Head Coach Mike Tomlin**
Opening Statement:Another good day for us. Heat was a factor but that's just an awesome part of team development for us. For the most part guys pushed through. We had one guy suffer a heat-related-like illness, Cameron Clear. We had to take him off the field. When he is ready to go we will get him back out there in the mix. Ross Ventrone has a lower leg injury that is being evaluated. He had a bang-bang play and took direct contact to his lower leg. I don't have a lot of information there we will take a look at him.
Re: Resting players:
Just a day off. I'm going to rotate some veteran guys. Why wait until it sets in to start the process of taking care of guys like Heath Miller? We will rotate them through and provide more opportunities for the young guys like Jesse James that need the work, and at the same time, reserve some guys that have been around and understand what is going on.
You seemed really happy with how your defense played today. Can you give us an overview of what you felt about your defense?
Day two, they are working. I'm not trying to convince myself that they are good. They are working.
Is there a timetable on Gradkowski's return?
We are taking it day by day. I haven't even stopped to review just yet. I thought we could get settled and get a few days and [then look at] some of those potential short term PUP List guys, like Bruce and Maurkice Pouncey and some of the others. We'll talk when we get the day off tomorrow to see where they are at.
The weight that Martavis has put on, 20 pounds, is it obvious the difference in strength that you see from last year to this year?
I will let you know when we start playing football, because that's what we are talking about. We are talking about playing the game and playing the game in pads. It is off to a good start out here in terms of some of the things that we have been able to do but things like that don't really get measured until you play the game.
The seven shots drill, did Doran Grant take it to the house the other way?
It looked like it. It was a nice hustle play. I think by the young tight end, Jesse James, but it looked like he was going the other way with it.
Did you like what you saw from Cortez Allen today?
He made a play or two. I try not to judge it while we are out here. We are going to look at the tape and evaluate it. But he made some plays obviously. He is going to be challenged some. That is just the nature of his position in this environment, and thus far I am liking the way he has stepped up to it.
How's Ben's conditioning overall?
He's Ben and is ready to go as always but I just think that comes with the territory. We expect that from him.
QB Ben Roethlisberger**
Is quarterback more fun to play than when you started?
It's always fun to play quarterback. When you have a group of guys that you've played with for a while now, and the same group coming back, the coach lets you have a lot of fun with it and have a lot of influence. It's fun to participate in. It's fun to see the talented young guys we have.
Is the ceiling for this group of offensive players as high as any you've been around?
Potentially. I think it's still always about staying healthy, as it is with any team. Staying healthy, and [we need to] keep wanting to get better, each guy individually. If each individual wants to get better, then collectively as a group we'll get better.
Do you see the potential? After two days of camp is it pretty obvious?
We had a pretty good year last year, but that was last year. So like I said, we just have to work our butts of to be the best that we can be.
You guys talked about the red zone issues early in the season that seemed to get better as the year went on. How would you like to see this offense evolve?
We just want to keep getting better in every phase of the game. Name a category, and we'll say we want to get better at it. Whether it's individually or collectively, as a group we need to get better and score more points, get better on third-down, red zone, first-down, second-down, everything.
Do you worry about complacency seeping in, and do you have a checklist of things you're looking for to make sure guys are doing their jobs?
I don't see any complacency, because we want to keep getting better. We can be as good as we want to be. We are going to have teams gunning for us and trying to stop [Antonio Brown] and Le'Veon [Bell]. We want to be the best, so we're going to keep striving to get there.
Why is 30 points per game a realistic goal for this team?
It's what our offensive coordinator set as a goal for us, so that's what we're going to try and do.
How important will Martavis Bryant's development be?
It will be big. He's put the work in. He looks good. He's picking everything up. Last year we just kind of put him in there and gave him a couple of things to do, which he did really well at. Now we're asking him to do more. We're asking him to move around a little bit, front side, back side, and to know things better. I'm going to count on him in the no-huddle. Last year he'd ask everyone what to do. Now we feel more comfortable with him knowing what to do. Hopefully he'll be able to translate that into playing faster.
13 days from your first game, what do you try to accomplish in these early practices?
Stay cool and really just staying healthy. We've got everyone back on offense, so that helps. It's not really breaking in new guys. Obviously De'Angelo Williams is new, but really just trying to keep it going and piggyback off of last year. We don't want to take any steps back.
What percentage of the plays did you have in for Martavis last year?
Gosh, I don't know. I'm not a statistics guy. He was in there later in the year. It was a lot of deep ball stuff when he was in there. That was kind of his go to pattern. Now we can start using him in some different areas. We can use him coming underneath, catching the ball and hopefully running long after the catch.
What has Coach Tomlin meant to you during your career? How has he changed as a coach?
We've been together for a long time. I'm happy to have the same coach around for a long time. I'm glad he's going to be here for a long time, along with a couple other people in the front office that were signed as well. It's always fun when you can keep the same group of guys around, because of the familiarity with each other.
How has he grown since you've been together?\
Like anyone, you get better with everything you do. Every game, every practice and every interaction with a player you learn from. I think he's just grown and evolved as a coach. He's still pretty young.
How can Le'Veon [Bell] and Antonio [Brown] improve on what they did last year?
That's a question for them. Coach Terry Hoeppner always said you either improve or deteriorate, you never stay the same. I'm sure those guys were both busting their butt to do even better. The thing is, they could be better football players without having as good numbers. They're just going to do everything they can to be the best.
What did Jerome Bettis mean to you early in your career? How would you describe the relationship that you guys have?
Like a big brother. And we still do. A [much] older big brother. It's just great. He was such an awesome leader and person. I still to this day, whenever there's a situation dealing with a player, I think 'How would Jerome handle this? What would he do?' That's how much I look up to him, because he meant that much to me and to everybody. He was such a good teammate and leader. I'm so happy for him going in [to the Hall of Fame]. It's about time.
How do the different running styles of De'Angelo [Williams] and Le'Veon [Bell] effect what you guys do [offensively]?
I don't think they do. We're not going to call a certain play because one guy is in there. If I'm going no-huddle, I'm not going to turn around and see who's in there. I'm going to go with it, because we have that much confidence in each guy.
CB Cortez Allen
How big of a year is this for you?
Every year is big. I take it day by day. I just focus on the things that I can control. I'll continue to take coaching and utilize it.
Do you see yourself as one of the keys to a revamped secondary this season?
I'm a part of a unit. I wouldn't say me or anybody is the key. We all need each other to be cohesive and to make this defense work.
Is it different without Dick LeBeau here?
Absolutely. I still say he's one of the best coaches I've had in my life. He's a good man, good coach and a good overall guy. His presence, with regard to how the other coaches coach, they all came up under him, either coached by him or learned from him. His presence is very much felt, in the same way that some of the veterans who aren't here anymore like Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. Despite their absence, their presence is felt.
Do you get frustrated when a guy like Antonio Brown beats you?
If you've ever played football before, you know you can't win every snap. There is no perfect. You win some and you lose some. That's something that Coach LeBeau always said. [What matters] is how you react to it, how you bounce back is what defines you.
DE Cameron Heyward
What's the vibe been like so far?
I think it's been pretty copasetic. Nothing has changed. We still haven't really put on the pads yet, so it's hard to judge.
Re: William Gay and Lawrence Timmons both said there's no single leader on defense:
Exactly. We have a lot of guys who are leaders in different ways and it doesn't fall on one guy's shoulders. That's the way we like it, because we can hold each other accountable and focus on the task at hand.
How much progress has Stephon Tuitt been making?
He's light years ahead of where he was last year. Now, he's just looking to take it out on the field. He didn't work that hard in the offseason for nothing. He put in the work and he's more confident in the plays. He's learning how to not only get himself set, but others as well.
Can you address the changing role for the defensive line and how that affects the linebackers?
I think there are some instances where we will create one-on-ones, open up our nose tackles and three-techniques. Our linebackers have to be able to get off of blocks and the lineman have to be able to flow to the ball.
CB William Gay
As a cornerback, what's a more difficult task, guarding big receivers or smaller and faster ones?
The biggest task is just defending the pass, regardless of who the receiver is. It doesn't matter how small, big or fast he is.
With Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor gone, do you feel like you need to take on more of a leadership role in the back end of the defense?
As you go into training camp, you have a lot of leaders and that's nothing new. Troy and Ike weren't the only leaders last year. You lose players every year. You just have to keep moving forward.
Do leaders develop over the course of training camp? Have guys stepped up who you didn't expect to become leaders?
This process didn't start in training camp. We had workouts, OTA's and mini-camp. The process even goes back to last year. Just because you get to training camp doesn't mean you flip the leadership switch on. There are a lot of leaders on this team.
Cameron Heyward said the defense has a chip on its shoulder and is still upset about the comments Warren Sapp made last year. Is that the case?
That's his personal opinion. The chip on our shoulder* *comes from losing to a rival in the playoffs, and that's not good around here. For that matter, just losing in the playoffs puts a chip on your shoulder. We have unfinished business.
RB DeAngelo Williams
New team, how has it been and how has the adjustment been so far?
It's been fun, just trying to learn my way around and follow the older guys. Finding the little nuances of getting around. It's been fun. Football is football on the field. I'm just trying to get familiar with the terminology and things are starting to come together for me.
How is your relationship with Le'Veon Bell?
Great relationship. We all have the same common struggle and have the same goal at the end of the season and that's to get to the Super Bowl, and ultimately win it. We are all fighting for that common goal and whether he is out for one game, two games or three games. We still have to get it done.
Even though this is all new to you, what can you offer to Le'Veon and maybe other younger players?
Take care of your business like a pro, and not only just telling them about it but showing them. A ten-year veteran is willing to learn, and I am willing to learn whatever is put in front of me and excepting any and all challenges from the Head Coach and the staff.
The tandem that you had with Jonathan Stewart, does that make it easier to transition into that second running back here?
It does. What gets me, and I don't mean just from the media, but everybody out there is only concerned about the first three games in the season, and there are sixteen games. We get tired in this game. I am quite sure Le'Veon when he gets back is not going to play the entire game for the rest of the season. So when everybody says are you ready to carry the team for the first three games, no. I am ready to carry the load for sixteen games then playoffs then the Super Bowl. I am going to be ready to go. Once I get in there my production cannot drop off once he [Bell] is out of there. I have to keep producing or they are going to put someone else in there. I'm getting geared up for a great playoff run and a Super Bowl run. I am not just ready and prepared for three games or two games or one game or however many games it is. I am going to be prepared for the entire season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl included.