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Carolina Panthers

Short prep for Pittsburgh game


CHARLOTTE - The Panthers will find additional windows during the short week to prepare their game plan for Thursday night's game at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The door will close much more quickly, however, on preparing their bodies.

"Tuesday is usually an off-day, so usually this time of day everybody is sleeping, trying to get ready for Wednesday," Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen said Tuesday afternoon. "But with the short week, you've just got to get ready to go."

Center Ryan Kalil said his body usually doesn't recover from a Sunday game until Thursday.

"Tuesday is usually a day off, and Wednesday you're still a little stiff, trying to get to fluids going," Kalil said. "Then Thursday you start feeling a little better."

Does that mean that Kalil won't be ready for the Steelers?

"I'm ready to go," he said. "Always ready to rock and roll."

The Panthers have been rolling full-steam ahead in preparation for a game that's being played three days earlier than their typical game, with some members of the coaching staff even finding some time to scout the Steelers even before the Arizona game.

Players had Monday off rather than Tuesday, and coaches spent time Monday game-planning for Steelers rather than reviewing Sunday's victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Also, with the game kicking off at 8:20 p.m. Thursday (on NFL Network and in the Charlotte area on WSOC-TV), there will be a bit more time to get ready on game day.

When it comes to taking care of the players' mental preparedness and their physical condition on a short week, head coach John Fox said it's a balancing act.

"We won't go pads this week (in practice)," he said. "A lot of that is not doing too many different things from the week before and freshening the team up."
If there is an upside to the short week, it's the long week that follows – especially in light of the impending holiday season. The Panthers will have had four more days of rest than the Atlanta Falcons when the teams meet in the regular season finale on Jan. 2, and they'll spend those first few days with their families.

"Getting Christmas off, that's a good trade-off," tight end Gary Barnidge said. "It's really not that bad at all; it's just different. I don't think it's something you can do all the time, but once a year it's not that bad."

While the short week presents plenty of challenges along with a perk or two, none of that will necessarily matter when team captains meet at midfield for Thursday's coin toss.

"It's a short week for us, but it's a tough week for them too," Kalil said. "So there's really no advantage."

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