For the second time during the 2020 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are being impacted by Covid-19—without having triggered a single positive case since the start of training camp. Back in week four, they had their contest with the Tennessee Titans postponed after their opponents experienced a significant outbreak of roughly two dozen players and personnel, which in a certain sense robbed them of their bye week.
Heading into next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, they are facing new issues after their previous opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, had a player, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, test positive. His positive test was taken on Sunday prior to the game and the results were learned on Monday morning, which means that he played after taking a positive test and before it was known to be positive.
As a result, the Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed earlier today, would be operating to some degree out of the norm in order to be in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols, which began with the team moving meetings to remote stations for the week. Media appearances outside of Tomlin’s weekly press conferences have also so far been cancelled.
Unlike Bill Belichick, however, he wasn’t looking for ways to justify a potential future failure. “It won’t be an excuse in any way”, Tomlin told reporters in acknowledging that the protocols will indeed shape what they are permitted to do in their work week.
“We’ve acknowledged from the very onset of this thing we have to have a hardcore plan, but we have to be light on our feet”, he continued. “We have to work at learning and learning to prepare in different ways. This goes back to the virtual offseason. We won’t be doing a whole bunch of talking about the labor pains associated with this journey this week. We will be concerned about the performance that’s on the other end of it”.
Unfortunately, he didn’t go into much detail at all with regards to how exactly the work week will be impacted. I am assuming that they will be permitted to be back in the building for on-field practice participation tomorrow, but I don’t have a definitive answer to that. Meetings will remain virtual, from my understanding.
“Let me be clear here. I am extremely pleased with the efforts of the National Football League in response to the pandemic and the steps that we are taking continually”, Tomlin said. “They are continually growing and changing and developing as needed. I have no issue with what we are doing in that area”.
Considering they remain undefeated, it’s hard to say that the protocols have been too damaging for the Steelers so far, and to be honest, even if they didn’t practice at all this week, it still wouldn’t be an excuse for losing to this truly awful Dallas Cowboys team that may be starting a practice squad quarterback by Sunday.