Tomlin on the Titans

Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Tennessee Titans.

Q. The Steelers run defense faced Michael Turner in the opener, and now it's Chris Johnson. How would you evaluate him?

A. He is uniquely fast. There are a lot of guys who are fast in high school and fast in college, but very few are fast on professional fields. This is a guy who's capable of losing ground or gaining it, he can change fields. He is that fast. When he steps inside a stadium, he generally is the fastest guy in the stadium.

Q. You related a story earlier in the week about former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin talking about Barry Sanders in the way that coaches now talk about Johnson.

A. I came into the league in the old NFC Central with the Buccaneers and playing the likes of Barry Sanders. In a similar fashion, that guy was capable of beating you every time the ball was snapped. That's the level of respect we have to have in terms of playing Chris Johnson, because the reality is that you can shut him down for 23 snaps, but if he breaks two 80-yard runs, it's a bad day.

Q. How would you evaluate Titans quarterback Vince Young?

A. He's a big man, he's got a great pocket perspective, he's good on shallow crossing routes and check-downs. He uses his stature to his advantage, and he's playing really good football.

Q. Do the Titans attempt to stretch the field with WRs Nate Washington and Justin Gage?

A. They have roles. Gage does the dirty work – the interior routes, the traffic catches, if you will. He's had quality games against us the past couple of years, and Nate is the speedster who's capable of taking the top off the coverage. He really broke the game open against the Raiders, when he caught a 56-yard pass for a touchdown.

Q. How were the Titans able to dominate the Raiders last week?

A. Quite frankly, they did it in every phase. I thought they out-tempoed them, they out-hit them, and it was a hostile environment. As it wore on, it became a game of execution, and they out-executed them as well.

Q. Using a word or two, how would you describe Tennessee's offense?

A. Explosive. Because they have speed on all levels. Nate Washington is capable of getting behind you, everybody knows what Chris Johnson is capable of doing, and the quarterback can beat you with his arm or his legs.

Q. On defense, do the Titans have a main guy?

A. It used to be Keith Bulluck. But they've got quality players, Pro Bowl caliber players in Chris Hope, Cortland Finnegan. They have a unique and deep rotation along their front. They are an attacking, penetrating, gap-eliminating 4-3 front. They kill you by posse, if you will. That's their signature right now.

Q. What is your most vivid memory of last year's season opener, when the Titans visited Heinz Field?

A. Just the feeling of watching the ball go through the uprights in overtime. Sudden death is a beautiful thing. You love it, of course, when you come out on the winning side of it. It was a tough, hard-fought game with a high-quality team, and I expect it to be a similar battle this time.

Q. Looking at the Steelers for a moment, how did Dennis Dixon handle himself last week?

A. I think he was a little over-excited early, particularly in some situational football. He knew where to go with the football, he made the proper reads, but he sped the process up a little bit and consequently he was off-target on some throws. I thought he really settled in as the game went on and really made some critical plays, especially in situational football. I'm thinking about the 17-yard gain that he created outside the pocket on a third-and-19 that put us comfortably in field goal range. I think about the 24-yard gain on third-and-8 when he stepped up in the pocket and found Hines Ward. Those are examples of his evolution over the course of the football game, and really, we expect him to continue that.

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