Football will officially be back on Friday night at Heinz Field when the Detroit Lions invade Heinz Field for the first preseason game for both teams, but fans who plan on attending the game won't be seeing some of the Steelers stars even dressed for the game.
Mike Tomlin spoke with media Wednesday and said the following players will not be playing in the exhibition game Friday night: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le'Veon Bell, RB DeAngelo Williams, WR Antonio Brown and C Maurkice Pouncey.
"I'm going to put together a schedule of participation for those guys but that schedule probably won't be in this first preseason game," said Tomlin. "We're going play it by ear and deal with their overall readiness toward the regular season on a week-to-week basis, but they won't be participating this week."
To say this is a smart move is a gigantic understatement. After witnessing the plethora of injuries in 2015, mainly Maurkice Pouncey in the preseason game vs. the Green Bay Packers, you have to always go with caution through these meaningless games.
On top of the simple fact of keeping your playmakers healthy, the Steelers offense is a very experienced group. There is no real need for them to iron out details in the offense until later in the preseason, which is exactly what Tomlin will likely do in the third and fourth preseason games.
With the superstars taking the night off, there are several players who are doubtful to play -- some of which could benefit from the experience.
Mike Tomlin said it was "reasonable" WR Markus Wheaton, CB Artie Burns, OLB Travis Feeney and DT Roy Philon will not play because of lack of time on the field due to their injuries. For Burns and Feeney, losing a preseason game is an extremely difficult pill to swallow as every chance you get to prove yourself on tape as a rookie is something you never want to pass up.
So far, Tomlin has been pleased with his team's development and conditioning since reporting to training camp almost two weeks ago, but he left his team with this message heading into the game Friday night.
"We have to play hard. I have been impressed with our conditioning and willingness to play hard to this point in the journey, but we have to take that into a stadium environment."