Cameron Heyward says Pittsburgh Steelers to keep rolling with COVID-19 woes

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers captain Cameron Heyward understands that in this strange season, one played amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schedules are going to shift, and plans must be fluid.

It's a message he's imparted to his teammates as the Steelers faced not one, but two postponements because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Baltimore Ravens organization that left the team with a total of 20 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

"This is just a chapter in our book," Heyward told teammates. "This is something we will be able to write down in the future and hopefully it is along with a Super Bowl, but for this group, we just keep rolling with it.

"We understand that every team is going through something like this. Not to this extent, but we have to be ready for any situation. I think Coach [Mike Tomlin] has laid out the plan. It's up for us to follow it, and it's up for us to bounce back with it."

The Steelers were back on the practice field Sunday after Tomlin gave his players three days off during the schedule changes. The team was initially supposed to host the Ravens on Thursday night, but it was pushed to Sunday and eventually moved to Tuesday night.

"I needed it, so I'm not going to complain about it," Heyward said of the days off. "We had some guys that had nicks and bruises that could use the rest. Whether it is taking care of your body, spending time with family, getting extra preparation, this is a week we can take advantage of it, so I thought we did that."

During the days off, the Steelers had positive tests of their own, resulting in the placement of four players -- Stephon Tuitt, Isaiah Buggs, Jerald Hawkins and James Conner -- on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Tomlin said Sunday that he received news earlier in the day that there were no additional positives.

"I know that I got great news today that we had no positives," Tomlin said. "I think that's the global mentality of all of us. It's day-to-day. It's a sensitive situation. You're talking about degrees of confidence and things of that nature. That's a slippery slope."

With Conner out, the team will turn to second-year back Benny Snell Jr. to take the bulk of the reps at the position. Snell had over 100 yards when he filled in for Conner in the season opener against the Giants, but he hasn't had much game experience since. Even so, Tomlin is confident in Snell.

"I have no reservation about Benny Snell as a featured runner," he said.

Tomlin was also confident that his players are prepared for Tuesday's game despite the unorthodox schedule that saw them practice Tuesday and Wednesday and take the field for about an hour and a half Sunday.

"I'm 100% confident of that," he said of his team's preparedness and focus. "This group was leaning in on a short week, having an opportunity to be a part of a Thanksgiving prime-time game. Everybody grew up on football on Thanksgiving. They were excited about being a part of that. I think it's a natural response to be disappointed to lose that opportunity, but that's over. We are getting focused on Tuesday night. Some of our MAC guys are completely comfortable with playing on Tuesday night, so we are excited about it."