Steelers' Mike Tomlin 'disappointed' NFL postponed game against Titans

The (Greensburg) Tribune Review (TNS)
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The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans won’t be playing a football game in Week 4 after all.

The NFL announced Thursday that the two teams will play at Nissan Stadium in Nashville later in season after another Titans player and staff member each tested positive for covid-19.

The Titans have had five players and six staff members test positive for the coronavirus since their game last Sunday at Minnesota. It is the third day in a row that a Titans player has tested positive.

The Steelers-Titans game, which would have matched a pair of 3-0 teams, originally was scheduled to be played at 1 p.m. Sunday. On Wednesday, the NFL postponed the game, estimating that it would be played Monday or Tuesday.

The NFL said a reschedule date would be announced “shortly.”

“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the NFL said in a statement. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called the postponement a “letdown.”

“It’s disappointing because we were prepared to play, and we are not getting an opportunity to,” Tomlin said. “We understand the nature of this environment that we are in, so we’re just adjusting accordingly. There is disappointment, no question. We worked very hard at the beginning portion of this week in preparation of what we thought was an opportunity against an undefeated team in their venue.”

Tomlin put the Steelers through an hour-long workout Thursday, then gave his players the next three days off. Steelers players, though, must report for daily covid-19 testing through the weekend, Tomlin said.

The Steelers will resume play Oct. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We’re going to make the best of that,” Tomlin said. “We have every intention of getting the appropriate rest and taking care of those who need to be mended in any way. More than anything, it’s kicking back and gaining a little perspective in watching others work, and we’ll come in the beginning of next week and lean in on Philadelphia.”

The Steelers and Titans do not have a common bye week, but the NFL could reschedule the postponed game for Oct. 25. Tennessee is on its bye that week. The Steelers are scheduled to play in Baltimore, but both AFC North teams have a bye the following week. The NFL could move the Steelers-Ravens game to Nov. 1. However, that would give the Steelers three consecutive road games: at Tennessee, Baltimore and Dallas on Nov. 8.

Another option would be to move the game until the weekend after the regular season.

If Week 4 represents the only bye on the Steelers schedule, they would finish the season by playing on 13 consecutive weekends.

“We do not care,” Tomlin said.

The schedule change means the Steelers will have four home games in a row for the first time since at least the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. The Cleveland Browns would conclude that run of home games Oct. 18.

The first positive tests for Tennessee players and personnel were announced Tuesday. Defensive captain and nose tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson were placed on the reserve/covid-19 list. They were joined Wednesday by outside linebacker Kamalei Correa.

Tomlin said he would not use the Titans’ growing number of positive tests to reinforce to his players the importance of practicing safety and social distancing during the pandemic.

“We’ve continually respected the environment we are in,” he said. “We don’t need tangible measurable examples in an effort to reinforce that. We made a conscious effort to be forward in our thinking and be proactive in terms of our approach. That’s simply going to continue.”