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Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger laments short week after physical Ravens game

November 30, 2018

Four days after what is annually one of their most physically demanding games of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play again.

Like every NFL team, the Steelers have a Thursday night game on their schedule. Theirs falls Thursday at home against the Carolina Panthers. The Steelers have won four consecutive games, their most recent coming Sunday at AFC North rival Baltimore, 23-16.

“I’m sure the fans like (Thursday night games); they like seeing football as often as they can,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio show Monday morning. “Players? (Sighs) It’s like, ‘Oh here we go, short week, especially after a Baltimore game where you’re physically beat up.’

“I guess the only nice thing about it is you have the weekend off.”

The Steelers met Monday for meetings at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, will practice for the only time this week on Tuesday and have a walkthrough Wednesday.

During most typical weeks, NFL teams practice three times in addition to a meeting day and a walkthrough on the eve of gameday.

The Steelers have played one in-season Thursday night game every year since 2006, the season before Mike Tomlin took over as coach. Tomlin said the coaching staff does its best to squeeze in a typical full gameplan and preparation into the short week.

“You get to it (all) - but the depths in which you get to it is debatable,” Tomlin said of a short week. “So I think having a perspective of dealing with it for a number of years, I think the things that you choose to push to the front of the line if time is limited. Where do you allocate your time? Not only from time spent with players, but I am talking about staff time. The allocation of time and focus I think is the critical element of short week prep.”

While Roethlisberger is clearly not a fan of playing two NFL games in a five-day span, he hedged on a suggestion that the league eliminate its Thursday night package of games. Roethlisberger noted the financial incentive the NFL has: Fox paid $3 billion for the rights to broadcast the games (many of them simulcast on the league-owned NFL Network) over five seasons.

The collective bargaining agreement mandates that roughly half of all revenue is shared with the players.

The timing for the Steelers’ Thursday game this season is particularly disconcerting for them because it is following a Ravens game and Steelers-Ravens matchups have been known as some of the hardest-hitting in the league.

Roethlisberger, for example, missed a snap Sunday when he had the wind knocked out of him following a tackle from behind by Za’Darius Smith.

“Football is a physical game, you’ll always be a little bit sore, but everyone knows the Ravens game is different,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s crazy physical, and you’re sore. If you give us a Thursday game you wish it was after a game that won’t be physical juggernaut slugfest. But it is what it is, and we will just get ready to go as best we can.”

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