Tomlin: Porter's status for playoff game Sunday in Kansas City remains unresolved
January 11, 2017 12:00 AM
Mike Tomlin didn’t rule out the chance of linebackers coach Joey Porter returning for an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday at Kansas City.
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said there is no limit how long linebackers coach Joey Porter will remain on leave after his arrest Sunday outside a South Side bar, but did not rule out the possibility Porter could return for the AFC divisional playoff game Sunday in Kansas City, Mo.
Tomlin called Porter’s arrest “disappointing” and “unfortunate,” but made a point to say it will not be a distraction to the Steelers as they prepare for the Chiefs (12-4).
“To be involved in the NFL is an honor and a privilege. It’s not a right,” Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly televised news conference. “We should respect it as such. Obviously, that was breached in this circumstance, and there are consequences to be suffered because of it.
“In this league, we are all held to a standard of decorum, for players, but coaches, front-office people, executives, even more so, and rightfully so. We are treating this with the attention that it deserves.”
Porter was arrested Sunday night outside a South Side bar after the Steelers’ 30-12 wild-card playoff victory against Miami. The Steelers announced Monday Porter has been placed on “leave” pending review of the incident. When asked who will assume Porter’s responsibilities this week, Tomlin said, “We’re not ready to say he won’t be a part of it.”
Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was the team’s long-time linebackers coach before he was promoted two years ago. Also, Jerry Olsavsky coaches the inside linebackers, but could handle the outside duties as well.
Of course, it’s highly likely James Harrison doesn’t need a whole lot of coaching at this point in his career.
“We are not overly concerned with it being a distraction for us, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said. “It’s our job to deal with and overcome distractions and things that pop up from time to time. Sometimes those things are highly publicized, like this incident, and sometimes they aren’t publicized at all.
“This is common knowledge and a public issue. So I see how it could be viewed as such, but, inside this building, it won’t be. It will just be one of the myriad of things that we have to deal with as professionals. It doesn’t change what is expected from us. It won’t change our approach to prepare for what is expected from us.”
Tomlin accepts blame
Tomlin defended his decision to leave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the Miami game despite holding an 18-point lead, but admitted he got “a little over-aggressive” and shouldn’t have called for a pass on the third-down play in which Roethlisberger injured his right foot.
Roethlisberger was wearing a walking boot after the game, but Tomlin said he merely aggravated a foot injury and should be fine to practice and play this week.
“We felt Ben’s presence in the game would aid us in closing the game out, via the run,” Tomlin said. “A lot of our run game was check-oriented, based on what we saw from the defense, and he had a better part of the game to see those checks and to put us in the appropriate calls in an effort to do it.”
But, on third-and-3 at the Miami 46 with 4:23 remaining, Tomlin called for a pass play — a drag route to Demarcus Ayers similar to one the Steelers ran earlier in the second quarter. But when Ayers ran the wrong route, Roethlisberger tried to extend the play and injured his foot when he was tackled from behind by linebacker Cameron Wake.
“I take responsibility for throwing it on third down,” Tomlin said. “I got a little overaggressive there. And it goes beyond taking responsibility. I made the call. So don’t ask Todd [Haley] about it on Thursday. I made the call. And I take responsibility for that.”
Backup running back/kick returner Fitz Toussaint has been placed in concussion protocol, joining tight end Ladarius Green, who appeared to be getting better last week until he sustained some form of setback.
Tomlin said Toussaint developed concussion-like symptoms after the Miami game.
Green was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday last week and appeared to be on course to play against the Dolphins. But Green did not practice Friday, an indication he either experienced more difficulty with symptoms after exertion or didn’t progress far enough to be cleared by an independent neurologist.
“I told you guys he was in the protocol, and he wouldn’t be cleared until he was out of the protocol,” Tomlin said. “He’s still in the protocol.”
Tomlin said safety Sean Davis (shoulder) will be monitored after coming out of the game a couple of times against Miami.
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.
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