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Mike Bires – Times Online, on the Steelers

October 15, 2011

Mike Bires – Times Online

Do you think Tomlin feels its too early to consider starting some of the younger players over more established vets? Is the team overvaluing the importance of experience over talent?

The answer to your second question is “no.’ The answser to your first question is that Tomlin will play the players he thinks give the Steelers the best chance to win, regardless if they’re 21 or 36. For example — last year, Maurkice Pouncey started at center at the age of 21. Rookie wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonion Brown had more touches that veteran Antwaan Randle El.    
In your opinion, what current starters should be seeing less playing time, if any?  And what are the odds of this happening?

Defensive end Aaron Smith, who’ll miss his second straight game Sunday with a sprained foot. It’s time for Ziggy Hood, a first-round pick in the 2009 draft to start. Smith’s body is breaking down. He’s missed so much time the past two years.   

Is this team doing enough to adapt it’s schemes to the talents of the players- is there any feeling  that players are being fitted into schemes that don’t best utilize their talents?

The schemes aere just fine. They’ve to the Super Bowl twice in the last three years.

One theory (ok, mine) is that Ben’s foot injury actually helped force Arians and Ben to scheme and play smarter – to take what the defense gave the offense rather than relying on Ben’s escapability to make big plays. Any thoughts on this?

No doubt. I also think that Ben knows that given the way health and performance of the O-line in those early games this year, he was an injury waiting to happen. He had to change.

Why do you think this team has been so seemingly uninspired when it comes to Starks. Even before his injury he seemed to be treated like an lesser necessity rather than a key OL component.

The Steelers saw Max Starks at Big Ben’s wedding. He weight 410 pounds. He was coming off a neck injury. He wasn’t ready for training camp. And he was due to make $5.14 million  

How do you think Worilds is developing at OLB. Would you start him at OLB over Timmons if healthy? Why/why not?

Worilds has been OK. I would never start Worilds over Timmons. Timmons is close to being great 

Who is the heir apparent opposite Ike Taylor. It seems to be a hodge-podge of players there but who’ll be the guy that you think ultimately secures  the starting spot long-term?

I think the Steelers have three interesting corner prospects in Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen … Obviously, Lewis is ahead of the two rookies right now … but I know the coaches like both Brown and Allen.

What effect do you see first-year DB coach Lake having so far with the DBs?

I don’t know. Polamalu has already said he appreciates Lake’s expertise. And I will say this, Gay and Lewis are playing better than they did last year.

The AFCN – toughest division in the NFL?

It is right now — no teams has a losing record (Ravens 3-1, Steelers 3-2, Bengals 3-2, Browns 2-2). But don’t dismiss the AFC East even with hapless Miami (0-4). The Bills and Pats are both 4-1, and I’m not counting out the Jets (2-3) just yet. And how about the NFC North with the unbeaten Packers and Lions?

Is coach  Tomlin more or less involved in the game day strategy than Cowher used to be? What exact is Tomlin’s role in regards to developing game strategy?

I tend to think Cowher had a little more say. But Tomlin is involved. He lets his coaches coach, but he’s in all the meeting listening and offering his input.    

Any last thoughts for readers?

I can’t wait for Oct. 30 and Nov. 6 when the Patriots and Ravens come to town.

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