October 14, 2009
Aaron Smith placed on IR
During his regular weekly news conference yesterday, Coach Mike Tomlin revealed that Aaron Smith had injured his right shoulder, and that the situation “potentially could be significant.”
It turned out to be precisely that, and the Steelers placed Smith on the injured reserve list because of the shoulder injury. The injured reserve list means Smith’s season is over.
When asked yesterday about the team’s options in light of Smith’s injury, Tomlin said, “The usual suspects. Travis Kirschke, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood.”
To take Smith’s spot on the roster, the Steelers signed Sonny Harris from the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad. Harris was the Steelers’ sixth-round draft pick last April, and when he came to training camp the hope was that he would develop sufficiently to contribute as a practice squad player as a rookie. But after a summer in which Harris showed consistent improvement and concluded the preseason in Carolina with a nice game that included a sack, the Panthers claimed him when the Steelers put him on waivers. Because of needs at other positions, Harris subsequently was waived and signed to the Carolina practice squad. The Steelers also had plans to work out veteran Orpheus Roye.
As the team’s most recent No. 1 draft choice, Hood naturally is attracting the most attention, and Tomlin was asked about the rookie’s readiness for an expanded role. “He has played in just about every football game he’s had a helmet on,” said Tomlin. “He has played on special teams in some games, he has had more defensive snaps in others. He played a pretty significant portion of the game this past week (in Detroit). He’s a young guy who’s on the come. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s not out of the oven yet, if you will. We acknowledge that, he acknowledges that. As long as we continue to do that, he’ll continue in the right direction. He’ll continue along those lines in terms of participation, but by no means is Ziggy Hood a potential replacement for Aaron Smith at this point. It will probably be a committee of bodies trying to fill that void.”
Make no mistake, no Aaron Smith creates a void. Smith has been with the Steelers longer than any players except Hines Ward and Deshea Townsend and long has been considered a key ingredient to the Steelers 3-4 alignment.
When Smith was injured late in the 2007 and was forced onto the injured reserve list after the seasons 13th game, the Jaguars, Rams and Ravens rushed for 224, 90 and 180 yards, respectively over the last three weeks of the regular season. Smith’s teammates regularly call him the most underrated player on the defense.
Through five games this season, Smith had 13 tackles, two sacks and 14 pressures, and he also blocked a field goal attempt during the Steelers’ 13-10 win over Tennessee on Sept. 10.
May 19, 2009
LeBeau dreams up new defensive package
To say that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau eats, sleeps and breaths football is not an understatement.
The mastermind behind the Steelers defense that was once again ranked number one in the NFL last season laid out a new defensive package for the team at OTA’s on Tuesday and it came to him the night before.
“He gave us a new defense today that he thought about last night when he was in bed,” said an amazed James Farrior. “He drew something up for us today. We expect stuff like that from Coach LeBeau. “This offseason is no different. We probably have about 10 new calls right now. They are going to keep coming. It’s the same every year, new calls in and tweaking stuff to make us better. He has a great mind.”
While the players do come to expect this kind of thing from LeBeau, they know how lucky they are to have him working his magic on the defensive scheme.
“He is constantly thinking of ways we can do better,” said defensive end Brett Keisel. “We put in a whole new package today that the wizard came up with last night. He was making some potion and somehow these X’s and O’s came up and it worked really well today so I am sure it’s something we will use.”
Keisel, who credits LeBeau and the other Steelers coaches with the success he has had in his career, knows that the new ideas will keep coming week after week because LeBeau is not someone who will ever let the team rest on their laurels.
“He is never satisfied with where we are,” said Keisel. “The last few years, I think three out of the last five, we finished number one here and it’s never enough for him. “He sometimes shows us this ring he has and it’s the Super Bowl XL ring and it’s never enough. He wants to have 10. Once he has 10 he will have to start putting them on his toes.”
April 3, 2009
Big night for LeBeau at Dapper celebration
Robert Dvorchak- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dick LeBeau exceeded his time limit in accepting the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award, but he wasn't about to apologize.
"It's a pretty big night for me, so I'm going to go a little bit long," he said, laughing.
"This really is a great day to be alive. I love you, Pittsburgh. You're never going to get rid of me now."
LeBeau received tributes from players past and present, including Rod Woodson, Jason Gildon, Brett Keisel and James Farrior. "Playing for him is like having your dad on the field," said safety Ryan Clark.
LeBeau was born in 1939, the year the first Dapper Dan Award went to champion light heavyweight boxer Billy Conn, the original Pittsburgh Kid.
Last night, on what was a celebration of the Super Bowl victory and a tribute to all the sports moments in the city, LeBeau joined Arnold Palmer, Joe Paterno and Dan Rooney as recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"I came from California to be here because of one man -- Dick LeBeau," said Woodson. "He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for what he did as a player, and for what he has done to confound offenses and quarterbacks for the last 36 years as a coach. He's the godfather of the zone blitz. He's true, he's honest, he's authentic."
LeBeau's moment came on the same night that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was honored as Sportsman of the Year and Pitt guard Shavonte Zellous, the school's first female All-American, received the award as Sportswoman of the Year.
Tomlin won the award in his second year after leading the Steelers to an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl title, which prompted city council to change the city's name to Sixburgh and prompted Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to change his last name to Steelerstahl before the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.
"I have the best coaching job in professional sports," Tomlin said. "I want to thank the Rooneys for giving me the opportunity to do what I do. And our players and our coaches are second to none."
December 8, 2008
Steelers' defense deserves more credit
John Harris-Pittsburgh Tribune
Besides shutting down some of the best offenses in the NFL, the Steelers' defense also scores points. There practically isn't anything this defense doesn't do.
For those skeptics and nonbelievers who won't be satisfied with anything less than a Steelers' victory in Super Bowl XLII, Sunday's thrilling, 20-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field probably won't change your point of view.
You will focus on Dallas receiver Terrell Owens' third-quarter touchdown catch, instead of that Owens, facing single coverage from cornerback Ike Taylor, was limited to three catches for 32 yards.
You will complain about the Steelers' inconsistent offense that produced only a field goal through the first three quarters but scored 10 points in the final 15 minutes when anything less would have meant defeat.
That's too bad because you're witnessing history in the making.
The Steelers defense is so talented and dominant in every conceivable way that merely calling it great should be considered an insult.
"We're underrated. People don't really say nothing (good) about us," nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "We always hear about everybody else. We like it like that. We like for people to overlook us."
Prior to yesterday's game, the worst thing that could be said about the Steelers' top-ranked defense is that it prevented points from being scored but rarely scored them, as other top defenses have done. It's time to find something else to complain about.
Veteran cornerback Deshea Townsend, dropping back in a three-deep zone on second-and-8 from the Dallas 17 with less than 2 minutes remaining, intercepted quarterback Tony Romo and sped 25 yards for the winning touchdown.
"We made some big plays today. We finally scored," inside linebacker Larry Foote said. "We put pressure on ourselves. A lot of defenses have scored. It was a great game to get one."
It was a typical game for the Steelers this season because the defense's mistakes were magnified since they commit so few of them.
The Steelers held the Cowboys to 289 total yards, marking the 13th game this season that their opponent failed to gain 300 yards.
Romo escaped the pass rush to buy time and connect with Owens in the back of the end zone, giving the Cowboys a 10-3 lead in the third quarter. But he finished the game 19 of 36 passing for 210 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, and he was sacked three times.
"We left a lot of things on the field. We gave up a lot of big plays," outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said.
Woodley got it twisted. He made the second-biggest play on Townsend's interception when he rushed inside, pressured Romo up the middle and forced him to throw in a hurry. "I saw the inside move, so I decided to take it," Woodley said. "A lot of tackles have been playing me hard upfield lately, setting themselves up and make sure they don't get bull-rushed. I got underneath."
After telling himself to "catch it .. catch it," Townsend took care of the rest.
"It was the same route they had been running all night, the same route they ran earlier" Townsend said.
And it was the same Steelers defense that validated its No. 1 ranking when it KO'd another opponent.
November 7, 2008
Linebackers' success due to Steelers' defensive line
Jim Wexell-Herold- Standard
PITTSBURGH - The Steelers' linebackers are on a record pace for sacks, but they're quick to put the credit elsewhere.
"It starts with the line," said LaMarr Woodley, a first-year starter who knows how to grease the right wheels.
"That a way to respect your elders," said Aaron Smith at the next-door locker. Smith, of course, is the elder statesman of the Steelers' starting line, but his play's not slowing down a bit.
"Aaron Smith, they just don't block him," said coordinator Dick LeBeau. "I've been back five years and I can count on one hand the number of times in five years he's been blocked. Why people don't recognize that around the league, I don't know. He's tremendous."
And then there are the guys next to him. Casey Hampton blew open the middle of the Washington Redskins' line a couple of times Monday night. On fourth down at the one-yard line, both Hampton and Chris Hoke stacked bodies so high behind the center that the league's leading rusher wouldn't have made it back to the line even if he'd tried. The Redskins were instead wise enough - after watching tape of the Steelers' magnificent goal line stand the previous week - to throw.
The pass fell incomplete, giving the Steelers goal-line stands in successive weeks against the Nos. 1 and 2 rushing attacks in the NFL. It reflected back to the Steelers' rugged line.
"Those are huge," said Hoke. "They give your team a lot of energy, and a lot of excitement, too."
Imagine how the defense will feel the next time it's backed up at the goal line.
"Arrogance," Hoke said, before adjusting his comment. "No, confidence. There'll be some confidence for sure."
Arrogance, too, and why not? This could be the best defensive line the Steelers have had since Chuck Noll went to a 3-4 alignment back in the early 1980s.
"Across the front, I think all three of us, whoever's in there, are playing well," said Smith. "We haven't always had that. Usually there were guys here or guys there, but everybody's playing well now, even the reserves. That's the biggest thing. You can come off the field and the guy behind you will do the job. That's a big advantage, and one people don't appreciate, but it makes a big difference. You don't have to pace yourself now. You can play hard every play and come out if you need a break."
Smith used to be the Iron Horse for the Steelers, and Brett Keisel knew that all too well.
"I was behind him," Keisel said. "He never used to come out of the game. I used to beg him, but he'd say, 'Ah, no.'"
Keisel's grown into that role now. He played the most snaps of the starting three Monday, and at halftime apologized to his backup, Travis Kirschke.
"It's hard for me to come out because I really love being out there with those guys," Keisel said, and that enthusiasm shows. Keisel, the fastest of the three, came down the line at one point Monday night and nearly decapitated Clinton Portis.
Was that Keisel's favorite play of the game?
"My favorite play would probably be Aaron's sack, just because I love it when he or any interior guy gets a sack," he said. "Nick (Eason)'s sack was great, too, but I liked this one because Aaron and I have that nice little dance we bust out in if one of us gets a sack. It's sweet man."
Keisel calls this the best defensive line he's seen since he was drafted in 2002. "Just the speed we have," he said. "And the attention to detail each guy has, each position, as far as getting their job done. When coach LeBeau calls a play, we know what it's for, what it's trying to stop. I just think everybody has a real good understanding of what we can do, what we're capable of, and we go out and get it done. And it's so much fun when we do."
The Steelers lead the NFL at the halfway point in overall defense, sacks, yards per play, passing defense, yardage on first downs and red zone efficiency. They allow 2.9 yards per rush and only 70.1 rush yards per game. The Steelers have led the NFL in run defense since 2001, a reflection of the stellar line play over the years.
But this line just might be the best of the lot.
"We're blessed to have guys from top to bottom who can really play in this league," said LeBeau. "I think they've proven that, and I'm just a lucky coach to have them."
November 5, 2008
This defense doesn't rest
It read this way: field goal, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, blocked punt, end of half.
That how each of the Washington Redskins’ first half offensive series ended in last Monday night’s game against the Steelers, and their two field goal “drives” lasted a total of six plays and gained a combined 14 yards.
Calling the Steelers defense the league’s best unit to this point in the 2008 season might be debated by the representative from Baltimore, but there are statistics that help make Pittsburgh’s case.
The Steelers defense currently is ranked in the top five in 10 different defensive categories, including yards allowed, sacks, third-down conversions and points allowed. And their run defense, which was a bit of a problem at the end of the 2007 season, has been as stingy and nasty as ever.
When Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew managed 24 yards on 15 carries, it was, well, the Jaguars offensive line was operating without three injured starters. But when the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward went 31 times for 84 yards, a 2.7 average, while running behind the best offensive line in football, there was no way to mitigate the accomplishment.
And then, there was the job the Steelers did on Clinton Portis, who came into the game leading the NFL in yards rushing and rushing touchdowns. Portis finished with 51 yards on 13 carries, and 22 of those yards came on one first quarter carry.
“The main thing is they had a great running game, but we stop the run,” said Tyrone Carter, who started at free safety in place of the injured Ryan Clark. “Every time we step on the field, we feel we’re the best. We just have to being our A-game every night.”
The Steelers defense seemed to have its A-game right from the start, even if the same could not be said for special teams or the offense.
An unsuccessful onside kick to open the game, plus an offside penalty to boot, gave the Redskins the ball in field goal range right off the bat. Three plays later, they settled for a field goal.
Then when Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted on the Steelers’ first third-down situation of the game, the Redskins offense again took the field already in field goal range. Three plays later, they settled for another field goal.
And so even though the Steelers defense allowed only 14 total yards on the Redskins first two offensive possessions, the team trailed, 6-0.
“We have a philosophy of give us a blade of grass to defend and we will defend it; they embraced that,” said Coach Mike Tomlin of his defense. “It was not the first time that they have taken the field under those circumstances, and it probably won’t be the last. I think that we have the kind of defensive unit that responds to those challenges. That is why you are comfortable taking some of the risks that you take at times because of what they are capable of doing.”
The Redskins offense also was capable of big plays, thanks to the presence of Santana Moss at wide receiver. In the previous few weeks, Moss had returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and caught a 67-yard pass for another score. And remember, the Steelers played the Redskins without Clark, whose absence last season triggered a flurry of big plays allowed by the secondary.
“(Allowing big plays) was a big concern of ours going into the game because they did have big play threats,” said Tomlin. “Santana Moss is a guy who is capable of taking the top off the coverage. (Antwaan) Randle El was great after the catch. Clinton Portis is Clinton Portis. If we were to play well last night, we felt like we had to limit big plays as much as we could.
“For the most part I think we were successful at doing that. Clinton (Portis) bounced out and got out for 22 yards on us pretty quickly one time and that is what he is capable of. But other than that I thought we did a good job of managing that and trying to make them earn it as they went down the field.”
October 27, 2008
Smith's play teaches valuable lesson
Ron Cook- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Big, tough Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel nearly was in tears. It wasn't because of the hurtful 21-14 loss to the New York Giants last night. That disappointed Keisel and ticked him off more than it made him want to cry. No, the emotions came pouring out when he was asked what it meant to see teammate Aaron Smith line up with him on the defensive line after a serious personal crisis forced Smith to miss all of practice last week.
"I love the guy so much," Keisel said, his voice quivering just a bit. "He's the best. If I could be like him and live my life like he lives his, I'd die a happy man. I'm just so thankful he's in my life."
Smith declined interview requests after the game and asked for privacy, which he surely will get here this morning. But he did say it wasn't a hard decision to show up for the game even though he had been excused by coach Mike Tomlin and the Rooneys.
"This was the best part of my week -- by far -- even though we lost," Smith said. "This was where I needed to be for a few hours. There's nowhere I'd rather be than right here. These guys are family to me. I'm closer to them than I am to my own brothers."
Smith's difficult situation added greatly to an almost unbelievable week of distractions for the Steelers. First, there was the aftermath of wide receiver Hines Ward's season-ending hit on Cincinnati rookie linebacker Keith Rivers last Sunday. Then, there was the meeting Wednesday with a couple of NFL czars, who came to town to explain to Ward and others on the team just how and why the league goes about its business of fining players for their transgressions. Finally, there was wide receiver Santonio Holmes' arrest Thursday for possession of a small amount of marijuana, an issue that so incensed Tomlin that he deactivated Holmes for the game and told him to stay away from the team until today.
All things considered, a Steelers win against the defending Super Bowl champions probably was too much to ask, especially after long snapper Greg Warren (knee) and valuable safety Ryan Clark (shoulder) were injured during the game. You don't think about a snapper until he's gone. Well, you thought about the position last night after Warren went down late in the third quarter and the emergency backup -- linebacker James Harrison -- snapped the ball over punter Mitch Berger's head for a safety.
"I've never been through a week like this," safety Troy Polamalu said after it finally was over and he prepared to head off into the night. "I truly believe if we had somehow won this game, after everything that had happened, we would have really set ourselves up as a special, special team."
The Steelers didn't win, but it wasn't because they didn't leave everything on the field. That's why Tomlin made it a point to greet each player on his way into the locker room after the game, shake his hand and say, "I appreciate your effort." When Smith passed by, the two shared a long hug.
Smith isn't just one of the team's top players and a respected leader in the locker room and on the field. He's one of the more popular teammates.
"Unbelievable," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Smith's decision to play. "An emotional day for him and for us," nose tackle Chris Hoke said. "Every single one of us wanted to win the game for him." "If he wouldn't have been out here, no one would have cared," Roethlisberger added. "He's got a bigger battle to fight."
It's tough for any player to miss a week's practice and still play at a high level, even a 10-year veteran. But Smith was on the field for all but a handful of plays. It was a good thing for the Steelers, who almost certainly would have lost by a much bigger margin without their best run-stopper.
We saw how much less the Steelers were as a team last season when Smith missed the stretch run and playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars because of a torn biceps. The Giants came in as the NFL's top rushing team, yet managed only 83 yards on 35 carries, a paltry 2.4-yard average.
"It's hard to miss practice like that, but, if anyone can do it, it's Aaron," Polamalu said. "You know what you're going to get from him every play. He's such a smart player and his technique is so flawless."
Keisel has been studying Smith's game for years. "From the second I landed here, I've had my eyes on 91, just watching how he practices and how he gets himself ready to play."
Now, Smith is teaching Keisel and his other teammates something much more important.
He's teaching them how to deal with one of those tough breaks that life throws at all of us from time to time.
"The man's strength amazes me," Keisel said, tearing up again.
On and off the field.
October 19, 2008
Steelers pull away from Bengals
Ben Roethlisberger threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 50-yarder to Nate Washington, as the Steelers improved to 5-1 with a 38-10 win over the Bengals today.
Running back Mewelde Moore caught one of those touchdown passes and scored two more on the ground as the Steelers rolled to yet another win in Cincinnati.
The Steelers have not lost to the Bengals in Cincinnati since 2001. They play the defending Super Bowl champion Giants next Sunday at Heinz Field.
The Steelers took an early 10-0 lead today but let the Bengals, who are now 0-7, hang around at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals were only trailing 17-10 early in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger and Washington hooked up for a long touchdown for the second consecutive game.
The Steelers got a big game from Moore, who again started for the injured Willie Parker (knee), and put the game out of reach with a 2-yard touchdown run with just over five minutes left in the game.
Moore rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries, marking the first time since 2005 that he has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in a game.
Roethlisberger, meanwhile, shook off a sluggish start to throw for 216 yards on 17 of 28 of passing.
The Steelers sacked Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick seven times. Linebackers James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons all had two sacks apiece.
Safety Troy Polamalu (head) and cornerback Bryant McFadden (arm) each left the game in the second half because of injuries and did not return.
October 6, 2008
Bruised defense delivers in clutch
Bob Smizik-Post Gazette
With the Steelers running back corps decimated, the conventional wisdom was they would have to rely on their passing offense to secure a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Actually, there was another method of securing victory: Shut down the Jacksonville offense.
And that's what a gallant Steelers defensive until did last night at Jacksonville Memorial Stadium, helping the Steelers secure a 26-21 victory that sent them into a bye week with a 4-1 record and feeling good about the much-needed time off and even better about their prospects for the remainder of the schedule.
The Steelers have won four of five while being racked with injuries. If they can get healthier in the next 14 days, they'll be all the more formidable for the remaining 11 games.
It was an 8-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward with 1:53 remaining that won the game. But this was a victory achieved every bit as much by the might of the defensive unit, particularly the injury-ravaged line.
The Steelers had no right to expect what they got from their defense. Not with two starters -- end Brett Keisel and nose tackle Casey Hampton -- out of the lineup. But their backups more than did the job. Chris Hoke took over for Hampton and Travis Kirschke for Keisel. Orpheus Roye, who was signed Aug. 17, backed up Kirschke.
"I can't say enough about Hokey and Travis Kirschke," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "And how big is Orpheus Roye? We go get him late in the process and thankfully we have him. He's been delivering for us."
The running back tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, which tortured the Steelers last year, carried 15 times for 26 yards.
"There are lots of guys to mention," Tomlin said. "The pass rush we got from No. 92 [James Harrison]. Bryant McFadden ... you can run down the list. It was a great overall team win."
The Jacksonville point total was in no way a reflection of how well the Steelers defense played. The Jaguars might have finished with seven points -- not 21.
Their first touchdown came on a 72-yard interception return by Rashean Mathis. Their second touchdown was greatly aided by a 41-yard phantom penalty. They got the ball on the 1 late in the first quarter after Ike Taylor was called for pass interference in the end zone. Replays showed the contact came after the ball had sailed beyond the reach of receiver Matt Jones. Jones-Drew scored from the 1 to give the Jaguars the lead, 14-7.
The first-half dominance of the Steelers can best be shown by the statistics, not the point total. Jacksonville managed only four first down and 49 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes as the Steelers controlled the clock. The Jaguars did not get a first down on three of their four first-half possessions.
Momentum switched in the second half as the Steelers offense failed to get a first down in the third quarter and the Jaguars' offense took a forward step.
The first time the Jaguars got the ball in the second half they moved for two first down to the Steelers 36. From there, two passes failed and a third netted a holding penalty which left them in a third-and-20 situation. They were ripe for a blitz and linebacker Lamarr Woodley did just that -- nailing quarterback David Garrard for a 7-yard loss.
On their next possession, after Jones-Drew was stopped for no gain on third and 1, coach Jack Del Rio went for it on fourth down and Garrard passed 15 yards to Jones. But here the defense again held. Aaron Smith batted down a fourth-down pass by Garrard.
But the Jaguars were gaining confidence and the Steelers defense, getting little help from the offense, was wearing down. On the Jaguars next possession, which began late in the third quarter, they moved 76 yards on six plays for a go-ahead touchdown with 14:05 remaining. The score came after a crucial penalty against safety Ryan Clark. After a Garrard pass had gone incomplete, which would have left the Jaguars in a third-and-16 situation, Clark hit Jones after the play, an obvious 15-yard penalty. Given life, on the next play Garrard threw a 24-yard touchdown pass Marcedes Walker.
But the offense found a spark and came back for the go-ahead score.
That brought the defense out for one more stand. The Jaguars had the time -- 1 minute, 53 seconds -- and the timeouts -- two -- to get the job done. But they didn't have the ability to handle the Steelers defense. They managed one first down -- on a fourth-and-9 situation -- but nothing more. Harrison sacked Garrard for a 6-yard loss on second down and the next two passes were incomplete.
The defense held the Jaguars to 213 yards, more than 200 fewer than the Steelers accumulated. It was a stellar defensive effort and the major reason for the win.
September 23, 2008
A good effort by the defense
By: Teresa Varley-Steelers.com
The Eagles went into Sunday’s game against the Steelers as one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, averaging 37.5 points in their first two games. And the Steelers defense was ready for the challenge.
They held them to 15 points and allowed only 260 yards and 16 first downs, a performance which normally would solidify a Steelers win. It didn’t.
“I want to say right now that I have to thank our defense,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “They gave us many chances to win that game. They were the reason that we were able to stay close and have an opportunity to win the game. My hat goes off to our defense and the way they played -- it was something special.”
Special it was, but unfortunately special doesn’t go too far when you don’t win the game. This isn’t a team that looks for style points, they look for victories.
“We did still allow the Eagles to put 15 points up on the board,” said linebacker LaMarr Woodley. “We cannot totally be satisfied because we let them put up more points then we did. I do not worry what the offense does because on the defensive side, we have to keep the scoring down.”
The Steelers forced three Eagles turnovers with Bryant McFadden and Troy Polamalu both intercepting Donovan McNabb and McFadden adding a fumble recovery. It was a good sign for the defense, no doubt, but they still know there is work to be done.
“It is still really too early in the season right now to know where we are at,” said Woodley of the defense. “But when you lose, you have to go in and look at things and make some changes. We have to make some corrections, so it does not happen next week. I think we will come out next Monday and not make the same mistakes.”
September 21, 2008
Eagles shred Steelers, 15-6.
By: Scott Brown-Tribune-Review
An offensive line that had played reasonably well in the Steelers first two games got exposed today at Lincoln Financial field.
As a result, the Steelers have now lost eight consecutive games to the Eagles in Philadelphia.
The Eagles sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger eight times and never allowed the Steelers offense to get into a rhythm in a 15-6 victory.
The Steelers (2-1) managed just a pair of Jeff Reed field goals and have not scored a touchdown in their last six quarters.
Roethlisberger threw for just 131 yards on 13 of 25 passing, while Willie Parker managed just 20 rushing yards on 13 carries. Roethlisberger came out of the late in the fourth quarter and did not return.
The Steelers try to get back on track next Monday night when they plays the Ravens at Heinz Field.
Baltimore (2-0) leads the AFC North after beating the Browns today.
The Steelers forced three turnovers and played well enough on defense to win. Troy Polamalu and Bryant McFadden each intercepted a pass. McFadden, who started at cornerback in place of the injured Deshea Townsend, also recovered a fumble.
In the first half, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb completed his first 15 pass attempts in leading Philadelphia (2-1) to a 10-3 lead. McNabb, however, threw an interception late in the first half, setting up a 53-yard Jeff Reed field goal. Roethlisberger threw his first interception of the season and was sacked six times in the first half.
He lost a fumble in the second quarter that led to a David Akers field goal.
Reed had a pair of field goals and the 53-yarder, the longest of his career, cut the Eagles'A lead to 10-6, going into intermission. The Steelers got no closer in the second half as the Eagles relentless defense and the punting of Sav Rocca loomed large when the game turned into one of field position.
A lost fumble by Roethlisberger deep in Steelers territory with 3 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game all but ended any chances of a comeback.
September 7, 2008
Steelers slam Texans
Willie Parker rushed for 138 and a career-high three touchdowns and Ben Roethlisberger misfired on just one pass as the Steelers throttled the Texans, 38-17, today in front of a capacity crowd at Heinz Field.
The Steelers, who visit the Browns next Sunday, won their sixth consecutive season opener, which is the longest streak in the NFL. Parker showed no lingering effects from the broken leg that ended his 2007 season while Roethlisberger completed 13-of-14 passes for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns in front of an announced crowd of 64,001.
Roethlisberger came out of the game for good after his 16-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward with two minutes left in the third quarter allowed the Steelers to take a 35-3 lead.
Ward caught both of Roethlisberger's touchdown passes while hauling in six passes for 76 yards.
The Steelers' defense dominated the Texans and set the tone on the first possession of the game when it stopped Houston on a fourth-and-one near midfield.
LaMarr Woodley made his first NFL start a memorable one as he recorded a sacks, made an acrobatic interception and recovered a fumble.
Woodley's first career interception in the second quarter - he stopped a Matt Schaub pass with his left forearm and then caught the ball -- set up Ward's first touchdown reception of the game.
That gave the Steelers a 21-0 lead.
The Steelers looked like they were going to put the game away on Houston's ensuing possession after Troy Polamalu intercepted Schaub deep in Texans' territory. Houston defensive end Mario Williams, however, sacked Roethlisberger, forcing a fumble that DeMeco Ryans returned to the Steelers' 24-yard line.
A face-mark penalty moved the ball to the 12-yard line but the Steelers held and the Texans had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Kris Brown. The Steelers wasted little time in extending the 21-3 lead they had taken into halftime.
They marched 71 yards in 10 plays -- nine of them were runs -- on the opening possession of the second half. Parker capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run and Houston never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
August 31, 2008
Steelers unveil rejuvenated pass rush
By: Mike Prisuta-Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
They managed just one sack against Carolina. Then again, the urgency of approach was such in the Steelers' preseason finale Thursday night that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger departed having officially attempted zero passes.
The substitutes started hitting the field even before Roethlisberger called it a night, with several lining up the second time the Steelers positioned themselves to return a kickoff just over five minutes into the first quarter.
The starting offense and defense played just two series. And the Panthers starters didn't play at all.
The three previous preseason games the Steelers played weren't exactly perceived as make-or-break affairs, either.
But the combined 10 sacks they had collected against Philadelphia, Buffalo and Minnesota, including six from starting linebackers James Harrison, James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley and starting defensive end Aaron Smith, had the Steelers encouraged about the potential of their pass rush this season.
"We've got some guys individually that are rushing well that haven't played complete games," Tomlin said. "You envision those guys putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback."
Although the starters failed to add to their sack totals against Carolina, pressure generated from a blitz contributed to an interception by cornerback Bryant McFadden that ended the Panthers' second possession.
The ability to consistently generate such pressure is what matters to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Woodley, a second-year pro and first-year starter in Clark Haggans' vacated outside linebacker spot, concurs. "If you keep pressure on the quarterback, have him in there (in the pocket) with the happy feet, that's something we'd like to do and continue to do," Woodley said.
LeBeau's defenses have endeavored over the years to produce pressure through the disguising of coverages and blitzes that rely more on deception than overwhelming numbers.
The plan this year may involve taking deception to another level through the increased use of "walk-around" defenses in passing situations. The Steelers re-introduced these looks to their defense last season.
While remaining relatively basic in approach this preseason, they featured on occasion defenses in passing situations in which only Smith had has hand on the ground when the ball was snapped.
There's much more where that came from, defensive end Brett Keisel said, if the Steelers can perfect it.
"We have some nice things in place," Keisel said. "Whether we can all get on the same page and use them, I hope so. All that stuff can create a great deal of difficulty for an offense. You don't know who's coming (on a blitz) and that has a nice impact.
"We want to make them think we're doing one thing and do another. That's kinda the way the league is going. It's kind of developing into that type of scheme."
The Steelers approached last season intent on improving their pass rush. Their sacks total fell from 39 to 36 but they wound up No. 1 in the NFL in total defense after finishing ninth in 2006.
The intent for the regular season that begins Sept. 7 against Houston is to ramp up the pressure, pile up the sacks and have fun doing both.
"We're all kind of in a nice competition," Keisel said. "We're all kind of talking to each other about different sack dances and things like that. Hopefully, we can bust those out.
"We expect a lot from ourselves this year as far as getting to the quarterback."
August 28, 2008
Steelers beat Panthers 19-16
By Ed Bouchette-Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Jeff Reed kicked a 43-yard field goal with no time left to lift the Steelers to a 19-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers tonight at Heinz Field, ending their preseason schedule at 3-1.
The Panthers had tied the game 16-16 with 1:54 left on a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Basanez to Chris Hannon.
The Steelers led the Carolina Panthers 16-6 after three quarters of their final exhibition game in Heinz Field tonight.
Jeff Reed kicked his fourth field goal of the game, from 41 yards, for the only score in the quarter. He also missed one wide right from 43 yards.
The Steelers led the Panthers 13-6 at halftime.
The team's traded field goals in the second quarter: Jeff Reed kicked his third of the half, from 49 yards, and John Kasay of Carolina kicked his second, from 33 yards.
The Steelers took a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter against Carolina before a sparse audience at the North Shore stadium.
John Kasay kicked a 32-yard field goal for Carolina. The Steelers scored on Carey Davis' 6-yard run and Jeff Reed's 41-yard field goal.
August 23, 2008
Steelers defeat Vikes on field goals
By: Scott Brown-Trib-Review
Apparently no one wanted to answer to outside linebacker James Harrison.
Seeing its most (and probably last) extensive action of the preseason Saturday, the Steelers defense played with the kind of urgency and intensity that Harrison said –- well, huffed is more like it -- had been noticeably absent during the team’s first two exhibition games.
The Vikings managed just one touchdown in the almost three quarters they played against the Steelers’ first-team defense. And the Steelers dominated the line of scrimmage, shutting down Minnesota’s running back tandem of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor while sacking quarterback Gus Frerotte three times in a 12-10 win over the Vikings in front of a sellout crowd of 62,625.
Jeff Reed kicked a 47-yarder at the end of the game to deliver the victory.
Unfortunately for the Steelers (2-1 in preseason games), their offense hardly put on a clinic as it mostly sputtered amidst the ear-splitting noise inside the Metrodome. And its struggles probably left Mike Tomlin rubbing his temples more than anything in what amounted to something of a homecoming for the Steelers coach.
The Steelers couldn’t establish the run Saturday night and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger probably had to sidestep Minnesota’s pass rush too many times for Tomlin’s liking.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing the Steelers did in the opening two quarters -– the starters on offense didn’t play after halftime -- was unveil a new trick play. Not that the two times Willie Parker took a direct snap from center fooled the Vikings as the plays netted a grand total of five yards. Parkers rushed for just 18 yards on 10 carries Saturday night but at least the Pro Bowler hung onto the ball.
Rookie first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall fumbled on his second carry of the game -– the first of two he had Saturday -- and the Vikings recovered the loose ball at the Steelers’ 47-yard line late in the first quarter.
Frerotte, starting for the injured Tarvaris Jackson, completed three straight passes, moving the Vikings inside the Steelers’ 5-yard line. And Peterson broke a scoreless by diving into the end from the 1-yard line.
The Steelers went three and out on their ensuing possession but Ike Taylor gave them excellent position when he intercepted a Frerotte pass at Minnesota's 34-yard line. The offense netted only 18 yards during a nine-play drive and the Steelers had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Perhaps nothing better illustrated the timing issues the offense seemed to have Saturday night than the end of the Steelers’ only scoring drive in the first half. On third and 14 from Vikings’ 16-yard line, the offensive line gave Roethlisberger plenty of time to throw and Nate Washington flashed open near the goal line. The pass, however, sailed wide of Washington as he appeared to be moving in one direction while Roethlisberger threw it the other way.
The Steelers only have one more exhibition game before the start of the regular season. And the starters on both sides of the ball figure to play sparingly Thursday night when the Panthers visit Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger completed 10 of 17 passes against the Vikings but he managed just 65 yards passing. The top three Steelers’ wide receivers combined for two catches for 17 yards. Santonio Holmes did not have a reception.
Harrison and fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley each sacked Frerotte while defensive end Aaron Smith also recorded a take down of the Ford City native.
The news was not all good on the defensive side of the ball as starting inside linebacker Larry Foote left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
In the second half, Mendenhall rushed for 69 of his game-high 73 yards but he lost another fumble with the Steelers trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter and driving.
Reed, however, bailed him out with the game-winning field goal that came with less than four seconds to play.
August 21, 2008
Steelers sign LB James Farrior to 5-year deal
By: JOE MANDAK: timesleader.com
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed linebacker James Farrior to a five-year $18.25 million contract extension that includes a $5 million signing bonus.
Farrior, who is entering his 12th season, was signed through this season, but said he hoped to sign an extension that would keep him in Pittsburgh until he retired. Farrior's agent, Ralph Cindrich, said this contract will do that.
"That's the game plan, to finish out my career here," Farrior said. "The Steelers have been good to me, and I have put all my heart and soul into this, so I'll just try to close it out."
"James has played at an extremely high level the entire time I have been here," second-year coach Mike Tomlin said. "Not only is he an outstanding player, he's also an outstanding professional and, of course, he's an outstanding leader for us."
The meat of the contract is the first three seasons, valued at $12.6 million, including $10 million in the first two years. The last two years were tacked on primarily to ease the team's salary cap concerns, but Farrior said he hasn't ruled out playing beyond even the contract's fifth season.
"I'm going to go until they tell me I can't go no more," Farrior said. "I got five years on the deal, and I plan on playing it all. I'm going to be an old man. By the time I get out of here, I'm going to collect Social Security."
Fellow inside linebacker Larry Foote said Farrior is the kind of unique player who might be able to play that long.
"There are certain guys like that around the league, Junior Seau and James Farrior, guys that just keep playing," Foote said. "God just made him a defensive football player. Not a football player _ just a defensive football player."
Farrior played five seasons for the New York Jets before joining the Steelers as a free agent in 2002. He has been one of the Steelers' defensive co-captains since 2004 when he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl and was runner up for NFL defensive player of the year.
Farrior has missed just four of the Steelers' last 96 regular-season games, starting in all the others. He has 705 tackles in his six years with the team.
"He means everything to (the defense)," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "He's the heart and soul of our defense. He makes all the right calls, puts everyone in the right situations. We're all happy he'll be here a little bit longer."
August 20, 2008
Troy Polamalu was able to practice this week, and said he feels great.
Charlie Batch is also progressing well. His rehab has started and he was seen without the protective sling before training camp ended.
Santonio Holmes may be returning punts this week vs. Minnesota, so that should be fun to watch!
Tomlin says he will start Hartwig at center against the Vikings. He hopes to make a decision on the official starter at that position before the last preseason game.
The team is 1-1 in preseason play so far.
August 8, 2008
Steelers win preseason opener
By: Scott Brown-Tribune-Review
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was apparently as anxious to see Willie Parker as the media and fans.
The Steelers called Parker's number on the first three plays of their preseason opener tonight. And after his third carry, one in which Parker followed a block by left tackle Marvel Smith and ripped off an 11-yard gain, it became apparent that the Pro Bowl running back is up and running.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, who beat the Eagles, 16-10, one of their most important backups won't be running or throwing anytime soon.
Charlie Batch left the game in the first quarter with a broken collarbone. His loss leaves the Steelers with two rookies, fifth-round pick Dennis Dixon and undrafted free agent Mike Potts, behind Ben Roethlisberger and may compel the team to sign a veteran quarterback.
Parker had been the story before the Steelers announced Batch's injury. Playing in his first game since breaking his lower right leg last December, Parker gained 20 yards on three carries in the Steelers' win/loss to the Eagles at Heinz Field. His night ended long before the sun went down tonight -- and even before Santonio Holmes capped the Steelers' opening drive of the night with a 19-yard touchdown reception.
"It was big for me personally, getting on that field and running and getting everything all back," Parker said. "It's just like a dream come true. I've been thinking about this for a long time."
There weren't many conclusions to draw from the Steelers' first preseason game. And as entertainment value goes the action on the field may not have measured up to the Frisbee-catching dogs that performed right before kickoff and again during halftime.
As with Parker, the Steelers turned Roethlisberger into a spectator even before the first quarter had ended.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense made it look easy the one series the starters did play together. The Steelers marched 80 yards in just eight plays and gave the Eagles a steady dose of Parker and rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Roethlisberger completed both of his pass attempts for 38 yards before giving way to Batch. On Steelers' first touchdown, Holmes caught a short pass in the flat, put a couple of jukes on safety Brian Dawkins and raced past the perennial Pro Bowler as if he were a statue.
"It was a big statement about what our offense is going to be like in the games to comes," Holmes said.
Indeed, the Steelers' opening drive Friday gave a glimpse into how many weapons Roethlisberger may have at his disposal. That is especially true with Parker looking like he has fully recovered from the injury that ended his season in 2007 when he was leading the NFL in rushing.
Parker had been anything but gimpy during offseason practices. Questions, however, persisted about his health and Parker has grown tired of talking about whether he is 100 percent.
"You're going to have me in a mental institution soon, you keep talking about my leg," Parker said with a hint of a smile to reporters earlier this week.
If his leg holds up and Mendenhall emerges as a true complement to Parker, the Steelers' running game could be robust this season.
Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round pick in this year's draft, made a good first impression. He ran with authority and banged out 34 yards on seven carries in the first half.
"We ran the ball really well," Roethlisberger said. "I think it was awesome that the offensive line did a great job of run blocking."
August 5, 2008
Defense Wins Again
By: Bob Labriola-Steelers.com
Willie Parker was undefeated. Rashard Mendenhall got his first taste of the end zone. And Chris Kemoeatu is a difference-maker.
All of those things are true, but then so is this: the Steelers defense posted its second win in the goal-line drill, 4-2, when a tackle by rookie inside linebacker Mike Humpal on Justin Vincent clinched it.
“The goal-line drill was much better, it was spirited and I think No. 68 had something to do with that,” said Coach Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin would be referring to Chris Kemoeatu, the presumptive starter at left guard who returned to the field on Monday after spending the first week on the physically unable to perform list with a weak triceps. Playing with a brace, Kemoeatu pulled from his left guard spot to lead Willie Parker into the end zone over the right side of the line of scrimmage on the first play of the drill.
Neither Parker nor Kemoeatu participated in the first version of goal-line, also won by the defense but with the first-team offense going 0-for-3.
“It was nice for me to get into the end zone,” said Parker. “I told the defensive guys that I was going to get two cracks at it, and I was going to be undefeated. I only got one chance, but I did what I had to do.”
Rashard Mendenhall got the next two carries, and he scored standing up on the second of those. On the first, he was stopped short because it seemed as though James Farrior clogged the hole by taking on Kemoeatu and not giving any ground.
After Mendenhall’s two carries, the offense had a 2-1 lead. The defense got into a 2-2 tie when Trai Essex false-started from his guard spot, and then the defense took a 3-2 lead when Andre Frazier kept Gary Russell out of the end zone on a play around the right end. Humpal then ended it by filling the hole and stopping Vincent.
“He was better. He was downhill,” said Tomlin about Mendenhall. “He went in standing up one time, but it’s a unit thing, and no doubt Chris’ presence was a difference for us. We pulled him. It is what he does – he’s a road-grader, a violent run blocker and we ran behind him.”
The Steelers also used a formation in which three of their tight ends and Max Starks all were on the field in eligible positions at the same time.
“It’s something we’re exploring – ways of getting big people on the perimeter and making people defend more gaps,” said Tomlin. “That’s part of our football, and we feel like we have some quality tight ends working. It’s something we’re looking at.”
Another thing that stood out during the evening practice here was the four interceptions recorded by the defense. Bryant McFadden started at right cornerback with Deshea Townsend sidelined with an injury, and he had one interception and also made a pretty play to knock another pass away that was intended for Heath Miller.
“We had another spirited practice this afternoon, an example of the ebb and flow of training camp. That was one of the points I made to the team,” said Tomlin. “We have been talking about being opportunistic on defense and catching balls, and that’s a good sign. But at the same time we can’t be careless with the football on offense, particularly with some of the young men.
“Sometimes those things show when you have a guy like No. 7 limited and some of the younger guys stepping up in his place, but four interceptions is unacceptable. At the same time I’m excited about what I saw from the defensive standpoint, because we had opportunities and we cashed in.”
INJURY REPORT: William Gay (groin), Deshea Townsend (groin), Anthony Trucks (lower back), Anthony Smith (groin) did not practice. Jordan Reffert was excused to be with his wife who had a baby.
August 3, 2008
Defense wins Round 1
By: Bob Labriola-Steelers.com
LATROBE – Why would 80-odd adult males get so excited about one drill at the end of a practice on the eighth day of a training camp, with the first real game still 35 days into the future?
“Bragging rights,” said James Farrior.
“It’s fun,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “We have to remember sometimes that this is a game, and these guys love to play this game. It’s great to give them a chance to have some fun.”
The defense had all of the fun at Saint Vincent College on Sunday during the first installment of goal-line, the only live tackling drill at training camp. Tomlin’s version of the drill was as follows: “It’s going to be the best of seven; we’re going to put the ball just outside the 1-yard line and the first group to four wins. It could be four snaps, it could be seven. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
There were the full seven snaps, but when the last one was run the defense already had clinched the win with a 4-2 lead. The defense also won the last one to make the final, 5-2.
“Anytime the defense steps out there and stuffs the first offense three plays in a row to set the tone for the drill, you have to give the win to them,” said Tomlin. “The offense did a nice job of recovering but the defense is the winner.”
Rashard Mendenhall got the first two carries in the drill, and three overall, and he was stopped all three times. Farrior and James Harrison did it the first time; Larry Foote and Ike Taylor took care of him the second time.“He’s got to run harder, not overanalyze, understand what that drill is about,” said Tomlin. “It’s about hitting it downhill, and hopefully next time out he’ll be better.”
Gary Russell and Justin Vincent scored for the offense, but Vincent’s touchdown was protested by the defensive unit.
“Kevin Jordan, the chaplain, was the line judge,” said Tomlin. “I figured that if you put the chaplain on the line you get less beefs and complaints, and I think it worked out. I’m not going to second-guess the chaplain. He said he scored, so he scored.”
If Vincent got some help from above, Russell looked to be the team’s best option because he is able to get down so low. Of all the current backs on the roster, Russell looks the most like Jerome Bettis down at the goal line.
“He doesn’t over-analyze,” said Tomlin about Russell. “He gets his pads down and he finishes downhill. It’s one of his distinguishing characteristics, and he has value in that regard.”
As for Mendenhall, this was his first time carrying the football in a live tackling drill at the NFL level, and he admitted it was a different experience.
“It was coming fast, man, and that’s what the NFL is,” said Mendenhall. “It was a learning experience and I’m glad I was a part of that. The next time I’ll be a little bit more prepared.”
When asked if the hitting was harder and the intensity higher than anything he had experienced, his answer was matter-of-fact. “Oh, yeah. Just look at James Harrison. I don’t think you find too many college guys looking like that.”
INJURY UPDATE: Ben Roethlisberger (groin) was limited due to a groin, but he did participate in goal-line. Cody Boyd (shoulder) was limited. Mike Humpal (hamstring), Dezmond Sherrod (stiff neck), Anthony Smith (groin) and LaMarr Woodley (groin) did not practice. Tomlin said the team is simply waiting on a piece of protective equipment for Chris Kemoeatu’s triceps before he returns to the field. Tomlin said he expects Kemoeatu to return to the field early this week.
As for Troy Polamalu, Tomlin said, “It could be three days, it could be a week.”
On Casey Hampton: “That process is still running its course,” said Tomlin. “He and I met today, and we’ll continue to move forward, but he’s not where we want him yet.”
July 31, 2008
Inside the Ropes
By: Mike Prisuta-Tribune-Review
An inside look at Steelers training camp ...
2-for-2: The offense scored on consecutive drives in two-minute situations during Tuesday afternoon's practice at St. Vincent College.
Taking possession at the 38-yard line with 1:41 on the clock and one timeout and needing a touchdown, QB Ben Roethlisberger drove the first-team offense 62 yards in 10 plays, converting a TD on fourth-and-seven from the 12 with nine seconds remaining. Roethlisberger hit WR Nate Washington for the score. Washington made a leaping grab of a high, hard pass and managed to get his feet down in the back of the end zone at the expense of S Tyrone Carter and LB James Farrior.
Roethlisberger, working with four WRs and either Willie Parker or Mewelde Moore at RB, went 7-for-8 passing for 62 yards on the march, not counting a pair of spikes to stop the clock.
Coach Mike Tomlin served as an observer and part-time commentator. "You gotta love the drama," Tomlin said prior to the fourth-down attempt. "Somebody is about to make a football play."
DE Brett Keisel, part of the 4-2-5 pass defense employed to stop the drive, cried foul after Washington had scored.
"(Roethlisberger) was sacked like eight times," Keisel protested.
QBs aren't tackled in practice.
Pass-catchers were touched down in the drill.
Backup QB Charlie Batch led the second-team offense into the end zone against the second-team defense, finding WR Limas Sweed for a big gainer over the middle and then hitting Sweed on a fade over CB Anthony Madison on the next snap for the touchdown.
Having some fun: The Steelers unveiled a new formation toward the end of the final 11-on-11 period of the day. It featured Roethlisberger sprinting from the backfield to a position at WR, and the ball being snapped directly to Parker or Moore.
"Just having a little fun," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.
When asked if the Steelers might resort to such a formation in a game, Arians replied "you never know."
Special-teams demon: LB Lawrence Timmons figures to be busy on special teams this season if the early drills in camp are any indication.
Timmons is running with the first groups on the punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return teams.
Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney stated, “I have spent my entire life devoted to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League. I will do everything possible to work out a solution to ensure my father’s legacy of keeping the Steelers in the Rooney family and in Pittsburgh for at least another 75 years.”
Steelers President Art Rooney II stated, “There is no reason to believe that the current internal discussions will have any impact on our fans or on our team this season or in the seasons to come.”
June 17, 2008
Keisel says teammate Aaron Smith is "good to go".
In Pro Football Weekly's 'Whispers' this week, Keisel talks about Smith's recovery from a torn bicep last season.
Steelers DLE Aaron Smith has been limited in practice this offseason after suffering a torn right biceps last December, but he has done some work on the side, including hitting the blocking sled, and what teammate Brett Keisel has seen has been encouraging.
“He looks good to go, from my standpoint,” said Keisel, the Steelers’ other starting defensive end.
“Aaron is a beast, and I took a lot of what I know from watching him for four years.”
2012 OTA's (Organized Team Activities).
Brett with a big smile on his face at OTA's last year. The Steelers will have their first OTA session beginning May 21. Scroll down to view the 2013 offseason workout schedule.
Scroll down for information on Da Beard Gear, Brett's new salsa, Fear the Beard prints, Events and Appearances, Ask the Diesel questions and much more!
Pro Bowl 2013
Vote for your Steelers players HERE.
This is the official Steelers ballot, so as you click each position, the eligible Steelers will appear first.
Thank you to Matt Solomowitz for creating the Pro Bowl slogan seen above!
Quick Updates & Interviews
Keisel on the Hines Ward Show:
Brett talks about Da Beard, 65 Roses Sports Auction and the loss to Oakland.Watch here.
From September 7, 2012:
Keisel talks with Mike Prisuta, WDVE about the upcoming game in Denver and how he's excited to have lots of friends and family there.
From September 5, 2012:
Tall Cathy from 96.1 started her "Five Questions" Segment, which will appear weekly.
From Tall Cathy: When I first walked into the locker room, Brett Keisel immediately approached me to say hello and was kind enough to agree to be the first victim of my 5 question segment!
Brett will tell you about his favorite cartoon growing up, his itunes playlist, first car, favorite food and what's hiding inside of his beard! Thanks to Brett for being such a great sport & to Max Starks for the photo bomb.
Listen to the interview here.
From August 19, 2012:
Post Game press conference after win over the Colts.
From August 7, 2012:
Keisel's interview with NFL AM.
From August 3, 2012;
Keisel sits down with the WDVE Morning Crew for a training camp interview.
The Da Beard Gear crew has been busy making sure you stay warm this winter!
Three new items were recently added to the store.
One is a long sleeve Da Beard Football shirt: Our new "Da Beard Football" long-sleeve tee is Port & Company brand. The front reads "Da Beard Football" with "Da Beard" logo in the center of the chest. The back reads "Keisel 99" with a faux zig-zag stitch to replicate the numbers that are sewn on the actual jersey.
Next, is a winter hoodie: Stay warm this winter while sporting our latest "Da Beard" hoodie. The hoodie is black in color and brand is Port & Company. It features the "Da Beard" logo in camo on the center chest with "Keisel 99" on the right sleeve.
And, to keep your head warm, a visor: This visor beanie is Yupong brand. The "Da Beard" logo is embroidered and offset toward the left temple of the hat. The logo measures 3 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide. One size fits most, uni-sex.
Click the Store link at the top of this page to GET YOUR BEARD ON with Keisel's official Da Beard merchandise line.
Also, you can listen to the famous WDVE "Fear the Beard" song!
Watch #99 and the Steelers play while decked out in your Da Beard gear!
Visit Da Beard to GET YOUR BEARD ON!
The site offers fans a chance to purchase official Brett "The Diesel" Keisel beard gear. Brett's famous beard captured the national spotlight and was one of the most talked about topics during Media Week at Super Bowl XLV.
From Michael David Smith, PFT:
"Super Bowl week is when legends are made: Joe Namath’s guarantee. Lynn Swann’s catch. John Elway’s helicopter.
And now we can add one more..."
Brett Keisel’s beard.
“The beard — the beard is why we’re here.” -Brett Keisel, from a Super Bowl XLV press conference.
Be sure to purchase your Da Beard t-shirts and hats so you can wear them to games or wherever you cheer on the Steelers. The link to Da Beard Gear is above under "Store" or above under the Da Beard logo. Da Beard Gear is the official merchandise line of Brett Keisel.
The Da Beard crew has added larger sized adult t-shirts and kids gear! They also added some new t-shirt designs fans will love, along with drink koozies and stickers. Thank you for your continued support of Brett Keisel's official site and merchandise line.
Residents and visitors of Greybull, Wyoming (Brett's hometown) can now purchase Da Beard gear there. Stop by the Greybull Building Center atlocated at 617 1st Avenue South in Greybull to check out their selection of Da Beard merchandise.
Also, Hometown Sports in the Pittsburgh area now carry Da Beard Gear!
If you own a store, and are interested in carrying Da Beard Gear, please email us. The email address is at the top of this page, under Contact.
Fear the Beard Prints
This amazing painting was created by artist, Scott Spillman .
“Fear the Beard” is now available in a very special limited edition Giclee print. Brett owns the original, but Scott is offering fans a chance to purchase a print.
This print is of the highest quality and limited to a very small edition of only 500 prints. The prints are available in 16 x 20 inches. Each print is hand signed and numbered by Scott Spillman, the artist, and comes with a certificate of authenticity.
The cost is as follows:
For 16 x 20 signed and numbered prints - $55.00. Shipping is not included.
You can see a closer view of the painting here.
If you would like a larger size than 16 x 20, please contact Scott to discuss it.
Ready to add this one-of-a-kind print to your collection?
Click here to order and to visit Mr. Spillman's website.
Brett "The Diesel" Keisel salsa
Order online here.
It can also be purchased at Western PA Giant Eagle stores.
We are excited to announce the launch of BRETT "THE DIESEL" KEISEL SALSA!
From the PLB Sports website:
Brett Keisel of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Geronimo Salsa are proud to present the BRETT “THE DIESEL” KEISEL line of salsas, which are available in 3 flavors: Mild, Medium, and Hot. Get your jar today! It is a must have for any Black & Gold tailgate party.
FEAR “DA BEARD”, LOVE THE SALSA!
It is available at Western PA Giant Eagle stores. Don't worry if you are not able to get to Western PA, PLB Sports has you covered! You can order the salsa directly from the from the PLB Sports website!
While on their site, be sure to check out the long list of other products they offer. PLB Sports is located in Pittsburgh, PA, and is the # 1 Website for Sports & Celebrity Endorsed Products.
Come on Steeler Nation, this is your chance to include Keisel at your next tailgate party or get together-Keisel salsa that is! This is a one-of-a-kind item, with Brett's face right on the label... makes for a great collectors item. Brett says the salsa is GREAT, and we know you will love it too.
Show your love for Da Beard and GET YOUR SALSA ON!
Click here to see a closer view of the salsa jar label.
Carol Maurin Photography-Fundraiser
Photographer Carol Maurin offers some unique photos of Keisel, with and without his legendary beard. You can order prints, mugs, photo key tags, mousepads, buttons and magnets with Keisel's image. All proceeds from the sales go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Homeless Children's Education Fund.
The prices are great and you will be helping out two worthwhile causes with your order.
To check on prices, click on the photo you are interested in. Next, click at the bottom right of the page on "Add to Cart" and the prices will appear. At the top right of the price chart you will see Prints and Products. The prints are the prices to order prints of the photo, and the products are the mugs, buttons and other novelty items.
Pro Bowl 2013
Vote for your Steelers players HERE.
This is the official Steelers ballot, so as you click each position, the eligible Steelers will appear first.
Thank you to Matt Solomowitz for creating the Pro Bowl slogan seen above!
Aaron Smith talks with WHIRL magazine about #99:
Brett is my wingman. I can't say enough about him. He's a great guy, but a great competitor, too. As good of a football player he is, he is an even better person."
Casey Hampton talks with WHIRL magazine about his teammate:
"Brett is a cool cat. He is a country guy with a little swagger--And you rarely ever find that."
Coach Mike Tomlin talks about signing Keisel to a new deal-2009.
“He’s ridiculously competitive. He has a mean streak, something that is necessary to play the position that he plays,” Tomlin said.
“He takes a great deal of pride in his work and he doesn’t care who gets the credit. A lot of times when you play defensive end in our scheme, it’s a lot of dirty work, occupying blocks, playing with great pad level, creating opportunities for others, such as James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, who benefit greatly from the work of our ends.
He embraces all of that and does it with a smile on his face. He embodies the things that we value as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
NFL analyst Troy Aikman talks about Keisel:
"Brett Keisel, in my opinion, is really one of the great players in this league. I mean, this is a guy, an emotional leader, who missed some time, and him being back has really given this defense a lift. He's not a guy who you see with alot of sacks, but someone who is very disruptive. He runs sideline to sideline; an extremely versatile player. "
Keisel talks about how the team didn't let numerous injuries define them:
"It's testament to the character of this team and the players we have waiting to come in and play. When they get their opportunity and they come in and play and we win, it says something about this team."
Teammate Aaron Smith talking about Keisel:
“I think Brett’s really coming into his own. I think this is the chance for him to have a Pro Bowl year.” “He’s feeling more comfortable, more confidence. He’s a great player. It’s just a matter of him maturing.”
He had an unbelievable camp in practices. There aren’t too many guys who can block him in practice.”
Brett and Cameron Heyward judging the chili at the Nemacolin Five Alarm Mountain Madness Chili Cook-off last year.
Photo from Matt Stark.
Brett will once again put on his "judges" hat to help vote the winner of the Nemacolin Five Alarm Mountain Madness Chili Cook-off.
4th Annual Five Alarm Mountain Madness Chili Cook-Off
Date: June 8, 2013
Time: 11:00 A.M.
Location: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Event information: here.
2013 Offseason Workouts
The Steelers’ 2013 offseason program will begin on Monday, April 15, and it will conclude with a three-day mandatory minicamp scheduled for mid-June.
For more information on offseason workouts, please click here.
Ask The Diesel
Kids (and adults)...got a question for Brett "The Diesel" Keisel?
Well, The Diesel himself wants to answer your questions! Email them to us and we'll send them to THE DIESEL. My email is at the top of the site under CONTACT.
Please include your name and where you are from (if you wish).
Depending on the number of questions we receive, we cannot guarantee a response to every question. Please be considerate, and refrain from any personal or offensive questions. This is a great way for fans to get to know Mr. Keisel a little off the field so let's keep it clean and fun!
Q & A:
I live in central Pennsylvania and love to kayak and fish. My question is: Brett I know you are an outdoorsman but have you had the chance to fish for any PA smallmouth? If so, what's your personal best? Secondly you are in PRIME musky country In Pitt. Have you got a chance to hunt any muskies? You are my favorite player on and off the field. Thank you for your time man!- Rob Swann
I haven't had the chance to fish for either. Todd Haley says he knows a good place for Musky and agreed to take me sometime.
Does the added weight of da beard give his neck and delts more of a workout? - Connie-- long time Steelers fan in Arizona
DaBeard is light as a feather and strong as a Bull.
I was wondering if there's any kind of crazy things/ adventures ( like a bucket list) that you'd like to do?- Dan, NYC
I would like to sky dive one day.
What has been your favorite game so far in your career?- Bob Simmons, Hudson, NY
Hard to pick a favorite. Tough to beat 2 Super Bowl victories.
I know that Mr. Keisel is an avid hunter but I am not sure of his shoe size. I wear a size 15 and cannot find hunting boots in that size. If it were possible in passing to find out what outfitter he used to have boots made, it would be greatly appreciated. - Justin Doty
I wear a 14. Cabela's has some large sizes as well as Gander Mountain.
Any advise for a young DE player?- Michael Jablonski Worthington, Ohio
Don't let anyone outwork you.
I am always wondering what does it take to be a professional football player? What is your motivation to step on the field and be the greatest of all? And one completely irrelevant question, what genre of music do u listen to?- Sina Talebian
There is a lot of work that's involved in being a Pro. You have to handle business when nobody is watching. Do all the little things that will help you succeed. I have a strong desire to win, and I love to compete. I listen to everything..depends on what mood I'm in. My favorite band is Pearl Jam.
Where can I find your jersey, man? I have checked Steelers.com and NFL.com. Any idea where to find adult and youth sizes. I see fans on message boards & all over social media looking for them so I know they would be a big seller! - John Timmons Chicago, IL
Thanks. I'm working on getting jerseys to sell on my website. Stay tuned.
What is your favorite childhood memory?-- Haydee S. -New Mexico
As a young boy my favorite memory was camping with my parents and brothers and sisters.
Brett, what is the name of the company that make those wrist guards/braces that you and alot of players wear. Been trying to find them everywhere with no success for my son who's a D lineman. Any help would greatly be appreciated! Thanks!-- Scott Kramer
Donjoy makes the wrist rockets I wear. They work great.
What is your favorite food?-- Gabe Johnson, Pittsburgh PA. (By the way I love my Da Beard Gear. Getting ready to order some more!).
My favorite food is Meat and Taters.
What is your recommendation for a great dinner spot for a first time Burgh visitor? --Ashley Meade
There are several great places to eat but if you come to Pittsburgh you have to try Primanti's. (Click here for locations and menu.).
What is one of your favorite vacation spots?-- Brandon M., Chicago, IL.,/b>
The Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.
One place we must visit when coming to Pittsburgh for the first time-besides Heinz Field? --Sarah Evans
Mt. Washington. Incredible view of the city.
I know you love to hunt. Do you eat the wild game and if so, what is your favorite? I like deer meat. - Submitted by Emily Cooper (Age 11).
I do love to hunt. And yes, I enjoy venison. My favorite is probably moose or a young elk.
Do you get on the net much ,and if so, what are your favorite sites (besides your own)? -Submitted by Becky Miller (the amazing artist who created several of our Keisel Kam designs and the Pro Bowl logo used last year on the site. Check out her artist page on the Links page above.)
In a street fight, who would you pick to win: Troy's hair or Keisel's beard? - Submitted by Anne Cooper.
Troy's hair and Dabeard are best friends. They would never fight.
Would you consider dying your beard pink for the Breast Cancer Awareness Game? - Submitted by Sarah Swenson.
No, but I do wear shoes and wristbands for breast cancer awareness. I also support the Bid for Hope event that my friends Heath and Katie Miller host every year.
Bid for Hope is an event that benefits breast cancer research and will be held on October 17, 2011. You can read more about it on the "Brett in the Community" page (the link is under the banner above).
How many brothers and sisters do you have? I have 4 sisters and I like them but would really like some brothers because sometimes they drive me crazy! - Submitted by Jeremy Stephens (age 8).
I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
What is your favorite dessert?
Ice cream and cake.
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Hawaiian pizza with cracker crust.
Last movie you went to theatre to see?
Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Diesel gives this 3 out of 5 stars.
If you were not a football player, what career would you choose?
Pro Basketball player.
Who is your favorite super hero?
FYI-Be sure to go see the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" when it comes out...Keisel, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller and other teammates filmed a scene for it!
Keep the fun going by emailing your questions for #99 to answer. And, keep checking back to see when we post new questions and answers. This may be a good place to get contest questions from so keep up with your Ask the Diesel fun facts!
I will post any games I locate here, but it is not the full Steelers Basketball schedule. Please be aware...I have no information as to which players will appear at each game.
March 15: Poland Seminary High School.
For information click: here.
March 16: Bethel Park HS Gym.
For information click: here.
March 22: Washington, PA.
For information click: here.
March 23 and March 24: West York, PA.
For information click: here.
At home with Brett
Brett loves to spend time at home, relaxing and being a dad. He is also an outdoorsman whose hobbies include fishing and hunting, things he did while growing up in Wyoming.
Your favorite home-cooked meal: Meatloaf.
Your cooking speciality: Pot roast.
Three things in your refrigerator: Milk, water and snacks.
What's on TV: The Outdoor Channel.
Your TV-watching snack: Popcorn.
What do you do to relax at home: Play with my son.
More to come..so check back!
Brett works with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation each year by hosting the 65 Roses Sports Auction. The event raises money for CF.
This annual sports spectacular features a live auction with autographed memorabilia from every sport imaginable! Join the Pittsburgh Steelers, national and local celebrities for this evening of fun, food and fantastic sports items. You can own your own piece of sports history by bidding on items from the legends of the game and enjoy autograph opportunities.
For information on Cystic Fibrosis and the foundation, click here.
Annual information about the 65 Roses Sports Auction will be in the Events and Appearances section, when available.
The Keisel's work with the Homeless Children's Education Fund.
Their Mission: To serve as a voice for the homeless children of Allegheny County and to ensure they are afforded equal access to the same educational opportunities and experiences as their peers.
For more information on Homeless Children's Education Fund, click here.
Tellman Knudson is running barefoot across the country to raise money for youth homelessness in America.
Knudson is trying to raise $100,000,000.00 to aid homeless youth in a project called RunTellmanRun.
"Sounds crazy, right? I get that a lot. But I live by a guiding principle: If you don’t set yourself extremely ambitious goals, nothing great will ever be accomplished.
Brett and Sarah Keisel have long been involved with charities for homeless youth, so Tellman's cause was right up their alley. They met with him in Pittsburgh, and visited The Hub Outreach Center. Brett graciously signed two footballs which will be auctioned to raise much-needed funds for The Hub.
To read about their visit, and about Tellman's amazing journey, click here.
You can also donate money or leave comments about his wonderful cause through the link.