Steelers Final Preseason Game Tonight (Whew!)

 Posted by at 5:41 am  Injury Report, Jarvis Jones, Preseason  Comments Off on Steelers Final Preseason Game Tonight (Whew!)
Aug 292013
 

7570208

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 »

Jones Injury Overshadows Steelers Third Preseason Loss

 Posted by at 5:14 am  Injury Report, Not Football Players, Preseason, Running Backs, Special Teams, Wide Receivers  Comments Off on Jones Injury Overshadows Steelers Third Preseason Loss
Aug 262013
 

Jones Tweet

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 »

Jun 142013
 

 

3039407511_cfbbe28481

Oops, wrong Landry. Landry Clarke plays kicker slash tight end. Otherwise known as “the position Tim Tebow will play after Bill Belichick sees him in practice.” Our Landry is definitely a quarterback.

The Pittsburgh Steelers reached a deal with their final unsigned 2013 draft choice, agreeing to a four year contract with former University of Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Terms of the deal weren’t available but under the NFL’s blessedly streamlined rookie wage scale, his contract will almost assuredly total somewhere around $2.5 million (about $650,000 per year) with some sort of signing bonus and playing incentives thrown in.

Despite the Steelers signing all their picks in relatively short order, it was imperative they get Jones into camp as soon as possible. Granted this year is going to be a better year than most for all the Black and Gold rookies to make an immediate impact. LB Jarvis Jones and RB Le’Veon Bell are likely to see significant playing time while guys like WR Marcus Wheaton and S Shamarko Thomas will be the first guys off the bench when injuries invariably strike. However, none of those positions require the level of study and preparation as playing quarterback.

Yes, Bruce Gradkowski is back home in the ‘Burgh. And, yes, he’s proven a pretty durable player over his NFL career. Regardless, if there is one position (besides offensive line) where the team has been snakebit over the years, it’s quarterback. If the team makes it through the preseason with all three QBs healthy and ready to go, it’ll be a refreshing change.

Ben Roethlisberger is a tough dude without a doubt. He’s also north of 30 and can’t take the punishment he used to. He’s missed games in every one of the past several seasons and considering he’s already having “minor” surgery during the OTAs, there’s no reason not to think he won’t miss a game or two in 2013. I’ve always liked Gradkowski but should he get hurt or prove ineffective, it would be nice to have a capable #3 ready to step forward.

Starting a rookie QB is less than ideal and I’m definitely not ready to declare Jones is Ben’s heir apparent, I’m simply relieved the team will have some capable options if/when Ben has to sit out. Byron Leftwich was useless and Dennis Dixon never learned more than five plays in four years. While I loves me some Charlie Batch, his career met a fitting end in the season-highlight victory over the Ravens. Bring on the new blood.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I may actually be looking forward to watching preseason games this year.

Steelers Add A Yinzer, Cut A Fatass

 Posted by at 5:45 am  Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, Free Agency, Offensive Line, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Steelers Add A Yinzer, Cut A Fatass
Mar 142013
 

Day Two of NFL Free Agency was even more wild than Day One. At some point the NFL really should consider televising these things since it makes for great theater. Just gather all the big name free agents in a room and have them pick the hat of the team they decided to sign with like high school kids making their college commitment. It’d be a lot more interesting than listening to talking heads on the NFL Network or spamming the F5 button while visiting Profootballtalk.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, Day Two saw them lose a pair of starters. To nobody’s chagrin, former first round pick Rashard Mendenhall signed elsewhere, joining head coach Bruce Arians in the deserts of Arizona. Looks like Arizona will continue to act as Pittsburgh West for discarded Steelers despite the departure of Ken Whisenhunt. I wonder if Rashard has a compass so he can be sure to face Mecca during his daily prayers to Allah? Also, it’s kinda ironic that the coach who brought the Flying Circus here to Pittsburgh made his first big free agent acquisition a running back.

The Steelers also cut overpaid fatass Willie Colon. Thus ends one of the most mind-boggling signings in team history. Colon was a 2006 fourth round draft pick out of Hofstra who unseated Max Starks for the starting RT job when Big Max found himself in the dog house following the team’s disappointing post-Super Bowl XL campaign. Colon served on a series of lines that surrendered an insane amount of sacks although he was the starting RT when they won Super Bowl XLIII. Colon was, at best, an average tackle playing a position so easy undrafted rookie Kelvin Beachum handled it fine when pressed into duty last season.

Despite being stunningly mediocre and missing the entire 2010 season due to an off-season injury, the Steelers saw fit to gift Colon a five year $29 million contract the following spring. He repaid their generosity by tearing his triceps in week 1 and sitting out the rest of the 2011 season.  The Steelers moved Colon to guard last year and while he proved to be a pretty nasty run blocker he also served as a flag magnet. This time he lasted twelve whole games before blowing out his knee. By cutting Colon, the Steelers lop a whopping $5.5 million dollars off their cap.

Between Colon’s departure and reworking the contract of another lazy fatso, LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers finally have some room under the salary cap. They still have to keep a chunk open for the draft and to sign their RFAs but at least they can now afford to bring in a cheap veteran or two to help fill in some of their numerous holes.

One area they finally addressed is the back-up quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is a tough man but his sandlot style of play and advancing age make it nearly certain that he’ll miss a game or two every season. The past couple seasons the team put their faith in China Doll Byron Leftwich who has the unfortunate habit of getting injured tying his shoes in pre-game warm-ups. It was absolutely imperative they sign a dependable back-up.

And they’ve finally done so by bringing hometown boy Bruce Gradkowski back to the ‘Burgh. Gradkowski, who grew up in Dormont and played for Seton-LaSalle, signed a three year deal which may finally signal the end for another local product, Charlie Batch. Gradkowski has bounced around the league, playing for five different teams in his seven year career. He’s fluctuated between starter and back-up, starting three games against the Steelers during that time. His most notable career start came against the Steelers as he was the quarterback who engineered the Raiders memorable upset of the defending Super Bowl champs during the Hangover season of 2009. Gradkowski is the ideal back-up, a durable dependable guy who can come in and win a game for you if need be.

He’s also a yinzer which will probably lessen the blow should the Steelers finally decide to part ways with Batch. It’s no secret the Steelers have been trying to rid themselves of Chaz for a couple years now only for those plans to be undone by Leftwich’s brittleness and Dennis Dixon’s abject stupidity. With Gradkowski slotting nicely into a #2 role, the team can either draft a developmental QB or sign a young guy off another team’s practice squad. Although let’s hope all those high draft picks they’ve invested in their offensive line pay some dividends in the form of a nice healthy Big Ben.