"I am trying to free myself up to do a little global thinkin'."
Tony Soprano, from Season 4, Episode 8 of "The Sopranos"
angle on the ankle
With offensive linemen like Max Starks, who needs pass rushers?
I was really hoping to get through Steelers training camp with big-picture columns every few days, rather than daily updates
on every fart and sneeze from camp. I wish I could be up-to-the-minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on this site. But
like everyone else, I'm a busy person.
One of the things not filling my schedule is parenthood. Yet Ben Roethlisberger
has given me a taste of what it's like to have to drop everything for a crying child.
Big Ben has a boo-boo.
Thursday afternoon, on the last day of training camp, Steelers left tackle Max Starks was trying to block teammate
James Harrison during a drill when he fell on top of Roethlisberger's ankle. Roethlisberger walked off the field with a noticeable
limp and sat out the rest of practice with a towel on his head, looking like The Great Cornholio.
The injury doesn't
appear serious. And it gave Roethlisberger the opportunity to practice the "look-more-injured-than-you-are" drill.
He really didn't get to practice that enough during training camp since it took so long for his arm to get up to speed.
Despite what the Steelers are saying, we really don't know how serious the injury is. There is the possibility
Roethlisberger is more injured than they're letting on, or that this is the type of thing that will nag for the entire season.
Well, guess what? Roethlisberger will have a lot of little aches and pains bothering him this season. It's part of
the job. At least now he's broken in.
"All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy. Think
I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify. Can you help me occupy my brain?"
by Black Sabbath
Any Given Sabbath
In my last post, I said I
would point out why the Steelers' schedule this season might not be as easy as it seems.
Due to outside forces,
which I really hope I don't have to get into, it's taken me longer than I would have liked to deliver on that promise.
Since my last update, the Steelers have beaten the Cardinals 20-10 in their first preseason game. There were no major
injuries. Limas Sweed looks like he's got his shit together (click here to see how far Sweed has come). Rookies Ziggy Hood, Mike Wallace and Joe Burnett all look promising. Undrafted rookie Isaac Redman looks like he could
be the short-yardage back the Steelers have lacked since Jerome Bettis. And the story told by Ben Roethlisberger's accuser looks
like it's falling apart.
So at the moment, it's all sunshine and lollipops in Latrobe. But I'm going
to have to be the skunk at the lawn party here. Hey, I promised paranoia. And I will deliver.
had a combined winning percentage of .435 last season. But as we learned the last time the Steelers tried to defend a Super
Bowl title, we can't take anything for granted. So here is what we need to look out for in 2009:
Tennessee: If they hadn't coated their hands with cooking oil against the Ravens in the playoffs last season, the
Titans would have hosted the AFC championship game against the Steelers, who they beat by 17 four weeks earlier.
WEEK 2, at Chicago: The Steelers and Bears have had a lot of the same shitty quarterbacks, guys
like Mike Tomczak, Jim Miller and am I the only one who either didn't know or can't remember that Kordell Stewart
played nine games at quarterback for the Bears in 2003? Anyway, considering that the Bears have at least been respectable
through the years despite not having a quarterback, they could be downright scary with a real quarterback like Jay Cutler.
WEEK 3, at Cincinnati: I'm going to go with the adage that you can never underestimate an opponent
in your division when you're on the road, no matter how putrid they are.
WEEK 4, San Diego: The
Chargers have Shawne Merriman back. We'll see just how much that Steelers' O-Line has improved.
at Detroit: Phil Luckett Day at Ford Field.
WEEK 6, Cleveland: Eric Mangini has an unbeaten
all-time record against the Steelers. He's 1-0.
WEEK 7, Minnesota: A matchup of the coolest coach
in the NFL, Mike Tomlin, against the geekiest coach in the NFL, Brad Childress. I fear Childress will inspire his team the
night before the game with a viewing of "Revenge of the Nerds."
WEEK 9, at Denver: Ryan
Clark, the most underrated player on the Steelers defense now that Larry Foote is gone, might have to sit this one out, considering
the thin mountain air almost killed him the last time the Steelers played in Denver.
WEEK 10, Cincinnati:
The Bengals mean business this season. No arrests since June 1.
WEEK 11, at Kansas City: Matt
Cassel committed a few turnovers when the Steelers beat the Patriots last season. But if he hangs onto the football the way
Larry Johnson hangs onto Troy Polamalu's hair, the Steelers could be in trouble.
WEEK 12, at Baltimore:
The Steelers, not the Patriots, could have been the NFL's first 16-0 team. But the Ravens beat them in Week 2 when they
finished 15-1 in 2004. Could the Ravens again foil a perfect season? What I'm trying to say is that this is the game the Steelers
are most likely to lose.
WEEK 13, Oakland: The Raiders traded defensive lineman Derrick Burgess
to the Patriots. Burgess had a combined 27 sacks in 2005 and 2006. If this guy isn't over the hill, it's a steal for the Patriots.
So clearly this is a vast conspiracy against the Steelers. The Raiders probably will suck this year, but by handing Burgess
to them on a silver (and black) platter, they're helping the Patriots in their battle with the Steelers for AFC supremacy.
I say it's very logical to conclude it's a conspiracy.
WEEK 14, at Cleveland: See Week 3.
WEEK 15, Green Bay: New Packer Anthony Smith will guarantee a Steelers win.
Baltimore: The Ravens were moaning and whining about always playing at night when they're in Pittsburgh. Maybe there's
a reason. Since 2005, the Steelers are 4-0 against the Ravens in Pittsburgh at night, and the Ravens are 1-0 in Pittsburgh
during the day. The Ravens got their wish. This is a day game.