Notes from Arlington, Texas.
Mike Tomlin was just 34 years old. He had spent just one year as an NFL coordinator, in Minnesota, when he was hired to replace Bill Cowher as head coach of the Steelers.
“There was skepticism,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “There were candidates in our locker room a lot of people thought were going to get the job ... (Ken) Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm.
“I didn’t know what to think. I was at lunch one day and (owner) Dan Rooney came in.
“He said, ’Hey, have you met your new coach yet?’ I said, ’No.’ He said, ’You’re really going to like him.’
“He was right.”
Several of the Steelers say they laugh at teams around the league that complain about losing steam because of injuries.
The Steelers contend they have lost as many key players to injuries as anyone. They have been especially banged up on the offensive line.
It remains to be seen whether they can overcome the loss of starting center Maurkice Pouncey, a rookie who was named to the Pro Bowl.
The replacement is Doug Legursky, who was an undrafted rookie in 2008. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he will coach up Legursky:
“The biggest thing I’ll probably say to him is, ’Listen. You’re good enough.’”
Flozell Adams, 35, has fought through injuries at right tackle. He has made an impression on his teammates as a first-year Steeler.
The other offensive linemen showed up for the charter flight to Dallas wearing No. 76 Michigan State jerseys, a nod to Adams’ career at his alma mater.
“I’m like, whoa!” Adams said. “I don’t know where they got them.”
• Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III spent part of Media Day fielding questions about their famous flowing hair. Both were good sports. “He’s got very beautiful hair,” Polamalu said of Matthews. “Shampoo,” Matthews said, “is important, but conditioner seals the deal.”
• Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward played nine seasons for Cowher, now a network analyst. Ward was a bit taken aback that the Steelers were considered to be an underdog by so many people forecasting the AFC title game against the Jets. “No one picked us,” Ward said. “Coach Cowher picked the Jets against us.”
• Ward will turn 35 next month, but Browns fans may not have seen the last of him. “I don’t foresee this being my last game,” he said.
Canton, Ohio, Repository