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Steelers Preseason Week 1: Only urgency needed is to remain healthy

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The 1st pre-season game for any NFL team is mostly a cookie cutter type of affair. Play the starters for one series and let the guys fighting for roster spots get at it. JP knows that the best result is not a win, but a healthy club after 60 minutes of play.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watches over his team at practice from St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watches over his team at practice from St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa
Joe Sargent

Injuries in sports are inevitable, like paying taxes or facing the grim reaper.  You know it's only a matter of time.

No matter the amount of preparation or the time spent preparing, somebody at some point is going to make contact with another player or try to stop on a dime and then, well...

A knee pops, an MCL tears or a rib get's split.

Football and injuries go hand in hand and that can never be eliminated.  It's a simple truth that many don't seem to grasp, no matter how much you try to protect players.

On Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about a variety of things leading up to Saturday's 1st pre-season tilt with the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Words like 'urgency' and 'fast' were used several times by Tomlin as a way to get a message across to the guys fighting for roster spots.  The message was, play hard and at game speed if you want to get a fair evaluation on your future status with this team.

"We have a number of guys that aren't healthy as we sit here right now, but we are going to leave the light on for those guys and wait until the 11th hour,' said Tomlin about those that are dinged up.

Guys like Steve McLendon, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ryan Shazier and others could be game-time decisions for Saturday based on Tomlin's statements.  "We'll wait till the last minute to make those decisions.' offered Tomlin during his presser.

One could argue that Heyward-Bey needs reps based on the competition that's taking place at wide receiver.

McLendon and Shazier however, not as much.

If any starter, even a rookie like Shazier who is projected to be a starter, isn't 100% come game time and is on the field, it's a huge mistake.

Call me a wimp or soft, but I don't see the need to risk further injury to players that are already dinged up to see them play 20 plays and risk the chance of missing time when the games actually count.

Save it for next week if and when they are really ready to play.

There are plenty of players on the roster that need the game time experience to give coaches a chance to evaluate who's really ready to help the 53 man roster, or even be placed on the practice squad in case of injury.

Don't risk a player like Shazier or McLendon, who can really contribute and play major roles this season, because they need to be seen at 'game speed' against the Giants on the second weekend of August.

Tomlin is smart enough to know this and in the end won't do anything to jeopardize the team entering the regular season.

Injuries happen in the NFL.  You just don't want to see them happen to 1st team players on the 1st week of pre-season.

John Phillips is a radio personality for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and a columnist for Behind The Steel Curtain. Check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.