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12-31-2008, 05:07 AM
Keeping their edge
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com

The Steelers began to take advantage of their bye week on Tuesday, preparing for their AFC Divisional Playoff game on January 11 by doing one main thing.

“We met with them and talked to them about what we needed to accomplish during the bye week and that is quite simply to get better,” said head coach Mike Tomlin. “Individually and collectively, identifying some areas that maybe we are deficient in from a technical standpoint.

“We had a great deal of individual time at our practice to work on their growth and skill development. I am a true believer that we need to continue to sharpen our tools for the battles that await us and we are capable of getting better even at this juncture of the season.”

The team will continue with the same approach on Wednesday and Thursday, before getting the weekend off. Tomlin feels that this approach will help the players maintain their competitive edge even while they have some time off.

“Doing the program we prescribed for the men this week and that is to identify minute details, areas in which we can improve, specifically in things that we are doing positionally and technically (will maintain the edge),” said Tomlin. “That is why you schedule the practices in the way that we have done it, where defensive linemen spend a great deal of time with Coach John Mitchell working on their skills, etc.

“Then you have the opportunity to bring it all together and compete. Quarterbacks working with wide receivers and timing, coverage and rush working together defensively, I think that is the only way to do it and that is the way we are approaching it.”
While individual work is a key focus, there also is time devoted to the offense and defense going against each other without mimicking an opponent.

“We had an opportunity to compete a little bit, Steelers vs. Steelers, pass under pressure, third-downs, opportunity for some people to get work in those areas and I thought it was very productive,” said Tomlin.

Tomlin has chosen this route instead of using the three days of practice to prepare for each of the three potential opponents the team might face, mainly because they are already familiar with them. They played both Indianapolis and San Diego this year, and last year played the Miami Dolphins, the other potential team they could play.

“We have a luxury where we have pretty much seen everybody that we are going to see anyway,” said Tomlin. “We haven’t seen Miami, but we played them a year ago, later in the year, and are pretty familiar with their personnel. So there will be very little surprises from that standpoint when we find out who we play.”

http://news.steelers.com/article/101585/