associated with him."
(on being a more balanced offensive team than some might think)
"I still think we're developing our personality as a football team. Meanwhile, we're just trying to do what it takes on a week in and week out basis for us to win. I think it's becoming evident that we have some receivers that are capable of providing splash plays, but ultimately, if we're going to be the kind of team that we want to be, we have to be able to win a variety of ways. I think that's what we're really focusing on as we go forward."
*WIDE RECEIVER HINES WARD
* (on how his season is going)
"The season's going well. We're 6-2. I'm doing all I can when the opportunity presents itself. I continue making plays for my team."
* *(on being a complete wide receiver, not just catching passes)
"In this offense, being a wide receiver, you're not going to get many opportunities here because we don't go out and sling the ball around unless we have to, unless we're behind or what not. When the opportunity presents itself in the passing game, you have to step up and make plays. And being that we run the ball so much, the receivers here are counted on to be run blockers as well. Our job is to make sure we take care of the eighth defender in the box, regardless if it's a safety or linebacker, whoever it is. That's our job here for the Pittsburgh Steelers. For me, I just take great pride in being an overall wide receiver, not only a guy that can catch the ball, catch touchdowns, but at the same time block as well, because I'm trying to win the Super Bowl."
* *(on delivering a big block on Cincinnati LB-Keith Rivers and there not being anything wrong with it, it's just football)
"It's not. It is football. I didn't go out and deliver it and say I'm going to break the guy's jaw. It was just an unfortunate incident. I don't even think he had a mouthpiece in, so maybe that was the reason for what caused the jaw to be broken. But this is a violent game, it's a physical game, no question. I just take a different approach because I know if I go across the middle, those guys aren't going to tackle me softly. I just take a different approach: 'I'm going to try to hit you before you hit me.'"
* *(on safeties always apologizing when they hit him hard)
"Exactly. When I go to catch, I don't get any apologies when they hit me. It's a part of football. I just take a different approach than some of the receivers in the NFL."
on being impressed with QB-Byron Leftwich and if he thinks both he and Ben Roethlisberger can get the job done)
"I think so. I think Byron will earn the respect from the guys. Coming off the bench, signing on with the team late and trying to learn the offense, you can't ask more out of Byron, what he's done in trying to help this team. And guys who played against him, he was our nemesis for a while, so he's proven that he can get the job done. Ben's a warrior. He's going to go out there and fight. Whoever's in the game, either Ben or Byron, we feel confident that both quarterbacks can go out there and get the job done. And we're in a fortunate situation to have two great quarterbacks like that, where a lot of teams don't really have a backup as capable as Byron to go out there and lead the team. So he definitely earned his stripes last week when we won over Washington, and when the backup comes in, guys just go out there and try to elevate their game more to try to go out there and make more plays for him."
* *(on Byron Leftwich throwing a hard ball)
"There's no question he throws a hard ball, but at the same time he has touch on it. He knows when to throw it hard or to put some touch on it. But like I said, to come in off the bench, really not getting a lot of reps at practice, and to go out there and lead us to victory in the second half really talks about what quality type of character and type of player Byron is."
* *(on if he reflects back through his career, and how lucky he's been to have the type of career he has)
"Each and every Sunday I'm blessed to be able to put on a uniform and play. For me to achieve all the records here in Steelers history, being a wide receiver, having my name mentioned with the likes of (Lynn) Swann and (John) Stallworth, that's just a big honor itself. To be in my 11th year, it's definitely a big honor to be able to make it in this league that long when nobody really ever gave me a chance to say that I could last this long in the league. So I'm definitely going out there, that's why I'm always smiling. I'm enjoying each and every Sunday I get a chance to play on in the NFL."
on how much energy S-Troy Polamalu brings to the team)
"He's definitely a playmaker. Right before the game I'm always telling him, 'We need at least two or three big plays out of you to really spark the whole team.' He's a quiet leader. He's not a vocal guy on the team, but he's giving 110 percent effort every time he's out on the field. And he's a great student of the game. He's constantly over there talking with receivers, 'What is this guy trying to do if he's doing this?' He's just consistently continuing to get better and better, and that's a scary thought, because he really hasn't matched the potential of what he's playing. I mean, he's playing at a high level and he's still learning the game of football. (He's) definitely one of the top three safeties in the league. Each and every Sunday, you just see him popping up. He's creating havoc in the backfield for opposing quarterbacks. He's definitely one of the heart-and-soul players on our defense and on our team because he gets things going. Especially when we need somebody to make a play, he's usually always around the ball."
* *(on Polamalu not being a rah-rah guy)
"No, he's not. It's like when he lets the hair down, it's a transformation to the Tazmanian Devil. When he lets his hair down, he's that guy. But you take the helmet off, he's got his hair pulled back and he's just a soft-spoken, well-rounded guy. He's very religious. He goes out each and every day. He's one of the locker room favorites. He's a quiet prankster. He loves to play jokes and stuff like that. He's definitely a great ball player, one of our top guys in the league."
*(on if Polamalu opens up more when you get to know him)
"He opens up. He's definitely a prankster. He's pulled a couple of pranks on me. In preseason he gave me a water bottle and was like, 'Man, you've got to taste this Gatorade.' And he loosened the top and I tried to squeeze it in my mouth and the whole Gatorade fell on my face. You wouldn't think of it from a guy like that. He can get a lot of guys because he's so soft-spoken. He's definitely one of those prankster guys."
* *(on Polamalu not talking much)
"He talks, but he's just a subtle, soft-spoken guy. He's not one to rah-rah, get the whole team going and stuff like that. He's not that, but his presence on the field when he's running around, he's making plays, guys feed off that and makes them go out there and want to give the same effort."