STEELERS HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLINMINI-CAMP PRACTICE MAY 4, 2008
That was the end of what was a very productive weekend for us. We got some great work done and we got a great start looking at the makings of our '08 football team.
Ben (Roethlisberger) was back. Was that unexpected?
No, I wasn't sure but I told you rather than have you ask me today why he wasn't here.
How about his hat?
That is a tradition that we like to do on the last day of camp, have a hat day. It has been the culmination of a very good weekend and it is a little reward for the work that they have done. Also it takes a little edge off of that last practice because you hate for guys to get through four practices in 48 hours and then have something happen from the injury standpoint as you leave town. So it serves multiple purposes from my standpoint.
Did you get through the weekend ok injury wise?
Yeah. Of course you are aware of Rashard's (Mendenhall) injury and situation but the rest of them were pre-existing injuries; guys who didn't participate like Hines (Ward) and Aaron (Smith). No worse for the wear for how we performed this weekend.
Is (Troy) Polamalu's injury a concern?
No, they all need it. He will never get to the point where you don't need to sharper your sword or practice your craft if you will. That's nothing new. We knew that would be the case coming out of the surgery and that's something we will deal with him coming back. Those things always occur in football and it is a part of it. It is short-term misery if you will. Sometimes we have to deal with short-term issues because the prize comes this fall.
How long until Rashard (Mendenhall) will be back?
None of those guys can be back here until May 16th because of the guidelines that we have with the NCAA. We will see where he is when he comes back and hopefully he will be ready to go. All indications are at this point that he will.
Can you talk about the other draft picks?
They are all lost. They don't have a clue. I say that smiling because that makes them normal. They come in here on a weekend and they get a playbook thrown at them and they are competing against the best players in the world at what it is they do. It is happening fast; it is too early to tell. I like their spirit, I like their attitude, and I like the way that they are approaching it. It appears to be a very humble group, which is good. I think that they know that they don't know, which is good. We are excited about these men at this point.
What are your plans for Lawrence Timmons?
It has been a good weekend for him. It has been a difference of night and day between what he showed us this weekend and what he showed us last year. The pedigree is still there and we like what he brings to the table. He is a talented guy that is capable of doing a lot of things. He is a big guy who is powerful. He is going to be able to do some things in coverage; he is going to be able to do some things in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback. But his deeds on the field are going to etch out his role. He knows that and all the guys know that. He has some potential but he needs to do the work.
Can you compare him to last year?
There really is no comparison. He knows what he is doing and he is getting better. Part of being able to get better is letting some of your physical tools and talents show. He knows what to do.
Is Ryan Clark fully back?
He is but again we are running around in shorts so he didn't get to hit anybody. It is great to have Ryan back out there. He is a good player, a great teammate and a good leader.
Did you come close to signing any of those veteran safeties you guys brought in?
Close, I don't know what close is. We brought a couple of those guys in for a visit; it was a good visit. We didn't get any of those deals done so we moved on.
Were you unsure about Ryan?
That is just that time of year you have to be willing to turn over all of the stones in terms of making yourself a better football team. Those guys were some guys who had starting experience at the safety position and they were in the market so we brought them in to look at them similar to how we brought in Anthony McFarland. We will always have that mentality that we will look at some guys. There is nothing wrong with that.
Will Larry Foote and Timmons be an intense battle?
Hopefully we have a bunch of intense battles. That is one that could be intense because Lawrence has put himself in position to compete because he knows what to do. We are only going to be a good football team if we have a bunch of intense battles. We expect that to be one of them, we will see.
Will you be emphasizing special teams as much?
We are emphasizing them but we are emphasizing them in a different way. I am trying to create a little energy through scarcity. We are not going to do it as much. We are not going to work harder; we are going to work smarter.
Do you need to identify your core special team's guys and let them practice together?
So much of that game is what you can do in pads so it is a tough evaluation process from that standpoint right now. What we can do is skill develop and work on technique and understand assignments. A lot of being a good special teams player as well as being a good football player in general is a lot about want to; things that don't happen like you draw up on a chalkboard or talk about in practice. So those things will reveal themselves as we get ready to play later on in the summer. Meanwhile, I like what we are doing and I like the attention to detail. We have some guys who are showing some capabilities in areas that can help this football team.
It's been a good weekend thus far. We got four practices in and I like the way that the men are bouncing around. The inclement weather didn't slow us down from a spirit perspective today; we went inside and got some good work done. I will answer any questions that you have.