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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Adams visits

Former Dallas offensive tackle Flozell Adams visited with the Steelers today as the team looks at its options for replacing injured Willie Colon at right tackle.

It's a somewhat surprising move considering the Steelers' past regarding bringing in players late in the game - ie. after spring practices - but speaks somewhat to the desperation this team has.

They haven't signed Adams yet, but the bringing him in tells me the front office knows its defense is getting older and the window of opportunity for this current group to make a Super Bowl run is closing.

Then again, they may have just brought him in for a physical in case they have another injury on the offensive line.

We'll see what happens.

What Colon's injury means

With Willie Colon likely out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, the door has opened for rookie Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers' top draft pick, to step into the starting lineup from Day 1.

That's not exactly the scenario the Steelers wanted with Pouncey, but it's likely what will come to pass.

The big winner will likely be Trai Essex, who started last season at right guard. Essex was expected to be pushed out of the starting lineup at some point by Pouncey. But with Colon out, he'll likely slide over to right tackle.

Colon's injury seriously hurts the Steelers' depth. It's also a tough break for Colon, who is looking toward unrestricted free agency.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roethlisberger shows at youth camp

According to the Associated Press: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a surprise visitor to the youth football camp he usually runs each summer north of Pittsburgh.
Roethlisberger has run the camp at Mars Area High School the past two years, but begged off after offseason legal problems that saw him accused of rape at a Georgia nightclub in March, but not prosecuted.
Coach Mike Tomlin has been running the camp and even brought his 8- and 9-year-old sons — but Roethlisberger made a surprise visit Wednesday.
Tomlin says he’s enjoyed getting to “baby sit” the camp and may return next year, even though he expects Roethlisberger to be back running the camp.
Camper Bethany Carcaise, of Illinois, says she misses Roethlisberger “because he used to play with us more. He acted like a kid.”

Roethlisberger has been doing and saying all the right things over the past few weeks since he was given the OK by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to re-join the Steelers.

This is another step in the right direction as he attempts to save his tarnished image.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And then there were two

The Steelers signed two more draft picks Wednesday, leaving them with only two unsigned.

Signed to three-year deals Wednesday were offensive tackle Chris Scott and cornerback Crezdon Butler. Financial terms of the three-year deals were not disclosed.

Scott (6-4, 319), out of Tennessee, was the Steelers’ first of three fifth-round picks (151st overall) in this year’s Draft. Scott started the final 39 games of his career at left tackle and helped the Vols’ offense average 157 rushing yards per game and 383 total yards per game in 2009.

Butler (6-0, 191) was the second of three fifth-round selections (164th overall) in this year’s NFL Draft. Butler was an honorable mention all-ACC honoree in 2009 as Clemson finished sixth in the NCAA in pass defense. He started the final 40 games of his career and finished his career with 11 interceptions.

The Steelers now have eight of their 10 draft picks from this year’s NFL Draft signed to contracts. First-round offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey and second-round linebacker Jason Worilds are the two Steelers’ draft picks who have yet to sign a contract.

The Steelers released rookie free agent Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith to make room on their roster.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Steelers sign four more picks, release seven

The Steelers signed four draft picks today from this year’s NFL Draft, including wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, running back Jonathan Dwyer and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

The Steelers made additional roster moves by releasing seven free agents, including wide receiver Jason Chery, kicker Piotr Czech, linebacker Derrick Doggett, punter Adam Graessle, nose tackle Cordarrow Thompson, center Bradley Vierling and cornerback Trae Williams.

Sanders (5-11, 180), out of SMU, was the Steelers’ third round pick (82nd overall) in the Draft and finished as the Mustangs’ career leader in receptions (235), touchdown receptions (34) and receiving yards (3,791). He was a first-team all-Conference USA selection last year as a senior after posting 98 catches for 1,339 yards and seven touchdowns. Sanders ranked sixth in the NCAA with 103 receiving yards per game in 2009.

One of three linebackers selected in this year’s Draft by the Steelers, Sylvester (6-2, 231) was the team’s third of three selections in the fifth round (166th overall). A first-team all-MWC selection for Utah, he was a two-year captain and the defensive MVP of the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl. Sylvester started all 13 games last year and finished with a team-best 81 tackles.

Dwyer (5-11, 229) was the Steelers first of two sixth-round picks (188th overall) in this year’s NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech. A first-team all-ACC selection his final two seasons, he earned the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award as a sophomore in 2008 after leading the team with 1,395 rushing yards on 200 carries while earning All-America status. Last year as a junior, he matched his rushing total from the previous year with 1,395 yards on 235 attempts, the fourth-best rushing total in school history. Dwyer added 14 touchdowns in 2009.

Brown (5-10, 186) was Pittsburgh’s second of two sixth-round selections (195th overall) in this year’s Draft. He finished his career as Central Michigan’s all-time leader in receptions (305), which ranked second in MAC history. As a junior in 2009, Brown was named the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight season and earned first-team all-MAC honors as both a receiver and punt returner. He caught a school-record 110 passes for 1,198 yards and nine touchdowns last year.

With today’s signings, the Steelers now have six of their 10 draft picks under contract. Linebacker Thaddeus Gibson and defensive tackle Doug Worthington signed last week.

No big deal

Once again, Pro Football Talk is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill, picking up on a story from the Tribune-Review over a federal lawsuit filed this week.

Here's the story:

"Last August, photos emerged of a gun-shooting party at a state police facility in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, during which at least 14 members of the Steelers used ammo provided by authorities and illegal assault weapons from the evidence room.

The photos showed players posing with various weapons.

Said one unnamed official at the time: "It's a state police firing range used for state police to train. When we're there, it's downright military. But at this event, it's chaos. Everybody's throwing contraband assault weapons around like they're toys; it's like they're having G.I. Joe tryouts. Not only is this totally unethical, but it's totally illegal."

The incident spawned a federal lawsuit from the employee who blew the whistle on the situation, claiming that it raised serious safety problems. The process has revealed that, amazingly, the state police entrusted the internal investigation to the man who organized the shooting party.

And so it's no surprise that Major Frank Monaco concluded that the event broke no rules, and that the controversy was "much ado about nothing."

"They shot with personally owned weapons with the troopers. Not state weapons. Not state ammunition," Monaco said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

But the incident occurred while the Steelers were at training camp, a place to which firearms routinely aren't brought. "I was given a shotgun. It wasn't mine. It wasn't my ammunition," Steelers tackle Max Starks told the Tribune-Review.

And in a strange twist, the commissioner of the state police at the time now works for the NFL, as a security official. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Tribune-Review that Jeff Miller had "no knowledge of the firing range incident until roughly two years after it occurred."

Though the Steelers players face no charges or discipline from the league, it's another example of the separate set of rules that apply to athletes and celebrities."

End of story.

It apparently doesn't occur to Mike Florio, the head honcho at PFT, that the Steelers players could have been using guns personally owned by State Troopers, not the players themselves. And even if they were guns owned by the players, so what? This is still the United States, after all.

If the range in question is where I think it is - just a few miles from the St. Vincent campus - they could have easily checked their weapons there before heading on to camp.

But, instead of thinking this through, Florio goes for the headlines - and internet hits.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Steelers sign a pair of picks

The Steelers agreed to terms with two of their draft picks from this year’s NFL Draft, linebacker Thaddeus Gibson and defensive tackle Doug Worthington. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

Gibson (6-2, 243), who was unable to participate in the Steelers’ recent organized team activities (OTA) due to class requirements at Ohio State, was Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick (116th overall) in this year’s NFL Draft. Gibson played defensive end for the Buckeyes and earned second-team all-Big Ten honors in 2009 with four sacks and 13 tackles for a loss.

Worthington (6-5, 292) was the Steelers’ seventh-round selection (242nd overall) in this year’s Draft and also played on the defensive front for Ohio State. He had 42 tackles his senior season, including two sacks, and helped the Buckeyes rank seventh in the NCAA in holding opponents to 90 rushing yards per game.

Gibson and Worthington are the first two draft picks to sign with the Steelers this season.

Gibson's signing early was extremely important since he missed the OTAs because of Ohio State's graduation date. He'll need to get as much work as possible at training camp - not that it was likely he would hold out.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Steelers bring in new long snapper

In an interesting move on their final day of OTA practices - the last two days aren't really practices - the Steelers added long snapper and linebacker Matt Stewart for a one-year deal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Stewart (6-3, 236) was originally drafted as a linebacker by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt. A six-year veteran, Stewart played in 15 games as a rookie and 16 games the following season for the Falcons at linebacker. He also spent time on the Cleveland Browns’ active roster (2005-07) and was in the Arizona Cardinals (2008) and Dallas Cowboys (2009) training camps before being released.

The Steelers made room for Stewart on their roster by releasing veteran long snapper Jared Retkofsky.

The move shows that they likely feel Greg Warren, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, is healthy enough to hold down the position this season.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Ben talks; Evaluation for Reed

It wasn't exactly a state of the union address, but Ben Roethlisberger finally fielded a couple - literally - questions from the media today.

There was nothing earth shattering to come out of the event. To summarize: He's learned his lesson. He's re-evaluated everything he's been doing. He's looking forward to playing football.

© As the league did with Roethlisberger, placekicker was also ordered to undergo an evaluation by the NFL after his latest run-in with the law last season.

Reed has already completed the evaluation, which he only revealed to reporters today.

So we're learning a little more about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's thought process when it comes to off-field troubles.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What's up

By all accounts, Ben Roethlisberger looked good in his first day back with the Steelers Tuesday. The quarterback even dropped some weight. It's nice to see he wasn't sitting around eating bon bons while banned from the team practice facility.

It's a positive sign for Roethlisberger because it shows that he's listening to somebody.

Roethlisberger's biggest problem in the past has been his propensity to buck authority.

It caused something of a rift between Roethlisberger and Bill Cowher and Roethlisberger and Ken Whisenhunt, who both wanted to keep their thumb, so to speak, on the young QB.

Mike Tomlin and, by extension, Bruce Arians gave the QB a little more leeway and Roethlisberger ran with it, his ego apparently growing by the day.

But Roethlisberger's run-in with the law in Georgia and subsequent suspension by the league may prove to be the wake-up call the QB needed.