Usually by Tuesday, he has some idea. Some notion about the potential availability of the players on his injured list, some feel for the upcoming opponent. But not so much this week, even down to the site and time of the game.
Coach Mike Tomlin has become expert in dealing with the weekly variances to his roster and game plan caused by the additions and subtractions on the injury list, and he calmly details those shortly after the start of his regular Tuesday news conference.
But after doing that this time, Tomlin was asked about the site and time of the game itself, about whether the damage done by Hurricane Sandy might create problems with, or changes to, what currently is scheduled to be a 4:25 p.m. kickoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, which is located in East Rutherford, N.J.
"I acknowledge that some of those things are possibilities, but I haven't spent any time pondering them," said Tomlin. "I'm simply focused on the things within our control, and that's our preparation. Monday evening is a big preparation time for us, as is Tuesday, and that's been my focus. I'm sure the National Football League office in New York is looking at options, and we'll just simply wait to hear what they have to say, or not say. In the meantime, we're going to proceed with the plans until we hear otherwise."
This is not the Steelers' first encounter with a hurricane. In 2004, Ben Roethlisberger's rookie year, the team's third game of the season was to be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26, in South Florida. The team arrived in Fort Lauderdale in advance of Hurricane Jeanne, and then waited it out in a hotel, where power went out for portions of Saturday. The NFL decided to move kickoff back to Sunday night to allow for more time for the clean-up, and the Steelers won, 13-3, with the help of a late touchdown pass from their rookie quarterback.
Nor is this the Giants' first encounter with a hurricane's impact. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the Giants were scheduled to play in New Orleans for the Saints home opener, but the game was moved to Giants Stadium, and the Giants won, 27-10.
As for the Steelers' health situation going into the game, Tomlin said, "Nothing has changed with the status of Ryan Clark. He sustained a concussion in the game last Sunday, and we'll continue to monitor him throughout the week. There is a battery of processes he has to go through in order to get clearance and rightfully so. We'll proceed with that protocol tomorrow.
"Rashard Mendenhall will be cleared to start individual work tomorrow, and that will be a step in the right direction for him. Jonathan Dwyer, with his right quad strain, is tentatively scheduled not to practice tomorrow. He's being evaluated today, and hopefully Thursday is a practice day for him.
"Stevenson Sylvester is very questionable with a hamstring. LaMarr Woodley's hamstring looks more promising than Sly's. He might be limited here in the early portion of the week, and his participation (in practice) and how he looks over the course of the week will determine his availability (for the game). Isaac Redman is scheduled to practice (Wednesday) and so is Brandon Johnson."
Tomlin also ruled out both Troy Polamalu and Marcus Gilbert for Sunday's game, which will be the fourth straight one Polamalu has missed with this calf injury and the third straight one Gilbert has missed with the ankle he injured during the second quarter of the game in Tennessee on Oct. 11.
David DeCastro has begun working individually, which is a step along the way toward returning to practice. Tomlin provided no timetable for when that might happen.