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Transcript: Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin conference call


On the decision to start Dennis Dixon at QB:

"It was kind of decided for us due to injury, and that is the case at times in this game. We went into the preseason with a pecking order if you will, based on what we saw in the offseason, OTA's and Mini-camp and so forth. QB Byron (Leftwich) was in the driver's seat, Dennis was second. We proceeded with a plan that was going to provide Dennis more snaps than Byron because he's a young guy. He took advantage of those snaps, he made it competitive. He got some first team snaps as we got into the thing. In the end, it was kind of decided for us due to the injury to Byron."

On what they can do with Dennis and if the playbook is at all limited:

"Dennis is a third year guy; he's been around here a little bit. He started a game for us last year. We're not reducing the playbook because of his youth or inexperience, more than anything if there's any reduction of the playbook it's simply because it's that time of year. Early in the year and so forth, we want to make sure that we're playing good, sound fundamental football and we're playing fast, in order to do that we've got to do things that we're all comfortable with. If there's any reduction in the playbook in this gameplan or in this game specifically it's for those reasons."

On what he sees when looking at the Falcons offense and QB Matt Ryan:

"They've got a bunch of weapons. I think they've got one of the premier young signal callers in the game of football. He quite frankly does just about everything well. He plays smart. He's tough, he'll stand in and deliver balls into tight spaces and take hits. He's extremely mobile. He's got a strong arm. The way he utilizes TE (Tony) Gonzalez is impressive. Gonzalez is always open because he's a crafty veteran. Even when he's covered he does a nice job of positioning his body and shielding defenders. WR Roddy White is an explosive guy. He's touchdown capable every time he touches the ball. Of course I'm familiar with him even back when he was a young guy when I was still in the NFC South. Of course RB Michael Turner is a tough guy to get on the ground. Not a lot of hit surface on him, he's built for running. We've got to get multiple people to the body, to the ball and we've got to wrap him up."

On young quarterbacks having respect for the football and in particular Dixon:

"Situational football are areas that you get concerned about when you're talking about young quarterbacks, third down and redzone. Those are generally areas where youth and inexperience turn up in terms of protection of the football. We've had a long week in terms of preparing for this game because like everybody we've been done since last Thursday. We've devoted extra time to that, but he understands that possession of the ball is what is utmost important. We can't take points off the board and things of that nature. Ultimately he's got to go out and play and we've got to trust in him that he's capable of doing that and playing above the line. The standard, or the standard for us, we expect him to play winning football and he understands that."

On how big the no-huddle offense has become around the League:

"So many people do it that it's becoming less of an issue to deal with defensively because like anything else more exposure breeds comfort. No question, we're going to have to deal with it. The issues that are issues with offenses in road stadiums are issues for defenses in home stadiums, so they're going to have to communicate and deal with crowd noise but we're going to have to do it as well and communicate defensively and get lined up and make sure that everybody is on the same page in the midst of our own home crowd noise. That's as much of an issue in dealing with it as the offense itself.

On the match-up of the offensive line against the Steelers run defense:

"They're capable of running the ball on anyone. I just watched that Redskins game this morning from last year, wish I hadn't done that because Turner really got after them. That's the nature of it and they've got a commitment there. They've got guys that are capable of controlling the line of scrimmage. Those guys do a nice job of pulling, the left guard there from Texas (OG Justin Blalock), a good violent football player as is all the others. It's going to be interesting; it's going to be technique oriented. We have to have great pass level. We have to do a nice job of disengaging and coming off blocks, because like I said earlier it's going to be imperative that we get multiple hats to the ball carrier because we can't anticipate one man and one man alone bringing down Michael Turner."

On defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau changing his playbook every year and if he'll have surprises for Sunday:

"No, we're going to do what we've always done. It's the natural evolution of defense and of football. Of course there's going to be some new wrinkles, I think that's one of the reasons that Dick has been around and been as successful as he has for such a long time because he asks the critical questions. He's always looking for new and better ways to skin it. I think he stays ahead of the curve because of it."

On why it seems taboo for people to call QB Ben Roethlisberger out for his off-field actions and suspension:

"I didn't know that it was taboo. Just because it wasn't said in the media or in public doesn't mean it wasn't said."

On how RB Jonathan Dwyer has done so far:

"He's had a productive preseason. I thought he came on late and earned a spot on our football team. Right now, he's sort of a one trick pony in that he's very good with the ball in his hands and of course that as the reason why we were interested in drafting him. He's got to continue to grow in other areas that's going to make him a professional, blitz pick up, and route running, and being where he's supposed to be in the check down game and things of that nature. As a backup runner his ability to contribute and play on special teams is going to be a big component of him getting the game day hat. Right now, he's kind of focusing on the things that aren't necessarily running back specific that's going to allow him to ante up and kick in and help us win football games.Until he gets better and knows the areas he's going to be watching a little bit."

On what problems CB Dunta Robinson creates for an offense:

"He is a savvy veteran corner who has a well-rounded game. He's physical. He can cover people. All of those and then some were probably reasons why they went out and acquired him. We've got respect for their entire secondary. They've got young guys in CB (Brent) Grimes and CB (Chris) Owens in my opinion are really good emerging players. Owens really has ball skills, he had six interceptions last year. Both guys are consistently physical and appear to be aware. Last year's issues for them are last year's issues for them. I'm sure they're excited about kind of putting it behind them and moving forward. Even the guys that had from a year ago, I am sure they anticipate those guys being better. We're excited about facing these guys and maybe pitting our skills against theirs."

On the 2010 season receiving corps:

"Of course we're excited about the potential that WR Mike Wallace has shown. Last year he was more of a deep threat guy, he's really worked extremely hard in terms of developing a well-rounded game. He's done good things in those areas in preseason and in training camp. We reacquired WR Antwaan Randle El who is a very skilled guy who can do a lot of things to help a team, whether it's being the third wide receiver and being position flexible in that regard or returning punts and so forth. Excited to have him in the mix. WR Arnaz Battle is just a sturdy, rock solid veteran receiver who excels in special teams. Of course we've got two young guys (WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Antonio Brown) that have represented themselves very well this preseason and maybe they'll get an opportunity to show that they belong as well."

On OLB position and how it's evolved:

"I really think that's just part of today's NFL from an outside linebacking standpoint. Those guys have got to be special people. They've got to get after the QB. They've got to cover when called upon. We've got two guys that really embrace the challenges that come with playing that position, in OLB LaMarr Woodley and OLB James Harrison. It's really more of a sign of today's NFL than anything else. The days of one dimensional players are quickly leaving us. The box strong safety, guys becoming extinct as is the linebacker that's just a pass rusher and pass rusher only.'

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