LATROBE, Pa. – The same plan executed by different people should make for an improved result. At least that's the idea when the Steelers play their second of five preseason games, against the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Friday night.
"We're taking a very similar approach to this game that we took to the Hall of Fame game in terms of preparation, menu, in terms of what we're asking the guys to do," said Coach Mike Tomlin during his Wednesday news conference. "This is going to be an awesome opportunity. Some of the things we talk about with our guys regarding preparation are no longer hypothetical things. They've been in a stadium. They've played. We've evaluated it. Hopefully we've made necessary adjustments, and we can see their ability to make those adjustments and move forward and continue this growth process that is the preseason.
"Particularly for a number of the young guys, it's going to be interesting to see how they respond to some of the corrections made, and some of the attention to detail things that were pointed out based on our last performance, which was a negative one in some instances. That can be part of this process. I'm excited to see how many of those guys respond to it."
There will be all of that to watch in Everbank Stadium, and there also will be this: as Bill Cowher once said before a preseason game, "The starters will start."
Tomlin put it this way: "Our intention is that all healthy men are going to play in the football game."
As for the quarterbacks, Tomlin predicted Ben Roethlisberger will get 10-12 snaps. He also said Landry Jones will play, Tyler Murphy will play, and Tajh Boyd "is going to get an opportunity in some form or fashion."
In addition to Roethlisberger, some of the "healthy men" who didn't participate in Canton included Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, James Harrison, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Maurkice Pouncey. To put it another way, the Steelers varsity will play against the Jaguars.
"How much they'll play will be determined positionally, not only in terms of what some of the established guys need to see, but also in terms of the quality and depth behind them," said Tomlin. "We'll make those determinations at the 11th hour to give all the guys, who are partial participants or nursing some of the minor injuries that are associated with training camp and the preseason, an opportunity to participate in the game."
Listed by Tomlin as officially out of Friday's game are Robert Golden, Dan McCullers, Ross Ventrone, Vince Williams, Bruce Gradkowski, Mike Adams, Senquez Golson, Cameron Stingily, and Shaun Suisham. Stingily and Suisham were in the process of having knee operations in the same time frame as Tomlin's news conference and there had been no updates on how those surgeries went. Suisham, who was scheduled for ACL surgery on his left knee, is expected to be placed on the injured reserve list.
Rookie cornerback Doran Grant, the team's No. 4 pick in the most recent draft, played against the Vikings, but only on special teams. Tomlin explained that decision and the plans for Grant in Jacksonville.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison returns to practice at Saint Vincent College.
"We like the work that he's done. He came into training camp ready to go," said Tomlin. "He's shown great intensity. We wanted him to focus on a lot of special teams work in that first game. We've got five preseason games, and we're going to utilize them. He was able to focus solely on special teams in the first game. He played extensively, probably more than anyone else in that area. In the next game, we'll let him participate on special teams and defense. With four preseason games to go, he's going to have an opportunity to show what he's capable of."
Showing what they're capable of is the purpose of the preseason for the younger, inexperienced players in camp who are fighting for roster spots. Tomlin was asked what kind of adjustments he will be expecting from the guys in that group from their first preseason game to their second.
"You know, like catch the ball," said Tomlin. "Basic football things. Some of the younger guys freeze up sometimes. That's part of the process. I was talking to the young guys the other day and I meant it, I would have liked to have shown them a cut-up of Lawrence Timmons' (performance in the) Hall of Fame game from 2007. It was pretty ugly. It provides a window and a ray of light, if you will, for those who are mentally weak enough to need it. It is just how it goes. Some starts are better than others. Regardless of how you start is not going to define you, and I just use Lawrence as an example of that."