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Conference Call: Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin




(on if the Titans-Steelers game is still a special rivalry despite not being division rivals or if it is just a measuring stick of where the two teams are at)

It's probably more of a measuring stick because they are perennially a good, competitive football team.  It's kind of a window to how you stack up against the best in the AFC.

(on how the Titans are different with Vince Young at quarterback as opposed to Kerry Collins)

I think their offense still flows through Chris Johnson, as it should.  He has a strong argument for being the best player in the world right now.  They have some concept things, some speed option things, some designed things that highlight Vince's athleticism and pedigree, but largely their personality is their personality and their offense flows through 28.

(on how different the Steelers are with Dennis Dixon at quarterback as opposed to a veteran quarterback)

We are probably different for multiple reasons right now.  It's the early portion of the season, we are developing our personality, if you will, we're still developing from a skill standpoint.  We've got some young guys infused in a lot of critical spots.  Maurkice Pouncey is a young center that's got to make the declaration in things that come with playing center.  We've got a young quarterback, so for a lot of reasons we've got a governor, if you will, in terms of the things that we're asking people to do.

(on what an overtime game-winning run does for Rashard Mendenhall's development)

It's a game winner.  I think it speaks for itself; just delivering big-time plays at appropriate moments is what being a good player is about.  He's got desire to be that, and if he continues to string together game-deciding plays such as that I'm sure people will start viewing him that way.

(on former Steelers and current Titans wide receiver Nate Washington)

I can't speak to what he did a year ago, he's a Titan, but that play that he had last week is indicative of what Nate is capable of.  We're quite used to seeing that.  Nate was a big-time, splash player for us, made game-changing plays, and was a big reason why we were Super Bowl Champions a few years back.

(on how Mike Wallace fits into the recent history of Steelers wide receivers)

He's a guy who has a distinguishing characteristic which is top-end speed.  He too has made some big plays as a young guy here, and really stepping in for a role that Nate Washington occupied a year ago.  Of course he did solid with that assignment, so we dumped more on him.  Quite frankly, he's a starter now, so we're asking that guy to develop a complete game, not only in terms of being able to run by people, but run quality routes, move the chains and block and so forth.  I think he's embracing the challenge, he's still a work in progress like a lot of young people, but we're not displeased with how he's doing.

(on his philosophy of being forth coming about injuries and lineup changes)

Let's be honest, the information gets out anyway.  We have a philosophy around here that injuries are part of the game, just as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling.  The standards of expectations are the same for those that replace the injured man, as they are for the injured man.  We're going to play Steeler football, the people that have to step up have to do so, but largely the information gets out anyway.

(on if there is a competitive advantage to gain by not disclosing that information)

I'm sure there's an advantage in some form or fashion, but for us we want to focus on energy and direction on what we can control, and that's our readiness, our level of preparation and making sure our people are ready to go.  I'm not going to lose a bunch of sleep in things that are outside my control or peripheral things, if you will.

(on if some former Titans stepping on the Terrible Towels after a Titans-Steelers game in 2008 still resonates with him)

No, what sticks with me is the sound beating they gave us.

(on how LP Field ranks around the league in terms of crowd noise)

It's as tough a place to play as any.  It doesn't need an endorsement from me; I think facts back that up.  I think there are more opponent false starts in that stadium over the last several years than any stadium in football.  It increases the degree of difficulty but those are the challenges that come with playing and competing in the National Football League, particularly on the road.  It's a challenge that if we're going to be a good football team, we better be prepared to embrace.

(on if he thought Calvin Johnson's dropped pass should have been a touchdown)

I thought it was a touchdown.

(on if he has addressed that play with his team)


(on if that rule needs to be amended)

No, I don't think anything is wrong with the rule per say, I just think in that particular instance the process of making the catch was over.  I think he caught the ball, his butt hit the ground and then his hand hit the ground and the ball came out of his hand.  That is just one man's personal opinion, I understand the letter of the rule.  I'm a supporter of the rule and all of the rules.  I'm less concerned about challenging rules and more concerned about playing within the rules of the game that are prescribed.  I acknowledge what the rule says, but in that specific instance I didn't think the catch itself fell within the guidelines of the rule.  I thought the catch was completed.

(on what stands out to him about the Titans defense)

It's a typical Titans defense.  They've got a deep rotation up front; they're attacking, penetrating, very disruptive.  The linebackers do a nice job of playing behind the stunters, they show a great blend of patience and aggression; at times they run through gaps, at times they're patient and play behind their front.  The secondary is a rock-solid tackling unit; they minimize big plays and they have minimized big plays against us in the past by tackling ball carriers in the open field and minimizing yards after the catch.  That is one of the things that I think they do well—from a safety standpoint and a corner standpoint.  I think that (Jason) McCourty and Cortland Finnegan are as solid of a tackling tandem as there is.

(on if he likes that his team has been overtime tested in the first week of the season the last two years)

We don't have any I-AA teams on our schedule.  I'll take it however I can get it.

(on if he thinks the Raiders increased production in the second half against the Titans defense is something the Steelers can attack)

I don't think the yards they gave up in the second half is any indication of what they're capable of.  Quite frankly, they jumped all over Oakland, and Oakland fought back a little bit and sometimes those things happen when people jump up on people.  It was a complete and decisive football game played by the Tennessee Titans last week.

(on how he anticipates the Titans defending Dennis Dixon)

I don't have any control over their preparation or plan.  I'm sure (Titans defensive coordinator) Chuck Cecil is in control of that, along with Coach Fisher.  All I'm concerned about is making sure that Dennis is prepared.

(on how Dennis Dixon has been in regard to being blitzed by opposing defenses)

He's been very good.

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