LATROBE, Pa. – After months of offseason preparation and two weeks of training camp practices, football moves to Heinz Field on Friday night when the Steelers host the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener.
"We are excited about taking this next step in team development and playing in a preseason game," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "I am not going to officially declare anyone out. I like to leave the door open, particularly for those that are nursing minor injuries."
Tomlin did go on to say that it's 'reasonable' receiver Markus Wheaton, cornerback Artie Burns, linebacker Travis Feeney and defensive tackle Roy Philon will not play because of lack of time on the field due to their injuries.
He also doesn't plan on playing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Antonio Brown, running backs Le'Veon Bell and Le'Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey.
"I'm going to put together a schedule of participation for those guys but that schedule probably won't be in this first preseason game," said Tomlin. "We're going play it by ear and deal with their overall readiness toward the regular season on a week-to-week basis, but they won't be participating this week."
In the past Tomlin has had a 'rotation' he announced in regards to playing time for individuals, but is steering away from that as it's all based on what they need to see from players.
"We won't have any hard and fast rotations in terms of the guys," said Tomlin. "We want to see the guys play, some we want to see more than others. Some we may want to evaluate in ways that may dictate reps, general conditioning. There won't be a prescribed rhythm to it.
"We are looking for growth and development in all areas. I want to see collectively that we are developing into a tough team to beat. We play fundamentally sound and keep penalties to a minimum. That we take care of the football. Those that handle the football, ball security will be paramount. If you are going to be a tough team you have to do a great job in that area. Thus far in camp I think we have done a good job in that area, but I want to see us carry that over into stadium play.
"Lastly we have to play hard. I have been impressed with our conditioning and willingness to play hard to this point in the journey, but we have to take that into a stadium environment."