Time is of the essence: The Steelers are coming off one of their most physical games of the season, something that is always the case when they play the Baltimore Ravens. And they don't have much time to rebound and recover, with a Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field next on the agenda.
Coach Mike Tomlin knows with a limited amount of time to work this week, the team has to stay focused and not waste a precious minute.
"We're going to use all of the time at our disposal," said Tomlin. "We better, working on a short week and playing a group like this. This is what you sign up for, the challenges the National Football League presents week in and week out, formidable opponents, short weeks. We'll do our best to prepare, stay singularly focused and put our best foot forward on Thursday night at Heinz for our fans."
The limited amount of time to prepare, basically three days instead of six, does require some cramming, but they won't leave any stone unturned.
"You get to it all, but the depths in which you get to it is debatable," said Tomlin. "Having the perspective of dealing with it for a number of years, the things you choose to push to the front of the line if time is limited, where do you allocate your time, from time spent with players, but staff time too. The allocation of time and focus is the critical element of short week prep."
Growing together: After starting the season with a 1-2-1 record, the Steelers have rebounded strong, winning the last four games and playing sound football all around. Tomlin said it wasn't a major change that took place, but basically credits it to growth by the players individually and as a unit.
"We're just growing," said Tomlin. "We are growing every day. It's the same discussion. Guys are getting better technically. They are growing in terms of knowledge. They are growing in terms of situational understanding. When you do those things you make plays and minimize negativity. Those two things happen at the same time. Hopefully we have made a few plays. Hopefully we have prevented a few plays with that approach. I know our approach to preparedness is going to continue in that regard."
Falling in line: The fact that James Conner has had four straight 100-yard rushing games is as much a credit to him as it is the stellar play of the team's offensive line. Actually, the line deserves even more credit, as they have been opening holes and throwing blocks that any running back would love to be a part of.
"Those guys have been together a long time," said Tomlin. "They are quality players. They have continuity in terms of coaching. Munch (Mike Munchak) has been with them for a number of years. Those are very tangible reasons why things have developed for them.
"It creates an environment where young guys can grow, and ascend and get better. We've talked about Matt Feiler, we've talked about B.J. Finney in the past, (Alejandro) Villanueva and others. When you have good guys that are professional and work at it, you have a coach that does the same thing, it's an environment that is conducive to growth individually and collectively."