Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Opening Statement: We're excited about our next opportunity in Jacksonville. We're taking a very similar approach to this game that we took to the Hall of Fame game in terms of preparation, menu, in terms of what we're asking the guys to do. This is going to be an awesome opportunity. Some of the things we talk about with our guys regarding preparation are no longer hypothetical things. They've been in a stadium. They've played. We've evaluated it. Hopefully we've made necessary adjustments and we can see their ability to make those adjustments and move forward and continue this growth process that is the preseason. Particularly for a number of the young guys, it's going to be interesting to see how they respond to some of the corrections made, and some of the attention to detail things that were pointed out based on our last performance, which was a negative one in some instances. That can be part of this process. I'm excited to see how many of those guys respond to it. In terms of who we'll play, our intention is that all healthy men are going to play in the football game. How much they'll play will be determined positionally, not only in terms of what some of the established guys need to see, but also in terms of the quality and depth behind them. We'll make those determinations at the 11th hour to give all the guys that are partial participants or nursing some of the minor injuries that are associated with training camp and the preseason an opportunity to participate in the game. All healthy players will play. We're excited about that. Some guys that I can characterize as out as we sit here today are guys that have been dealing with injuries, like Robert Golden, Daniel McCullers, Ross Ventrone, Vince Williams, Bruce Gradkowski, Mike Adams and Senquez Golson. You can characterize those guys as out. I'm going to leave the light on for every other man not mentioned, and we'll see where that takes us. Like I mentioned yesterday, two guys are getting surgical procedures today, Shaun Suisham and Cameron Stingily. I don't have any updates on those guys at this point. Doctors are still working, and I'm just finishing a walk-through. I imagine we'll have something by the early afternoon on those guys. I'm excited to go to Jacksonville, to take these guys into a road game environment and hopefully take the next step and see the necessary improvements that will allow this journey to continue in a positive manner.
With Shaun's injury, are you going to tell the new guy to hold back a bit?
I don't think I'm going to have to tell the new guy. I think that skill set is unique to Shaun. Hindsight's always 20/20. There've been several instances over the past few years where we've appreciated his willingness to mix it up and be a football player. I think that's one of the reasons he's so highly respected within this group. Injuries are a part of the game. It's unfortunate. We're not going to dwell on it or spend a lot of time on it. We acknowledge that this is as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. We wish him a speedy recovery. In the meantime, we're going to get behind Garrett Hartley and support him and march on.
Is Doran Grant a little behind?
No, he's not behind at all. We like the work that he's done. He came into training camp ready to go. He's shown great intensity. We wanted him to focus on a lot of special teams work in that first game. We've got five preseason games, and we're going to utilize them. He was able to focus solely on special teams in the first game. He played extensively, probably more than anyone else in that area. In the next game, we'll let him participate on special teams and defense. With four preseason games to go, he's going to have an opportunity to show what he's capable of.
What is your experience with kickers, it seems to be a difficult position to maintain?**
That could describe many positions. Here is the significant element of a specialist, you don't have backups on your team. There is usually one kicker, one punter and one long snapper. That creates a pool of NFL guys that are capable and are unemployed. But backups and replacements are usually available on the street and that is just the nature of the business for those guys. So when something happens at one of those positions there is always a list of legitimate and capable guys and probably a more impressive list than you would find at some other positions on rosters.
He has a good track record in kicking in the outdoors and in bad weather. Was that a factor?
I was aware of it but like I said yesterday we made the determination on Garret based on what we saw yesterday in the stadium. But I was aware of that.
What is an adjustment you want to see the younger guys make?
Catch the ball. Basic football things. Some of the younger guys freeze up sometimes. That's part of the process. I was talking to the young guys the other day and I meant it, I would have like to shown them a cut-up of Lawrence Timmons' Hall of Fame game from 2007. It was pretty ugly. It provides a window and a ray of light for those who are mentally weak enough to need it. It is just how it goes. You need to start somewhere. Some starts are better than others. Regardless of how you start is not going to define you, and I just use Lawrence as an example of that.
Does Jesse James fall under that?
How well do you know Garrett?
I'm getting to know him very well. He's an established guy. We're going to support him. He understands what he's come here to do. He respects this process. He's excited about introducing himself to his teammates. He and I were just talking out there during the walk-through. We're going to kick some field goals today. I told him that I was interested in some long ball hits, and he said that he assumed I would be. We're getting to know each other along the way, and we're enjoying the process.