Monday, May 29, 2006

Arrest no big deal

The news of Santonio Holmes' arrest led the 6 p.m. broadcast of at least one local TV station Saturday. It was on the front sports page of the O-R.

Why?

Holmes' arrest for disorderly conduct is newsworthy only because he was the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick. He was released that night and will likely only have to pay a fine.

You have to realize that there are probably 100 people arrested for DC on Miami's South Beach every weekend. Considering Holmes was released, he couldn't have been causing that much trouble.

Some will point to this and equate it to Plaxico Burress' arrest in Virginia for having an open can of beer on the street. Again, what's the big deal?

These arrests were noteworthy only because of who they happened to, not because of what was done.

Neither speaks to any character flaw.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Looking on from above

Watching the voluntary coaching sessions this week, one can't help but look at the Steelers as an improved team.

Why?

First and foremost, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seems to be his old self again.

The thumb injury that Roethlisberger played with last season is now completely healed and the Steelers' QB is regularly unleashing balls in practice that travel 65 yards through the air. His out patterns have more zip on them and he's no longer side-arming the ball to get it where he wants to throw it.

Roethlisberger has been nothing short of impressive.

And it doesn't matter whom he's throwing the ball to, either.

Hines Ward was in Washington, D.C., Wednesday meeting with the president about children in North Korea. That left Nate Washington and Cedric Wilson as the starting wideouts.

Roethlisberger still zipped pass after pass to them, threading the ball into coverage with no problem.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bengals taking boneheads

In the most recent Sporting News, NFL writer Dan Pompei polled an unnamed NFL general manager about players his team had taken off its draft board because of character issues.

Of the players that general manager's team had taken off its draft board, the Cincinnati Bengals had selected seven of them.

That's a disturbing trend for Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis.

But the Bengals seem intent on collecting as many bad character guys as they can, including taking three such players in this year's draft,

Given the problems they've had with wide receiver Chris Henry, who seems to get arrested for something once every two or three months, it's surprising Lewis took defensive end Frostee Rucker, linebacker A.J. Nicholson and wide receiver Reggie McNeal in this year's draft.

After getting burned by bad character guys in the late '80s, the Steelers have made a concerted effort to rid themselves of those types. As a result, they've had very few embarassing moments in the past 10 years or so.

That's not to say Cincinnati can't win with the bad guys. But are the headaches they cause really worth it?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Minicamp opens

A few random thoughts from the opening of minicamp today:

Santonio Holmes looks like the real deal. On the second play of team drills, he blew past Ike Taylor on a fly pattern and was settling under a long pass from Ben Roethlisberger when Taylor reached out and grabbed Holmes' jersey. It would have been about a 40-yard penalty in a game. He looks smooth in and out of his cuts as well.

Omar Jacobs has some work to do before he's ready to be an NFL passer. Jacobs stuggles coming out from under center and fumbled a couple of snaps. His passes also tended to come in low no matter where he threw the ball.

In a typical Bill Cowher move, Tyrone Carter opened camp as the No. 1 free safety. It won't be long before Ryan Clark replaces him, though.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Slow ride

With the NFL draft behind us, there hasn't been a lot of NFL news lately. This is the time of year that those of us who cover the league take a little time off.

The coaches and teams do as well.

But the Steelers will open their mini-camp this weekend, getting their first look at their new rookie class in pads.

It will be the first look at these players in person for those of us in the media as well. That's why I'm looking forward to this mini-camp.

I'll begin to formulate the answers to some of my own questions about this team.

Can Santonio Holmes and/or Cedrick Wilson replace Antwaan Randle El?

Is Ryan Clark an adequate replacement at free safety for Chris Hope?

Who will step into Jerome Bettis' leadership role?

These are questions we'll find out the answers to over the coming months beginning this weekend.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Luck be a lady

Sorry I didn't post over the weekend, but the blog was down for some reason: again.

Anyway, I've been asked a thousand times if I was surprised the Steelers traded up in the first round of the draft. Not at all. In fact, in my final mock draft in this newspaper, I said the Giants were the Steelers' likely trade partners. I was surprised who they were able to get by trading up.

I figured Denver, New England or Philadelphia would take Santonio Holmes before the Steelers got a shot at him.

None did and the Steeler got the best wide receiver available.

Talk about your good luck.

Here's a list of the rookie free agents the team signed Monday:

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. College
1. Zach Baker S 6-2 212 East Carolina

2. Mark Brubaker K 6-0 189 East Stroudsburg State

3. Jonathan Dekker TE 6-5 250 Princeton

4. Nick Hagemann OT 6-7 295 South Dakota State

5. Mike Kudla LB 6-3 265 Ohio State

6. Jamar Landrom S 6-3 215 Tennessee State

7. Mike Lorello S 6-1 205 West Virginia

8. Grayling Love OG 6-3 296 Arizona State

9. Anthony Madison CB 5-9 180 Alabama

10. Scott Paxson DT 6-4 292 Penn State

11. Isaac Smolko TE 6-5 257 Penn State

12. Lee Vickers DE 6-6 270 North Alabama