Tomlin admitted that the Steelers (12-3), who already clinched a play-off spot and North Asia title, may comfort more rookies on Sunday, but so far, only Rothlisberger has mentioned him.
“It doesn’t change our intentions regarding going to Cleveland this weekend,” Tomlin said. “Football is our game. Our mission is to win. We intend to do our job. We intend to prepare with this mentality. In the end, we lead us to this destination. We are not looking for comfort. We are not setting ourselves on a curve.”
“This game is on schedule and so the players who will be on the field will represent us in the standard that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the standard.”
Tomlin emphasized that while other players may rest before the qualifiers, Sunday’s meeting with Brown will not include a team made entirely of backups, in part due to health concerns. Instead, he said, they’ll likely work in a rotation that limits surprising numbers for some beginners, while giving healthy backup opportunities to play.
“This is not a pre-season game where we are playing backups, as we have a player from 54 to 75 to evaluate and things like that,” he said. “We have one football team in the NFL. This soccer team is going to play, except for Ben and maybe another player or two. I don’t want to get any more use from it than it is from this perspective.”
Rudolph’s start comes a year after a battle marred the end of the two teams’ match in Cleveland. Brown star Miles Jarrett Suspended by tearing and swinging Rudolph’s helmet, hitting the midfielder in the head with it, with seconds remaining.
And with Jarrett being suspended and Rudolph on the bench for the rematch last year, Sunday will be the first time the two have played against each other since the accident.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it,” Tomlin said of Rudolph’s return to Cleveland. “But I’m sure he’s excited to have a chance to start, for sure.”
Cleveland (5-10) could qualify with their win on Sunday, but Tomlin said his team is not necessarily driven by the possibility of keeping Brown from post-season.
“Motivation, intentions and all these things,” Tomlin said, “This is good fodder for a water cooler and I understand it.” “This is a scheduled game. Our job is to win. We will prepare with this mentality. That will not change in terms of how we deal with it. … I know what our mentality will be. I know what our intentions will be. We will go play football.”