Heath Miller Activated Off PUP

 Posted by at 12:33 pm  Heath Miller, Injury Report  Comments Off on Heath Miller Activated Off PUP
Sep 042013
 

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Lost among all the activity surrounding the 53 man roster was news that Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller has been activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Don’t get too excited over the prospect of shouting “HEEEEAATTTTH” after a clutch third down catch yet, though. Heath is still working his way back from the catastrophic knee injury he suffered in last year’s season finale. This is more or less a procedural move.

Under the NFL’s bizarre injury policies, players on the PUP can’t do anything but lay on the training table and stand around the sideline. For Miller to actually practice with the team, he needed to be placed on the active roster. Until he puts on the pads and starts throwing blocks and running routes, I wouldn’t expect to see him in the starting line-up anytime soon. Continue reading »

Heath Miller To Miss First Month Of Season?

 Posted by at 5:50 am  Heath Miller, Injury Report, Tight Ends  Comments Off on Heath Miller To Miss First Month Of Season?
Aug 212013
 

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The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t played a single meaningful game this season and we’re already deeply concerned about their injury situation. To review, the Black and Gold have suffered a rash of injuries that has decimated depth to at secondary, running back, and tight end.  The good news, that is if you believe the updates given out by incorrigible liar Mike Tomlin, is that many of those players will be back before long.

One who may not be is Heath Miller. Continue reading »

Steelers Injury Situation Getting Ridiculous

 Posted by at 6:28 am  Injury Report, James Harrison, Offensive Line, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Steelers Injury Situation Getting Ridiculous
Aug 152012
 

It’s only August 15 and I’ve used the “Injury Report” tag three times already. NOT a good sign.

The Pittsburgh Steelers began training camp with a veritable Pro Bowl team on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. On the positive side of the ledger, LT Max Starks has been cleared to officially rejoin the active roster. Not a moment too soon, either, as rookie Mike Adams sprained is MCL in the pre-season opener and will be sidelined for the next couple weeks. Marcus Gilbert can now return to RT, where he’s far less likely to get Ben Roethlisberger killed, while Mad Max once again rides to the Steelers’ rescue on the left side.

As Max returns, it appears James Harrison‘s stay on the PUP list will be longer than initially thought. Harrison hasn’t practiced since the team arrived in Latrobe and now word from his agent is he may need to get his knee scoped before the season begins. That’s not a major operation, players get scoped during the season all the time and usually only miss 3-4 weeks. What is troubling is that Silverback’s game is predicated largely on speed so who knows how effective he’ll be playing on a bad wheel.

In lesser news, the Steelers shuffled their roster after losing both RB John Clay and FB David Johnson to season-ending leg injuries. Both players were cut (that’s cold) yesterday although DJ is expected to be re-signed and placed on IR so the Steelers can supervise his rehab. The Steelers signed RB Jason Ford, who was waived by the Texans a couple weeks back, to carry the ball during the second half of Sunday’s pre-season game against the Colts before being cut in two weeks.

Meanwhile, with only one FB left on the roster (undrafted rookie Will Johnson), the Steelers signed journeyman Justin Peelle to provide some depth. Peelle has played for five different teams during his ten year NFL career, mostly as a tight end but also playing some fullback. He spent 2011 with the 49ers where he served as a FB/TE hybrid similar to how Bruce Arians’ used DJ. Peelle is supposedly a pretty good receiver out of the backfield but the Steelers have a two great receiving TEs and a great third down receiving back (Chris Rainey) so I would guess whoever does a better job lead blocking will win the job.

 

Steelers Shuffle Line-Up As Injuries Mount

 Posted by at 5:34 am  Injury Report, Not Football Players, Offensive Line  Comments Off on Steelers Shuffle Line-Up As Injuries Mount
Aug 132012
 

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their first pre-season game last Thursday. During the course of the evening, the worst thing that can possibly happen in an exhibition game happened: somebody was injured. Over the weekend, another player was carted off the field during practice. All this is in addition to the Steelers already having a veritable Pro Bowl team on the PUP list.

And the season hasn’t even started yet.

Here’s a rundown of the various injuries and where the Steelers stand at that position:

In my recap of Thursday’s game, I mentioned Jon Dwyer ripped off two great runs before disappearing. Well, he didn’t disappear, he suffered a shoulder sprain which knocked him out of the game. The good news is x-rays were negative so all he needs is a little rest before getting back into the mix. Good thing, too, since Dwyer appears slotted as Redzone Redman’s primary back-up.

Elsewhere, John Clay was the guy carted off the field over the weekend. Later reports where that he has some sort of hip/groin injury which really tells us nothing. A hip pointer is painful but not season threatening. A groin tear is indescribably painful. I’d describe it for you but I’m not sure how many of you out there have groins. Point is, we don’t know where Clay stands although it appears he was headed back to the practice squad anyway.

– If you watched Thursday’s game hoping to catch a glimpse of Todd Haley‘s new look offense, well, you were probably more disappointed than the Canadian Olympic team. However, one big change was readily apparent. When the Steelers lined up to run, there was a player lined up in the backfield between the QB and RB. We never saw this during the era of Bruce Arians’ Flying Circus but I am assured it is legal to have a guy standing there.

In fact, the position even has a name: Fullback.

David Johnson was notified over the winter that his days as mediocre TE/FB hybrid were over and he would be moving permanently to FB. He lasted about a quarter against the Iggles before being carted off the field. Word came down over the weekend that it was indeed as bad as it looked. Johnson suffered the dreaded ACL/MCL double whammy and is lost for the season.

That leaves the Black and Gold with but a lone fullback on the roster. Will Johnson, who played his college ball for the hoople-heads of WVU, is now the de facto starter. The problem isn’t that Johnson has never started in the pros, he never even started in college. In fact, he was such a non-factor for the Mountaineers, he wasn’t even drafted when he graduated back in 2011.

Yes, you read that right. Not only wasn’t he drafted, he wasn’t even in football last year. What did he do? He probably planted trees, moved furniture or made Big Macs, you know, your typical post-graduation careers for WVU alums. While he evidently impressed Steelers scouts at his pro day (he talked his school into letting him come out), I’m not sure he’s ready for prime time.

– After Mike Adams horrid showing at LT, it was later revealed that he had sprained his MCL in the course of chasing after the speed rushers who ran right by him. Adams hasn’t been practicing this week and is expected to sit for a couple weeks while he recovers. This has caused some reshuffling of the O-line as the Steelers hope to hit on a combo that doesn’t get Big Ben killed before November. Let’s pray they succeed.

Marcus Gilbert, who didn’t look particularly hot at RT, has shifted over to LT in Adams’ absence. Raise your hand if you think he’s going to be there come the second week in October. The local media has such little faith in Gilbert, understandably so for those who witnessed the debacle in Indy last season, that they’re already writing up Max Starks as the savior at LT. Max is still on the PUP list but I have to think as soon as he gets cleared, he’s probably going to be the default starter at LT until he proves unable.

Meanwhile, Willie Colon didn’t play Thursday because he was hurt, SHOCKER, but it appears he’s finally gotten his fat ass out of the ice tub. He’s been starting at LG over the weekend as the Steelers seem hellbent on keeping David DeCastro on the right side for the time being. Given what I’ve seen of DeCastro, they probably should throw the rookie into the fire because I don’t trust Colon as far as I can throw him.

For those keeping score, the new new look line is (left to right) Gilbert, Colon, Pouncer, DeCastro, and Ramon Foster (who does this guy have incriminating photos of?). I guess they don’t want to confuse Colon by switching him back and forth because one would’ve assumed he would move to RT in a pinch over the horrid Foster. I’m not going to lie, that entire line-up looks absolutely frightening. Get well soon, Max!

– Finally, I neglected to mention the non-football players in my recap because I don’t care about them. Plus, you know it’s a meaningless game when Shaun Suisham booms a 46 yard FG. No way Miss’em Suisham does that in an actual NFL contest. He only excels when the pressure is off.

Besides, the Steelers aren’t going to enter the season with a rookie kicker. Just ain’t gonna do it. Danny Hrapmann can boot a 75 yarder and he’d still be cut in two weeks. So while it was nice to see the kid knock through a 43 yarder with plenty to spare, he’s not beating out Miss’em.

On the flip side, rookie Drew Butler might have a shot. Thanks to an injury to incumbent Jeremy Kapinos, Butler got the spotlight to all to himself on Thursday and may have Lou Gehrig’d himself into a job. Butler averaged an impressive 50 yards per punt with one traveling a whopping 61 yards. Kapinos averaged around 45 yards last season but his career average is around 40 yards, which explains why he’s been cut so many times. Since Kapinos isn’t a Colbert draft pick, I don’t think the Steelers really care if they keep him or Butler. If the kid continues launching moon shots, he’ll win himself a spot on the roster.

Todd Haley Has A Stalker

 Posted by at 8:17 am  Free Agency, Todd Haley  Comments Off on Todd Haley Has A Stalker
Apr 112012
 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed their first real free agent of the off-season. And it’s a…

Tight end?

Leonard Pope agreed to a one year deal yesterday, reuniting him with brand new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Pope is something of a professional stalker, having followed Haley across the country since being drafted in the third round back in 2006. Pope started with the Cardinals (A Pope on the Cardinals? Did Tim Tebow know about this?) when Haley was their OC, then joined him in Kansas City when Haley took over the head coaching job there. He’s been a starter for most of his career, including last season which saw him catch a personal best 24 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown.

Pope won’t displace our current starter, Heath Miller. Heath remains one of the best all-around tight ends in the game. But at 6’8 and 260 pounds, Pope can be useful as a big target in the red zone, something Ben Roethlisberger and the offense has needed for awhile now. At least now the team can bring in a tall receiver without hurting Hines Ward’s feelings.

Pope’s signing calls into question the status of the other tight ends on the roster. Wes Saunders is a youngster with a ton of potential but he’ll have to sit out the first month of the season due to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Word around town is the drug he got busted for was either Adderall or a similar ADD treatment so the Steelers don’t view the suspension as a cuttable offense. That leaves David Johnson, who has been the team’s fullback/TE hybrid under former OC Bruce Arians. At KC, Haley preferred to use a pure fullback which Johnson clearly is not. Since I doubt the team will carry four active TEs once Saunders serves out his suspension, I imagine DJ will be the odd man out with the team perhaps finding a more traditional FB through the draft or as an undrafted free agent.

No report what kind of money Pope signed for. The fact the Steelers spent any money at all seems to be another signal that they don’t think anybody is going to make a play for restricted free agent Mike Wallace. Since the great Purge early last month, the Steelers have been sitting on a $5-6 million nest egg which I’ve dubbed the “Keep Your Damn Hands Off Wallace” Fund. While I doubt Pope signed for any significant amount, the fact Kevin Colbert and company are confident enough to dip into the cash they held in reserve in case another team made an offer to Wallace seems to indicate their gamble of tendering him instead of applying the Franchise tag paid off.

At least for this year.