PITTSBURGH — Before he went out to practice Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell debated aloud with teammates how many layers he should put on.
The Steelers were practicing inside, but there was a high of 23 degrees outside and the indoor facility at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex is a large metal building that already sucks the heat out of the air.
Before practice began, though, Mitchell saw Tomlin and could tell his head coach would only be making the team’s afternoon session colder.
“I was like ‘This is one of those adversity moments.’ He likes to put us in those situations just to — [mess] with us, to be totally honest. To be totally honest, that’s what he’s doing,” Mitchell said.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said overhead doors at either end of the building were left open with the fans that line the walls above the end zones blowing in the frigid outside air. Thursday’s practice was only missing the wind, Haley said.
In his four years as a Steelers Mitchell said Tomlin had never seen Tomlin arrange such a practice. But Pittsburgh hosts the Miami Dolphins in a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, when the forecast calls for a high of 18 degrees and a low of 9. Mitchell gave Tomlin credit for putting his team in similar conditions in advance.
“When I talk about him being a great coach it’s little things like that,” Mitchell said. “I can guarantee you no one wants to be freezing like we were, but at the end of the day it’s going to be cold where we play and you got to be able to execute and have your mind right for the job.”
Both Tomlin and Dolphins head coach Adam Gase have dismissed the significance of weather in Sunday’s Wild Card game, though Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said it will initially affect Miami players .
His twin brother, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey – who won’t play – is already talking about the cold for Sunday, Pouncey said.
On Thursday at least, Mitchell said, it helped the Steelers.
Said Mitchell: “I thought we had a great practice today, so.”