Tomlin on O-line, Big Ben and blame game

PITTSBURGH -- There is at least some positive news on the Steelers front.

“If you look at us from an injury standpoint going into this game, we’re the best that we’ve been,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

Indeed, running back Le’Veon Bell will play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings barring a setback this week in practice.

Tomlin said he also is “optimistic” that starting cornerback Cortez Allen will return after missing the past two games because of a sprained ankle. And tight end Heath Miller, who had reconstructive knee surgery in late December, won’t be restricted at all after playing last Sunday night -- his first game in nine months.

Here are some other Tomlin takes from the seventh-year coach’s weekly news conference:

  • Tomlin, like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, expressed faith in the Steelers’ beleaguered offensive line.“I see improvement in the group,” Tomlin said. “I see improvement in the unit. Obviously not enough. Our quarterback is still being pressured too often. We’re turning the ball over some because of it. ”

    Tomlin said the Steelers will continue to look at different combinations along the line, which means Kelvin Beachum is likely to spell both left tackle Mike Adams and right tackle Marcus Gilbert as he did last Sunday night against the Bears.

    But Tomlin is pleased with how the offensive linemen are trying to work through the adversity.

    “I like the way they’re showing mettle from a mental toughness standpoint,” he said. “We’re experiencing some frustrating times but frustration doesn’t solve the issue. Work does and they are taking a nice, businesslike approach to that work.”

  • The Steelers have vowed that panic won’t set in following an 0-3 start, and Tomlin said that starts with him.“We’re all falling short right now, and I mean that, coaches included,” Tomlin said. “So we’re not trying to throw anybody under the bus or identify anybody as an Achilles heel or a weak link. The reality is that we all need to work collectively together to solve our issues. We’re just going to roll our sleeves up, keep our mouths shut and take what comes with the position we’re in.”

  • Kion Wilson is still atop the depth chart at right inside linebacker, but rookie Vince Williams played more there against the Bears and appears to be making a real push for the starting job.Tomlin said Williams, a sixth-round draft pick, has been impressive in calling the defenses as well as in other areas of communication.

    “I think he’s winning the confidence of the veteran players from that standpoint,” Tomlin said.

    Tomlin said there will be an ongoing competition between Williams and Wilson.

    “We’ll continue to play he and Kion,” Tomlin said, “in an effort to get the best out of both until we get some clarity in terms of who is going to be the guy that’s going to rise up and seize the spot.”

  • Tomlin agreed with Roethlisberger, upon further review, that the Steelers quarterback did not lose two fumbles in the 40-23 loss to the Bears because he wasn’t more careful with the ball.“I think a lot of it had to do with what the Chicago Bears did,” Tomlin said. “They’re 3-0 at this point for a reason.”

    But, Tomlin added, “I expect Ben to be better. Ben expects himself to be better.”