Tomlin Q & A: "Problem with 'thug' comment"
Q. Anthony Smith has caused some reaction with some of his hits here in camp. What is the coaching staff’s reaction? Is this anything that concerns you?
A. We want to practice with great practice etiquette. I think that is important and I think that some of the reactions to some of those things are overblown. He is very sensitive, too, and our guys are very sensitive. I think at one point his actions were
referred to as “thuggery,” or he was referred to as a “thug.” We take offense to that. These are young, professional people. They are very good at what they do and very sensitive to how they are portrayed in a public light. I was offended by the reference. He is not a thug, he is a young, professional football player who is trying to be at his best and he plays the game very physically.
Q. How do you handle that with your guys?
A. We talk about it and we understand that perception all the time is not reality and this is what we do and not who we are. We try to keep the lines clear in that regard. Sometimes things are said or written that are hurtful. He was hurt by that.
Q. Did you have any problems with him hitting Hines Ward?
A. Absolutely. We desire to be professional and practice with great professional etiquette. We understand that we fall short of perfection sometimes. That happens. This is a physical and emotional game played by those kind of people, but it doesn’t necessarily make him a thug.
Q. Is Byron Leftwich a 4-to-6-week guy as the No. 2 quarterback, or does he have a chance to hold that job?
A. We’re just going to let the play talk. You know how we do it. We’re going to evaluate what we see based on performance. At this point, he is a member of the Pittsburgh
Steelers. We have a level of expectation, he has a level of expectation. Hopefully they meet and he goes out and plays well and then those are good problems to have, problems
we’ll address at the appropriate time.
Q. Can you talk about the possibility of Dennis Dixon playing other positions?
A. We haven’t explored the idea of playing him outside of the quarterback position. I think that the quarterback position is quite enough for him right now. He is doing some nice things and showing some improvements.
Q. Are you worried at all about how the NFL’s new policy on fan behavior might affect the atmosphere at Heinz Field?
A. As far as I know, our fans are great. They cheer for us and cheer for us appropriately. It’s a great atmosphere. I think it’s something when you walk into the stadium as a visitor that you know it is going to be a hostile crowd. But you know we are looking for hostile in the right way and I think our fans provide that. I’m excited about making that drive across the bridge to the North Side. That feeling doesn’t get old.
Q. When you watch Willie Parker on the practice field, are you seeing a guy who is fully recovered physically and mentally?
A. I don’t know about physically, but mentally he is in great shape. Willie is a really tough guy. I think he is better equipped to answer where he feels at this point than I am. I know visually he looks like Willie Parker. Where he is, is probably better indicated as where he is between practices and after practices and how he recovers from action.
He has done a nice job of that. But on the practice field he is Willie Parker, he has been good.
Q. What growth do you expect from Santonio Holmes in his third NFL season?
A. Santonio wants to be great, and he wants to do what is required to be great. He came in in absolute awesome physical condition and in great shape. He is a good worker
and is very vocal. He communicates with young receivers, older receivers, with our quarterbacks. We expect great things from him and I think that he expects great things
Q. Can you talk about the decision to activate Casey Hampton from the physically unable to perform list?
A. Significantly, what we did when we put him on PUP, it was the Sunday that we reported. The next Sunday, we met and evaluated the progress. We met again the following Sunday, evaluated the progress and felt that it was up to snuff. I was very impressed. He is down a significant amount of weight. He is ready to go, but by no means is he a finished product. He will continue to get extra work after practice as we continue to push to where we want to be. The whole emphasis is to make sure that he is
the most dominant nose tackle in football. He understands that and is committed to that. I like where we are. We are on the planet, we are moving in that direction.
Q. You made a point last year that sacks are not always the fault of the offensive linemen; receivers and the quarterback also come into play. Is that still your opinion, and what are you doing to rectify the number of sacks this team has allowed the last couple of years?
A. That is my opinion and that will always be my opinion. Protection of the quarterback is a unit thing. From pass protection of the offensive line, blitz pick-up by the running back, potential sight adjustments of receivers, quarterbacks and receivers being on the same
page. It is just the evolution of all of the men on our offense and there is a maturation process. I think that is what we are going through. I think we will be better in year two than we were in year one. We better be. Protection of our quarterback is critical to us being successful. I think we are taking steps in the right direction in that regard. I’ve been pleased with the pocket for the most part here in training camp, particularly in our play-action passes as I’ve stated several times. There is going to be some clarity. It has to be. Decisions need to be made quicker because familiarity is increased.
Re: Tomlin Q & A: "Problem with 'thug' comment"
10 good answers!! He's going to be a nice coach for us for years to come!