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Mike Tomlin makes Steelers his team with "militant" approach

By Simon Evans

DALLAS (Reuters) - Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward feels coach Mike Tomlin's 'militant' approach to establishing his authority in the locker room has given the Super Bowl winner a team that is purely of his own making.

Tomlin, 38, who guided the Steelers to Super Bowl success over the Arizona Cardinals two years ago in his second season after taking over from Bill Cowher, now has a chance to win again when his team face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

"It's his team now. When he first inherited the team, a lot of those players were under coach Cowher and did things coach Cowher's way," Ward told reporters on Monday.

"Mike Tomlin was very militant when he came here. He wanted to see who would challenge his authority and he got rid of some of the guys that questioned his authority a little bit. He kept the guys that followed what he wanted."

Tomlin, the youngest coach to reach a Super Bowl, is an impressive figure, clearly full of drive and determination but also with an enthusiasm that reflects his youth.

"With him being such a young coach, he's able to relate to the players better. He has a good grasp of how guys are feeling in the locker room," said Steelers linebacker James Farrior.

"It's always a process when you get a new coach in, but I don't think it took a long time for him to establish himself and develop a good relationship with the players.

"He does a good job of letting the coaches coach and the players play. He doesn't try to do too much as far as micromanage everything."

Tomlin became the second black coach to win a Super Bowl when he triumphed a year after Tony Dungy became the first when his Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears.

The Steelers coach is open about the example that Dungy set for him during the year they worked together at Tampa in 2001.

"I am very conscious of coach Dungy's influence in terms of how I do my job. He is a servant leader. He tries to lead through service, and I do the same," said Tomlin.

"I learned that from him in providing the men what they need to be great. Every day when I go to work, I don't think about things I have to do, I think about the things I can do to make my men successful. I get that from coach Dungy."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)