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Mike Tomlin: 'Witching Hour' for Injured Pittsburgh Steelers Approaching

Aug 20 2014, 1:07am CDT | by , in News | Latest Sports News

Mike Tomlin: 'Witching Hour' for Injured Pittsburgh Steelers Approaching
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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will sit out six injured players during the preseason game against their in-state rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Aug. 21. Tomlin told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the "witching hour" -- the impending roster cuts -- for injured Steelers is fast approaching.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says the "witching hour" for his injured players is fast approaching. 

This was what Tomlin told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo on Aug. 19:

"Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said today six players will sit out the third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night. 

"Offensive linemen Cody Wallace (finger) and Bryant Browning (shoulder), tight end Eric Waters (concussion), cornerback Shaquille Richardson (knee), linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (groin) and long snapper Greg Warren (knee) will not play. 

"Others are dealing with more minor injuries, including safety Will Allen, fullback-tight end Will Johnson, running back Tauren Poole and cornerback Devin Smith might be able to play. All four are recovering from hamstring injuries. 

"Tomlin said it is approaching 'witching hour' for players with injuries who are vying roster spots.

"'That's the unfortunate reality,' Tomlin said. 

"The Steelers must cut their roster to 75 players by next Tuesday and 53 after the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. 

"'We're getting to the meat of this thing,' Tomlin said. 'If guys are going a move, it's kind of now or never. I like that feeling of urgency in the guys as we prepare this week. It's creating a good competitive environment as we continue to team build.'" 

That preseason game against the Eagles on Thursday will be a "dress rehearsal" -- the closest thing there is to a bona fide regular season game, notes Bob Labriola of the Steelers' official website:

"The third preseason game is the closest thing to a regular season game in many facets. 

"It's not the football version of opening night on Broadway, but it is as close to it (as it ) gets to final dress rehearsal.

"The Steelers will be visiting Philadelphia for a 7:30 p.m. game on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field, and in today's NFL this third preseason game provides the final, extended action for many of the players Coach Mike Tomlin will be counting on when the regular season opens on Sept. 7. 

"'We're going to continue to play our first units more than they have the previous week,' said Tomlin. 'I haven't decided on the exact number, but obviously you can assume it's going to be more than they played in the previous games. It's just the natural part of the process.

"'You like to mock this week up and have it simulate a regular in-season week in a lot of ways, but with the short week and the number of people we're working with it won't be a complete mock week as in many instances in the past. We won't have a complete comprehensive game play, situationally, across the board, but it will be a nice step for us...

"'...'We're getting to the meat of this thing a little bit, and if guys are going to make a move it's kind of now or never,' added Tomlin. 'I like that feeling of urgency in the guys as we prepare this week and I think it's creating a good competitive environment as we get back here in terms of continuing the team building on the South Side.'"  

Tomlin is entering his eighth season as Steelers head coach. He has amassed a 71-41 (.634) win-loss record since 2007. He led the team to victory in Super Bowl XLIII, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. 

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