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    Default On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice
    Tuesday, December 21, 2010
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Steelers coach Mike Tomlin finally acknowledged something Monday that has been a topic of discussion about his team for several years: His players are old.

    And because they are old, they need their rest more than the young Carolina Panthers. In fact, he said, the Panthers will have an advantage over the Pittsburgh Geezers Thursday night at Heinz Field because of their youth.

    "It's a quick turnaround, particularly for a veteran football team," Tomlin said. "We're going to be very conscious about how we prepare this week. We've got to prepare as smart as we can."

    In a study at the start of the season, the Steelers had the seventh-oldest team in the league with an average age of 27.5 years. The Carolina Panthers had the fourth-youngest team with an average of 26.39.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thursday
    •Game: Carolina Panthers vs. Steelers, 8:20 p.m.
    •Where: Heinz Field.
    •TV: NFL Network/KDKA.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Can that 1.11 year make a difference in a short week? Tomlin may have been trying to plant some psychological nugget in his players' minds, but he was on a roll with it Monday in his news conference.

    "We've got to preserve our guys in as many ways as we can because, quite honestly, working on this kind of week, you've got to acknowledge that it's an advantage for the Carolina Panthers," Tomlin said. "They're a younger team than we are. Physically they're capable of bouncing back faster, no question, so we've got to prepare extremely smart and put our veteran outfit in the best position we can to play effective football Thursday night."

    Young or old, it would seem no match between the Steelers and Panthers, who won only their second game of the season Sunday, beating Arizona to go 2-12.

    Carolina starts a rookie quarterback, Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, who threw his first two touchdown passes Sunday. He has seven interceptions to go with those two touchdowns and has the worst passer rating in the league at 59.1. Clausen is their third starting quarterback, including former Steelers backup Brian St. Pierre. Carolina's passing offense is last in the league.

    PG VIDEO: MIKE TOMLIN PRESS CONFERENCE The Panthers' strength is their ground game with Jonathan Stewart (668 yards) and Mike Goodson (435), and that plays right into the Steelers' strength. They have the best rush defense by far in the league, allowing just 63.4 yards per game. Carolina has the league's 12th-most productive running game with an average of 116.8 yards per game.

    Backing in?
    Tomlin does not like how the Steelers qualified for the playoffs after losing to the Jets. But they can take care of that and also take away some of the pain of losing Sunday by clinching the division title and the No. 2 seed this week.

    "I don't like how it unfolded," Tomlin said. "I feel like you're crawling in on your belly."

    The Steelers will win the AFC North Division and clinch the conference's No. 2 seed and the bye that goes with it if they beat the Carolina Panthers Thursday night and the Baltimore Ravens lose Sunday in Cleveland.

    If those two outcomes occur, the Steelers would win a tiebreaker against Baltimore for the division title even if they tie at the end of the season. They also would win the tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed against Kansas City, which would be the only other team capable of finishing with the same record as the Steelers. That tiebreaker would be best record against AFC teams and the Chiefs, at 5-5, cannot catch the Steelers, who are 8-3 with one game left against an AFC team, the Browns.

    The Steelers and Ravens are tied at 10-4 atop the AFC North Division. The Steelers are 4-1 in the division; the Ravens are 2-2 with two division games left.

    "All of the goals we set out for ourselves are still attainable," Tomlin said. "We've got to play ball this week. I still think a division title is in our sights if we handle our business, but it starts with playing good, winning football Thursday night."

    Miller might return
    Tight end Heath Miller, who has missed the past two games with post-concussion syndrome, should return to the lineup against Carolina.

    "We anticipate Heath being fine," Tomlin said.

    Tomlin had no update on the status of safety Troy Polamalu's injury to his calf/Achilles. Defensive end Aaron Smith, who has been out since his triceps was torn Oct. 24, will be fitted with a shoulder brace this week, Tomlin said, but he would not predict when he might practice.

    New starter?
    Jonathan Scott might have lost his starting job at left tackle to Trai Essex.

    "We're still in the process of evaluating [Sunday's] performance and putting together a formula for success this week," Tomlin said. "A lot of things are involved in that. Personnel matchups are part of that. We'll address that at the appropriate time. I'm just not ready to have that kind of discussion at this juncture."

    After Scott missed a block on New York's Jason Taylor that resulted in a safety, Essex replaced him at left tackle for the Steelers final, long, ultimately unsuccessful drive of the game.

    The Steelers announced that Scott had a "stinger," but Tomlin did not mention him among his injured players.

    "He was less than 100 percent from a physical standpoint and we felt like Trai gave us the best opportunity to navigate the ball downfield," Tomlin said.

    If the switch is made, Essex would be the third different starting left tackle this season. Max Starks went on injured reserve after the game Nov. 8 against Cincinnati. It also would be the sixth different line combination this season and the second demotion. The other also involved Essex, demoted from starting right guard in favor of Ramon Foster on Nov. 21.

    Only rookie center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Flozell Adams, 35, have started every game among the linemen.

    For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.


    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10355...#ixzz18mmhOZr3
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    The problem with averages is that it doesn't reflect the extreme ends of the data spectrum. A fair few on our team aren't in the first flush of youth, so it makes sense to try to prepare accordingly.

    Some idiot (I suspect it was Ron Cook) said yesterday that "age isn't a factor for the Steelers' players".

    It's good to know that when the rest of the world says one thing, ol' Nubbinknob can be completely contrary.
    'I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ***-kickers, ****-kickers and Methodists.'

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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    we can all only hope that Jonathan Scott has lost his starting job...

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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    The problem with averages is that it doesn't reflect the extreme ends of the data spectrum. A fair few on our team aren't in the first flush of youth, so it makes sense to try to prepare accordingly.

    Some idiot (I suspect it was Ron Cook) said yesterday that "age isn't a factor for the Steelers' players".

    It's good to know that when the rest of the world says one thing, ol' Nubbinknob can be completely contrary.
    Excellent point. Guys like Farrior or when starting Smith are mid 30's and more. Larry Timmons is 24.

    There's guys in the middle but there are some definite extremes. all in all this is really a pretty old, veteran team. Ward, Keisel, Harrison, Farrior, Hampton, Smith, Adams are all in their 30's Ben, Heath, Starks and Troy are 28 and 29
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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteeler View Post
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    we can all only hope that Jonathan Scott has lost his starting job...
    When Trai Essex might be the better option... ouch!
    'I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ***-kickers, ****-kickers and Methodists.'

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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    When Trai Essex might be the better option... ouch!

    choosing between Scott and Essex to protect Ben's blind side is like choosing which of these women to take home from the pool party...you probably gotta pick the one on the right but it's still not a good choice.

    Last edited by hawaiiansteeler; Dec-21-2010 at 06:49 PM.

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    Default Re: On the Steelers: Tomlin takes precautions on short week of practice

    Steelers won't make concessions to age

    By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Wednesday, December 22, 2010


    Hines Ward agreed, James Farrior disagreed and Brett Keisel was amused by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's suggestion that the short turnaround for Thursday night's game against Carolina at Heinz Field favors the 2-12 Panthers.

    At his weekly news conference on Monday, Tomlin said his veteran-heavy roster could be at a disadvantage with only three days to prepare following Sunday's loss to the New York Jets.

    "You've got to acknowledge it's an advantage for Carolina," Tomlin said. "They're a younger team than we are."

    Said Carolina coach John Fox of Tomlin's Steelers (10-4) being at a disadvantage: "You've got to come up with something. Tell Mike that was a good one."

    Tuesday is normally the players' day off. In preparation for their second game in five days, they went though a full practice. A walk-through is scheduled for today.

    One of the team's elder statesmen, Ward, 34, said he agreed with Tomlin's assessment of his veterans.

    On defense, six starters are 30 and older. On offense, Ward and right tackle Flozell Adams are the only starters 30 and older.

    "It's true. We've got to rest," said Ward, who's second on the team with 51 receptions for 672 yards. "A lot of our veterans played their tails off against the Jets. It takes veterans usually a day or two (to recover from the previous game). But there's no time to sit around and rest, especially coming off a short week after a physical game."

    Farrior, 35, said Tomlin's public attempt at motivating his veterans is unnecessary.

    "Not after you get whipped the week before," said Farrior, who's second on the team in tackles. "I think everybody's excited to get out there. We were ready to play the next day.

    "Maybe that's his way of motivating us this week. He didn't bring it up at meetings, but he knew we were going to hear about it sooner or later. That doesn't bother us."

    Farrior suggested that players should do more off-field preparation to compensate for less practice time this week.

    "Older guys, we don't need motivation like that," Farrior said. "We're already self-motivated. It's not going to work for the old, old guys."

    Keisel, 32, missed five starts at defensive end because of injuries, but he's rounding into late-season form. He said veterans like him learned through the years how to bounce back during a short week.

    "It's no secret we've got some 30-something-year-old guys around here. But we've also got an ice tub and good beds at home to rest in," Keisel said. "A lot of us have been in postseason play, a lot of us know what it takes. We're just going to lean on our experience."

    Ward believes one of the Steelers' strong points is the ability of veterans and younger players to work together.

    "We don't need our younger guys to start hitting the wall," Ward said. "We need them to stay strong while we get rest. And then we need to complement each other and go from there.

    "We know what's at stake. It's time for our veterans to step up and start making plays and lead the way."

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_714832.html

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