Steelers Get The Band Back Together

 Posted by at 8:12 am  Injury Report, James Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates, Young Money  Comments Off on Steelers Get The Band Back Together
Aug 292012
 

Little Josh Harrison may not be related to James Harrison but he sure hits like him.

Speaking of Deebo, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally removed him from the PUP list yesterday. Harrison has been saying all along he’d be good to go by week one so it appears he didn’t get the team’s memo about constantly lying about your injuries. Hopefully him missing all of preseason a precautionary move and not a sign of things to come. The Steelers only had Harrison and LaMarr Woodley together for five games last season which was a huge reason they suffered such a tremendous drop in forced turnovers and overall sacks.

Jason Worilds was also activated although I’m not too enthused about him. I liked what I saw from Chris Carter filling in for Harrison during the preseason and would prefer using him as the top backup at OLB. Worilds showed me precious little when given a shot last season. He’s a decent enough guy to have around for depth but I have a feeling he’s getting chances his level of play doesn’t merit because he falls under that category of “Wasted Picks Kevin Colbert Refuses To Acknowledge” (See also: Sepuvleda, Daniel Davis, Bruce and Sweed, Limas).

With Harrison and Max Starks back on the field and Mike Wallace ending his self-imposed exile, the Steelers are finally looking like the team we expected them to have last April. Wallace didn’t practice yesterday due to CBA rules (players have to wait 3 days) but the reunion of the Young Money Crew sent the entire team into a tizzy of excitement. While Harrison conducted the first post-holdout interview with Wallace, Ryan Clark decided to get into the act by conducting his own hilarious Q&A with Manny Sanders on the state of the YMC.

I can’t believe I’m about to type what I’m about to type but Steelers players really should take a page from Chad Johnson’s book. Johnson used to do something called the Ocho News Network where he’d break scoops and interview fellow players via ustream. Clark, Harrison, et al should get together and form their own network. After listening to their interviews the past couple days, I’m convinced they do their jobs better than 75% of the sports talk show hosts in this city.

Wallace Watch Day 34 – The End

 Posted by at 10:44 am  Mike Wallace  Comments Off on Wallace Watch Day 34 – The End
Aug 282012
 

He’s baaaaaaaccck…

Mike Wallace finally found his way to the South Side and will sign his $2.7 million tender later this afternoon, putting him back in the Black and Gold. At least for one more year. The Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver has held out since the end of last season, missing voluntary OTAs, mandatory OTAs, strictly non-committal but he really really likes you OTAs, mini-camp, and now 3/4 of training camp. The good news is he’s finally decided to return. The bad news is under new CBA rules, Wallace can’t put on his pads and practice for at least 3 more days.

Talk about an extended summer vacation.

I’ve written extensively about Wallace so no need to go on another of my lengthy diatribes here. Antonio Brown and Manny Sanders looked good in his absence but Wallace is a singular talent. He makes everybody on the field that much better. We can worry about whether this is a one and done deal or the Steelers plan on keeping him in the fold later. We can worry about his prolonged holdout and whether it’ll hamper his conditioning and/or ability to pick up Todd Haley’s new offense once the team takes the field in games that count.

For now, all that matters is Wallace is back. And as his exclusive interview with Deebo posted above shows, he’s got his eyes on another Super Bowl run. By the way, I kinda see why the players have such contempt for our local media. Harrison conducts a better interview than half the hosts on the Fan.

DeCastro Down & Out (And Other Preseason Thought)

 Posted by at 5:12 am  Injury Report, Keisel's Beard, Offensive Line, Preseason, Wide Receivers  Comments Off on DeCastro Down & Out (And Other Preseason Thought)
Aug 272012
 

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?

Clock Ticking On Mike Wallace

 Posted by at 8:41 am  Mike Wallace, Young Money  Comments Off on Clock Ticking On Mike Wallace
Mar 072012
 

Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock.

Sorry for opening with such a corny line but in this case it’s particularly apt. The Pittsburgh Steelers followed through on their vow not to use their Franchise tag on All Pro receiver Mike Wallace. Instead they tendered him an offer, making him a restricted free agent. What this means is one of three things will happen when the NFL’s free agency period kicks off at 4:00 ET next Tuesday.

Wallace may sign the one year offer for $2.75 million. Or another team may offer him a bigger contract, which the Steelers have an option to match. If they decide to match, the Steelers keep Wallace and the other team is S.O.L. If the Steelers decline to match, Wallace goes to that team with Pittsburgh receiving their first round draft pick as compensation.

Wallace isn’t going to sign that tender until free agency is over. He no doubt feels he’s worth more than what the Steelers have offered and he’s right. To give you a rough idea where the bar is for a young up-and-coming wide receiver, let’s look at the Buffalo Bills. They recently re-signed Stevie Johnson to a five year $36 million deal. NFL fans know Johnson as the dude who writes silly messages on his undershirt with a sharpie. Steeler Nation remembers him as the putz who dropped the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, then blamed God for his butterfingers. In either case, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t view Wallace as the far better receiver.
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