Steelers notebook: Tomlin, Vikings differ in approach to overseas game


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The Steelers were scheduled to arrive in London this morning, about 48 hours before their game against the Vikings at Wembley Stadium. It's quite a different schedule than the Vikings, who arrived Tuesday and spent the week acclimating to the time change.

Steelers guard Ramon Foster visited London this summer to promote the game, and said his teammates must get their rest Saturday, when jet lag is most likely to set in.

"The first day was a little bit of an adrenaline rush," Foster said. "The second day there was a little bit of jet lag. You have to get your rest. That's my advice to guys. Coach will be on top of that to make sure guys are where they're supposed to be."

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference that he favored a week of normalcy at home before traveling overseas. The team practiced Wednesday and Thursday in Pittsburgh before flying through the night to London.

The team is scheduled to practice today and perform some media obligations. There are more media obligations for some players and team personnel Saturday.

The Steelers are taking precautions to make sure the players feel as fresh as possible for the game. They will have access to intravenous fluids before and after the seven-hour flight and massage therapists will be in London upon the team's arrival, according to receiver Antonio Brown.

Some players are taking extra precautions. Safety Ryan Clark flew two of his personal therapists to London in advance of the team.

"I booked flights for my people to be in London when I get there so I can have treatment [tonight] and Saturday during the day," Clark said.

"You want to do those things to get yourself taken care of. But as far as the trip, you have to try your best to get your rest. There's nothing you can really do for jet lag or prepare for that time change."

First downs a positive

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the biggest area of improvement for the offense in the third game against the Bears was on first downs.

The Steelers struggled on first down against Tennessee and Cincinnati, but gained 7.9 yards per play on first down against the Bears.

"In the first two games, first down was a major issue," Haley said. "We weren't efficient running it or throwing it, whether we were in no-huddle. Whatever we were trying, we were inefficient on first down and it put us in tough situations in each series, and it had negative effects.

"We continued to stress it and put a focus on it, and I think they really took to hear what we were talking about. We ended up with 31 first downs. We averaged 7.9 a play on first down. That's winning football and that's why we're clear on why we're not winning. It's because of turnovers. If we can win on first down and protect the football, we'll get excited about."

Haley also said he would like to determine which two offensive tackles will be starters as quickly as possible. The coaches rotated Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert and Kelvin Beachum against the Bears.

"All three have the ability to be NFL tackles," Haley said. "We need to speed that development along as best we can. If Beach is the guy who ends up developing faster, he'll be the guy playing."

Haley said he would like that situation to sort itself out sooner rather than later.

"I'd rather not make it a trial," he said. "We need to find out fast. We don't have a lot of time to waste."

Quick hits

Brown confirmed he was fined twice by the NFL for illegal hits against the Bears. He was fined for grabbing the facemask of a Bears defender on a punt return and for a late hit after a turnover late in the game. Brown said he was appealing the fines. ... Defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring) did not practice for a second consecutive day. ... Tight end Heath Miller (knee) was limited after being a full participant Wednesday. ... All other players dealing with injuries were full participants in practice.

Steelers

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published September 27, 2013 4:00 AM


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