The Steelers-Titans game, which was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday, Oct. 3, will now be rescheduled to a date later in the season after members of the Titans organization, including players, tested positive for COVID-19.
For Coach Mike Tomlin, while he understands the decision and that it's the nature of things during 2020 with a global pandemic, he is still disappointed that the team won't be playing after beginning preparation.
"I am disappointed because we were preparing to play and we're not getting an opportunity to," said Tomlin. "We understand the nature of this environment we are in in 2020 and we are adjusting accordingly. There is disappointment. There is no question. We worked extremely hard at the beginning portion of this week in preparation for what we thought was an opportunity versus an undefeated team in their venue. You lean in on those opportunities. We are not getting an opportunity to do that.
"Instead we are getting a bye week, so we are going to make the best of that. We have every intention of getting appropriate rest and taking care of those that need to be mended in any way. More than anything just kicking back and gaining a little bit of perspective in terms of watching others work and we'll come in at the beginning of next week and lean in on Philadelphia.
"I think we are all understanding of the situation. It's not a lack of understanding. It's just that we live in these seven-day cycles. We had a game scheduled so we were going through a process. Not only is that physical work, that is mental work and we were readying ourselves for the opportunity and we are not getting it and so it is a letdown."
The Steelers held practice on both Wednesday and Thursday of this week but will now be off from football activity for the remainder of the weekend. Players will remain in the area, though, and still undergo their required daily testing for COVID-19.
"The rules are different. But from my understanding the rules are going to be different for all of us," said Tomlin. "There will be daily COVID testing throughout this weekend, so the guys will have to remain local. We understand that. We plan to adhere to that."
The NFL has not said when they will announce when the game will be played, and Tomlin said while he has "had some information regarding potentially what the future looks like," it's all hypothetical at this point and he is just now focusing on preparing to play the Eagles at Heinz Field on Oct. 11.
"I am a tangible guy," said Tomlin. "The next tangible thing for us is the Philadelphia Eagles, so that is where my attentions are transitioning towards. I will let the people that handle that business focus on that."
When asked if he thought the decision to reschedule the game for a later date was correct or not, Tomlin said it wasn't up to him.
"My opinion does not matter," said Tomlin. "We take marching orders from the National Football League. We understand that they are acting in our collective best interest and I have a great deal of comfort in that."
The rescheduling of the game could potentially have the Steelers playing 13 straight games without a break, all depending on what the league decides, and it's something Tomlin isn't worried about if that is the case.
"We do not care," said Tomlin.
He also said he isn't aware of any plans of what will happen if a team is unable to play a full 16-game schedule.
"I know we had hypothetical conversations during the summer for such an event, and so they have things in place in terms of playoff tiering and things, if we move in that direction, but I think that it's everybody's hope that that doesn't come to fruition," said Tomlin.
The Steelers have not had any positive tests since the 2020 season started and Tomlin said they will continue to proceed the way they have in being safe and that what the Titans are going through isn't something players need to see in order to understand how important safety is right now.
"We have continually respected the environment we are in," said Tomlin. "We don't need tangible, miserable examples in an effort to reinforce that. We have made a conscious effort to be forward in our thinking and proactive in terms of our approach. That is just simply going to continue."