Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took questions Tuesday morning at the NFL Meetings in Florida for first time since the day after playoff loss. After hearing the mini-Tomlin Tuesday, I realized some of it needed translating for the Tomlin-Speak impaired. So, I did so below regarding the key points for any who need it.
I'll start off with some good news regarding running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who was badly burned in a December house fire: "Progress is good. He's attacking the rehabilitation. We are excited about getting him back at some point." Great to know! We're pulling for you, Kirby!
On to a hotly debated topic since it all first was announced, Tomlin reiterated what Art Rooney II had said recently, that, though he owns the team and can do what he wants to do, Rooney did not order him to fire Bruce Arians. Tomlin also said he and no one else hired new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
"He did not. I hired Todd Haley as well, which is your next question....I thought that it was time for change."
Uh-huh...and Col. Nathan R. Jessup didn't order the Code Red.
Speaking of change, Tomlin expects some discomfort for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in transition to a new offense, which will include new nomenclature without necessarily any new blocking schemes, and coordinator, but also said, "I'm not worried...I don't anticipate any issues. I anticipate both guys getting along great.''
(Translation: They're both arrogant and used to success, so they'll butt heads, but my advice is "Get over it, get used to it and get me another Ring!")
Tomlin said he doesn't expect the contrast to affect Mike Wallace, assuming he stays with the Steelers. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it...IF we come to it.''
(Translation: He'll adapt mainly because he's tired of me calling him "One-Trick Pony.")
Tomlin is obviously concerned about Emmanuel Sanders' ability to stay healthy and on the field, though. A point which I've touched on in this blog before. Tomlin said bluntly: "You can't anticipate it's going to stop", but he did say Sanders is on track to good recovery.
(Translation: We have no idea if Sanders will even make it through another season with us.)
He also said the same could be said about Willie Colon.
(Really, coach? One game in two years? Nah, he'll be fine. He should be rested by now, right?)
Coach went on to say that he likes the running back situation behind Mendenhall, but that if there is any further need in that department it will come in free agency or the draft. (Is there a third option?) He even hinted at using a fullback: "We're open to that. That will be determined by what we're able to acquire."
(I know for a fact that half of my readers just fainted at the word "fullback.")
On how, as Art Rooney II called it, Ben must "tweak" his game, Tomlin said Big Ben must "evolve", and that "Ben is Ben." He doesn't think Big Ben's ability to move has been adversely affected.
(Translation: Ben is one of the toughest SOBs I've ever come across. I could probably Nancy Kerrigan his leg and he'd just say "Rub some dirt on it and tape it up, I'm goin' back in." He just has take one or two fewer "Oh, gawd, he's dead!" hits a season and he'll play another eight years.)
The Steelers staff last week brought in prospects Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, Cincinnati defensive lineman Derek Wolfe and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton of Florida International.
(Translation: ~ regarding the wide receiver brought in ~ We have no idea if Sanders will even make it through another season with us.)
It was also stated that Casey Hampton could very well open the season on the PUP list, so Scott McLendon and, as I've also mentioned in this blog, Ziggy Hood are possibilities at nose tackle. Of course, this doesn't include what draft pick may possibly be thrown into the mix.
Finally, Tomlin also updated the offseason schedule when he said that OTA practices, down from 14 to 10 by the new CBA, will not start until May 22 and will go through June 14, then they break until training camp in Latrobe.
There you have it, the key points translated for you from Tomlin-Speak into English. I hope that helped answer any questions you had regarding the always crystal-clear Mike Tomlin.