The Steelers resumed OTAs on Tuesday, practicing inside at their UPMC Sports Performance Complex because of rain.
Following the first session since mini-camp Coach Mike Tomlin addressed some of the hot topics. Here is what Coach Tomlin had to say.
Tomlin: "Sunny or not, indoors or out, it's good to be back at work particularly with some of our draft picks and free agents, some of the young men we haven't seen here in a couple of weeks. It was a productive day from that standpoint. But really it's just about moving forward and getting a little better every day, having a little bit better detail in regards to work every day, a little bit better display of conditioning on a daily basis. It was a good start today.
Are there any injuries of note to report?Tomlin: There are no injuries to speak of. Hines (Ward) is progressing well with the hamstring injury he sustained in mini-camp. He is running a little bit, getting treatment. I expect him to continue to get better and join us at some point.
Why wasn't Troy Polamalu here today?
Tomlin: I tend to focus on the guys that are here. That is probably a good approach to have with voluntary offseason conditioning and work. As a coach you can be a miserable person worrying about the ones that aren't. You can have a productive day when you are focused on the ones that are and I tend to do that.
Why did Byron Leftwich run with the first team?Tomlin: There are going to be opportunities to work with the first group for all three guys. Byron has gotten the bulk of the work to this point, I will acknowledge that.
Do you plan on knowing the starter before the end of OTAs?
Tomlin: I won't necessarily know who the starter is by the end of the OTA. I did make a comment last week in regard to how I am approaching it. This is how I intend to approach it. I don't believe it's an effective approach to go in with an open quarterback competition, a three-headed quarterback battle. There simply aren't enough snaps to go around. We'll go in with a pecking order and the opportunities to show what you are capable of will be based on that pecking order. All three guys will be given an opportunity, not an equal opportunity, and that's just the nature of this game and this business. I'll make those judgments based on the intuition and knowledge I have of the men at an appropriate time and we'll proceed. They will understand that and we will move forward.
Would it be different if there were only two quarterbacks?Tomlin: I just think in general it's good to go in with a pecking order in your mind. It's good information for the men in terms of where they are, It's good information for a football team. I think it's the appropriate way to approach it. I can't think of any pure three-headed quarterback battles that worked out favorably in recent history or long tern history in the National Football League.
Do you apply that to other positions?Tomlin: I really think it's exclusive to the position of quarterback, the divvying of snaps, leadership, the things the team needs to know that is critical at that position and that is the approach I am taking.
Will you take all four quarterbacks to camp?Tomlin: Absolutely. Yes.
Do you expect to see Ben Roethlisberger during OTAs?Tomlin: I am going to wait for word from New York like everyone else and I am not going to speculate until I get that word.
Have you talked to Ben about work?Tomlin: I have talked to Ben quite frequently about a myriad of things.
So you don't know if he will be here and is it important that he be here?Tomlin: I don't have any idea because I am not the decision maker. I could speculate, but that would be fruitless. It is important that you work, that's why we work. How important it is is based on the individual. He is a veteran player; he has been entrenched in this system for quite some time. I would imagine it's less critical for him than others. Time will tell.
What are the rules, can you talk to him? Tomlin: He can't participate in official offseason activities, which is OTAs, meetings and such.
Is Thaddeus Gibson not here because of Ohio State's school schedule?Tomlin: He is a quarter school guy. They are not allowed to participate in the offseason until the work at their individual institution is done. He is in school himself, so it's critical he finishes what he started. There will be plenty of time for him to get acclimated. Will it require some catch-up? Will he be behind? Yes, in the short term but that is just short term misery. If he is committed in the long term it will be less of an issue.
How many of the receiver positions does Antwaan Randle El know?
Tomlin: One of the attractive things about a veteran player like Antwaan Randle El or Arnaz Battle is position flexibility, the ability to execute at a high level at multiple positions. Both guys provide that for us. Both guys have been and will continue to be challenged in that area.
It looks like Byron Leftwich has slimmed downTomlin: He has been like that since he came back from Tampa. I guess that Florida sunshine will do that to you.
LaMarr Woodley is entering the last year of his contract, and with the uncapped year ahead it could be an issue. Do you have any concerns about his focus?Tomlin: One of the attractive things about LaMarr Woodley is he is a football first guy. Very rarely is he distracted by things other than the game when he is in a professional environment, when he is preparing himself and when he is playing. That is part of being a professional athlete particularly in today's NFL with the uncertainty regarding labor. One thing I know is he has a contract for 2010, he is committed to working for 2010 and that is our mentality.