With the Steelers ending their preseason with a game against the Carolina Panthers tonight, Coach Mike Tomlin talked about that, as well as the roster moves facing the team in getting down to a 53-man roster:
Q. Is this a night when the coach and the general manager mostly worry about players staying healthy?
A. No, I don't get into that. I acknowledge that injuries are a part of the game, and I really prefer to live in my hopes and not in my fears. I really view tonight in an opportunistic manner. It's an opportunity for guys to state a case for themselves and I really look forward to watching them do that.
Q. Jarvis Jones won't play tonight, but is he in a position to win a starting job?
A. He was until the injury. When and how he comes back from that will dictate that. We have been excited about what he has done to this point and the potential upside in his game in the future.
Q. Is Kelvin Beachum, with all of the things you're doing with him, an experiment right now?
A. He is a very versatile player, and we're enjoying moving him around. Here's a guy who has played both right and left tackle, he has played some guard in the past, he will be playing some center tonight, and he really did an above-the-line job against the Kansas City Chiefs as a tight end for us with our first group. He's a young guy who plays with great detail, is smart, and he's got upside. He's got a future, and not only is he helping us right now from a versatility standpoint, but we don't have him in a box that won't allow him to ascend within the ranks as he continues to grow and mature as a football player.
Q. So Beachum could become a regular part of the offense, instead of just as a backup lineman?
Q. Is Felix Jones turning out to be more than just a stop-gap addition to this team?
A. It appears so. Tonight will be a big opportunity for him to state his case, but make no mistake, what he did last week against the Chiefs was pretty impressive. This is a guy who had zero practices. He had a hotel ballroom walk-through, and he showed up and contributed positively to our efforts. We know his pedigree, and he's not new to the National Football League. We're excited about seeing what he can do for us.
Q. Are the numbers at each position that you want to keep on the 53-man roster set yet?
A. I never look at it from a numbers standpoint. I just look at who are the deserving players, and then look at the numbers from a secondary standpoint. I think if you do it that way, you'll never turn away an NFL football player and you won't be a slave to numbers.
Q. Might the toughest cuts be at linebacker?
A. Seemingly so, but we'll see what happens in this stadium tonight. This is a final exam, if you will, and sometimes I walk out of this stadium with complete clarity. Maybe that happens tonight.
Q. Are you asking LaMarr Woodley to be more of a leader this year?
A. We're asking him to be LaMarr Woodley. I never try to dictate or artificially determine who the leaders are. That's something that just happens organically though work experience and time.
Q. How did Cortez Allen look last week against the Chiefs, in what was his first extended action of the summer?
A. I thought he looked well, and it's important because we need quality play from him. He's a talented guy who has been around here now for a number of years, and we're looking forward to him taking a big step and being one of the core contributors not only on defense but to our whole football team.
Q. Landry Jones gets an extended look tonight. What are you looking for from him?
A. It's just exciting to see him in extended action, to see how he responds to the natural adversity that the game of football presents. That's something that you don't get a lot of when you're working with young guys, particularly in today's NFL. That's why I value the preseason structure as it is right now. With the fourth game you get an opportunity to devote a large number of snaps to a young, developing quarterback like Landry Jones.
Q. The roster is going to be reduced from 75 to 53 in about 24 hours after this game. Does that make this your toughest time of the year?
A. It is, but it's the nature of the business as well. When we start this journey back in March or April, we all have an understanding that this is not a participation oriented thing. We're 90 going to 53. We repeat that often, and now we're at the end of the line and the reality of it is upon us.
Q. What should Steelers fans look for tonight?
A. They should look for consistent effort from emerging players on special teams because a lot of these roster-spot battles are going to be determined in that phase. Yes, linebackers are linebackers and running backs are running backs, but what they can do for us outside of their core positions is usually going to determine who stays and who goes.