It was anything but a holiday weekend for the Steelers as they were busy preparing to take on the New England Patriots this Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
In case you missed some of the happenings over the last few days, here is a recap of what went on.
Making moves: The Steelers cut their roster down to the mandatory 53-man roster, but more moves were still made after the "final 53" were set (see below). Coach Mike Tomlin weighed in on why the roster continued to evolve.
"Those things are ongoing, and probably will be ongoing for the next day or so as other teams make their decisions and we evaluate what's available," said Tomlin. "Just normal procedure for us. We got a little bit of our business done, what with our first game coming on Thursday, but we'll keep an eye on what's going on in other cities and the things that might help us be better."
Ready to kick it off:The Steelers know they will be facing a fired-up New England team, and home crowd, especially as the game will honor the Patriots Super Bowl championship from last year.
"It'll be hostile," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "It'll be a great test, a great challenge for our guys. Some young guys, I use that phrase 'welcome to the NFL,' it's going to be a heck of a welcome.
"I think the biggest thing is to go out and control your emotion because there's going to be a lot of emotion flowing. The nerves will be flying around. Even guys like myself that have done it for a long time will be nervous. It's how fast can you get rid of the jitters and the nerves and just play football?"
It's also a test for veterans, as everyone knows the games now count in the win-loss column.
"You just know everything is for real," said cornerback Will Gay. "What you put on tape will walk with you this entire 2015 season. There is urgency. The guys know it's time; that it counts. You have to be held accountable."
Carrying the load:Running back DeAngelo Williams will be carrying the load for the ground game this week against the Patriots with Le'Veon Bell suspended, and Tomlin said he isn't concerned about giving the veteran back plenty of work back there.
"I have a lot of confidence in DeAngelo," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "This is not his first rodeo by any stretch. He has been in the league for a decade. He is an energy bringer, he is a hard worker. He has not only had a good offseason, but a good preseason. I am excited about watching him play." **
New additions:** The final 53-man roster is never quite that. And it barely even lasted 24 hours. The Steelers added running back Jordan Todman on Sunday after he was released by the Carolina Panthers. To make room for him on the roster the team released cornerback Doran Grant. The Steelers have also claimed defensive end Caushaud Lyons from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To make room on the roster, the Steelers waived linebacker Anthony Chickillo. Both Chickillo and Grant were then added back to the practice squad.
In addition Cornerback Ross Cockrell signed on Saturday after being released by the Buffalo Bills a week ago.
Practice, practice, practice: Speaking of the practice squad. It changed continuously over the weekend, and of the initial 10 players signed on Sunday, only three still remain on there. One of them is rookie wide receiver Shakim Phillips, who was let go on the final cut and then brought back.
"This is all new to me," said Phillips. "I am a rookie free agent so I am just learning all of this. It's tough to get the news, but you have to keep rolling with it and go with the punches.
"It's a great feeling to be back. I am excited. Just learning from the guys, seeing their work ethic. Guys like Antonio Brown. I am happy."
Rather than list the practice squad, might be easier to just check the roster as you never know when it will change.
Getting in line: Center Maurkice Pouncey was placed on the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return List, a list which allows him to return after eight games. In an associated move, the team signed back Doug Legursky, who signed with the Steelers on Aug. 25, was released on Saturday with the final roster cuts, knowing that he would be back.
"Any time something like this happens everybody kind of takes a gasp, family and stuff," said Legursky. "For us in the building we understood what it was. I knew I wanted to be back here in Pittsburgh and play for the team that gave me my first home here. It was a good feeling to come back and be able to do what I can for the team. If that's going on the street for 24 hours then so be it."
Captain of the ship: The Steelers named their captains for the 2015 season, and they are Roethlisberger (offense), Heyward and Gay (defense), and Rob Golden (special teams).