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Tomlin on 'fun,' inactives, brunch


Q. As a coach in a professional sport, you're in a results business. Would you ever use the word 'fun' to describe your job?**

A. Sometimes it is fun, but I wouldn't necessarily use that word to describe it. (Laughs) I'm a football lover, a junkie. I enjoy things maybe others don't. I enjoy the process. I do. I enjoy every leg of the journey. Tuesday during the season is a special day for me because it has certain challenges and opportunities. Wednesday is a different day, but it's special to me because of the challenges and opportunities that are exclusive to a Wednesday. People think that Sunday is a special day, and it is, but this preparation process – if you establish routine and you believe in that routine – each day of preparation is special and stands alone, and there are only certain things you can get accomplished on those days. If you don't, you can't recoup it on the following day because there are new things and challenges that are presented. I enjoy that, I embrace that, I live in those moments. There's a lot about that I enjoy.

Q. What about the process of a team developing and coming together as this one has? Is there fun in coaching this kind of a team?

A. Sometimes it's fun in hindsight. When you're in the moments, you want results yesterday. It's not necessarily fun, but you understand it is a process, and sometimes when you look back at that process you can look back on it with fun memories in terms of shared miserable experiences. It's probably more fun in hindsight than it is in the present tense.

Q. About a month ago, there was a change made to the team's in-week routine in terms of moving the time the players would eat. What was behind that and how has it worked?

A. Teams are capable of putting on a little weight as the weather gets cold and as you cut down on the number of physical reps during the work week. We wanted to combat that a little bit. We wanted to have a pregame approach to our daily routine, so we started having brunch instead of lunch prior to practice, and pushing it earlier in the morning. We realized they would probably eat less because it was really close to breakfast, but that's what we were looking for. We had a bunch of 1 p.m. kickoffs, our practices are generally at 1 p.m. On game days, we have a brunch-like meal prior to 1 p.m. kickoffs, so for a lot of reasons we thought it could be something that was helpful to our cause.


Q. Can you talk about James Harrison's play against the Chiefs?**

A. It was definitely something that was a catalyst for us. We were on the fence about allowing him to play in Atlanta, and in hindsight it ended up being a really good thing because he came into the game against Kansas City really healthy, and it showed. It's just a tribute to James. That's a high-quality first-overall pick the Chiefs have over there at left tackle in Eric Fisher, and he did him and treated him the way James Harrison is capable of doing people.

Q. After that game against the Chiefs, Harrison talked about how good he feels, and that he didn't know if he'd be feeling this way if he had played in Atlanta. Do you ever look beyond one week when making decisions on the inactive list?

A. Yes. Every circumstance is different, and you have to look at it with all the complexities that all the situations hold. Sometimes when someone is capable of playing, it doesn't mean it's the best thing for them or for us. I thought that was the case with James in that situation. We had gotten Jarvis Jones back, and he was on the rise. We had depth at the position we hadn't had over the course of the year. James was in less than idea health circumstances, the game was on turf. You figure if you preserve him and get out of that stadium with a win, then he and we were going to be in a better position the following week. That's how it turned out.

Q. Le'Veon Bell won the Steelers MVP Award by a vote of his teammates. How do you feel about that?

A. I thought he was a deserving candidate, and there were a number of others who had strong seasons as well. That's part of having a good football team, and it's probably one of the reasons why we're in the position we're in today in that we had several guys who had a legitimate opportunity to be that guy. Le'Veon is a genuinely grounded and humble young man, because he realizes his performance is steeped in preparation. He works hard. He respects the preparation process, and that allows him to accept the accolades that come with success.


Q. The Steelers had five players voted to the Pro Bowl, but Cam Heyward wasn't one of them. Did you see that as an injustice?**

A. I never complain about guys who don't get elected, because often I feel that it's a discredit to the guys who do. I like to focus on the positive, the guys who made it, and understand that what we're always looking for from guys is Pro Bowl-quality play. Whether they get elected or not is another thing.

Q. When you watched the video of that fourth-and-1 stop in the game against the Chiefs, what did you see?

A. I just saw a lot of guys doing routine things very well. Kansas City had a puller that James Harrison confronted and won; our defensive line did a nice job winning the line of scrimmage and not allowing their guys to get to the second level; and Lawrence came and hit the black flush and square, which is what you have to do. Often times that last element of it is the most critical element of it, particularly with a guy like Jamaal Charles, who's able to twist and spin and not give you a flat surface to hit. Lawrence did a nice job staying inside-out on him and staying square.

Q. The first meeting with the Bengals ended with a big margin on the scoreboard, but Cincinnati was leading heading into the fourth quarter. Which is the more accurate reflection of what happened in that game?

A. These games unfold in different ways, particularly in matchups where you know them and they know you. We're not going into this thing with any preconceived notion as to how the game might unfold, particularly relative to the last one.

Q. What kind of challenge does RB Jeremy Hill present to your defense?

A. He's a big guy, he's 230-plus pounds and has an opportunity to wear you down over the course of a 60-minute football game. That's something the Bengals have done historically under Coach Marvin Lewis, going back to Rudi Johnson and Corey Dillon and Cedric Benson and the law firm (BenJarvus Green-Ellis). They've had guys capable of wearing you down over the course of a contest, and that's what Jeremy Hill provides for them.

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