Tomlin tries bye-week ploy
Dangling a carrot in front of his players, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hinted he may extend their rest time during the bye week depending on the outcome of Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.
The Steelers aren't scheduled to play next weekend.
"I haven't decided on it, and probably the No. 1 determinant for our bye week activities is how we perform on Sunday,'' Tomlin said.
Tomlin's motivational ploy isn't original. Coaches always look for different ways to get more out of their players. According to veteran defensive end Aaron Smith, Tomlin's challenge is unnecessary.
"If you need that to get motivated, you're in the wrong business,'' Smith said Friday. "You should be motivated well beyond that point. Whatever he does with the bye week is what he does.''
Under Tomlin, the Steelers are 3-0 in games entering the bye week.
Free safety Ryan Clark said the players are taking Tomlin's message in stride.
"He told us don't ask about the bye week. He told us to go play football and we'll figure it out,'' Clark said. "Most of the time, Coach has those things set. I think with him, though, if you do play well, he throws you a bone every now and then. So maybe he has a bone set away for us.''
The Steelers open their normal week following a Sunday game with meetings on Monday, off on Tuesday and practice from Wednesday-Thursday followed by a walk-through Saturday at Heinz Field.
Tomlin's words leave open the possibility he could reduce the players work week and send them home as early as Wednesday or Thursday.
The Steelers have been nearly as effective in their first game following the bye week, where they're 2-1 under Tomlin.
Last year, the Steelers defeated Denver 28-10 on Monday night following the bye week and after defeating Minnesota 27-17.
"I don't really worry about it,'' defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We're trying to get back to the playoffs. We're trying to win another championship. We know we're going to have a little bit of a break. How long is really irrelevant. We've got a good thing going.''
The Steelers are attempting to open the season 4-0 for the first time since 1979 under Chuck Noll.
Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison said it's important that the players don't place too much emphasis on the bye week.
"We've got a bye week no matter if we win or lose,'' Harrison said. "It depends on how many games you're going to get off.
"We don't need a bunch of time off right now. If it was later, maybe. Not this early.''
The Steelers are 3-0 under coach Mike Tomlin in games before the bye week. They are 2-1 in games after the bye week.
2009 : Steelers 27, Minnesota 17
2008 : Steelers 26, Jacksonville 21
2007 : Steelers 21, Seattle 0
2009 : Steelers 28, Denver 10
2008 : Steelers 38, Cincinnati 10
2007 : Denver 31, Steelers 28