PITTSBURGH -- Forced to readjust their schedule multiple times because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Baltimore Ravens' organization, the Pittsburgh Steelers are veering from their usual pregame plans yet again.
Rather than Saturday, a day before Sunday night's kickoff against the Buffalo Bills, the Steelers are leaving for Buffalo on Sunday morning to give the team extra time to prepare from their home facility for the prime-time kickoff.
"Due to a number of schedule adjustments which resulted in the Steelers playing on a short week two weeks in a row, we requested and were approved by the League Office to travel on game day to Buffalo for our Sunday night game," Steelers spokesperson Burt Lauten said in a statement. "Our preparations and meetings will be conducted in Pittsburgh Saturday evening, and the team will then fly to Buffalo on Sunday morning and continue day-of-game preparations upon arrival in Buffalo."
The Steelers rarely travel on game day, previously doing it in 2012 when they made a day trip to New York to face the Giants during Hurricane Sandy.
Sunday night's game is the final leg of playing three games in 12 days because of the Ravens' COVID-19 outbreak that forced their Thanksgiving game against the Steelers to be postponed three times and eventually played on a Wednesday afternoon. The Steelers then faced the Washington Football Team five days later on the following Monday. Now, they'll play Buffalo in a crucial matchup after another short week of preparation.
"There's a lot of things for us to work on," coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday, a day after the loss to the Washington Football team that ended their undefeated season. "We have a short period of time. We have another short week this week. We respect that. We have to assess our level of health and who's available and put together a good plan."
Short on depth at inside linebacker, the Steelers activated Ulysees Gilbert III from injured reserve Saturday afternoon. Gilbert was first put on IR on Nov. 4 with a back injury, but he returned to practice earlier this week. Gilbert provides some reinforcements for a significantly thinned group poised to start Avery Williamson and Marcus Allen, the only healthy true inside linebackers before Gilbert's activation.
In a corresponding move, the Steelers placed inside linebacker Robert Spillane (knee) on IR. Spillane, who has been playing in place of the also injured Devin Bush, injured his knee in the third quarter of Monday's loss to the Washington Football Team. Spillane's knee injury was expected to cost him some time, but was not season-ending and did not require surgery, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler earlier this week.