Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin's Conference Call to Nashville Media

HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN

(on last year's game vs. the Titans and possibly anticipating playing again in the playoffs)

I knew that if we handled our business and they handled theirs, we definitely were going to run into each other. They were a top-quality team so you'd imagine. We had a feeling when we left Nashville that in order to do what we wanted to do we'd probably have to come back there.

(on how excited people in Pittsburgh are for the game vs. the Titans on Thursday)

Well you know, it's Pittsburgh, Pa. and it's football season so it's that buzz in the air. It's an added bonus that we get to do it on Thursday night in primetime with all the things that come with the kickoff game. It's a good vibe, it's a good feeling and it's an exciting thing to be a part of.

(on how tough it is to go through the roster cuts and prepare for a game)

It's really a non-issue and I say that because Tennessee has the same issues. We'll all kind of step in that stadium on Thursday night on an even plain, if you will. That's just the nature of this business, you know. At times you get obscure schedules, you play on Thursday night and so forth. It's the same discomfort for both teams, so really it's irrelevant.

(on Nate Washington and his time in Pittsburgh)

Nate is a spark-plug. He's a spark-plug because the quality of his play but also because his personality. Nate is an energetic guy, he brings life to a locker room. They got a great player in Nate. He's starter capable. He's been given opportunities in the past few years to play in that role here and he's always delivered for us. I'd imagine he's going to do the same thing for those guys.

(on how it will be to play at home vs. the Titans)

They're a good football team and when you play good football teams usually game location doesn't matter. We're not going to assume that home field is an advantage to us. You know, the game is going to be played inside the white lines so we better be prepared to be at our best.

(on the Titans' interior defensive line without Albert Haynesworth)

They're one of the most disruptive and deep defensive lines in football. They dominated us, quite frankly, in Nashville last year and they did it without Albert Haynesworth. I imagine that life without Albert Haynesworth is going to be business as usual for those guys.

(on the advantage of seeing DT Jason Jones possibly helping with preparation)

Well, we kind of knew it was coming. We interviewed Jason at the Combine. We brought him in prior to the draft. We liked him, we saw him coming and we still couldn't do anything about it. Hopefully we fair a little better this time.

(on the Terrible Towel incident)

Our players won't be worked up over that. We've spent a great deal of time talking about the '08 season is in our past. It's no different than the '74-'75 Steelers for that matter. We mean that. We take that approach to where we are. Although some of the guys are the same, last year's history. Some of the things that maybe happened with opponents fall into the same category. I told some guys the other day maybe Billy "White Shoes" Johnson did something when he played for the Oilers back in the day that could piss some people off, but that's irrelevant, it's history.

(on if the fans remember the Terrible Towel incident)

You know, there's a lot of things that pump fans up that got nothing to do with playing and winning and losing. This is going to be two top-quality teams. They're going to play because it's opening night and there's going to be a lot of, both teams need to get off to a great start. Those are going to be the things that motivate these teams, the competition, the essence of the game as opposed to some footnote or something that happened in the past.

(on how important it is to play well in the season opener on prime time TV)

You know, I could care less about the setting, I just want to win. It's important that we do that. We approach all these games the same. This is not hockey or basketball, you got 80-something attempts, or baseball for that matter. You get 16 opportunities to state a case for getting into that single elimination tournament and this is our first one so it's a big one.

(on the challenges of coming off a Super Bowl victory and trying to repeat with teams gunning for you)

We try not to let some of those challenges rule our daily thought process. What people say about us or feel about us is irrelevant to us. We just trying to build our football team for '09, we hope that it's championship caliber. We respect the journey. We kind of know what the destination is about because we've got a lot of people that have been there but we're going to remain focused on the journey.

(on how to prepare for the Titans offense)

Quite frankly, Kerry Collins and the reason I say that is, this is a savvy veteran quarterback and he does not beat himself. I think he was third in the NFL in interception percentage a year ago. He was fourth in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt. That lets you know that this guy is not going to step in stadiums and lose football games. And part of being a tough team to beat is first not beating yourself. He does that, he does that as good or as better as anyone in the game right now so it starts there. Of course, what they're able to do behind that offensive line with that tandem of backs is pretty impressive.

(on thoughts of the additions the Titans made to boost the offense including rookies)

They're impressive guys but like our rookies, I'm sure neither one of us know exactly what we're going to get from them when the lights come on. They made a nice account of themselves in the preseason. I'm more concerned about some known threats they have like Justin Gage and Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler who is a fierce inline blocker. They got enough returning weapons to be concerned about than to worry too much about the new guys.

(on if the opening game on a national stage is a tough debut for rookies)

Regardless of settings, I think it's a tough transition for all rookies. I just believe that. I believe that National Football League regular season speed of the game and so forth, that all those guys will be going through adjustments regardless of the stage or the significance or whether it's Thursday night or Sunday at 1.

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