Steelers notebook: Tomlin scoffs at read-option offense

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

PHOENIX — Mike Tomlin isn't doing much reading up on the read-option offense during the offseason. Or, apparently, much film study of it either.

Despite the success the 49ers, Redskins and Seahawks enjoyed with running quarterbacks last season, the Steelers coach all but ridiculed the read-option Tuesday, calling it “the flavor of the month” and comparing it to the once-hot wildcat offense.

“We'll see if (coaches) are committed to getting their (quarterbacks) hit,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin, a defensive coach throughout his career, all but challenged Steelers opponents to employ it.

“We look forward to eliminating it,” Tomlin said.

Peel-backs repealed

The first rule change of the meetings was passed Tuesday by NFL owners; the rule is designed to eliminate low blocks all over the field. Previously, peel-back blocks into defenders' knees were permitted if they occurred inside the tackle box. The change has been sought by defensive players for years. They argued that such injury-causing blocks were ignored at the same time the league was toughening rules against hits to the head.

‘Peterson rule' reviewed

The most controversial rule up for discussion is the so-called Adrian Peterson rule that would prevent running backs from using the crown of their helmets as a weapon while they are being tackled. Some argue the rule is needed because running backs are more aggressively employing the tactic; others say it would force running backs to alter the way they run the ball throughout their careers.

“I think it's obvious that we want those types of ugly plays out of the game,” Tomlin said. “I think the discussion is how we legislate it, how we rule it out. ... For me, it's about how do we officiate it. Really, that's probably the same for a lot of the rules. In spirit, they are obviously great rules that are intended for the good of the game, but officiating it is another thing.”

Batch back?

Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert both said there is a possibility the Steelers will ask quarterback Charlie Batch to return for another season, when he would turn 39. He is the oldest quarterback in team history. It might depend on whether they decide to use a draft pick on a quarterback who would be brought in to learn their system.

Spence still rehabbing

The 2013 season is becoming a longshot for inside linebacker Sean Spence, a 2012 draft pick who is recovering not only from a serious knee injury but is awaiting the necessary nerve regrowth that must take place before he can play again. There is no time frame for recovering from an injury that Tomlin agrees is “scary.”

“You can't knock how he's attacked the rehab,” Tomlin said. “He's an impressive, mature young man. He's mentally and physically tough and it's a good thing because that's required.”

Parting words

Of any final conversation he had with James Harrison before the linebacker was cut, Tomlin said, “I've had a lot of interesting conversations with James Harrison over the years.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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