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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Who's the best Steelers player I've covered

It's been 20 years since I first set foot in the Steelers' locker room, and I've seen plenty of great players.

But which one would I rank as the best?

Certainly Jerome Bettis deserves some consideration. The NFL's fifth-leading rusher when he retired, Bettis was the man who embodied the Steelers' toughness, even through some lean years in the late 1990s.

But he's not No. 1.

Greg Lloyd, Levon Kirkland, Kevin Greene, Joey Porter and James Harrison have all been outstanding contributors during that period as well. But Pittsburgh's defense has been geared toward linebackers making plays, so it's tough to single out just one of those great players as the best.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has helped the Steelers become a yearly contender for the Super Bowl since he was drafted in 2004 and deserves consideration. But I think I'm going to go in a different direction.

And though players such as Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca, Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith have been key cogs in some great teams, I'm not picking a lineman here.

That leaves me with three choices: Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu and Rod Woodson.

In this case, I'm going with Woodson.

Ward had a fantastic career with the Steelers and is the team leader in basically every receiving category, but he was never considered among the best in the league at his position. And don't give me that best blocking receiver in the league stuff. Yes, Ward was a ferocious blocker, but that did not place him among the top two or three players at his position in any given season as Polamalu and Woodson were.

Really, it's splitting hairs between Polamalu and Woodson in their prime, but I'll take the game-changing cornerback who was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 over the game-changing safety who was similarly honored in 2010.

In their primes, Polamalu and Woodson were among the top five or six players in the game regardless of position. They were players who could change a game by themselves and always had to be accounted for.

But to me, Woodson, at least when he was with the Steelers, was the bigger game changer at cornerback, where he could take away the opposing team's best receiver by himself, blitz better than any corner in history or take a punt back for a touchdown.

Who's your pick?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Steelers should consider Bishop

Usually when players are cut loose by their team, I get a number of questions, mostly centering on whether or not the Steelers should considering signing that player.

In most cases, the player is either washed up, too expensive or doesn't fit the Steelers' scheme.

But Monday, the Green Bay Packers released linebacker Desmond Bishop rather than pay him $3.4 million in 2013.

Bishop missed the 2012 season with a hamstring injury and is still slowed by the issue after having surgery to repair the hamstring. But Bishop is supposed to be ready to play again by the time training camp rolls around.

In this case, Bishop, the Packers' leading tackler in 2011, would absolutely help the Steelers.

Bishop, 28, had a combined 218 tackles and eight sacks in 28 games in 2010 and '11, playing in Green Bay's 3-4 defense. And Green Bay's defense, which is coached by Dom Capers, is similar to Pittsburgh's.

Bishop is already visiting with the Minnesota Vikings and the Steelers certainly wouldn't get into a bidding war for his services, but if he can be had, even on a one-year deal, he could certainly help Pittsburgh, which is still lacking for depth at the linebacker position despite taking Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams in the draft.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Report: Wallace turned down $76 million from Vikings

A report from USA Today says that former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace turned down a $76-million deal from Minnesota to accept a $60-million contract from the Miami Dolphins.

That might be true - though the news of the Minnesota contract is coming from Wallace's father.

But what we don't know is how much of that $76 million was guaranteed and how many years the Minnesota offer was for.

Wallace is quoted as saying that money isn't everything. He wants to win titles and go to Pro Bowls.

If that was the case, he would have stayed in Pittsburgh where he had an established quarterback and had already been to Super Bowls and Pro Bowls.

But he didn't.

What we do know is that $30 million of Wallace's contract with Miami is guaranteed. So if he never plays a down for the Dolphins, he gets $30 million.

That's financial security for a lifetime and then some.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Steelers announce training camp dates

The Steelers will officially kick off their 2013 season when the team reports to training camp on Friday, July 26, at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. This will be the 48th year the Steelers will train at Saint Vincent College.

The first open practice to the public is scheduled for Saturday, July 27. The first practice in pads for the Steelers is scheduled for Monday, July 29. All practices that are open to the public are scheduled from 3-5 p.m.

The Steelers annual night practice at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium will take place on Friday, August 2, at 7 p.m. Additionally, the Steelers will hold an evening practice at Saint Vincent College on Wednesday, August 14, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The last scheduled practice open to the public will be on Saturday, August 17. The team’s 2013 training camp will break on Sunday, August 18, one day prior to the Steelers’ game at Washington.

The full training camp schedule will be announced at a later date.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Adams to be released Tuesday

Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams will be released from the hospital on Tuesday after suffering stab wounds to his left arm and abdomen during an attempted carjacking early Saturday morning on the Southside.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said Monday he has visited Adams a couple of times and that Adams realizes how lucky he is.

Adams is expected to be completely healed in time for training camp.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Police had made one arrest in the stabbing and are searching for the other two suspects.

One would tend to think that somebody who assaults a Steelers player isn't going to be on the lam for long in Western Pennsylvania or be all that popular in prison.

@ The Steelers signed first round pick Jarvis Jones, second rounder Le'Veon Bell and seventh round selection Nick Williams on Monday, leaving only quarterback Landry Jones, a fourth-round pick, unsigned.

Don't know what Landry Jones is waiting for at this point.

This marks one of the earliest dates I can remember that the Steelers' first round pick has been signed and it bodes well for Jarvis Jones that he has gotten his deal done so early.

While he might not begin the season as a starter, the fact that he'll be available from the start at training camp can't hurt his chances to contribute.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

So much for uneventful

Steelers offensive tackle suffered stab wounds to his abdomen and forearm during what police are calling a robbery attempt by three men in front of his home on the South Side early Saturday morning.

Adams, 23, was treated at UPMC Mercy for two stab wounds to his abdomen and one to his left forearm. He tweeted a photo of himself in his hospital bed giving a thumbs up sign and is expected to make a full recovery.

The Steelers issued a statement saying they are aware of the situation and are monitoring the health of Adams, who is expected to be the team's starting right tackle.

The Steelers' depth at the offensive tackle position was already thin, and though Adams is expected to be ready in time for training camp, it will be sorely tested in the remaining weeks of OTAs and mini-camp.

At this point, expect Kelvin Beachum to line up in Adams' spot, with Marcus Gilbert remaining at left tackle.