Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: August 26, 2010 10:15 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 10:16 am

Steelers start a rookie for first time since '05

Posted by Andy Benoit

Will wrote last night that Dennis Dixon is splitting the first team reps with Byron Leftwich in Pittsburgh. Whichever quarterback winds up filling-in for the suspended Ben Roethlisberger will be taking snaps from rookie Maurkice Pouncey.

The first-round pick from Florida has done something that no Steelers rookie has done since tight end Heath Miller did in 2005: captured a starting job. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pouncey took (or, rather, gave) all of the first-team snaps in practice on Wednesday. This relegates Justin Hartwig, an experienced veteran but one who lacks good initial quickness, to second-string duties.

Pouncey was originally supposed to spend his rookie season playing guard (and likely in a backup role). But his football IQ and maturity have impressed coaches since the first minicamp. And, being a first-round pick, it goes without saying that his physical ability is top-notch.  As Bouchette writes, Pouncey’s fortunes only improved once training camp opened up:

The move has been in the works since the Steelers' coaching staff was blown away by Pouncey's first two practices of training camp July 31. It was after that day they began to re-think their intention of letting Pouncey compete to start at right guard as a rookie, rather than compete with veteran Justin Hartwig at center. As camp progressed, so did Pouncey until coach Mike Tomlin had him split time with Hartwig and the first team all last week in practices.

That division ended Wednesday and, while Pouncey was all smiles, Hartwig was in no mood to talk about it. Hartwig practiced exclusively with the backups Wednesday. He declined to take a question about it.

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Posted on: August 26, 2010 12:54 am

Report: Dennis Dixon getting 1st team reps

Posted by Will Brinson

Well, here's some news that clearly makes just too much sense to be true: Dennis Dixon is getting some first team reps with the Steelers.

That's according to James Walker of ESPN's AFC North blog , who has a source that claims Dixon is splitting the reps with Byron Leftwich.

For those that don't know, Leftwich is the equivalent of a brontosaurus, while Dixon is like a velociraptor. (Or something. Perhaps you'd prefer Tracy Bloom to Marcus Samuelsson since it's Wednesday?)

Some folks have proposed silly conspiracy theories that the Steelers are worried that if they give Dixon starting reps now, they'll have a quarterback controversy on their hands (and all due respect to Florio, but come on) -- the real problem they currently have is that if Dixon is capable of being an NFL starter, they're not even giving him the chance.

Leftwich is serviceable, sure, and the Steelers really only want to tread water until Ben Roethlisberger returns in either Week 6 or 7, but the logic behind not even giving Dixon a shot to beat out a lumbering veteran like Leftwich is just silly.

Hopefully, they've gotten past that: if Dixon does indeed get run with the first-teamers during the Steelers preseason game and he is indeed better than Leftwich (which wouldn't surprise anyone), it would at least behoove them to consider letting him start now.

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Posted on: August 25, 2010 11:54 am

Polamalu still not 100 percent

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Troy Polamalu, known for his fiery on-field play and his tremendous instincts for the ball, feels a little apprehensive coming into this season. It’s because he missed 11 games last season with a torn knee ligament, and he honestly doesn’t know how the knee is going to react when he steps on the field for the regular season.

He’s felt fine in the first two preseason games, but still, his mind is not at rest.

“Maybe a little too much thinking,” Polamalu told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "In the back of your mind you always have those concerns. It wasn't in my consciousness at all as I was playing. That's a positive thing. … I did feel better. I take some comfort in getting out there and moving the knee in different directions."

One area Polamalu feels he needs to improve? His tackling, in part, he says, because his focus isn’t quite there.

Without Polamalu in the lineup last year, the Steelers secondary badly suffered, as they allowed opponents to throw 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions against Pittsburgh. Even a Polamalu that’s not quite 100 percent healthy – physically and mentally – should help the backend of the Steelers defense regain some of its swagger.

It’s better to have half a Polamalu than no Polamalu at all.

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Posted on: August 21, 2010 8:27 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 8:37 pm

Big Ben so-so in debut

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In his first action since the end of last season, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger had mixed results in the first half of tonight’s Steelers-Giants exhibition game.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , Roethlisberger took 20 snaps (including one that didn’t count because of a holding penalty). He went 6 for 8 for 76 yards, and Giants CB Corey Webster intercepted him when he underthrew WR Mike Wallace.

Overall, Roethlisberger played in three series before giving way to Byron Leftwich in the second quarter. Those three drives produced three points.

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Posted on: August 21, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 8:37 pm

Nicks, Taylor ejected for fighting

Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Apparently failing to realize that this is, in fact, still the preseason, Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor and WR Hakeem Nicks were ejected from tonight’s game early in the first quarter for fighting and throwing punches.

According to the Steelers Rapid Reports , Keenan Lewis – who’s battling for a nickel CB job – has taken Taylor’s place with the first team. He’s facing off against Giants WR Mario Manningham.

UPDATE (8:34 p.m.): This is what Nicks said after he was ejected: “I’ve never been ejected from a game in my life until tonight. I was blocking downfield, and the next thing I knew (CB Ike Taylor) was throwing punches so I tried to defend myself. I let my coaches and teammates down.""

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Posted on: August 21, 2010 6:35 pm

A stunning comeback to Leftwich quote

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You might have seen this column from CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman where Freeman quoted Steelers QB Byron Leftwich, in regards to the ending of his relationship with the Jaguars, as saying "The Jaguars really f----- up that situation. We had a good group of players and the team let them all go. They let us all go. If they had been more patient, we could've done big things in Jacksonville."

LB Tom McManus – who retired with the Jaguars after the 1999 season, four years before Leftwich got there – apparently didn’t take kindly to that quote. Thus, he e-mailed Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio to defend the Jaguars organization.

A taste of his e-mail:

"Please tell Byron Leftwich to shut his mouth," McManus wrote. "That guy lives in fantasy land. The reality? He was average at best. I don't care about stats. If you watched him week to week while he was the starter here in town, like I did, he would make you pull your hair out."

The rest of the e-mail is just as nasty, though not necessarily untrue. Check it out. It’s great stuff.

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Posted on: August 18, 2010 8:47 am
Edited on: August 18, 2010 8:49 am

Daniel Sepulveda not your average punter

D. Supelveda will have the chance to kick off for Pittsburgh (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Although Steelers kicker Jeff Reed wears crazy hair and takes crazy pictures inside bars – not to mention, wanting crazy kicker money for a kicker who’s decent but not outstanding – he seems fine with possibly sharing kickoff duties with Pittsburgh punter Daniel Sepulveda.

This move has been in the works for the past year or two, because Sepulveda has an extraordinarily strong leg and because he’s more athletic than the average punter. The Steelers talked about making this move last year but were cautious because Sepulveda was coming off 2008 ACL surgery.

On Tuesday, though, he kicked off four times during practice, as noted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review , and it appears he’ll give Reed a rest on some of those kickoffs. Reed doesn’t seem to mind – though it’s unclear why the Steelers would give him more money if he’s going to be doing less work – and he’s helping Sepulveda with his technique.

Perhaps most reassuring for the Steelers who allowed four kickoff return touchdowns last year? Sepulveda is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and he began his college career as a walk-on linebacker at Baylor. So, he’s not going to be afraid to tackle a return man who’s actually smaller than him.

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Posted on: August 17, 2010 7:25 pm

Pouncey seems poised to start for Steelers

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Steelers first-round rookie Maurkice Pouncey is getting snaps (or, more accurately, giving snaps) as the first team center in Pittsburgh. Incumbent center Justin Hartwig is still splitting snaps with the starters, as well. M. Pouncey (US Presswire)

Pouncey was drafted to assume the long-term job at center, but the original plan was for him to play guard early on. The Steelers prefer to groom their rookies as backups in Year One (they took this route with Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Willie Colon, Rashard Mendenhall, etc.) The last rookie to start regularly for the team was tight end Heath Miller in 2005.

However, since Day One, Pouncey has been miles ahead of expectations. Mike Tomlin even complimented the youngster’s awareness and savvy during the minicamps. Physically speaking, Pouncey is Pittsburgh’s most gifted center (Hartwig’s lack of initial quickness consistently makes him vulnerable when opponents attack the gaps over his outside shoulder). With his mental aptitude, it looks like he may already be Pittsburgh’s best center.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com