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Deb
07-22-2007, 10:31 AM
Posted on Sun, Jul. 22, 2007

Camp under Tomlin expected to be tougher
By Alan Robinson - The Associated Press

LINK (http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports/story/135622.html)
PITTSBURGH --
Mike Tomlin has long said he would coach football 365 days a year if he could. The Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning to believe it.

The Steelers' training camps became relatively predictable during former coach Bill Cowher's 15 seasons, with a limited number of two-a-days and occasional practices called off to give the players a break or to take a trip to the movies.

When the Steelers start their first camp under Tomlin on Monday, the movies probably will be limited to film study sessions and days off will be virtually nonexistent, with none in the first 14 days. The only planned days off before camp ends Aug. 17 occur the day after each of the first three exhibition games.

"This is what training camps are about," Tomlin said. "They are not supposed to be pleasant."

Tomlin isn't saying whether he thinks the Steelers had it a little too soft a summer ago. Maybe he doesn't have to. Then, coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Steelers won only two of their first eight games following a relaxed training camp.

It appears obvious Tomlin didn't pay much attention to Cowher's camp schedule when he planned his own - except to retain the traditional, middle-of-the-afternoon workouts that have been a staple since Chuck Noll's days as coach from 1969-91.

Tomlin has multiple practices scheduled on 15 days, or about twice as many as Cowher did - though seven of the early practices will be devoted mostly to special teams. While some NFL teams have gotten away from multiple practices, they are common in the AFC North.

Baltimore and Cincinnati have 12 two-a-days apiece, and both teams report to camp later than the Steelers do. Cleveland has six days with multiple practices.

Also, Tomlin will hold conditioning tests shortly after the players report Monday, while Cowher always held them a day later.

Much like a year ago, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be the most-watched player in camp, though for entirely different reasons.

Last year, he was only weeks removed from a near-fatal motorcycle accident and there was doubt when camp began if he would be healthy enough to play immediately. Now, he is coming off the first poor season of his three-year career (18 TD passes, a league-high 23 interceptions) as he tries to get acclimated as quickly as possible to a refined offense.

New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was the receivers coach under Cowher, and it appears he'll give more leeway to Roethlisberger than former coordinator Ken Whisenhunt did to throw on early downs and to check off plays.

"I know he is very motivated and very competitive," Tomlin said. "I know on a personal note he has some critics to answer to, which is great. Whatever motivates people to do their best."