On the Steelers: Tomlin agrees with Keisel's criticism
Coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media in his weekly news conference Tuesday at the Steelers' South Side training facility.
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It's not often football coaches admit they made a mistake, it's more unusual for one to say what Mike Tomlin did at his press conference Tuesday.
Tomlin agreed with Brett Keisel's Sunday assessment that the Steelers were not ready to play against the San Diego Chargers. The coach also admitted he did not try a two-point conversion with six minutes left because "it was bleak at that point."
Keisel declared several times after their 34-24 loss against San Diego that the team was not ready. Tomlin did not disagree, but did so from the vantage point of his team having lost the game, not necessarily from anything he saw leading up to it.
"I don't mind a guy speaking the truth as he sees it under any circumstances," Tomlin said of Keisel's remarks. "I'm a result-oriented guy and the result of that performance would lead you to believe that that's a possibility. So, I don't run away from that. The proof is in the pudding. I felt good about our preparation and our overall game-readiness but our play didn't display that. I agree with him. We'll go back to the lab and work in an effort to put it on tape this week."
Tomlin clarified his Sunday remarks about the two-point conversion. He said he thought the question concerned the Steelers' first touchdown, late in the third quarter, that made it 27-10 with the kick.
"I thought we had a better chance to sneak back into the game if we didn't. If they went into a chew-the-clock mentality in terms of running the ball, I thought we could get the quick stops necessary to get back in the game if they did that."
He still did not entertain going for two when Mike Wallace caught Ben Roethlisberger's 11-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 34-16, he said. There was 6:07 left.
They could have cut the lead to 16 points (or a pair of touchdowns and two-point conversions) with a two-point conversion. Tomlin opted to kick because "it was bleak." At 34-17, the Steelers then needed two touchdowns and a field goal to overtake the Chargers.
More and more injuries
Injured players keep coming and going into the Steelers' lineup. While rookie David DeCastro could make his first NFL start at guard Sunday and LaMarr Woodley should return to play, the Steelers might have lost another starting cornerback as well as offensive left guard Willie Colon.
DeCastro, added to the roster from the injured-reserve list three weeks ago after a preseason knee injury, played on place-kicks Sunday. While healthy, the Steelers wanted to make sure his knee had regained enough strength for it to hold up in a full game, particularly when he must try to pass-block 350-pound defensive linemen.
"We believe that his health is at a level now that we can put him in and watch him prepare during the course of the week," Tomlin said." If we like what we see, he may have an opportunity to play."
If he does, he will start at right guard, where he is comfortable. Veteran Ramon Foster would move to left guard.
Colon had surgery on his left knee Monday after it was re-injured Sunday. He will miss the rest of the regular season, and there will be discussions about whether to put him on injured reserve.
More trouble is brewing in the secondary, which already is missing starting cornerback Ike Taylor because of a hairline fracture of his right ankle. His replacement, Cortez Allen, has a hip flexor injury.
"[Allen] is going to be definitely limited at the early portions of the week, and it may put his participation in question," Tomlin said.
Starting cornerback Keenan Lewis also has a hip flexor injury, but Tomlin said he expects him to "perk up." If Allen cannot play, Curtis Brown could start, but he was yanked from Sunday game in the nickel defense because Tomlin did not like what he saw.
Josh Victorian, who was signed Saturday from the practice squad, replaced Brown during the game against San Diego. Demarcus Van Dyke, plucked off waivers from Oakland Sept. 1, is the other cornerback on the roster.
"Both guys aren't afraid of the competition. Josh, particularly, is very ball-aware and has good ball skills," Tomlin said. "Van Dyke has played a lot of ball, particularly prior to getting here. He's game-tested."
Tomlin said backup quarterback Byron Leftwich also should return to practice after missing the past three games because of broken ribs.
Dwyer remains starter at RB
There will be no change at running back Sunday. Rashard Mendenhall, of course, will not suit up because of his one-game suspension.
Tomlin said he will go with the status quo, which means Jonathan Dwyer will start, Isaac Redman will back him up and Chris Rainey will also be active.
The Steelers rushed for just 69 yards on 17 carries against San Diego, 32 by Dwyer and 31 by Ben Roethlisberger on five scrambles. "Obviously, we didn't run the ball in a manner in which we would have liked on Sunday, but really it was more of a function of situations than our ability to run the football," Tomlin said. "We didn't convert third downs in the first half. They did. It led to a lopsided time of possession."
First Published December 12, 2012 12:00 am