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Insider Only Steelers – Browns Week: Steelers will play to their strengths with Roethlisberger back

Mike Tomlin Press Conference
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns to game action this weekend against the 1-4 Cleveland Browns and Mike Tomlin said the team will play to their strengths from an offensive standpoint.
The team will continue to look to implement the run but they are not going to take the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hand by any means.
“We gonna do like what we always do this week in terms of catering our plan, ” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Our strengths vs their strengths. Trying to minimize our weaknesses of course. Ben has many strengths and we are going to utilize them. But we also have 10 other players in that huddle who are capable of helping us win. So we gonna utilize them as well.”
Roethlisberger who has not had any game action since September 2nd against the Carolina Panthers in the pre-season finale, had a good week of practice, according to Tomlin.
“It looks like he’s rested, Tomlin said. “Some of those deep balls to Mike Wallace are entertaining. He’s had a good week of practice but it’s just that. Good practice puts you in position to take advantage of opportunities that present itself in stadiums on game days and you gotta take advantage of those.
“He’s no different than anyone else on that standpoint, ” Tomlin said. “Sure, there will be some anxiety….some excitement, some nervousness that comes with playing after extended period of time off. Sure, he’ll quickly kind of get through that as he warms up and gets the competitive juices flowing. We’re excited about this opportunity we have this weekend.”
As for potential depth chart changes this week, Tomlin today remained mum on who will be his No. 2 quarterback and it appears to be a certainty that rookie Antonio Brown will be losing his job as the starting kick and punt returner.

“In terms to number 2 quarterback, we’re not decided on that at this juncture, ” Tomlin said. “Just like I’m not decided on whose returning kicks and punts on that matter, ” Tomlin said.
It is expected that Batch will be the backup for this week as Byron Leftwich is still not completely healthy from his knee injury. Batch has earned the job based on his performance but the team believes Leftwich is the better quarterback and is considered the long-term backup for Roethlisberger.
As the season progresses and Leftwich gets healthy, it’s likely that Leftwich eventually moves into the No. 2 spot.
As for changes in the kick return game, It is believed the Steelers want to get Emmanuel Sanders implemented into the passing game with Roethlisberger returning and the team feels he can also return punts and not just kicks.
“Yes, he {Emmanuel Sanders} is a punt returner, ” Tomlin said. “He has worked extensively at that since the season has begun.
One player whose role will increase in the passing game is Heath Miller who has just 10 receptions and has only been targeted 11 times this season. Tomlin said the Steelers will hopefully use him more successfully with Roethlisberger back. Miller had 76 receptions for 789 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2009.
“Not at all, we gonna continue to do some of the things that we’ve done with him {Heath Miller} and try to feature him, ” Tomlin said. “Hopefully we’ll maybe do it more successfully than we have in the past.”
The Cleveland Browns this week face uncertainty at the quarterback situation. Will the Browns really throw rookie Colt McCoy into action on the road against Pittsburgh? McCoy was 28-29, 232 yards with 0 TD and 2 INT in the preseason.
Tomlin bypassed questions about who will be at quarterback for the Browns and the primary focus for the Steelers defense is offensive threat Joshua Cribbs who has beaten the Steelers in a number of ways over the years.
Cribbs has 3 kick return touchdowns against Pittsburgh in 10 games and has had success of late against Pittsburgh in the wildcat formation.
“I think we should expect to see a great deal of Cribbs in the wildcat, regardless of their quarterback situation because he had such success against us a year ago, ” Tomlin said.
When asked about the Steelers embarrassing loss to Cleveland last December, Tomlin said Cleveland not the weather was a determining factor.
“I think the play of Cleveland was the ultimate determinant of the outcome of that game than our play, ” Tomlin said. “They played well, we didn’t.”
Tomlin also said that without Roethlisberger they expected to be 4-0 and are moving forward after the Baltimore loss.
“I thought we would be 4-0 but we’re 3-1. You know, we’re moving forward.
Injury Report
*Right guard Trai Essex went through individual workouts yesterday but his status remains up in the air for this week. Count on Doug Legursky making his third straight start at right guard.
*Defensive Tackle Chris Hoke will not be limited in any way this week, Tomlin said. Hoke suffered an MCL sprain against Tampa Bay in week 3 and did not play against Baltimore in week 4.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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