- Starting strong:The Steelers 0-4 start in 2013 is one that the team has put behind them, but at the same time highlights the importance of a fast start. The Steelers finished off the season with three straight wins, but were left out of the playoff picture after not being able to fully dig out of the early hole. Coach Mike Tomlin hopes that the players didn't need that start as a reminder of how important a fast start is.
"I hope that point already hit home," said Tomlin. "I don't like to be reactionary in my thinking. I don't need a 0-4 start to let me know how significant good starts are. They are significant. I'll proceed with the same mentality that I have throughout the course of my career, not only here but prior to being here."
Room to grow:** Rookie Ryan Shazier will get the start at left inside linebacker, but while he is ready for the role it doesn't mean he doesn't have plenty of room to grow.
"He is a young guy," said Tomlin. "He will be better in two weeks than he is today. I think that's one of the points you continue to reiterate to young players, not only him but it is a significant point in the journey when we move from preseason to regular season. He is by no means a finished product; we are by no means a finished product. He has an opportunity to get better on a day-to-day basis when he comes into this building as we do collectively. I think us collectively is going to have a lot to do with guys like him."
- Carrying the load: The first week of the NFL season means some roles still need to be ironed out, but Tomlin was definitive in some areas, including running back where he thinks Le'Veon Bell is capable of handling the pounding of 20-25 carries a game.
"I think he is," said Tomlin. "I think he had 380 (carries) his last year at Michigan State. I think we drafted him with that in mind."
Tomlin also said he plans on using receiver Antonio Brown in the punt return game, along with rookie Dri Archer. Tomlin said he has no concerns about using Brown in that role.
"I don't live in my fears," said Tomlin. "He is a Pro Bowl caliber return man. That is what you do with those guys, you play them."
Check out photos of the Steelers' current 53 man roster.
Time will tell:** As for several other players, Tomlin said time and circumstances will dictate what their roles will be, including the potential of rotating in outside linebacker Arthur Moats.
"He is capable, how we're getting off the field will dictate that," said Tomlin. "Fresh bodies are the best bodies, particularly if they are capable of being reasons why we win. We believe he is. We will let the game circumstances dictate the usage."
How he will use Brett Keisel down the road also is expected to play out as the veteran defensive end gets more snaps. Keisel has played in only one preseason game, but was in good shape when he signed back with the team in late August.
"I still think we are just getting a sense of what Brett is capable of from a snap standpoint and that will have a lot to do with his utilization in the game, along with the performance of others," said Tomlin. "I think that is just growing organically. I am not opposed to it growing in any direction and I am sure Brett is not opposed to it growing particularly if it means him playing more than he played last week. He is going to be an asset to us and I just look forward to continuing to watch him round himself into form."