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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hints at cuts coming well in advance of 6 p.m. ET Saturday deadline

Earlier cuts and cuts beyond the 53 player maximum may indicate intentions to sign a released player from another team.

Joe Robbins

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin answered internal questions posted on the Steelers' web site Thursday, hinting at decisions on cuts being made "about 24 hours" after Thursday's preseason finale at the Carolina Panthers.

Q. The roster is going to be reduced from 75 to 53 in about 24 hours after this game. Does that make this your toughest time of the year?

A. It is, but it’s the nature of the business as well. When we start this journey back in March or April, we all have an understanding that this is not a participation oriented thing. We’re 90 going to 53. We repeat that often, and now we’re at the end of the line and the reality of it is upon us.

The deadline to reduce rosters from 75 players to 53 is 6 p.m. ET Saturday. It seems as if the Steelers will make cuts a little bit earlier than that, which isn't unusual.

A reason the Steelers may want to make cuts earlier rather than later is to have their final roster submitted is to free up the room to possibly make other moves based on players available. The Steelers are likely to place tight end Matt Spaeth on the IR-designated to return list, but he has to be placed on the 53 man roster first. That likely means the Steelers will have four tight ends, with two of them not being able to play in Week 1 - Spaeth and Heath Miller, who is expected to come off the PUP list but not be activated for the first few weeks of the season.

Judging on which other tight ends are avaiable, it's possible the Steelers make an additional cut - down to 52 players - to have the space to immediately pursue a free agent of interest.

There is work to be done for many of the Steelers players as they head into their final preseason game of the 2013 season. But the work being done over the next 36 hours of the coaches and front office will be even greater.

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