A delicate balance this week

The Steelers don't have much time to rest this week as they get right back at it on Thursday night on the road against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.

The team will have only two practices, Tuesday and Wednesday, but with just playing Sunday they have to be smart about how they work this week.

"We have to understand what we are dealing with and we will do that and try to delicately balance preparing the guys and preserving them at the same time," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "The good thing for us is that we've been in quite a few of these Thursday night games, probably as many as anyone else in the league in the last four or five years. It's nothing new to us. We will respect the process of preparing for it and hopefully go play some winning football."

The Steelers have played at least one Thursday night game each of the last six seasons, and have a 5-1 record under Tomlin on Thursday night, so there is a track record of knowing how to prepare for it.

"We need to shorten the amount of time that they're on their feet," said Tomlin. "We need to minimize the amount of running. It potentially affects what you decide to do and how you decide to do it in the game.

"We've had a lot of practice at this and we're pretty comfortable with our approach to playing.  It doesn't necessarily mean that were going to roll the ball out and play how we desire to play. So, we respect the process that is the preparation week but we're comfortable with the blueprint that we have in dealing with this, at least at this juncture."

Tomlin doesn't let the short work bother the team, knowing that there isn't much time for either side to prepare.

"It's a short week for them as well," said Tomlin. "What we are concerned about is how we utilize our time in order to prepare.

We need to work smart this week."


The Steelers were penalized nine times for 106 yards against the Eagles, something Tomlin sees working itself out for the most part as the season rolls on.

"We were highly penalized in the game, in game penalties," said Tomlin. "They are usually ironed out with continued emphasis on technique. In some instances we have some guys working hard and not necessarily smart. Those things usually smooth themselves out as you push through the first quarter of the season."

What doesn't sit well with Tomlin are the pre-snap penalties, which included an illegal formation call on Mike Wallace in the first quarter that nullified a 24-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall.

"What needs to disappear and it didn't disappear yesterday are some of the pre-snap penalties, illegal formations and false starts," said Tomlin. "Those are self-inflicted wounds. We won't tolerate that. We cannot tolerate that. It's my job to get them fixed. We will work on it this week.

"Penalties hurt you in a lot of ways. They put you behind the chains. They eliminate explosion plays and limit field position. They minimize scoring opportunities. All those things kind of happened to us yesterday with the self-inflicted wounds. It's good to learn those lessons and identify them in the midst of victory. We did enough to do that."


The status of tight end Weslye Saunders might not be determined until Friday of this week, which is the deadline the team has to make a move. Saunders served a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, and Tomlin did not indicate what the plans were during his weekly press conference.

"We could choose to activate him and play him in this game," said Tomlin. "We could choose to make the decision after game. We'll see where we are when we get into the week. Right now, we're just more concerned about getting a schematic plan in place and looking at the overall health of the guys that are in question, in terms of how we build our plan. We haven't pondered some of those things that are a little less relevant."

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