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Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers rested almost half their starters during the team’s final preseason game. Mike Tomlin made the mistake of announcing this beforehand and fans reacted accordingly. I’m sure he got a stern talking to because when you make it obvious that a game doesn’t matter, people don’t watch and more importantly they don’t show up to pay overpriced parking or buy watered down beer. So this year, Coach T kept his intentions to himself.

Not that anything different happened. Last night, the Steelers played their fourth and final preseason game. And last night, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, LaMarr Woodley, Brett Keisel, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and even backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski all didn’t dress.

It was Scrub-a-poloza in Carolina last night as the Black and Gold went 0-fer the preseason, falling to the Panthers 25-10. Thus concludes Pittsburgh’s first winless preseason since Bill Cowher’s final season back in 2006 and only their third in nearly 50 years. Again, the worst team ever, the 0-16 Detroit Lions, went undefeated that preseason so these games are hardly an accurate predictor of the season to come. Still, it doesn’t exactly instill one with a great deal of confidence coming off a miserable 8-8 campaign.

So, what’s Tomlin’s assessment of his team pulling a Detroit this preseason? Continue reading »

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Tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers travel down to Charlotte for their annual preseason meeting with the Carolina Panthers. Why do we always play the Panthers, you may ask? Because Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is a card-carrying member of the FOD (Friends of Dan, as in Rooney). So while the Rooneys and the Richardsons sip Mint Juleps and discuss tee times up in the owners box, we get to see the Panthers at least once every year. Yippee.

To make a meaningless game even more meaningless, this is the fourth and final game of the preseason for the Black and Gold. The fourth game is the one where coaches are most careful. Anybody with so much as an ingrown toenail sits out because nobody wants to lose a player one short week away from the regular season. Last year, Mike Tomlin announced half the starting line-up wasn’t even going to be in uniform. As of this writing, Coach T hasn’t said much other than Landry Jones would be seeing the bulk of the playing time.

In other words, feel free to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates unless you’re a degenerate gambler who bet on this game or you really really have a thing for young Landry. Continue reading »

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Pop Quiz: What’s worse than an NFL preseason game?

Answer: An NFL preseason game that goes into overtime.

The Pittsburgh Steelers remained O for the preseason on Saturday, falling to the Kansas City Chiefs 26-20 in overtime. Seriously, overtime? They couldn’t just agree to shake hands and call it a tie? Screw the degenerate gamblers who bet on exhibition games.

While nobody wants to go winless at anything, one ray of sunshine coming out of Saturday’s performance was that it was much improved over the first two debacles. Considering the third preseason game is a dress rehearsal for the regular season with starters playing a full half (or more), that’s obviously a really good thing. The other positive development was that the Steelers emerged from the game more or less unscathed. Continue reading »

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The Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Kansas City Chiefs tonight in the all-important third exhibition preseason  game.  As I did last season, I beseech you, if you’re going to the game, don’t walk under any ladders.  Steer clear of black cats.  And if you own a rabbit’s foot, by all means bring it with you. That is, if the NFL Security Overlords permit you to smuggle it in within your regulation size purse.

The third preseason game is always a mixed blessing. It’s the most watchable game because starters usually see a good half of action in preparation for the season opener. But it’s also the scariest because within that half, you’re constantly hoping and praying none of the starters get injured. In a just world, when that half is over, everybody is healthy and ready for the regular season.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a just world. Continue reading »

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Keep repeating: “It’s only the preseason. It’s only the preseason.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their second preseason game last night, losing to the Washington Redskins 24-13. The final score isn’t as important as how the team performed. In their first preseason game, the Black and Gold looked sloppy and undisciplined. If nothing else, I was hoping to see the team’s level of play improve across the board.

Talk about one step forward, two steps back. Where to begin with last night’s debacle? Continue reading »

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The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the New York Giants 18-13 in Saturday night’s preseason debut. I note the score because I love being on Twitter during these meaningless games and watching Steeler Nation freak out over such minute details. I guess such passion even for games featuring a bunch of guys who’ll be selling car insurance two weeks from now goes hand in hand with having the best fan base in all of football. Remember, people, the Detroit Lions went undefeated in the preseason before taking an O-fer the entire regular season.

With that in mind, there were some interesting storylines coming out of the game: Continue reading »

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The Pittsburgh Steelers kick off their preseason against the New York Giants tonight. For those of you outside of the Steel City who are just dying to see undrafted free agents pretend to be pro ball players for a couple halves before embarking on a career selling used cars, the game will be airing on NFL Network. The red hot Pirates are in Colorado so when every player of consequence comes out by about 8:30, I’ll probably be switching the channel along with every other bandwagon jumping yinzer. Continue reading »

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The Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Latrobe on Friday, officially kicking off training camp with their annual Welcome Back “conditioning test” aka long-ass run. I’m happy to report there were no stragglers this season, sparing us the ignominious sight of a lone out-of-shape fatso struggling to jiggle their enormous mass across the rolling hills of St. Vincent’s College (I’m looking at you, Casey Hampton). Even offensive lineman Mike Adams completed the test, an impressive feat considering he’s only two months removed from being stabbed in the gut.

Continue reading »

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The NFL already has so many different revenue streams team owners are swimming in pools of money, Scrooge McDuck-style. Not content to stop while they’re ahead, the NFL is constantly trying to branch out into new areas. Having already cornered the market on selling XXXL size t-shirts to every adult male in Cleveland and obscenely priced Bumblebee throwbacks to the colorblind, the NFL is now trying to peddle more merchandise to women. To that end they’ve brought in a bunch of celebrities to be featured in ads aimed at chicks.

Guess who they have modelling Pittsburgh Steelers gear?

Why it’s Hines Ward‘s old partner and Big Ben’s biggest fan, Dancing With The Stars Kym Johnson! Looks like Hines made a pretty big impression on her. Considering she’s Australian, I guess she was free to adopt whatever team she wanted. Between Kym and Russell Crowe, who  appeared on the Steelers’ sideline a couple years back, the Black and Gold seems to be the official team of the Land Down Under.

Speaking of the Steelers, last night was the team’s final preseason game. I only watched about twenty minutes of it which was just enough time to watch Chris Rainey have two punt return TDs called back by penalty. Maybe they should re-hire Al Everest. It was also enough time to see third round pick LB Sean Spence go down with what appeared to be a season-ending injury. People are making a big deal about this but Spence probably wouldn’t have played much this year anyway. The far more important development was Casey Hampton being back in the starting line-up when many thought he wouldn’t be ready for the first month of the season.

The Steelers will have to cut down to their final 53 man roster by tonight. I’m heading out for a short Labor Day vacation so I’ll be back on Tuesday with an analysis of who they cut vs who they kept. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of the newest (and hottest) member of Steeler Nation. And remember, if you’re a woman and these ads have convinced you to buy a jersey, for the love of Cope don’t buy one of those abominable pink things.

They’re worse than the Bumblebees.

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Rule number one of the preseason is don’t get injured. Rule number two is don’t get injured. Rule #3 is see rule number one.

I hate the preseason. I’m sure I’ve made that abundantly clear since I mention it in every one of these damn recaps. But it bears repeating because literally nothing good comes from preseason games. Honestly, outside of a Super Bowl or a AFC Championship game, the only time I’m truly a nervous wreck watching Pittsburgh Steelers football is during the preseason. Injuries can happen at any time but they’re a hundred times more galling when they occur before the season actually starts.

Luckily, coaches have figured out what a deathtrap exhibition games are so they play their starters sparingly. Unless you’ve brought in an entirely new coaching staff or starting a rookie quarterback, starters usually only play a handful of series in the first two games. It’s the third game that’s the tricky one as that’s where coaches usually give the starters an entire half to work off the rust picked up during the off-season. If something bad is gonna happen, it usually happens in that third preseason game.

Guess what? Something bad happened.

Shortly into Saturday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills, Marcus Gilbert, who spends more time on the turf than a groundskeeper, got thrown to the ground as usual. In falling, he took out round draft pick David DeCastro, who was actually blocking his man. The cameras soon spotted DD on the turf clutching his leg in agony. A few minutes later he was loaded into the Cart of Shame and left to assess the damage. After the game, Mike Tomlin would only offer that his injury “was severe.” While the Steelers still haven’t released any specifics, word from ESPN’s Adam Schefter (toldya the national guys are way more wired in than the local media) is that DeCastro tore his MCL, dislocated his knee cap, and damaged his patella tendon.

It appears DeCastro avoided the dreaded Double Whammy of an ACL/MCL tear. Which is sort of like being happy you got herpes but didn’t knock up your girlfriend when your condom broke. Although make no mistake, avoiding the Double Whammy is indeed a big positive. Despite conflicting reports from NFL.com and no official MRI report from the Steelers, reporters seem fiarly sure DeCastro’s ACL is okay.

For whatever reason (I’m not a doctor), an ACL tear is the worst injury imaginable. An MCL injury, while also serious, seems to be less dire. In any case, DeCastro will likely need surgery and I’m fairly certain he’s not going to be back this season. Lineman sometimes gut through knee injuries so depending on the severity of the damage, I suppose it could be possible for him to return late in the year but I have no idea why the Steelers would want to rush him back. We’ll see when the team releases an official medical report but until we hear different, I’d just assume he’s lost.

As DeCastro departs, the Steelers welcomed back Max Starks on Saturday. Mad Max looked good at LT. He had a few hiccups early but once he found his groove he looked just like the Max of old. Pretty sad that this team invests pick after pick on OTs yet keep turning to that old warhorse to bail them out every season. The new new look O-line will be (left to right) Starks, Colon, Pouncey, Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert.

DeCastro wasn’t the only casualty on Saturday. DE Brett Keisel was also helped off the field in some pain. Thankfully, it appears he only suffered an ankle sprain and should be okay by the opener. Of course, we know the Steelers love to lie about these things so who knows. If he has the dreaded high ankle sprain, that’s the kind of injury which lingers all year.

The good news was second year man Cam Heyward played in Keisel’s stead and did well. Remember Ziggy Hood languished on the bench for a couple years before the light bulb came on so perhaps Cam is a quick learner. The Steelers D looked terrific against Buffalo, generating a ton of pressure on Buffalo QBs which lead to several turnovers. I’m still not sure about the secondary but if the line and linebackers can dominate scrimmage like they did on Saturday, that’ll really cover for a lot of shortcomings.

Offensively, we got our first prolonged look at the Haley offense. Things started a little rough as the wide outs had a ton of drops which repeatedly stymied their drives. Manny Sanders, in particular, got open for a long gain but Sweed’d a perfect pass from Ben. The best action came late in the half with the Steelers backed up to their 1. Ben got them out of trouble by throwing a 30 yard bomb to Jonathan Dwyer…yes, Jon Dwyer. Isaac Redman finished up their previous drive with a tough 2 yard TD run so between iRed and Dwyer, the Steelers look to have a pretty impressive running back tandem. Early in the second half, Lefty came in after a pick by Troy and tossed another 40 yard bomb to AB.

Who says they have no deep game without Mike Wallace?

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