Starters to get more work vs. Colts
Posted Aug 17, 2012
Teresa Varley - Steelers.com
The Steelers play their second preseason game on Sunday night when they host the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field and as expected the starting units will see more playing time.
“I’d like for them to play about twice as long as they did last time out,” said Tomlin. “That’s always a general reference but I always reserve the right to change it based on circumstance, performance, time of possession and things of that nature.”
The second preseason game is one where the rust should already be knocked off and the performances are stepped up a notch or two.
“The big thing is that I want to see a significant step in quality of play and an understanding of situational football and excelling in it,” said Tomlin. “That’s what the preseason is about, particularly the difference between game one and game two.”
As far as the quarterback rotation Tomlin said they are going with Ben Roethlisberger as the starter, Charlie Batch and Jarred Johnson, with veteran Byron Leftwich not playing.
“That’s a plan that we’ve approached going into this thing and we’re going to get Johnson a lot of work, particularly in the first two games,” said Tomlin. “He’s a guy that hasn’t had a bunch of in-game experience, particularly prior to this year. Even though he’s been in an NFL training camp, I think he’s only taken about four preseason snaps. We want to see what he is capable of, we want him get acclimated to an environment and give him a fair opportunity to see what he’s capable of.”
Johnson played the second half against the Eagles in the preseason opener, completing three of six passes for 93 yards.
“He’s a young guy that’s showing the growth and development that young guys show,” said Tomlin. “He’s had some good days and he’s had some days where he’s taken a step back. He’s sharp, he’s attentive, he has the desire to be great and he’s working extremely hard.”
Tackle Max Starks, who was taken off the physically unable to perform list earlier this week, has not been ruled out of playing on Sunday night, nor have other players coming back from injury.
“We’re going to let what happens on the field here today and tomorrow determine that, not only with him but with all of the guys,” said Tomlin. “That’s what I mean when I say I’m not ruling anyone out. Sean Spence is coming back and practicing today. Jonathan Dwyer came back and practiced yesterday, and others. We’re just going to let it play out and we’re not going to make any fast decisions because we don’t have to.
“Hopefully as game time approaches everyone will be available and have an opportunity to represent themselves and what they’re capable of doing.”
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While the preseason still rolls on for a few more weeks, the Steelers will finish up their work at St. Vincent College this weekend and return to the UPMC Sports Performance Complex for the remainder of training camp.
Tomlin said he liked what he saw from the team in camp, and was even pleased that for the most part the weather cooperated.
“It was interesting how weather was a question on a daily basis,” said Tomlin. “All that being said we didn’t miss much work due to weather. I think maybe we missed one period due to weather. But it seemed like it was something we dealt with just about every day.”
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Punter Jeremy Kapinos could begin working again, after missing a good portion of camp with a back injury.
“He’s working his way back but we’re going to let that work dictate his availability,” said Tomlin. “He’s coming back to us. He might even kick a football today.”
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Rookie Chris Rainey will get most of the work in the return game on Sunday night, but he won’t be the only one.
“We’re going to give Chris Rainey the bulk of the work early on. David Gilreath, we want to see what he’s capable of,” said Tomlin. “He missed the last game due to injury so it’s important to see what he’s capable of. Marquis Maze represented himself rather well when given the opportunity last game. Those will be the three primary guys that we work with unless something in-game that dictates otherwise.”