Tomlin expounds on Ben's injury, Boswell

It has happened in the past, where Coach Mike Tomlin has begun his weekly news conference with an update/explanation of a significant issue that arose before, during, or after the most recent game.

Today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Tomlin did that again, with the two topics he chose being the rib injury to Ben Roethlisberger during the game against the Raiders and how and why the team handled things as it did in the immediate aftermath.

He also addressed the situation regarding Chris Boswell. In addition to what Tomlin said in the opening to his news conference, which is presented below in its entirety, he also explained that the Steelers will be holding tryouts for placekickers this week and that those tryouts would include Boswell.

Here is how Mike Tomlin opened his news conference today:

“I want to talk about a few specific things, because I understand some of it has been bounced around since our last performance. First, regarding Ben’s health, what transpired during halftime, and subsequently after that:

“Ben sustained the injury at the end of the first half. We went in at halftime, he needed to be evaluated, X-ray was a part of that. Getting the X-ray executed was not a fluid thing, and often it’s not a fluid thing, with new and unfamiliar venues and things of that nature. Ben was accompanied by our medical staff and Kevin Colbert, our General Manager. They went through their procedures, and even after getting the X-ray, we didn’t have great clarity. We weren’t able to read the X-ray to our satisfaction, and it was probably a dated piece of equipment. So we never had a complete understanding of specifically what the injury was at the stadium site. Nevertheless, our medical staff, doing their due diligence, treated him to the best of their abilities, medicated him, and then we took the group back onto the field not knowing whether he was going to be available or not.

“We’ve been in this situation before, because Ben has been our quarterback for a long time, and really we followed a similar template that transpired in Cincinnati in the 2015 playoffs. Because of the lack of information, we thought the best thing to do, the most prudent thing to do would be to only make Ben available in an emergency situation, which is exactly what we did (in the 2015 AFC Wild Card Game) in Cincinnati several years ago. Obviously he has to be a willing participant in that, the doctors have got to get to a level of comfort (while) acknowledging that level of comfort is including a lack of clarity in some instances because the X-ray was not clearly readable.

“Ben has been with us a long time. He does a great job of communicating. We all do. We have continuity in that regard. We did a great job of communicating throughout. Once they came back out onto the field, I continued to communicate with Ben to see the effectiveness of the medication, to see how he felt he would be able to perform in terms of function and being able to do the things he needed to do.

“We continued to talk about it, and while talking about it, the game is going on. We said that because of a lack of (medical) information and the situation not being a comfortable or ideal one, we said we would only re-insert him into the game if we felt it was necessary. As the game unfolded, it became necessary. We did (re-insert him). We really appreciate what he was able to do and the effort that he was able to provide to give us a chance. It didn’t end in the way that we would like, but that is just an outline of what transpired.

“Again, like I mentioned, it’s really the same template that transpired in Cincinnati (in 2015) when we had him getting X-rays and being evaluated in unfamiliar territory. Kevin Colbert was included in that dialogue as well, and we came to the same subsequent decisions for the same reasons. When you have a lack of information, you better move and move prudently, and we did, but we’re also committed to playing and playing to win because this is professional football. When we got to that point in the road, we decided to re-insert him into the game, and he performed and gave us an extraordinary effort.

“Another thing I didn’t talk quite a bit about after the game was Chris Boswell. And that question has been brought up repeatedly and appropriately so. Here’s our position as we push into this next opportunity:

“We acknowledge that Chris has struggled, and we acknowledge that Chris has struggled to find consistent footing. We’re willing to explore options that give us the very best chances of that ball going through the uprights this weekend. That being said, those options include Chris. This time of year, we’re cognizant of what’s available. The prudent approach is to include Chris in those options, and that’s what we intend to do.

“His performance merits us turning stones over and looking at our options, but the easy decision for us is to assign blame or to shoot a hostage, or to do things of that nature regarding Boswell. That’s not our intention. We want to do what’s right for our football team. What’s right for our football team is to ensure that we give us the very best chance of winning and that ball going through the uprights this weekend, and so we’re looking at all options available to us, including Chris.

“That has been relayed to him. He’ll be given an opportunity to play his way into this thing this weekend, and we’ll go as I just outlined. That is the approach that we intend to take.”

TOMLIN’S INJURY UPDATE
“We got Ben evaluated when we got back to Pittsburgh. He has several rib contusions, and that will be addressed throughout the week. We anticipate him being available to us. Pain management through the week will probably be the storyline in terms of what he’s able to do from a physical preparation standpoint. But Ben has played a lot of football, and we have been in this situation with him a lot. We’ll walk that tightrope and go into the stadium with no excuses there. James Conner, with his ankle injury, had a really impressive week last week. We’ll see what this week holds, and his availability will be based on his health and then his preparedness. We’ll see about his availability throughout the course of the week and let his availability and then the quality of that be our guide. The same for Marcus Gilbert.”

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