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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Season-opening Tuesday with Tomlin

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held his season-opening press conference today and was his usual guarded self with his answers to the media.

Still, there was some information to be gleaned from the session.

Tomlin said he expects to use both Antonio Brown and rookie Dri Acher as punt returners this season. The Steelers really wanted Archer to show something to take that job away from Brown, but that didn't happen.

Archer will still be the primary kick return man, but the Steelers will likely pick their spots with Brown.

"He's a Pro Bowl-caliber return man, so that's what you do with those guys, you play them," Tomlin said of using his No. 1 receiver on punt returns.

Archer didn't mishandle or muff any punts in the preseason, but he also returned four of the nine punts he fielded for just six total yards.

* Tomlin said no set package or role has yet been determined for defensive end Brett Keisel.

Also, I'm told we shouldn't read too much into Cam Heyward being listed as the left defensive end with Cam Thomas at right defensive end. Things are still being sorted out, but they want Heyward in the spot in which he is most comfortable and can be most effective.

Heyward started at left defensive end for most of 2013, but switched to the right side in the offseason and training camp. Prior to that, he was a backup at both spots.

Heyward will be on the field 95 percent of the time, with the other guys filling in around him.

* Tomlin sounded iffy only on the prospects of rookie receiver Martavis Bryant playing this weekend with a sprained shoulder.

He said everyone else on the roster has a good chance to play.

* The Steelers expect to see the Browns utilize rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel in some form or fashion, though they're not sure if it will be for a series or two or as a specialty package.

* My favorite Tomlinism of the day was when he was talking about Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden: "Joe Haden has been Joe Haden for a number of years."


snarky said...

Tomlin is nuts if he risks injuring Brown on punt returns. Without Brown at wide receiver the Steelers will be in trouble. What's next Roethlisberger punting?

Anonymous said...

Ben put 17 of his 24 punts in college past the 20. And 3 of his 5 NFL punts were downed inside the 20.

Anonymous said...

Ben's 5 punts in the NFL were near the 35 yard line, how hard is it to down a 10-15 yard punt?

I agree with what snarky said, Brown has NO business returning punts, his job is to play catch with Ben.

And for the name of the guy and his posted position, its only on paper, heck the constitution was on paper and see how well we live by it...

I do have one question, why do we play 10-15 yards off the receiver when 80% of passing plays are on a timing pattern, this is the real issue. Bump them before the 5 because anything after that you could be flagged for twice as much.

Dale Lolley said...

They don't play the 3-deep off coverage as much as they used to.

I think they'll pick their spots with Brown returning punts.

rvaccare said...

Is it really that much more dangerous returning punts and kicks than playing anywhere else on the field? How many punt/kick returners have suffered injuries, particularly major injuries, returning punts/kicks? I am just wondering and don't know the answer, but I think people give too much credence to the theory of increased injury to punt/kick returners. Dri Archer, while fielding punts very well, looked very indecisive in the pre-season whether to fair catch or return punts. He will no doubt be electric when he gets more comfortable with to return/fair catch decisions, but for now, Brown offers the best option.

Anonymous said...

How many children get hurt playing in the middle of the street? I don't know the answer but I'm not going to let mine do it..

Dale Lolley said...

It's more of an issue, at least for me with Brown, that he is so important to this team that I don't know that you want to subject him to the possibility of taking unnecessary hits.

Put it this way, would you put Roethlisberger back to field punts? The best guys in the league average 10 yards per return. That's way better than Archer's average in the preseason, but it was a very small sample.

Anonymous said...

I see Brown only back returning punts when they are deep in Steelers territory. Let him make the decision to either fair catch the ball or to let it bounce into the end zone.

Anytime they are setting up for a return, then use Archer.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Archer's problem with calling for a fair catch too soon is something that will get better with time/reps.

LexingtonLegend said...

Antonio Brown is the most talented guy on the field, possibly 2nd depending on your view of Ben. I would want Brown touching the ball as much as possible. Starting field position can mean the difference in a game.

George Siegel said...

Let's not forget that Brown is a threat to score any time he touches the ball. Six points is six points, whether he scores on a reception or on a return. Until Archer can show that he is also a threat on punt returns, how can you not use Brown?

Slipshod said...

How is a punt return hit "unnecessary"? That makes no sense.

Does a 5 yard crossing pattern that fails to get a first down result in a necessary hit?

The chance to make a game changing field position play if the game is close should be taken every time and you should use your best players to do it. Period.

Deion Sanders and Devin Hester were and are very important players on their team in their normal positions but they could change a games outcome returning punts.

You put your best players out there in the best position to help your team win.