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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Steelers sign Tate

The Steelers brought in veteran running back Ben Tate Tuesday and signed him to a contract, releasing wide receiver Justin Brown.

Of course, that means that the Steelers are highly skeptical that Le'Veon Bell, whom I reported could barely walk on Monday, will play Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens.

But don't get too crazy with the idea of Tate riding in on a white horse to save the day for the Steelers.

Pittsburgh has just three practices and a walk through or two before Saturday's game. That wouldn't give him a ton of time to be ready.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said he does believe Tate can have a role, but said that Josh Harris is at the top of the depth chart. That will leave Dri Archer and Tate providing a backup options.

Tate will be working with his fourth team in the past 12 months. And he had 119 carries for 361 yards - a 3.0 yards per carry average - in stints with Cleveland and Minnesota this season.

@ For those who are dismissing the Steelers winning this game without Bell, realize that, in 2012, when Pittsburgh played the Ravens with Byron Leftwich at QB in one game and Charlie Batch in another - and Jonathan Dwyer was the team's leading rusher for the season with 623 yards, they lost, 13-10, to Baltimore in Pittsburgh and beat them, 23-20, on the road.

@ Mike Tomlin would not commit to Troy Polamalu returning to the lineup when he's healthy.

He's still not completely healthy at this point. He's dealing with a muscle pull in his lower leg.

But with Will Allen playing well - and Polamalu was not - the Steelers are in no hurry to bring him back.

It would be a shame if Saturday is the Steelers' final home game of the season. Polamalu will likely not be back next season, either by his choice or that of the team.

He's been a model pro throughout his career and is an iconic player. But Father Time catches up with us all.

@ The weather forecast isn't great for Saturday night, with temps in the 30s and rain expected. But, as we often see in Western Pa., the forecast isn't always right, especially during this time of year.


joe said...

dri lined up in the backfield just looks ridiculous.

marc said...

i hadn't heard bell could barely walk Monday. definitely not a good sign for this weekend.

tate ran well for the browns, but they liked the younger backs more and went back on a promise they had made to him. it pissed tate off so the browns released him. he consistently ran very hard and would definitely be a good signing as insurance for the steelers at this point.

the steelers are going to need to come up with some wrinkles to generate points against the ravens. I also expect the ravens to target the steelers deep early and often. I hope the DB's play as well as they did last week.

John Kang said...

As long as we have Ben, we can beat the Ravens.

adamg said...

Tomlin just said Bell was busy riding the stationary bike today.

Tate always seemed to play well against the Steelers. Tomlin said they are checking Tate's attitude as well as his physical conditioning.

WestGaSteeler said...

Is there any truth to the rumors that if things don't work out with Tate they may look at Rice?

John Kang said...

Not sure they would want the baggage that goes with Rice, but wow, you know he'd be motivated to play against the Ravens.

Eric T said...

I have a better chance of getting a look by the Steelers than Rice. No way they touch him with the "independent" investigation (which is being overseen by Rooney) still going.

Jim said...

If the 4th quarter on Sunday showed us anything, it's that Archer cannot be lined up in a lone back set where he's responsible for blitz pickup. Do we see Will Johnson in that role? Seems like a much better blocking/release option.

Aside from his block attempts, Archer actually showed his first flash or 2 since the preseason on a couple of the plays he was targeted as a receiver. This would be his opportunity presenting itself, as Tomlin would say.

marc said...

the problem with archer in the backfield is that everyone knows they won't be running him between the tackles. I expect we will see archer split out most of the time when he is in the game. but, if the ravens see him coming on the field will they counter with an extra DB or not. I expect the steelers to try several different formations early on to get a feel for how the ravens plan to defend their various personnel groups.

adamg said...

They've run Archer between the tackles. In fact, it's probably a decent strategy given he could pop through a hole and be off to the races. The couple times he leaked out of the backfield, he was wide open vs Cincy as a check down receiver.

Dale Lolley said...

Tomlin said today that Archer did what was expected of him on that play. Then again, he said "If we expect him to block Suggs, then I'm stupid."

And Tomlin is not stupid.

As for Archer running, he's run almost exclusively between the tackles.

marc said...

Reminds me of when the Browns used to try and run metcalf up the middle. I will be pleasantly surprised if archer finds success running between the tackles against the Ravens.

Anonymous said...

Archer is a fumble waiting to happen. He can't take hits from that Ravens front seven.

Patrick said...

above re: Archer and a fumble - not only is he a fumble waiting to happen, I think all of our backs are in this game. Bell hasn't fumbled once and we have barely seen the other guys touch a football.

There will unfortunately be a RB turnover in this game.

Done By Forty said...

Dale: looking at the matchup and the circumstances at RB, do you see Haley just airing it out? Even if the Steelers had Bell, I'm not sure they'd make much progress on the ground against the Ravens.

DD said...

Can anyone confirm what the actual play called was that Bell was hurt on? I know he catches a ton of short passes out of the backfield, and they even take a shot down the sideline from time to time. But it looked to me like he ran a middle depth slant pattern right across the middle of the field. Now Ben was starting to scramble so maybe that was just Bell trying to get open, but if that was a designed slant to him, that is a completely asinine design that should not have ever been in the playbook knowing he is virtually your only running back and team MVP. Waaaaaay too much risk. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

No offense DD but the only thing that's asinine is your comment. It was a great football play, Bell caught a ball wide open in space. He then took a shot on his knee with his leg planted, a very unfortunate thing but it happens in football every week. Should Antonio Brown not be allowed to run crossing patterns, either??

WestGaSteeler said...

Looked to me like he may have been running an Angle Pattern, which many HBs, including Bell, run all the time.