On the Steelers: Reed will play Sunday
It may not be the arrest as much as the timing of it.
That was how Mike Tomlin explained why he is permitting Jeff Reed to kick Sunday for the Steelers against the Minnesota Vikings at Heinz Field even though the coach benched Santonio Holmes for one game a year ago after he was arrested.
Reed was cited by Pittsburgh police Sunday night while Holmes' was cited on a Thursday night.
"Probably the only difference in the situations is the time of the week in which it occurred," Tomlin said during his news conference yesterday.
"Santonio's incident occurred on a Thursday evening. It basically became something we had to deal with on a Friday leading up to a football game. We chose to deactivate him to minimize the distraction and continue preparation for the football game, and really dealt with his situation the following Monday."
Holmes was not docked any pay by the Steelers, who merely made him one of eight inactives for that Oct. 26 game at Heinz Field against the New York Giants, who won, 21-14. The case against Holmes for marijuana possession was dismissed this year. Reed was charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication, simple assault and resisting arrest in a tussle with Pittsburgh police.
On Friday before the game against the Giants last year, Tomlin explained his decision on Holmes this way: "At this point we've chosen to name him as inactive. His situation has created somewhat of a distraction and we want to minimize that as much as we can and remain focused on the task at hand."
Yesterday, Tomlin said Holmes' deactivation "was not punitive."
"It was done to minimize the distraction and to prepare for a football game that was closing in on 48 hours away from the incident," the coach said.
"We're handling this in a similar manner. It's just that it happened on a Sunday and we're afforded the opportunity of dealing with it and address it on a Monday or Tuesday, similar to how we did the Santonio thing, which we addressed after that weekend's game."
What cannot be avoided, though, is the message that if you are going to be arrested, do it early in the week if you want to play in that Sunday's game. Or, be a kicker?
The Steelers only have one place-kicker; they had other receivers to take Holmes' spot in the lineup. The team would have to sign another kicker if Reed were benched Sunday, and it's unlikely they would find one as dependable. Also, they would have to release someone from the roster to make room for another kicker.
"It makes it difficult," Tomlin said. "But all of those type of decisions are difficult. Whether you've got a replacement on the roster or not, when you're talking about pulling people out of lineups and so forth, it's not conducive to winning. I think that's the reason why those caliber of guys are here, because they're capable of helping us win."
What went unsaid -- and unasked -- is if Reed were arrested by police on a Thursday night, would he have been benched? And where is the cutoff for a Steelers player being arrested and being allowed to play on a Sunday -- Wednesday night, Tuesday night?
Rashard Mendenhall is No. 1 at halfback. Tomlin did not put it that way, but he said it in so many words.
"At this point, it's ongoing," Tomlin said of the halfback job between Mendenhall and Willie Parker. "But I will acknowledge that Rashard has earned the right to take the majority of snaps as we proceed. I think that's how we approach a lot of what we do. Who's going to give us the best chance to win on a week-to-week basis?"
Mendenhall has a 5.1-yard average per carry, and has rushed for 304 yards during his three starts for the injured Parker -- all victories.
"Rashard has had the hot hand the last several weeks," Tomlin said. "He's been given the opportunity due to the injury to Willie Parker and he's really taken advantage of it."
Mendenhall also calmed the call for Isaac "Red Zone" Redman with his four short touchdown runs in the past three games.
Mendenhall limped out of the locker room Sunday with what Tomlin described as a bruised knee, but the coach said "it shouldn't affect his play whatsoever."
Everyone else, Tomlin said, should return to play Sunday, including backup linebacker Andre Frazier (thigh bruise).
Lawrence Timmons likely will lose one of his two sacks from Sunday's game against Cleveland, the only two the Steelers had against the Browns.
Coaches grade their players each Monday and they gave James Farrior and Timmons each a sack instead of the two given to Timmons by the unofficial press box stats crew. Normally, the Elias Sports Bureau reviews a disputed sack play and should reverse this one and give it to Farrior.
Travis Kirschke had three tackles and a quarterback pressure while playing most of the snaps for injured Aaron Smith. Nick Eason spelled Kirschke and right end Brett Keisel, and rookie Ziggy Hood got into seven plays at left end.
First Published October 21, 2009 12:00 am