The wait is over! Rejoice! No, I’m not talking about that long anticipated first victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m not even talking about our long sought after first turnover of the season.
Of course I’m talking about our hotly anticipated analysis of head coach Mike Tomlin‘s weekly press conference. I have to confess, these things are a lot funner to do after a Steelers loss. Which doesn’t mean I’m rooting for them to lose, even if the team is comprised of a bunch of unlikable asshats. It also doesn’t mean Coach T didn’t provide us with a wealth of hilarious quotes.
According to NFL rules, teams have until this afternoon to whittle their roster down to 75 men. The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to do things on their own timetable. Yesterday afternoon, a bunch of future insurance agents and used car salesmen got the dreaded news that they had been cut.
About a dozen players got a visit from the Turk. A few more were stashed away on injured reserve. Sean Spence, who hasn’t had a single healthy moment since being drafted last year yet continues to be on the team’s radar, was placed on the PUP list with the option of being activated after week 6. I’m not sure exactly how the new PUP rule works, I know one and only one player per season may be return after being placed on it, but I’m not sure if you have to designate which guy that is beforehand. If you do and they wasted it on Spence, then both Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell will take up space on the active 53 man roster despite the fact neither one is expected to be ready for awhile.Continue reading »
Ah, college graduation. That rite of passage when one chapter of your life closes and another begins. Of course, I graduated in my early twenties with about six figures worth of debt to my name. Something tells me Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t have to worry about repaying his student loans. And while he graduated this weekend some nine years after leaving Miami University (Ohio) for the NFL, it’s nice to see the big lug finally earn his degree. He even trotted out the sham wife (who, to be fair, has ditched the butch haircut and is looking much better these days. She still dresses like my grandma, though.) to keep him away from post-graduation keggers share in his special day.
While Big Ben was off accepting his bachelor’s degree in education (EDUCATION? No wonder US academic standards continue to plummet), the Steeler were busy getting acquainted with their 2012 draft class. The new CBA makes contract negotiations fairly standard in terms of length and base salary, the only quibbling point left is over bonus money. NT Alameda Ta’amu was the first draft pick to sign, with good reason as the Steelers lavished their nose tackle-of-the-future with a generous deal worth about $2.5 million. To put that in perspective, fourth round pick Ta’amu received roughly the same deal second rounder LaMarr Woodley got back in 2007. RB Chris Rainey was the second player to sign although his contract details haven’t been announced.
Regardless of contract, all our draft picks, undrafted rookies, and non-roster invitees were in town this weekend for their first off-season mini-camp. Sadly not among them was Trick Shot Quarterback Alex Tanney, who I mentioned in my recap of undrafted free agents last week. Tanney decided to sign with the Bills when he found out we also invited former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson to camp. Johnson, who holds the honor of being the first overall pick of the 2011 United Football League draft, bounced around between the UFL, NFL, and ArenaBall last year. Johnson is a big guy (6’5 240 pounds) with a big arm who also has pretty good mobility for a guy his size. And he’s African-American, like every other quarterback on our roster not named Ben Roethlisberger. I only felt compelled to point that out because like 10% of the QBs in the league are African-American yet the Steelers are going into camp with four on the roster (not to mention Dennis Dixon is still trying to find work). Mike Tomlin must think he’s Jesse Jackson or something.
Anyway, rookie orientation begins with the assigning of jerseys which is always an interesting proposition. The Steelers don’t retire numbers, another of their strange little quirks like refusing to alter their uniform design or field a squad of big-haired Polish girls waving pom-poms. Technically, they have retired one number, #70, worn by Hall of Fame defensive end Ernie Stautner from 1950-63. It was retired in 1969 which to you Steeler historians out there will pretty well explain why his was the last number to be “officially” taken out of circulation.
Vaunted rookie guard David DeCastro has drawn countless comparisons to former Steelers All-Pro Alan Faneca since the moment his name was called by the Ginger Dictator. DeCastro initially took #61 but after second thought (or perhaps some prodding from the Steelers’ PR staff) switched to Faneca’s #66. Maybe they’re both really big Penguins fans. Fellow rookie lineman Mike Adams took freshly retired Chris Hoke‘s #76. Ta’amu picked one of the more iconic numbers, choosing to wear the #95 most frequently associated with Greg Lloyd. Lloyd’s number was actually worn by Joey Porter early in his career but he got sick of being called “the next Greg Lloyd” so he changed it to #55. It’s pretty safe to say Ta’amu won’t have to worry about those comparisons as even if he blossoms into the anchor at the middle of the Steelers D, there’s not much confusing a mouthy linebacker built like a brick house with a fatass lineman charged with the dirty work up front.
Then we have perhaps one of the more ignorant things the Steelers have done in recent years. Rookie linebacker Sean Spence asked for and received #51. Granted James Farrior may not be a Hall of Famer or even one of the top ten linebackers in Steelers history (although that’s arguable) but he was key contributor to three Super Bowl bound teams not to mention a long-time defensive captain. They couldn’t wait ONE FREAKIN’ YEAR before peddling his number out to some midget who’ll probably be cut in a year or two?? Not to mention for those hoping Farrior might be brought back at a later date, I guess now it’s clear the Steelers have turned that page.
They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Kevin Colbert is clearly no historian.
The Pittsburgh Steelers took a chance in round two of the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams. Like yesterday’s first round pick, David DeCastro, Adams is another player most mock drafts had predicted to be gone well before the Steelers chose him with the 56th overall pick. A 6’7 323 pound monster with starting potential at right or left tackle, quite a few draftniks even had him slotted as a late first rounder. Unlike DeCastro, we know exactly why Adams slipped to the middle of round two.
He was one of six players who failed their drug test at February’s scouting combine. This wasn’t the first time Adams’ affinity for weed got him into trouble as he was arrested for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia in 2009 and served a two game suspension because of it. He was also suspended for five games in 2011 and forced to repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring as part of Ohio State’s memorabilia/Tattoogate scandal. However, testing positive for marijuana at the combine has to be the most distressing red flag. First of all, the testing date is well known weeks ahead of time so you’re either an idiot or hardcore stoner if you can’t get clean before they ask you to piss in a cup. Secondly, Adams was asked about his history with mary jane during interviews and told everybody he had learned his lesson, hadn’t touched the stuff in years, blah blah blah. Only after he was caught did he ‘fess up.
Hmmm… Let’s see… A pothead from Ohio State with character issues and red flags all over the place… Yeah, nothing can possibly go wrong there.
Look, I applaud the Steelers for making a strong effort to keep their franchise quarterback healthy and upright. As I said yesterday, I have no confidence in Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon as our starting tackles so if Adams is as advertised, and I’m not denying he has outstanding physical gifts, this is a great pick. And I understand the Steelers took a hard line with the kid, telling him he was off their board until he showed contrition. And I also understand Adams wrote a heartfelt letter apologizing for lying and even took the unusual step of offering to defer his signing bonus for a year and a half so he can win back the team’s trust. But I’m sorry, the Steelers have been down this road before and nine times out of ten, if you’re an idiot in college, you’ll be a bigger idiot in the pros. Stop selecting these low character guys. To paraphrase Sam Wyche, we’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the third round, the Steelers addressed something other than offensive line by taking outside linebacker Sean Spence from Miami. Spence is a fine athlete who benefits from an almost psychic ability to guess what play the offense has called before they run it. Or maybe I’m getting him confused with someone else. And at least the only trouble he’s been in was serving a one game suspension for receiving improper benefits free lap dances while in school. For a Miami alum, that’s practically a choir boy.
You’ll have to forgive me for getting him confused with Shawn Spencer of Psych. They don’t really have much in common except for a vaguely similar name and the fact they both stand 5’11. Yep, the Steelers invested a third round pick a linebacker who’s smaller than half the running backs in the NFL. Mike Tomlin mentioned in a post-draft presser he envisions Spence moving inside which is pretty laughable when you consider he’s a midget. For comparisons sake, James Farrior stood 6’2 and weighed 245 pound while Spence tips the scales at 5’11 and 230. How the hell is Spence going to line-up with guys like the Incredible Gronk (6’6 265 for those keeping score)??
As you may have surmised from my sarcasm, I’m less than thrilled with this choice. Prior to the draft, Kevin Colbert said he expected to get at least three starters in rounds 1-3. In the post-draft presser, he’s already stated he sees Spence as a depth guy to groom behind Lawrence Timmons. Just what we need, yet another depth linebacker to go with the Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson and Stevenson Sylvester (Class of 2010) and Chris Carter and Mortty Ivy (Class of 2011). How many freakin’ back-up linebackers does this team need?
I guess I can’t be too down on this year’s draft because at least we got DeCastro. No matter how you slice it, day one of the draft was a home run. Day two was anything but with the team taking an offensive tackle with huge character concerns and an undersized back-up inside linebacker. If the Steelers were solid up and down the depth chart, I could understand aiming for this sort of roster filler. However, they’re not and I’m a little worried that they don’t seem to have any sense of urgency in addressing that.