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Originally published December 3, 2013 at 9:24 PM | Page modified December 3, 2013 at 9:30 PM

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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin insists on-field foray was unintentional

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t mean to potentially interfere with a Baltimore player on a kickoff return Thursday.


The Associated Press

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PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin said he 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 Thursday, he couldn’t take himself away from watching it 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 cap flash across the screen did he realize it might be a good time to move.

Too late.

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 was an ill-timed two-step Tomlin, 41, said was a lot of things, namely “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal and a blunder.”

The one thing it wasn’t, he insisted, 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.”

Tomlin was not flagged on the play, and said he was following his normal routine of watching kickoffs on stadium scoreboards because it gives him a better perspective on how the play is developing.

Tomlin said he had no plans to fight whatever disciplinary action the league decides to impose.

“I don’t know what a just punishment is,” he said. “I have no idea.”

Rodgers to practice

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers aren’t ruling out Aaron Rodgers for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, even though the standout quarterback hasn’t yet been medically cleared to play since breaking his left collarbone a month ago.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers will practice Wednesday in a limited fashion but that backup Matt Flynn, who was a Seahawk last season, would take the snaps with the starters.

“Aaron wants to play, there’s no question about it,” McCarthy said. “But it’s a medical situation.”

Notes

• Detroit Lions linebacker Travis Lewis was suspended for the final four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Lewis, 25, plays mostly on special teams.

• With quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell recovering from concussions, Cleveland signed QB Caleb Hanie. Hanie, 28, was signed as a free agent by Baltimore in April and was released in August.

• Five former Kansas City Chiefs who were on the team between 1987 and 1993 filed a lawsuit, claiming the team hid and even lied about the risks of head injuries during that time period when there was no collective-bargaining agreement in place in the league.

The lawsuit was filed in Jackson County (Mo.) Circuit Court on behalf of former players Leonard Griffin, Chris Martin, Joe Phillips, Louis Cooper and Kevin Porter, all of whom played on defense.



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