--WR Hines Ward made his debut on "Dancing With the Stars" March 21, and TV ratings went through the roof in Pittsburgh.
The show was the most-watched program that evening in Pittsburgh, and the 29.2 (338,000 people) rating was more than double what viewership normally is.
At the league meeting the morning after Ward's debut, coach Mike Tomlin, said he didn't see the show but probably will. "If I'm home," he said. "I'm not a big television watcher. I don't even know what time it comes on. I got a few texts last night and that's the only reason that I knew it was on. I think everybody was pretty encouraging about his performance. They said he did a nice job but that doesn't surprise me.
"I'm a supporter of Hines. This guy's a competitor. Obviously he's got some free time. It's going to be entertaining if nothing else."
Asked if he would have a problem with Ward winning it all, which would keep him on the show until late May, Tomlin said, "Sure, as long as it doesn't conflict with what I've got going on. At this point it doesn't look like it's going to conflict with what I've got going on."
Can he win? "Man, I wouldn't count Hines out of any competition," Tomlin said. "If there was a brain surgery competition I'm sure he'd educate himself and compete."
When Tomlin was asked about the health of S Troy Polamalu, Tomlin said, "I haven't talked to Troy that much and that's not out of the ordinary this time of year. He might be in a monastery."
Told Poalmalu was tweeting about Ward, Tomlin reiterated, "He might be tweeting from a monastery."
--Burt Lauten, the team's No. 2 PR man, will serve as interim communications coordinator after Dave Lockett left the team after 13 seasons. Lauten is expected to get the job permanently.
--The Steelers plan no layoffs, no furloughs and no cuts in pay. Team president Art Rooney said the Steelers have instituted a "salary freeze" in the organization.
"We're going to take it a week at a time," Rooney said. "We're not planning any large-scale layoffs or furloughs. Hopefully, we won't get to that situation."
--Dan Rooney, Ambassador to Ireland, voiced his opposition to the proposed 18-game schedule last fall. In its last proposal, management took it off the table.
"On our side, that was a fairly major concession," Art Rooney said. "There were people on our side not happy about putting that offer off the table."
--Sharing a complex that works more like a duplex with Pitt can be advantageous for the Steelers at times like these. Each NFL team is permitted to have 30 draft prospects in for a visit but a rule allows teams to have players visit if they are in the same city and not count against that number.
On Tuesday, seven Pitt Panthers walked next door and met with Steelers coaches and scouts: Wide receiver Jon Baldwin, defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus, fullback Henry Hynoski, running back Dion Lewis, offensive tackle Jason Pinkston and safety Dom DiCicco.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I think defensively it generally starts with the men up front. I think you look at how players are drafted, it bears that out. Big people go first. If you're applying pressure to the quarterback, you don't have to cover. If you're stopping the run, you don't have to cover." - Coach Mike Tomlin on why cornerbacks rarely are selected with the first five picks in the draft.
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