Thursday, January 08, 2009

All in

The Steelers had everybody back at practice Thursday as wide receiver Hines Ward returned from taking Wednesday off.

The Chargers are not so fortunate. While defensive tackle Jamal Williams was back after sitting out Wednesday, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates were still out – Tomlinson with his groin injury, Gates with a high ankle sprain.

They were joined on the sidelines by placekicker Nate Kaeding, who also has a groin injury.

I thought earlier in the week that the Steelers win this game 24-13 and I've seen nothing that has changed my mind.

The Steelers likely expect the Chargers to play a lot of cover-2 against them as they did the first time. That will allow Willie Parker and the running game some lanes working against a seven-man front.

It will also allow tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Hines Ward to work the underneath stuff. So long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn't get greedy and try to force the ball downfield – and I saw nothing at practice to make me feel he will – Pittsburgh should win this one going way.

7 comments:

Stigmata said...

Thanks for the report, Dale. I am going to the game and while I'm not as confident as you are that they will win going away, you have earned the right to say that after your picks last week. My guess is:

Steelers - 17
Chargers - 13

Anonymous said...

Dale,

If Sunday is anything like the last game, the kicking game should be important, especially at Heinz Field. Do you expect Kaeding to be close to 100% for the game? Have the Chargers brought in any potential replacements in case he can't go?

Dale Lolley said...

Kaeding won't be anything near 100 percent and that could be a factor. His groin could also tighten up - no pun intended - in the cold.
It's a big factor.

Ben said...

Dale, do you ever tire of hearing about the "slop" at Heinz Field? The past two days, I've heard Tony Kornheiser and Tim Hasselbeck refer to it as slop, or something similar, and it's really becoming a bore.

They're basing it entirely on the Miami MNF game last year -- which I attended -- and it was honestly the worst downpour that I've ever experienced. There were about 3 inches of water running down the streets. No natural-turf field could stand up to that, and it was a freak occurrence. If you factor in the freshly-sodded field, it was the perfect storm, pardon the pun, for bad field conditions.

I put up with hearing about it last year, because it was fresh in everyone's mind at the time. But honestly, Heinz Field looks pretty good as of late. As long as they re-sod it after the WPIAL games, it's in as good condition as any grass field in January.

But even if it wasn't -- this is football. Not soccer, not baseball. Football. Slopping around in the mud is as old a tradition as any in the game.

Anonymous said...

Are Tucker and Phillips "dinged" at all? I remember each getting hurt on consecutive plays last week, though I think they both went back in. Could be good news for our O-line.

adamg said...

Sorry, but Heinz Field's surface is horrible. Players slip and slid all over it, even now with the sod laid over the DD Grassmaster.

The surface for the WPIAL championships was a disgrace. It was by far the worst surface those kids played on for their entire playoff season. When the best option for a playable field is to leave the tarp off and let the field freeze and be snow-covered, then you have a serious problem.

Dale Lolley said...

Did you see the players slipping and sliding at Qualcom last weekend. Sproles went down on cuts at least three times.
Heinz Field also looked great compared with Tennessee's field.

Tucker and Phillips have practiced all week.