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|05-12-2007, 08:14 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2006
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First day of minicamp in the can.........
Wow........Tomlin's much more vocal than Cowher was......as I was reading his quotes, I could hear his voice in my head and see him biting his lower lip. Is it September yet??????????
A typical minicamp in all ways
Friday, May 11, 2007
By BOB LABRIOLA
In Mike Tomlin's world, issues that arise, even the prickly ones, are to be handled in a straightforward and professional manner. And in Mike Tomlin's world, actions speak louder than words.
The Pittsburgh Steelers opened their three-day mandatory minicamp on Friday with two sessions on the fields at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex, and if all players were present and accounted for, not all were whistling while they worked.
Alan Faneca, a nine-year veteran who is entering the final season of his contract, reported as required but he also made it clear he is unhappy with his situation. During a media session that lasted longer than five minutes between practices, Faneca stated his case in a definitive manner. Following the day's second practice, Coach Mike Tomlin answered questions about what the Steelers' All-Pro guard had to say.
"I heard that he was a little upset," said Tomlin of Faneca. "That's part of it. It doesn't surprise me, which is to say that anytime you have a group of 80 men, to think that you'd have total harmony is unrealistic. I know one thing: he practiced well this morning and this afternoon, and that's what's important. He's here and he's practicing well."
As a first-year coach, Tomlin is going through the process of building relationships with the players in the locker room, and he was asked whether a vocally unhappy player of Faneca's stature could undermine what he's trying to establish.
"It's worrisome, but at the same time, everything I've heard about Alan is that he's a professional, he loves to play the game," said Tomlin. "Usually you worry very little about those guys. When it's time to play football, they play football. Whether or not you get leadership from him, that's another thing. You have to be careful sometimes what you ask of people from a leadership standpoint. What's required is that he plays well and plays up to his ability."
One of the things Faneca said was that 2007 definitely was going to be his last season with the Steelers, and Tomlin was asked if a statement such as that threatened what the head coach is attempting to establish in his first season here.
"If you're defensive (it will)," said Tomlin. "Negotiations and the CBA and the things we're going through right now with him are probably like other teams in other cities are going through. It's an emotional thing for him, and rightly so. It's his livelihood, that's what he does. But from an organization standpoint, we're going through the negotiation process, and we're not talking about it a great deal publicly because that's our policy. Along the line, he's going to express some frustration, but as long as he does what he's supposed to do professionally, which is come to work for mandatory minicamps and play football at a high level like he did today, then we move forward. If you get defensive, then it's a problem."
Tomlin's NFL coaching career may have spanned only six seasons before this one, but he said he has had some experience with established veteran players being dissatisfied with contracts.
"Not to make light of the situation, but it's all a re-run," said Tomlin. "If you stay in the league long enough, you'll run across it, particularly on teams that have great players and have experienced team success. It comes with it. It's part of the things that create distractions, it's part of the things you've got to fight, part of the things you've got to do to sustain greatness as an organization. It's part of the territory in today's NFL.
"Not to make light of the situation, but we're in the process of dealing with it, and our preference is to deal with it privately because that's how we conduct our business in that area."
Tomlin also got his first look at Kevan Barlow, the veteran running back the Steelers signed on Thursday to provide competition for the backup spots behind starter Willie Parker.
"I like Kevan Barlow," said Tomlin. "I've competed against him several times since he's been in the league. He has feature back capabilities, he can run down-hill on people, he has caught quite a few passes. He came up in this league having a respect for blitz pickup, having been taught by Garrison Hearst and Tom Rathman. Of course, he's a Pittsburgh native and loves the Steelers. He's been bounced around by the profession a little bit of late. He needs an opportunity, a fresh start, and he expressed an interest in being part of us. We have an interest in him. I'm looking forward to seeing how that sorts out on the practice field."
As for what transpired on the practice fields during the two sessions on Friday, Tomlin characterized it as typical for this time of the year.
"We probably took a step back from where we finished out last minicamp, but that happens when you have some time off," said Tomlin. "We challenged them as the first practice went on, and they came back and executed with more detail in the afternoon. But the energy, the enthusiasm was real good. I complimented the guys on their level of communication, and that's big this time of year, because if you're talking that shows some level of understanding. We're in the business of teaching right now, and that's going well."
INJURY UPDATE: LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) and Lawrence Timmons (groin) sustained minor leg injuries during the morning workout. "It's typical, rookies trying to make a first impression, probably trying too hard," said Tomlin. "Don't know the extent of those injuries, probably minor, but they will limit those guys the rest of this weekend." Tomlin also said Santonio Holmes fell on his shoulder in the morning session, but he fought through it and practiced in the afternoon.
"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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