By Alan Robinson
What we learned during the Mike Tomlin news conference:
— Le’Veon Bell is ready to play. That was signaled when Bell, surprisingly, was a full practice participant on Thursday, only a day after he began doing individual work for the first time since spraining his foot Aug. 19.
“I won’t dress him to stand on the sideline next to me,” Tomlin said during his weekly appearance on Sirius/XM.
The Steelers badly need Bell to pick up a running game that has generated only 155 yards, or 34 yards fewer than they’ve had through three games in any season. That’s ANY season.
But remember what former Steelers running back Merril Hoge said last week? He questioned how quickly Bell can get up to game speed, and whether he can make much of a contribution this season, because of the severity of his injury and the length of his layoff.
Read it here:
— Brett Keisel and Steve McLendon are dealing with hamstring injuries, but both should play against the Vikings. There aren’t many other Steelers injury issues.
— Tomlin values staying with the routine of a normal work week more than he does getting to London early to get acclimated to the five-hour time change. The Vikings already are in London, but, based in a Central Time Zone city, they’re dealing with a six-hour time change.
The Steelers will hold their two main practices on the South Side on Wednesday and Thursday, as usual, before taking a charter to London on Thursday night.
— He has no problem with the Steelers veterans banning players with four years of experience or less from the locker room shuffleboard, ping pong and pool games.
Some Steelers veterans, by the way, felt the younger players were getting too comfortable and needed to spend more time on football and game preparation.
Another note: The amount of ping pong play has dropped significantly, at least while the media is present, since punter Drew Butler was released.
— How the Steelers will get out of their early season rut? “Frustration doesn’t solve the issue. Work does,” Tomlin said.
— He expects Ben Roethlisberger to “be better.”
“Ben expects Ben to be better,” said Tomlin, who meets with the quarterback every Monday.
— Tomlin doesn’t think the Steelers coaching staff – himself included – has been good enough this season.
“I’m in continual evaluation of what I can do to make us better,” Tomlin said on SiriusXM.
— Tomlin sent manager Clint Hurdle a congratulatory note following the Pirates’ playoffs-clinching win Monday night in Chicago. He urged Hurdle and the Pirates to “go for the big prize.”
A couple of Steelers notes:
— Since the end of last season, the Steelers have lost eight of 10, including four of their last five at home. They play only once at home until Nov. 10.
— This is the first time since 1965 the Steelers have lost all of their exhibition games and their first three regular season games. In 1965, they were 0-5 in the preseason before losing their first five games, won their next two, then dropped their final seven to finish 2-12.