The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans are scheduled to meet in Week 4 in what as slated to be a huge contest between two 3-0 AFC teams. However, on Tuesday, when news broke of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Titans’ organization, things changed.
But not for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.
While Tennessee scrambles to get test results, shuts down their facility and faces the real possibility of having just one practice before the game, Tomlin can only focus on things he can control. And that would be preparing for the game Sunday.
Could the game be moved? Absolutely it could be moved to Monday, or even to another week, but Tomlin was told by the NFL he should be preparing as if this were a normal week.
So that is what he is doing, and he remains singularly focused on the task at hand.
“We don’t have a lot of definitive answers about long term what the prognosis looks like. We’ve been given a mandate to prepare as if the game is going to played on time.” Tomlin said in his Tuesday evening press conference.
“That is our mentality. We’ve gone about today’s business from a game-planning standpoint with that mentality. We intend to push into tomorrow with the normal scheduled Wednesday in our slate of work for Wednesday. We will take it day by day. We have talked openly throughout t this process that 2020 is going to have its challenges. We’ve got to be light on our feet, be ready to adjust and have a hardcore plan. We’re ready to live that out. We understand the uncertainty, but we are going to have a high level of professionalism and singular focus in spite of that. Those are our intentions.”
Throughout the press conference, Tomlin was peppered with questions regarding the upcoming game, including whether he has any concern about his team going to Nashville to play the Titans in their home stadium.
“No, we are going to trust the medical experts.” Tomlin responded. “If they deem its safe for us to proceed, then we are going to go down there with the intentions of playing and playing to win.”
Questions even went in the direction of what his thoughts were on the Titans only have one day to practice.
“Again, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that. I have my own set of challenges trying to prepare our group to tackle [Derrick] Henry (laughs) and so forth. They’re better equipped to answer that than I am. I know you guys get the chance to talk to Mike [Vrabel] tomorrow. I’m sure he will probably address it.”
As a part of the NFL’s competition committee, it was asked if the league reached out to him, or anyone else on the committee, for input on potentially moving the date of the game?
“I’m sure they’re pondering the possibilities as they gather the information relative to the current circumstance.” Tomlin said. “We, or I specifically, haven’t been a part of those discussions. We are singularly focused on preparing to play. That’s the element of the equation that we can control as we sit here today, so we better make good use of the day. I’m sure those type of scenarios or information will be revealed to us and become more clear as we proceed through the week. Right now, we’re singularly focused. We have our head down, controlling the elements of it that we can control, and that’s our plan in preparation to this point.”
And if those questions weren’t enough, Tomlin was asked if there would ever be a deadline for him to know if they will play, as it pertains to preparing his team.
“I don’t. I haven’t thought a lot about it, to be honest with you. I’ve just been trying to have a really good Tuesday and we will be doing the same tomorrow. We understand how important Wednesday is from a preparation standpoint and so that is a big day for us. We will let people who have that charge make those decisions and considerations.”
Fans want answers on the upcoming Week 4 game, but the fact of the matter is even the Steelers organization doesn’t have those answers. In the meantime, the Steelers are preparing for Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill until further notice.
For the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC as more information is brought to light.