Tomlin on Mike, Cody, cutting to 75


Q. What can Michael Vick bring to this team?

A. He's got some things that are very valuable for the position he's seeking. He's experienced, he understands the responsibility of being a quarterback for a football team and delivering victory, and at the same time he understands the things Ben goes through. He's sensitive to that, and he's going to be able to pull from his experience and support Ben in that way as well.

Q. One of the things Vick has said about last year with the Jets was he wasn't ready mentally to be a backup quarterback. Was that a necessary conversation?

A. Not a conversation that had to be had. Ben is our quarterback. Mike is a sharp guy. He understands that.

Q. How much of a game plan is in place for today against the Buffalo Bills?

A. In terms of percentages relative to the regular season, I can't quantify that because there are things that I don't know that I'd know in the regular season. For instance, who is playing quarterback for the Bills and for how long. Those are things that affect the plan in preseason football, and I can't answer. If we were playing them in the regular season, I would know who is playing quarterback from start to finish. They're going to start E.J. Manuel, and I don't what's going to happen after that, and elements of the plan sometimes depend on what the other team chooses to employ.


Q. Would you describe Maurkice Pouncey's injury as "devastating?"**

A. I wouldn't. I don't live in that emotional world. Part of football is tackling and blocking and injury, and we understand that and embrace it whether it's positive or negative. And we'll make the necessary adjustments.

Q. Is there a battle for the center job now that Pouncey is injured?

A. I don't know how much of a battle that's going to be. Cody Wallace is a been-there and done-that guy. We have a great deal of respect for what he's willing to do and what he's capable of. He has filled in admirably in the past, and I don't see why he won't do it again.

Q. Is it still a close competition between Brad Wing and Jordan Berry for the punting job?

A. It is and has been to this point. Those two guys have really represented themselves well. The great thing about it is that it's a positive battle because both guys are performing well. I've been in some negative battles before where both guys are averaging around 39 yards per punt. That's not quite as fun. This one is fun, and the guys are watching with interest to see these guys compete, but ultimately all of these competitions boil down to the man vs. himself. The guy who wins the battle is going to be the guy who stays within himself and performs at a consistently high level.


Top photos of Punter Brad Wing.

Q. Are you confident that your punter for 2015 is on the roster right now?**

A. Based on what I've seen to this point. There are elements to the equation that we're just beginning to focus on – directional kicking for example. There's situational football and awareness – backed-up kicking, inside the 20-yard line kicking, dangerous returner kicking. The more skilled requests we make maybe provides a platform for a man to gain separation and distinguish himself.

Q. Is holding for Garrett Hartley an issue?

A. It's a part of it, but because we have a new kicker, comfort and continuity is not an element of the equation the way it would have been if Shaun Suisham was our kicker because Brad Wing held for him a year ago. So from that standpoint it's really a level playing field. Continuity and comfort is not a part of the evaluation.

Q. There is a mandatory roster cut to 75 on Sept. 1, and then the cut to 53 on Friday, Sept. 4. Which cut is easier?

A. Neither of them are easy, because we've been working with this group of men since the spring and you respect the work they've put in and what they've been chasing. It's a very necessary process, part of professional football, but I wouldn't characterize any of it as easy.

Q. When you cut the roster to 75 players, does that mean you keep the 75 best players, or are there other things involved?

A. There are a lot of things that go into it. Health is an element of it. Health positionally. Having an appropriate number of people to finish the last preseason game in a comfortable manner is an element of it. It's a multi-layered decision-making process, one that's not a pure science.


Q. League-wide, do you have any sense of the kind of players who might become available during this first cut?**

A. I imagine there are a myriad of reasons why guys go in the first cut who may or may not be first-cut worthy. The waiver wire always holds some possibilities, whether it's the first cut or the last cut or just on a daily basis. I just think you're doing your due diligence when you look at the waiver wire, and I know that over the last nine years that has become daily protocol for me.

Q. Assuming you keep four running backs on the 53-man roster, who looks to be No. 4?

A. The game today is going to have a lot to say about that. There are a lot of guys who have had their moments, but it's weighted on what you do inside stadiums, and we have two full preseason games left to play. Particularly that fourth preseason game for what you suggest is a big proving ground. It has been for a number of years. I remember I used to always kid Jonathan Dwyer that he's probably the all-time leading August rusher against the Carolina Panthers. He always made a run to make the roster in that game, and the same thing can be said about this group.

Q. Why was the pass rush better against the Packers?

A. Because the guys performed better, and we put them in a position to do so. As we push through this thing, what we ask of them is going to be more specific with more planning toward victory. As we go through this thing, they're going to develop the skills to deliver, and last week's performance was a reflection of that. This week's performance needs to be as well.

Q. Has Bud Dupree developed more of an edge since that on-field scuffle at training camp, or is what we're seeing now just a natural part of his development?

A. Both. Flare-ups and taking things personally are a part of professional football. Getting better as you work and developing the skill for your position is a part of it, too. We're not surprised by anything that has transpired with him, and in fact we expect it to continue.

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