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Quick Study: Steelers Using Short Week to Prep for Regular-Season Tests




PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers had a short week before their third and final preseason game this Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons.

That means there were only be two practice sessions at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side between Saturday’s win over the Buffalo Bills and the final opportunity to players to make the team with in-stadium contributions.

“We’ve got a five-day turnaround,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “There’s a lot to be learned and a lot to be taught at this stage of the journey and we have to do it extremely quickly this week because it’s a quick transition.”

The Steelers are obviously focused on getting their team ready for the regular season at this juncture. The starters will likely play close to a half, and the second half should feature most of the players battling it out for the final spots on the 53-man roster.

But there’s one other thing the Steelers are also trying to accomplish this week. With two Thursday Night Football games on the schedule for this regular season, they’re trying to nail their short-week prep mindset.

“In today’s game, there’s going to be irregular weeks and so, it’s important that we find a rhythm within that, that we understand some of the baseline things that we do from a readiness standpoint, that we’re open to continually working from a preparation standpoint up until the 11th hour, utilizing all the things at our disposal hotel ballrooms, et cetera, and so, I’m excited about, guiding the group through this week from that standpoint, knowing what lies ahead.”

The Steelers will be playing two short-week Thursday Night Football games for the first time in team history, as the NFL recently lessened the restrictions on how often teams can play on a short week. Starting in 2023, clubs can play two games per year with five days off in between, up from the previous maximum of one.

The Steelers played twice on Thursday Night Football in 2006, 2009 and 2015, but played the first of those games in the NFL season opener. Since 2006, the Steelers are 8-8 in short-week games, and have lost three straight on Thursday Night Football, dating back to an Nov. 8, 2018 win over the Carolina Panthers. Each of the team’s last three TNF setbacks have come on the road, at Cleveland in 2019, Minnesota in 2021 and Cleveland in 2022. 

The Steelers will play both of their Thursday night games at home this year, hosting the Tennessee Titans at Acrisure Stadium in Week 9 on Nov. 2 and the New England Patriots in Week 14 on Dec. 7.