Steelers' Tomlin moving forward
There was talk of a juggling act and a circus, and certainly Mike Tomlin has or will encounter everything under the big top as he pilots the Steelers and their unique quarterback position through the rest of June, into and out of training camp and beyond.
It in-cludes the steps taken upon Ben Roethlisberger's return to the team this week and many more ahead in the quarterback's journey back. Wednesday, for example, everyone learned that Roethlisberger would reclaim his spot as the No. 1 quarterback for these spring practices. Tomlin says he has a plan for training camp as well, but he's keeping that private for now.
"I don't mind the circus atmosphere because I can't control it," Tomlin said after practice. "We're trying to focus on the things we can control. We recognize as a professional football team that's trying to be a world championship caliber team that there are certain things that come with being who we are that we have to accept, and we need to stay focused on what it is we are here to do, which is to improve. He will address the media at an appropriate time in the near future and continue to move forward."
Moving forward includes much work off the field and behind the scenes as the rehabilitation of Big Ben takes root. While the quarterback has not yet spoken publicly, he has been pleasant and relaxed with those who have crossed his path at the South Side facility the past two days.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who allowed Roethlisberger to rejoin the Steelers on Tuesday, will reduce his suspension from six games to four if he determines the quarterback has fulfilled the requirements asked of him. Tomlin and the team are working with him to accomplish what Goodell expects to see.
"We're doing a lot of things with Ben in terms of dealing with this situation, and not for the sole purposes of meeting the criteria so he can participate," Tomlin said. "More than anything it's about making proper corrections and moving forward with football and with his life. That's the spirit in which we're doing the things we're doing with him. We have no control over the commissioner's judgment or when it comes down or how it comes down."
Several teammates said they noticed a change in Roethlisberger since his return, and not just the excellent shape he was in when he reported back. Tomlin took a different approach when asked if he'd seen any changes.
"I'm not necessarily really looking for it. It's less about how we respond to this in the short term and even further less important what we say about it. It's more about how we move forward largely in the long term, knowing that he has a commitment to being what we desire for him to be and what his team needs him to be and that's my focus. I've seen Ben quite a bit and communicated with him quite a bit throughout all of this. So there hasn't been a period of time where I haven't seen Ben where some of his teammates have."
Roethlisberger continued to run with the Steelers' first team offense with Byron Leftwich back after his absence Tuesday.
Leftwich had run the first-team offense since his first minicamp practice April 30, but Wednesday he and Dennis Dixon split snaps with the backup units, and Charlie Batch mostly watched during team drills. Tomlin was asked how he plans to juggle the four through training camp, but he would only spell out his immediate plans.
"What we want to do is give Ben quality reps so he can get reacclimated and improve and work on his game," Tomlin said. "And we want to continue to give Dennis reps because he is a young guy. When you're talking about working with four quarterbacks, of course reps are going to be scarce in some instances. For the purposes of this week, if there is going to be a reduction in reps it is going to be at the expense of Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch."
The Steelers have four remaining spring practices before they break until the start of training camp July 30 -- one today and three next week.
First Published June 3, 2010 12:00 am