LATROBE, Pa. — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin noted Thursday at his starters would play some 8-12 snaps during the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Heinz Field, but he would not name a starting quarterback or set a rotation for the players at that position.
Tomlin added that all four quarterbacks might play, but it’s also feasible that Ben Roethlisberger could be with the second team or he might not play at all. So, Tomlin revealed little as far as the quarterbacks were concerned, other than people will need to come to the stadium to find out who plays and when.
“We’re still somewhat undecided about those things, but I think that’s been the best thing about the way we’ve approached our quarterback situation,” Tomlin said. “We started with a plan, and we have stuck with it. We’ve given all of our guys their share of opportunities so far during training camp.
“We wanted to provide Ben with enough opportunities to have a productive camp and during the preseason, but at the same time we wanted to get clarity in our quarterback situation. I think we’ve stayed true to form thus far, and we’ll continue with that as we get into the (preseason) games.”
What appears to be likely is that Leftwich will start, and three quarterbacks will play. If Roethlisberger plays, then Batch won’t.
And while he has gotten a fair share of snaps this past week, he barely got a handful the opening week. As far as Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is concerned, and every coach for that matter, the first preseason game is used to look at the younger guys.
Tomlin added that the Steelers will be concentrating on what they do in game situations, as opposed to working on things to beat Detroit. That doesn’t mean the club won’t try to win the game, but that’s not the primary goal.
Tomlin said that the Steelers want to find out: “Is it physical enough? How do we block and how do we tackle, and how do we play within the rules of the game? How do we play technically? … I’m also looking forward to seeing some of the young guys and new guys, how they’ll be in full-speed action.
“But they’ll get a bunch of those opportunities here during training camp. So, we’re looking forward to seeing how those guys acclimate themselves to that element of the game, and how they compete in special teams, obviously, is going to be a big part of that. So, that’s what we’ll look at.”
Other Tomlin Takes:
There is no definitive inactive list. For example, a guy like Jason Worilds (hamstring) might be healthy enough to play, but because if a lack of practice time he could be held out. Jonathan Dwyer, on the other hand, will play extensively and so will Thaddeus Gibson, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, among others, Tomlin said. They could get about 30-35 snaps.
While Stefan Logan will be the starter and return both punts and kicks, Sanders will get a look on kickoff returns with Brown also returning punts. Antwaan Randle El isn’t likely to do either against the Lions.
Place-kicker Jeff Reed will be the starter for kickoffs, but….
punter Daniel Sepulveda might get a shot as well depending on the number of opportunities.
First-round pick Maurkice Pouncey will play both right guard and center against Lions, but he wasn’t certain how much of each.
Sixth-year pro Trai Essex is the starting right offensive guard. He’ll play there exclusively and won’t get any reps at right tackle.
Isaac Redman is another guy who will get a lot of work. He’ll see time as a single back or the up-back (fullback) along with Frank Summers, tight ends David Johnson and Sean McHugh and Dwayne Wright. Redman also will play all four special teams units, the return and coverage groups.
Defensive captain James Farrior described fourth-year pro Lawrence Timmons as a beast and predicted he will have a breakout season. Tomlin responded.
“He better,” Tomlin said. “It’s time. Lawrence has been around here long enough, and he’s ridiculously talented. So, that’s the standard.”
And finally, Tomlin noted that he loves the preseason and loves playing the games, but if the NFL decides to cut the number from four to two and add two regular-season games, he would respond then.