Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin on Mark Sanchez’s Development

Coach Tomlin: Good afternoon. I thought we had a good practice today. I really liked the energy and enthusiasm. It’s an arrow up on the execution, of course, which is needed as we push forward towards Sunday. But we’re not a finished product yet. It’s why we have tomorrow, of course, and the day after. So I like where we are, we’ll just continue to push forward.

Re: An injury update:
None at this point. We have some guys limited, of course. Aaron Smith is really kind of in the same spot he’s been in from a health standpoint. Arnaz Battle has an illness. We’ve asked him to stay at home the last couple of days so as not to spread the illness. And the other guys are marching back, talking about Bryant McFadden and Will Allen and Troy (Polamalu). We expect participation in some form or fashion from those guys tomorrow.

Re: Aaron Smith’s injury and if he wasn’t so respected and such a part of the team would the organization have placed him on injured reserve months ago?
I think from a football decision-making standpoint, the number one issue is what he brings from a playing standpoint. No question, he is a respected guy, he’s a great guy, he’s a team leader, but I think the number one element of reserving a place for him is we know what kind of dynamic player he is and we know he is capable of helping us if given an opportunity to get back in uniform.

How hard was it to cut ties with Santonio Holmes this past offseason?
Those are business decisions that you make every year to be quite honest with you. I hated to see Larry Foote go two years ago. It’s as much a part of the business as blocking and tackling.

Re: Larry Foote leaving in free agency and the team trading Santonio Holmes and there being a difference.
But the feelings are the same. You develop a certain level of respect for what guys are willing to do, what they’re capable of doing. You develop personal relationships with them. So that’s what I mean when I compare it to that. Emotionally, it’s very similar.

Re: Since he’s been here how the team has maintained an even keel even during weeks like this when everyone is looking for a battle of words.
I guess the battle of words that everyone is looking for is probably more directed at those guys. We’re just going about business as we normally go about it. We try not to talk a lot because we realize at 6:30 on Sunday what’s said doesn’t mean much. It’s more about what we do. And that’s kind of been my mantra since we’ve gotten here, and the guys have done a nice job of kind of adhering to it.

Re: The respect the defense has for Dick LeBeau.
He’s a special man first and foremost, no question. He’s arguably the best in the world at what he does. But to be around him on a day-to-day basis, he’s a special person, one with a unique background and a story to tell, great experience that provides great direction for these men. There’s nothing that this game can present to him that he hasn’t seen in this league, and I think the guys have a level of respect for it. But at the same time, he has a unique and very authentic way of relaying those stories and lessons to the men.

How has Coach LeBeau helped you become a better coach?
The way he approaches his job given the number of years that he’s been doing it is inspiring, I think, to anyone that has a desire to be great. I learn from him. He inspires me. He’s just a special guy to be around.

Can you assess Mark Sanchez and is there a comparison to Ben Roethlisberger in terms of their development?
I’m really not in the business of assessing Mark Sanchez’s development. I’m not around him on a day-to-day basis. I don’t coach him. What I’m doing this week is simply preparing to play him. We acknowledge that he’s a good player. He’s a unique player for a young guy because he doesn’t make the mistakes that a lot of young guys make. He protects the ball, and I think the way they’re built, that gives them a chance to win, of course, when called upon. He’s delivered significant play after significant play for those guys to help them win.

Re: Rex Ryan’s defense and how it differs in New York from Baltimore.
I don’t care if you played Coach Ryan 16 straight weeks, you’d probably prepare a little different every time. I think that’s one of the things that makes him unique. They have a wide variety of things that they can present to you and ways they can play you, and you respect them for it. They do all of those things and they still do it at a high level. They’re where they’re supposed to be, they see what they’re supposed to see. They don’t beat themselves, they don’t give up big plays. That’s what makes it difficult and tough to prepare for.

How rare is a guy like Maurkice Pouncey to come in and play well as a rookie?
Pretty rare, pretty rare.

What are the rare qualities Pouncey has and why doesn’t a guy like that come along every year?
He has the combination that you’re looking for. By that, I mean he’s extremely talented and he legitimately loves what he does. When you put those two things together, you have an opportunity to have a quality player.