PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin was “mesmerized.”
He was also, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach admits, out of position.
Way out of position.
Tomlin was so awed by the way Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones raced through the Steelers crumbling kickoff return unit in the third quarter Thanksgiving night, Tomlin couldn’t take himself away from watching it all unfold in high definition on one of M&T Stadium’s video boards.
Only when Tomlin — standing on the white strip of grass meant to separate the playing field from the sideline — saw his black-and-gold jacket and black baseball cap flash across the screen did he realize it might be a good time to move.
As Tomlin danced to his left, Jones edged right to avoid bowling the coach over. Pittsburgh’s Cortez Allen made the tackle after a 73-yard return, a bizarre play that will be remembered far longer than Baltimore’s eventual 22-20 victory.
It’s an ill-timed two-step the 41-year-old Tomlin allows was a lot of things, namely “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal and a blunder.”
The one thing it wasn’t, he insists, was intentional.
“The thought that it could be perceived as intentional never even crossed my mind,” Tomlin said Tuesday during a lengthy and candid apology. “I realized I fell short of the expectations of my position in being where I was and my actions on the play. I am not one to seek comfort from that standpoint, so I was just going to take my medicine.”
Tomlin was not flagged on the play, and pointed out he was following his normal routine when he stood at the Pittsburgh 35 following a touchdown that pulled the Steelers within 13-7 midway through the third quarter. He prefers to watch kickoffs on stadium scoreboards because it gives him a better perspective on how the play is developing and couldn’t recall a specific time when officials told him to step back.
Still, Tomlin declined to use that as an excuse while communicating with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials Monday. Tomlin said he had no plans to fight whatever disciplinary action the league decides to hand out.
“I don’t know what a just punishment is,” he said. “I have no idea. I’m not acting in a way to preserve my wallet and my money. My wallet and my money is what it is because of the game of football.”
Packers aren’t ruling out Rodgers for Sunday
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers aren’t ruling out Aaron Rodgers for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons even though the star quarterback hasn’t yet been medically cleared to play since breaking his left collarbone a month ago.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers will practice Wednesday in a limited fashion but that backup Matt Flynn would take the snaps with the starters.
“Aaron wants to play, there’s no question about it,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “But it’s a medical situation. He has a clear understanding where he is as far as the process of getting back on the field. He feels good, and we’re going to see what he can do tomorrow.”
Speaking on his weekly radio show Tuesday night, Rodgers confirmed that he had an X-ray and CT scan earlier in the day and acknowledged that the outlook wasn’t as promising as he’d hoped when he met with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
“I saw the X-rays and scan,” Rodgers said. “We’re now four weeks and one day from my fracture. I’ve made a lot of progress. A lot of it is just the bone healing. Bone takes three to six weeks to heal. We all hoped we’d be on the short end of that.
“I trust Doc McKenzie. When I’m ready to play and everyone is on board, then I’m going to play,” he added. “After we sat down Tuesday, I haven’t had that full clearance. I’m not ruling myself out. I know there’s a rush to get back out there. I feel it internally, but also externally. I desperately want to be out there, but it has to look good.”
The Packers enter Sunday’s game at 5-6-1 and are 0-4-1 since Rodgers was injured on the opening series of their loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4. They’ve gone from 5-2 and on a four-game winning streak to needing to win their final four games and get some help to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
“Ultimately, I’m not going to be able to play if I don’t get medically cleared,” Rodgers said.
Lions’ Travis Lewissuspended fourgames for PED’s
DETROIT — Detroit Lions linebacker Travis Lewis has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Lewis, a 2012 seventh-round pick whose only contributions this year have been on special teams, tested positive after using the drug Adderall, a person who reviewed the test told the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions signed linebacker Julian Stanford, who played for special-teams coordinator John Bonamego last year in Jacksonville, to take Lewis’ spot on the 53-man roster.
“I apologize to my coaches, teammates, the Lions organization and our fans for my actions,” Lewis said in a statement released through the team. “I have let my team down and there’s nothing worse than that. I will not make the same mistake again. I look forward to returning to the team after I serve my suspension.”
Lewis practiced with the Lions on Tuesday and is eligible to return for the playoffs if the Lions (7-5) make the postseason.
Battered Browns sign quarterback Caleb Hanie
CLEVELAND — Battered and bruised at quarterback, the Browns have gotten a little healthier.
With Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell recovering from concussions, Cleveland signed quarterback Caleb Hanie on Tuesday, giving coach Rob Chudzinski another option this week at New England.
The Browns considered adding Hanie to their roster last week, but decided to sign Alex Tanney off Dallas’ practice squad. Tanney, perhaps best known for a trick-shot video on YouTube, backed up Weeden on Sunday against Jacksonville. Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion following the 32-28 loss to the Jaguars and is following the NFL’s program for head injuries.
Campbell, who sustained a concussion last week against Pittsburgh, has improved and is moving closer to being ready to play. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Monday that Campbell has been cleared for football activities but not yet for practice. Per league rules, Campbell must first be examined and cleared by an independent physician before he is permitted to return to the field.
Favre coaching in HS state championship Friday
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — While Brett Favre isn’t sure what he’ll be doing next year, he does know what he’ll be doing on Friday: Trying to win a Mississippi high school state championship.
The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player is the offensive coordinator for Oak Grove High School near his home in Hattiesburg. Oak Grove will try to capture its first state championship when it faces Tupelo in Jackson, Miss.
“Who knows if I’ll do it next year,” said Favre, who is in his second year coaching at the high school. “I really don’t know. It’s been a lot of fun. I enjoy it, it’s easy and it’s not too time-consuming.”
The 44-year-old Favre grew up about an hour away in Kiln, Miss., and played his college football just 8 miles down the road at Southern Mississippi. He lives in Hattiesburg with his family and has immersed himself in the local sports scene — coaching high school football and watching his youngest daughter play volleyball.
By wire sources