It was not surprising when Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed he would play quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Saturday night's second preseason game against the New York Giants, even though he declined to divulge how long and when he would use his two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
After all, Roethlisberger acknowledged as much earlier in the week, and confirmed it again Thursday morning after the final official practice of training camp at Saint Vincent College.
Nor was it surprising when Tomlin said center Justin Hartwig would start against the Giants, but rookie No. 1 Maurkice Pouncey would rotate with him on the first-team offensive line. The Steelers did that last week against the Detroit Lions, and Pouncey was sensational.
- Game: Steelers at New York Giants, New Meadowlands Stadium.
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
- TV: KDKA.
But it was something of a surprise when Tomlin said Flozell Adams would start at right tackle, but that he planned to rotate him with Jonathan Scott with the first-team offense -- an indication the Steelers may not have settled on Adams as the replacement for injured Willie Colon.
"Everybody with a helmet on is in the mix," Tomlin said when asked if Scott, who started eight games last season for the Buffalo Bills, is battling Adams for that position. "We just want to see Jonathan Scott."
Perhaps, but they want to see him with the other starters on the offensive line, and that includes Pouncey, who is destined to be the starting center when the regular season begins Sept. 12 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Adams, 35, is trying to adjust to the right side after playing his entire career at left tackle with the Dallas Cowboys. But he might be struggling more than the Steelers are letting on.
He gave up a sack against the Detroit Lions when he was beaten on a speed rush by defensive end Cliff Avril. And, because he was signed right before training camp, he is still learning the playbook. Right guard Trai Essex is helping Adams with his assignments when they come to the line of scrimmage.
"We'll continue to look at those guys and see some of those guys with the ones," Tomlin said.
The Steelers signed Scott, 27, in free agency at the request of the team's new offensive line coach Sean Kugler, who coached Scott with the Bills. At 6-foot-6, 318 pounds, Scott is not as big as Adams, who is nicknamed "The Hotel" because of his massive size (6-7, 338).
But he was being positioned as the replacement for Colon, who had season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, before Adams was signed right before camp.
"We got some guys who are working and we want to see them," Tomlin said.
He will get his first game look at Roethlisberger, who did not play in the opening preseason victory against the Lions.
Tomlin said the starters will play at least 24 snaps, maybe more, and rest assured Roethlisberger will be used somewhere in that time frame, even if he doesn't start.
As he did last week, Tomlin was noncommittal about how he will use Roethlisberger.
"It's not finalized as of yet," Tomlin said during a news conference at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. "Some of those decisions are made last-minute in the preseason. That's just how it goes."
One decision, though, that apparently is not last-minute: The Steelers quietly plan to start Roethlisberger in the final preseason game at home against the Carolina Panthers Sept. 2 as a subtle reminder, before he serves his suspension, that Roethlisberger is the No. 1 quarterback.
"I hope so," Roethlisberger said Thursday as he walked off the practice field. "I want to play."
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com .