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Steelers faked out by Tomlin's movie day ruse

Coach Mike Tomlin showed his Pittsburgh Steelers players that it's not only quarterbacks who can run a fake.
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Coach Mike Tomlin showed his Pittsburgh Steelers players that it's not only quarterbacks who can run a fake.As the Steelers trudged toward their practice fields for the last in a long series of a two-a-day practices Thursday, a fleet of buses pulled up at Saint Vincent College. To the veteran players, this signaled a much-welcomed training camp tradition that began under former coach Bill Cowher: A morning at the movies, with no practice.Wrong. Buckle up that chin strap, Big Ben.It was all a ruse _ there were no movies, no trip to a nearby bowling alley, no break on the last day at camp. Practice went on, and Tomlin only grinned. The Arizona Cardinals may have had a day at the movies this week, but there will be no such day off for the Steelers."Just a little mental warfare," Tomlin said. "Sometimes people need to be horribly disappointed and then asked to perform. And they did pretty well."Tomlin will make it up to his starters by restricting their playing time again Saturday night against Washington. The regulars will play only about a quarter, or maybe a few plays more, as Tomlin sticks to his routine of severely limiting their on-field time when the games don't count."We're always going to play it by ear, the circumstances of the game and what happens early on," Tomlin said.The starters are expected to play well into the second quarter only during the Aug. 29 game against Buffalo. They will likely play one series Sept. 3 at Carolina; they played two series last week against Arizona."This isn't the first time these guys have played football," Tomlin said. "It's really kind of re-acclimating themselves. It's not like it's totally foreign to them. It's not, quite honestly, a difficult thing to do. We're just going through the process of getting ready at least mentally, to push forward and play 60 minutes."Tomlin might feel differently if other NFL teams stayed with their starters well into the second half but, fearful of injuries, coaches have increasingly restricted exhibition game time. When the Carolina Panthers ended their preseason in Pittsburgh last summer, they didn't play their starters a single snap."Like everybody in the NFL, (during the) the opening weekend, second-half football is uncharted waters because all of these guys are new to that," Tomlin said. "That's an adjustment that all teams go through. So from that standpoint, our problems are no different than anyone else so it doesn't make it significant."Tomlin wouldn't say if any starters will be held out due with injuries, although most players have practiced this week.The Steelers finished up their 43rd summer in Latrobe in less than three weeks, one of their shortest stays. They'll return to their Pittsburgh practice complex on Monday and will spend nearly as many days (17) there as they did at Saint Vincent before the season starts.During the 1980s, the Steelers reported to camp in mid-July and often stayed six weeks-plus, not leaving until Saint Vincent's students returned in late August. But Tomlin isn't interested in turning training camp into boot camp, especially now that many teams stay in their practice complexes the entire season."I wouldn't mind being the Latrobe Steelers," Tomlin said. "We'll play the whole season out here. I love it because I don't have to deal with the problems of life. I don't have to take my trash out on Tuesdays or anything else. I have my kids and my wife up a couple of times a week and have dinner with them, and then get back to business. But I'm not sure that everybody shares that approach."