LATROBE, Pa. – Mike Tomlin was wrong. He admits it. In fact, he's happy about it.
Back in April, in the immediate aftermath of making Maurkice Pouncey the team's first-round draft pick, Tomlin explained the plan for getting the player on the field. Tomlin said at the time that Pouncey would begin his career as a guard before eventually moving to center, because it's easier to take calls than make calls.
"He's proven me quite wrong in that area, which is good," said Tomlin. "It's better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed, and we're probably erring on the side of conservatism when we made that statement."
Pouncey continues to work at both guard and center, and Tomlin said that's not going to change, even though he took all of his repetitions at center during Monday's lone practice. Pouncey took some snaps with most of the first-team offense last Saturday night against the Lions, and he also was alternating with Justin Hartwig at that spot on Monday afternoon.
"We'll nail down a job for him at some point, but at this juncture he's been very impressive with how he's handled the responsibilities of playing both," said Tomlin.
The center position is the most complicated of any along the offensive line, because it requires an understanding of not only the offensive scheme but also a knowledge of what the defense is trying to do.
"You have to go out there and read defenses and make all the points for the guys," said Pouncey. "It takes a lot. I'm doing good right now. I need to get a lot better at it, I'm not going to lie to you. I'm on the right track."
Pouncey then gave a brief explanation of what a center might be looking for on a particular play. "The safety drop down, maybe a linebacker bumping over, maybe they have a nickel or dime in the game. You have to know all of that. It's a lot more difficult here (than it was at Florida)."
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There were a number of young guys who turned in nice performances in the preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, but now the issue becomes whether they can sustain that level and improve upon it. That's how the Steelers spent Monday morning.
"We spent this morning looking at the videotape and making corrections, reiterating the standard of expectation to some people," said Tomlin. "We got a lot of young guys in there learning how we do business, but not only that, learning how we do business under game conditions. That's a part of the process. I thought the tempo and energy this afternoon were good."
In his post-practice gathering with the media, Tomlin was pressed by the media about whether Dennis Dixon's performance against the Lions will earn him more practice time with the first-team, whether it will lead to more playing time with the first-team, and whether Tomlin is re-thinking his choice for a starting quarterback during Ben Roethlisberger's suspension.
"It's a nice start guys, that's all it was," said Tomlin. "He was productive, but half of that production came in the fourth quarter of the game, so we're not going to get carried away."
INJURY UPDATE: Said Tomlin, "Jonathan Dwyer did not practice due to a shoulder injury he sustained in the game. I can probably characterize him as day-to-day at this juncture. The same with Brett Keisel, with a calf injury. Dwayne Wright has an illness, but he should be fine in a few days. In terms of our first preseason game, from an injury standpoint, we came out pretty clean."