When Ben Roethlisberger went public with his disdain for the amount of physical practices the Pittsburgh Steelers have had since the start of the 2016 calendar year, for Mike Tomlin it must have gone in one ear, and out the other. How do we know this? Well, the team, coming off it’s Week 8 bye week, was put through the proverbial ringer upon their return Monday.
See what several players had to say about the overly physical nature of the practice session. It should be noted there weren’t any public complaints about the workout.
“Nobody complained about it,” offensive lineman Ramon Foster told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I kind of expected it. Being a vet, I know what coming off the bye week means. You have to shock everybody back into it.”
“We’re trying to stop this two-game losing streak we’ve been on,” Foster said. “We have the AFC North coming up. There is an assortment of things we have to right with ourselves. It was a good way to come back from the bye. It was letting guys know what the mentality is.”
“We approached it the right way,” added defensive end Cam Heyward. “It’s a Monday, but it’s the start of the week. We started on Baltimore this week and we’re ready to get after it.
“Putting the pads back on, I just think we have to get the hitting back. That’s such a big element in our game. Things we want to work on: tackling, being in the right lanes. What better way to do it than with pads?”
“There’s a lot of significance in this game,” Heyward said. “We’ve struggled in road games so far. It’s a great rivalry. It’s an AFC North game. It determines a lot in the standings. We need to play our best ball and move forward.”
“You have four days off and you have a lot of guys coming back from injury,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “You have to put them out there and get them used to hitting. Heck, I’m glad it happened now and not Sunday.”
“It was good to have a practice like that today,” Shazier said. “We play with pads so we need pad days to get back in the groove. We had a lot of missing pieces in the first half of the season. We definitely have to continue to grow and get better. This is the run for the playoffs right now.”
The Steelers had a very physical start to practice, where they had full contact hitting for the first time in a long time. A good way to get players like Ryan Shazier (knee), Mike Mitchell (knee), Robert Golden (foot), Cameron Heyward (hamstring), Marcus Gilbert (foot) and DeAngelo Williams (knee) back in the fold and used to the full contact nature of the business.
The Week 9 game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium is a big game, but not a must-win. However, if the Steelers goal is now the No. 2 seed in the AFC Playoffs, they can ill afford to lose games like the one which presents itself this Sunday. It usually takes a 13-3, 12-4 or 11-5 record to secure a first round bye, and with Pittsburgh already sitting at 4-3, there is little room for error in that regard.
Will the team come out flat? Or will the team show just how lethal it can be when clicking on all cylinders? A lot will ride on the health of a few key players, but Mike Tomlin certainly got their attention with the physical practice coming off the bye week.
In other words, if they don’t know already, they know now — it is Ravens week.