Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the St. Louis Rams.
Q. The Rams have had one of those years, and right now they currently have 15 guys on injured reserve. Is that something you can attribute to bad luck?A. When you look at that, many times their record might be a result of that, or that might be a result of their record. A lot of things happen when you're not having success. I understand the position they're in, not that I sympathize with their position because that's just the nature of our league. It's a competitor's league. People either are glad that you have problems, or they don't care about them.
Q. When was the decision made about not starting Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback against the Rams?A. Probably a little earlier in the week. Obviously, he's less than 100 percent, and it's our desire at this juncture to get him as close to 100 percent as we can for January football. I felt like this week provided an opportunity to do that. We'll judge next week next week.Q. Charlie Batch gets the start at quarterback, and so will Dennis Dixon get any snaps?A. It depends on how it goes. Of course right now we're just all-systems-go with Charlie, and we expect him to do the job and do it in a quality fashion for us.
Q. With Maurkice Pouncey out as well, Doug Legursky steps in at center. Who starts at left guard?A. Trai Essex will start at left guard, but also Chris Kemoeatu will play some there. Both guys have had up-and-down seasons, if you will, at times, and we want to give both guys an opportunity to show what they're capable of and let in-game rhythm dictate where we go from there.
Q. You also signed John Clay from the practice squad, and placed rookie Curtis Brown on injured reserve. What was the thinking there?A. It's just necessary business this time of the year. Things were getting thin at running back with Jonathan Dwyer going down a few weeks ago and now Mewelde Moore being out for a couple of weeks. I thought it was necessary to add John Clay. This is a guy who has been a part of our program and working hard and improving every day. He's ready for this opportunity, and we're glad to give it to him. And of course when you do that you have to make some decisions. Curtis has been down for a number of weeks, and it looks like he's going to continue to be down for a number of weeks with a knee injury. We decided to put him on IR.
Q. Is the shame about that being that it looked as though Curtis Brown was really coming on?A. A very productive rookie season, and probably one of the core special teams players on our football team. Very productive. We're excited about his future.
Q. Quarterback Kellen Clemens has only been with the Rams for a few weeks, so is there much of a body of work to rely on as far as scouting?A. Not necessarily a body of work in St. Louis, but this is a guy who has played a lot of football, who has some starter experience. He's probably just what the doctor ordered for the Rams at this juncture – a veteran guy who really is sharp above the neck, is a quick study and provides some new energy to their bunch.
Q. Do the Rams have to depend upon running back Steven Jackson even more as a result of their quarterback situation?A. Steven Jackson is an incredible back, and his body of work is really impressive. He's the St. Louis Rams' all-time leading rusher, and we know that Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson both played there. Jackson is closing in on seven straight 1,000-yard seasons. We have a lot of respect for what this man is capable of, and if we want to play good defense against them, it starts with minimizing what he does to us – both in the run and in the pass games.
Q. How do the Rams utilize him in their passing attack?A. This guy might be No. 3 on the Rams' all-time receiving list behind Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt in terms of receptions. That speaks to what Steven Jackson has done there. They use him quite a bit in the screen game, but he's a check-down route-runner as well.Q. Does the Rams defense begin and end with Chris Long?A. In Chris Long, you're talking about a guy who plays on the left side of a 4-3 defense, and he has 13 sacks. Being a man who has been involved in that defensive scheme, you don't find many left-side defensive ends with 13 sacks. That speaks to the kind of season he's having and also what he is capable of.Q. It must be nice to have James Harrison back, especially for a game in which LaMarr Woodley won't play?A. It's always good to have No. 92 back. I don't care what I'm doing, I want No. 92 with me. If I'm wrapping Christmas gifts, I want No. 92 with me.