Steelers' Tomlin likes revised roster
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on his team's offseason: "The things that tripped us up in '09 we're beginning to address."
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Quarterback was not the only position Mike Tomlin discussed here this week and, whether Ben Roethlisberger remains with the team all season or part of it, the coach believes the Steelers have improved themselves since the end of 2009.
"Really, I'm encouraged," Tomlin said Tuesday morning between sips on three cups of coffee and incessant questions about Roethlisberger. "I kind of like what we've done thus far in the offseason. The things that tripped us up in '09 we're beginning to address."
Tomlin said the other teams in the AFC North Division have improved as well, so the Steelers must keep pace.
"We've improved our depth at safety with the re-signing of Ryan Clark and Will Allen. We've improved our depth at linebacker by re-acquiring Larry Foote and that provides flexibility with Lawrence Timmons and so forth ... and you can say the same thing at the wide receiver position with the acquisition of Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle."
After losing five consecutive games on the way to a 9-7 finish that left them a tiebreaker out of the playoffs, the Steelers have the talent to make it three Super Bowls in six years, Tomlin believes.
"I want to be a world championship-caliber team this year. And we weren't a year ago. That's going to be our guide as we move forward in the decisions we make, strengthening ourselves in areas of depth and competition so that we can be one of those teams.
"Naturally, I feel comfortable with the core group that we have, that we're capable of being an elite team. We have work to do in that regard. We have to add to the pool of guys we have in that regard. That's what this time of year is about."
Tomlin cited the age of linebacker James Farrior as a reason Foote will help.
"There's not many 35-year-old football players particularly at the linebacker position. I think that's why it was important that we went out and got a guy like Larry Foote. Not only for [Farrior] specifically, but to create general competition at the linebacker position.
"Any time you have 35-year-old, you better strengthen yourself from a depth and competition standpoint because that's inevitable, that's part of the game. He's been extremely blessed to play as long as he's played it. He continues to play it at a high level in my opinion, but I'm not going to take that for granted as we push into August of 2010."
Tomlin also said he spoke to halfback Rashard Mendenhall about taking more steps to improve in his third season.
"I think he had a productive season. I think he's capable of a lot more to be quite honest with you. I've been pretty clear with him in terms of that with our exit interview. He's a very talented guy. He's still a very young guy. He was 20 years old when we got him. He's a guy that's on the rise, and I think he needs to have that mentality. Looking for him to do great things for us."
Steelers cornerback William Gay earned an additional $325,607 from the NFL in performance-based pay from last season, the NFL announced Tuesday, confirming unofficial reports from last week. As part of their contract with the players union, the NFL issues performance pay that takes into account a player's salary vs. the contributions he made to the team. The NFL issued an extra $109.5 million to its players in such pay based on the 2009 season.
• Mike Tomlin knew of the sexual assault allegations against his starting QB within hours of the alleged incident.
First Published March 24, 2010 12:00 am