Steelers won't make concessions to age
By John Harris
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Hines Ward agreed, James Farrior disagreed and Brett Keisel was amused by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's suggestion that the short turnaround for Thursday night's game against Carolina at Heinz Field favors the 2-12 Panthers.
At his weekly news conference on Monday, Tomlin said his veteran-heavy roster could be at a disadvantage with only three days to prepare following Sunday's loss to the New York Jets.
"You've got to acknowledge it's an advantage for Carolina," Tomlin said. "They're a younger team than we are."
Said Carolina coach John Fox of Tomlin's Steelers (10-4) being at a disadvantage: "You've got to come up with something. Tell Mike that was a good one."
Tuesday is normally the players' day off. In preparation for their second game in five days, they went though a full practice. A walk-through is scheduled for today.
One of the team's elder statesmen, Ward, 34, said he agreed with Tomlin's assessment of his veterans.
On defense, six starters are 30 and older. On offense, Ward and right tackle Flozell Adams are the only starters 30 and older.
"It's true. We've got to rest," said Ward, who's second on the team with 51 receptions for 672 yards. "A lot of our veterans played their tails off against the Jets. It takes veterans usually a day or two (to recover from the previous game). But there's no time to sit around and rest, especially coming off a short week after a physical game."
Farrior, 35, said Tomlin's public attempt at motivating his veterans is unnecessary.
"Not after you get whipped the week before," said Farrior, who's second on the team in tackles. "I think everybody's excited to get out there. We were ready to play the next day.
"Maybe that's his way of motivating us this week. He didn't bring it up at meetings, but he knew we were going to hear about it sooner or later. That doesn't bother us."
Farrior suggested that players should do more off-field preparation to compensate for less practice time this week.
"Older guys, we don't need motivation like that," Farrior said. "We're already self-motivated. It's not going to work for the old, old guys."
Keisel, 32, missed five starts at defensive end because of injuries, but he's rounding into late-season form. He said veterans like him learned through the years how to bounce back during a short week.
"It's no secret we've got some 30-something-year-old guys around here. But we've also got an ice tub and good beds at home to rest in," Keisel said. "A lot of us have been in postseason play, a lot of us know what it takes. We're just going to lean on our experience."
Ward believes one of the Steelers' strong points is the ability of veterans and younger players to work together.
"We don't need our younger guys to start hitting the wall," Ward said. "We need them to stay strong while we get rest. And then we need to complement each other and go from there.
"We know what's at stake. It's time for our veterans to step up and start making plays and lead the way."
John Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org