Steelers notebook: Tomlin says NFL needs full-time refs
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin repeated his request Monday that the NFL hire full-time officials.
“I believe that discussion needs to be had,” Tomlin said at his weekly press conference. “It needs to move in that direction and move relatively quickly. There are politics and so forth involved, labor (negotiations) and so forth involved in that. I get it, but it would be nice if that process gets going.”
Tomlin didn't back away from his criticism of the officiating in the Steelers' 24-9 win over the Cleveland Browns a day earlier.
Tomlin wasn't happy with the calls — “or no calls” — from referee Brad Allen's crew, which flagged 17 penalties in the game, including eight for 70 yards against the Steelers.
“I'm just kind of disturbed by some of it,” Tomlin said. “It's a natural human response. Those guys have a tough job. I respect the job they have to do, but we have a tough job as well.”
Tomlin rarely criticizes officiating. But he took exception to a roughing-the-passer penalty called against linebacker Lawrence Timmons late in the third quarter. Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler suffered a concussion on the play, but Timmons maintained he didn't hit Kessler in the head.
Tomlin agreed: “He missed him.”
After the game Sunday, Tomlin brought up the officiating unsolicited when asked a question about his team's defense, which recorded a season-high eight sacks.
“We were on the field more than we needed to be,” he said. “I thought the officiating was questionable at times. Maybe that had something to do with it. I just thought it was questionable. I thought there were some bad calls, or no calls.”
Back to work
Tomlin was walking through the UPMC Sports Performance Complex around 7:30 a.m. Monday on his way to get a cup of coffee when he heard music coming from the weight room.
He looked in and saw James Harrison lifting weights.
“Less than 24 hours after becoming the all-time sack leader and on a short week, he was in there doing what he does,” Tomlin said. “There's a lot to glean from a guy who approaches his business in the manner he does, and our guys recognize that.”
Harrison moved past Jason Gildon on the franchise career sack list Sunday, getting sack No. 77 1⁄2 for his career.
Linebacker Bud Dupree, activated from injured reserve Saturday, was limited to one snap against the Browns in his season debut. Tomlin said it wasn't to save Dupree for Thursday's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“We wanted to minimize his exposure to the game,” Tomlin said. “We didn't want fatigue to be part of the game much like we did with Ladarius Green.”
Tomlin noted that the defense was on the field for only 14 snaps in the first half. Dupree was inserted after Arthur Moats got the team's third of eight sacks.
“As the game wore on, we stayed with the guys we went with,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin reported no new injuries from Browns game.
He said safety Jordan Dangerfield (groin) and tight end Xavier Grimble (quadricep), players who didn't dress against Cleveland, will “get a quick look to see where they are.”
The Steelers will have one practice this week because of the road game Thanksgiving night against the Colts.
“We have a short week, so guys have to turn it around pretty quickly if they want to be included in our plans,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin said it was too early to rule out running back DeAngelo Williams (knee), wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot sprain) and special teams player Shamarko Thomas (groin) from playing against the Colts.
Robert Golden remains listed as the starting strong safety on the depth chart, but there is little doubt rookie Sean Davis has soared past him.
Davis played all 66 defensive snaps against the Browns. Golden was on the field for four.
Although Harrison was the starting right outside linebacker, he played the same number of snaps (33) as Jarvis Jones. On the left side, Anthony Chickillo had 38 snaps to Moats' 27.
At defensive end, Ricardo Mathews replaced injured Cam Heyward, but backup L.T. Walton played more snaps. Walton, a sixth-round draft pick in 2015, played 22 snaps, two more than Mathews.
The Steelers re-signed running back Brandon Brown-Dukes of Mercyhurst to the practice squad.
It's the third time on the practice squad for Dukes, who hasn't been with the Steelers since Sept. 26. He replaces Daryl Richardson, who was promoted to the active roster Saturday.