Steelers OTA’s – Pouncey Injured

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review is reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers first round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey was injured during the team’s spring OTA’s (organized team activities.)

The injury does not appear to be serious, but injuries during spring drills are never welcome news, and Pouncey’s was not the first, after beleaguered wide receiver Limas Sweed was lost to an Achilles tendon injury a few weeks ago.

Interestingly enough, the Steelers do have an unfortunate precedent of seeing first round picks injured during spring practices and/or non-contact drills.

In 1998, 1997 first round pick Chad Scott was lost for the year when he tore his ACL during spring practices. Likewise, in the early days of his rookie training camp the 1991 draft round Huey Richardson managed to break his nose during non-contact drills. Huey Richardson, who recorded token apperances in five games with the Steelers as a rookie before being traded to the Redskins, went on to become on of the NFL’s “greatest” all time draft busts.

…Based on today’s news — Ed Bouchette reported in PG Plus that Pouncy finished practice — it seems that Pouncy is following different footsteps, and Steelers Nation can be thankful if that is the case.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Sweed Out, Roethlisberger Evaluations Complete, Steelers Sign Isaiah Williams…

The news that the Steelers placed Limas Sweed on the injured reserve list came as no surprise after the unlucky wide receiver had injured his Achilles tendon a few weeks back during spring practice.

By placing him on IR, the Steelers were making Sweed ineligible to play for the duration of the 2010 season. Sweed most likely will want to attempt a comeback, but the beleaguered former second round pick from the 2008 draft faces an uphill battle.

To take Sweed’s spot on the off season roster, the Steelers signed former Baltimore Ravens free agent rookie Isaiah Williams. Williams was signed by the Ravens following the 2009 NFL draft, but was cut before opening day.

Roethlisberger Evaluations Complete, For Now…

The NFL has reported that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed the medical and psychological evaluations ordered by the NFL. He has still not been given permission to return to the team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could allow the Ben resuming activities with the team in advance of his 6 game suspension, or he could order more tests. The Post-Gazette report indicated that Roethsliberger’s team felt he would rejoin the team soon.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Limas Sweed Injures Achilles Tendon

Perhaps some things are just not meant to be.

Limas Sweed entered the 2008 draft as a potential first round pick, only to fall to the bottom of the second round because of injury concerns. The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted no time in snapping Sweed up when it came their turn to pick in the second round.

Sweed made it onto the field late in 2008, earning a reputation for burning past coverage only to drop perfectly thrown balls, has now suffered another set back. More of the same continued in 2009, including a drop that arguably cost the Steelers the first Cincinnati game.

The Steelers placed Sweed on the non-football injury list, and it is largely believed that this was due to psychological issues that Sweed had as a result of his on the field failures.

The Steelers, clearly did not count on Sweed making a rebound, resigning Antwaan Randle El and drafting Emmanuel Sanders in the 2010 draft’s third round.

Undeterred, Sweed started a new, switched numbers, and prepared to fight for a starting job.

Unfortunately disaster, it appears, has struck again for Sweed, as both the Post-Gazette and are reporting that Sweed injured his Achilles tendon during the Steelers 2010 mini-camp.

An Achilles tendon injury is one of the most serious injuries that an athlete can face, particularly a wide receiver. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but he did leave the Steelers complex on the South Side on crutches.

Anything other than a mild injury would certainly end Sweed’s year and could easily jeopardize his career.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Joey Galloway, Jared Retkofsky Join Steelers

The Steelers today took steps to shore up their ailing receiving corps. as Joey Galloway joined the active roster. This move came one day after Limas Sweed was ruled out for the rest of the year for “personal reasons.”

It was also announced that Hines Ward’s hamstring is still bothering him and rookie Mike Wallace bruised a knee during Sunday’s victory over Green Bay.

The Steelers had attempted to sign Galloway during the off season, but he opted to play for New England instead, where he caught 7 passes before being released in October.

Jared Retkofsky also returned to the roster from the practice squad to the 53 man roster, to replace long snapper Gerald Warren.

Retkofsky served as the team’s long snapper in 2008 following the injury of Warren against the Colts all the way through to Super Bowl XLIII.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Greg Warren, Limas Sweed, Out For the Year

Yahoo! Sports is reporting that both Greg Warren and Limas Sweed are out for the year. Warren injured his ACL on the final play of the Steelers 37-36 victory over the Packers.

Limas Sweed has been sick with the flu. It was believed that it was just regular flu, which makes the team’s decision to place him on the non-football injury reserve list interesting.

Regardless, Sweed has had a disappointing sophomore year, consisting of little more than dropped passes at key moments. While the team must still hope to get something out of their 2008 number two pick, he was unlikely to help them much this year.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

The Steelers 2009 Draft Class at a Glance

The 2009 NFL draft and by implication the Steelers 2009 draft class is now complete.The Pittsburgh Steelers, picking last in each round, save for the picks they got via trade, came away with nine new players.

The Steelers entered the draft needing to strengthen both their offensive and defensive lines, their wide receiving crops, and their secondary. They did that. On paper at least.
They also give themselves a shot at adding some depth at running back and tight end.

Here is the Steelers 2009 draft class at a glance:

  • 1st 32(32) Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DE, Missouri
  • 3rd 15(79) Kraig Urbik, OG, Wisconsin
  • 3rd 20(84) Mike Wallace, WR, Mississippi
  • 3rd 32(96) Keenan Lewis, CB, Oregon State
  • 5th 32(168) Joe Burnett, CB, University of Central Florida
  • 5th 33(169) Frank “The Tank”Summers, RB, UNLV
  • 6th 32(205) Ra’Shon “Sunny” Harris, DT, Oregon
  • 7th 17(226) A.Q. Shipley, Center, Penn State
  • 7th 32(241) David Johnson, TE, Arkansas State

That’s two defensive lineman, two offensive linemen, one wide out, two corners, one running back, and one tight end.

YOU Rate the Steelers 2009 Draft Class

As mentioned in a previous post, yours truly lives outside the US, and has zero access to college games. So I will not do you the disservice of attempting to grade the Steelers draft or evaluate their picks on an individual basis.

That’s where you come in.

  • How do you evaluate the Steelers 2009 draft class?

Who do you think’s got the most star power? Which player did they not pick that they should have?

  • Will Ziggy Hood prove to be a worthy successor to Aaron Smith or perhaps Brett Keisel?

Do you think a player like Mike Wallace will get time with a receiver corps that already boasts Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Limas Sweed? Who did they pick that they shouldn’t have? Are there any late round sleepers?

Leave a comment and make your voice heard.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Steelers 2009 Draft Needs at Wide Receiver and Secondary

Having dealt with the offensive and defensive lines earlier this week, Steel Curtain Rising now turns to the Steelers 2009 draft needs at wide receiver and secondary.

  • Unlike the lines, the Steelers have some of the best in the game at those positions. At wide out they count on Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

In the secondary they have Tory Polamalu a man who is helping define the concept of playmaker and game changer. If Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark are not in that category, both are proven veterans.

Strictly speaking, neither of these areas are problem areas. But if problems are absent, needs are not. Here’s a look at both areas, and Steel Curtain Rising’s assessment on what, if push comes to shove, the Steelers should do if it becomes an either or situation when they’re on the clock.

Steelers 2009 Draft Needs in the Defensive Backfield

In addition to Taylor, Polamalu and Clark, the Steelers have William Gay penciled in as a starter with Deshea Townsend slated to become a nickel back.

The Steelers are big on William Gay. Losing Bryant McFadden hurt, but one of the reasons why the Steelers did not bend over backwards to keep him was Gay’s development. Gay started four games while McFadden was hurt, and alternated snaps with him later.

With Desha Townsend, the Steelers have a proven commodity. Byrant McFadden developed nicely while he was here. The reason why he didn’t play more was because Townsend kept him off of the field. At some point Townsend’s veritable fountain of youth is going to run out, but given his consistency it is unlikely that his play will suffer a dramatic drop off.

But behind him is journeyman Antonio Bryant, who is 32.

At safety the situation is similar. Ryan Clark returned last year with a vengeance. However, the only established back up is Tyronne Carter, who is 33.

Behind those players the Steelers have  last year’s sixth round pick who spent 2008 on IR, and Roy Lewis an undrafted rookie free agent. Lewis turned heads last year in training camp, and the decision to cut him caught some by surprise. He returned to the practice squad and saw some time on the regular season roster, but the fact that he went back to the practice squad could be a bad sign.

This draft is said to be wanting a shut down corner or dominating safety, but deep with quality defensive backs who are considered to be high value pick. The Steelers need to come out of this draft with one.

Steelers 2009 Draft Needs at Wide Receiver

Like Bryant McFadden, losing Nate Washington hurt, but he deserves a shot at starting. The Steelers success at wide receiver in hinges largely on Limas Sweed. Is the player who appeared to be only a step away from making some breakaway plays downfield? Or is he the player whose drops during the regular season only confirmed what the press saw in practice throughout the year?

Even if Sweed does develop like Steelers coaches hope he will (and Steel Curtain Rising thinks he will) the Steelers need to beef up their receiving corps.

  • Because behind Sweed they have Dallas Baker, Martin Nance, and Brandon Williams.

Dallas Baker spent 2007 on the practice squad during where his efforts won him hearty praise from Mike Tomlin a little over a year ago. He qualified that praise by saying that Baker’s work with pads on would be the true crucible. Baker did well enough in training camp to beat out Willie Reid, although what does that really say?

He only managed one catch before getting cut in late November, after which Dallas Baker landed on the practice squad. Nance played on the practice squad behind him, while Williams has bounced from team to team.

Depth at wide receiver is a real need for the Steelers, which they must address in the 2009 draft.

Steelers 2009 Draft Needs at Wide Receiver and Secondary – Which Are More Urgent?

Of the two areas, wide receiver is the greater need. No, if the Steelers get a high value DB, they certainly should not reach for a wide receiver.

But they need help at wide out. At defensive back they have proven (if rapidly aging back ups) and some maturing talent that at least has potential.

  • Neither can be said about the personnel behind Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, and that assumes that Sweed makes a huge leap.

So if the choice comes down to a wide out and a DB that the Steelers have rated equally, the Steelers should opt to take the receiver.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for all of Steelers Curtain Rising’s assessment of the Steeler 2009 draft needs.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Watch Tower: Stallworth Ownership, Rooney Ambassadorship, and the NFL Owners Meeting Wrap Up

You wouldn’t think that the John Stallworth’s joining the Rooneys as a partner, Dan Rooney’s Ambassadorship, or the NFL Owners meetings would provide much fodder for the Watch Tower, but they did.

2009 NFL Owners Meetings

The NFL spring owners meetings are usually accompanied by a rush of news, if for no other reason than it is a time when coaches, GMs, and owners are altogether in one place and available for interviews.

The Post-Gazette and Tribune Review got face time with Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and the Rooneys, but the Tribune Review got the better of the Post-Gazette in terms of coverage.

The Tribune-Review’s Scott Brown went beyond reporting what these men had to say and delivered on the prime topic of concern to Steelers Nation fans, namely free agency, and John Stallworth’s ascension to the Steelers ownership suite.

Brown talked with Kevin Colbert about the Max Starks situation, and in the process the Steelers Director of football operations issued a ringing endorsement of the Steelers recently franchised left tackle:

He maintained his focus and he was able to contribute to us this season in a big way. To me, that says a lot about who that player is, to be able to deal with a situation where he lost his job, he stayed positive and he came back and produced in a big way for us. I think that just says a ton about more so what his makeup is rather than his abilities.

Brown also took the extra step of sharing Colbert’s thoughts about Limas Sweed’s development. Bouchette did report on Colbert’s take on the Steelers situation at wide receiver, but he failed to report any new news on Limas Sweed, a player whose growth is obviously of great import both to the Steelers and Steelers Nation.

Ditto the John Stallworth Ownership Coverage

Much the same can be said of the coverage of John Stallworth. Ed Bouchette’s articles on the subject certainly were not deficient in anyway, but Scott Brown went the extra mile.

The Post-Gazette published two (on line) articles on the Stallworth story where Bouchette delivered the essential facts, but delivered little else to readers.

The Scott Brown also published two articles on the Stallworth story, but his were much richer. In his first article, Brown shared insights from Art Rooney Jr., the man who scouted Stallworth, a current owner and one of Stallworth’s future partners. He also shared comments from Stallworth’s former teammate, current fellow Hall of Famer, and future employee Joe Greene, and well as Steelers safety Mike Wagner, who no doubt spent lots of time chasing after Stallworth during practice in the 70’s.

For his second article Brown teamed up with Mike Pruista, and the two men told the story of how Stallworth got involved in the ownership process through the words of both Rooneys, along with additional comments from Andy Russell.

Kudos to Scott Brown for hustling for the story.

Opps I

Both Dan Rooney’s nomination as ambassador to Ireland and the latest developments in the Steelers ownership restructuring resulted in minor slip ups on the part of both Pittsburgh dailies.

  • The main culprit? The timing of Dan Rooney’s decision to hand over the Steelers Presidency to Art II.

When Rooney was first named ambassador to Ireland, Ed Bouchette reported that Art II had assumed the title of Steelers President in 2002. This contradicted what Steel Curtain Rising had written and we assumed that we were in error.

  • A quick check of the Steelers Media Guide confirmed that the Art Rooney II had become Steelers President in 2003, not 2002.

The error resurfaced when the news about John Stallworth was announced, this time in both the Tribune Review and the Post Gazette. Once again we doubled checked, and it says right there on page 262-263 of Dan Rooney’s self-titled autobiography that the change of title occurred in 2003.

Oops II

The Steelers ownership restructuring was the subject of a more significant error in the Post-Gazette as you can see below.

This is factually correct as far as the new ownership group is concerned.

The only problem with this is that Tim Rooney is not Pat Rooney’s twin – John Rooney is. Tim Rooney by all accounts the consummate middle child. In his book Ruanaidh, Art Jr. talks about how Tim was the most likely to stand up to Art Sr. and during the past year, Tim was the one Rooney brother who pushed hardest to accept Stanley Druckenmiller’s buyout offer.

The Nitty Gritty…

If you’ve read this far you’re not adverse to minutia.

A factoid of interest to very, very few can be found in the coverage of Marvel Smith’s tenure as a free agent. ESPN’s John Clayton was the first to err in his analysis of free agency’s second, when he mentioned that Smith had been waived by the Steelers. The ESPN article that announced Marvel Smith’s signing with the San Francisco 49ers also said that Smith had been waived.

Accept that he wasn’t. Smith’s contract was up meaning he was no longer the Steelers to waive. The team simply opted not to try to resign him.

Thanks for reading. Watch Tower is Steel Curtain Rising’s column dedicated to casting a critical eye on those who cover the Steelers. Click here to read the entire series.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Joey Galloway Visits Pittsburgh Steelers

Its not often that a free agent with a big name graces the presence of the Steelers complex on the South Side, but it happened today.

Joey Galloway, recently of the Tampa Bay, visited the Pittsburgh today as the Steelers began searching for a potential number three or number four wide reciever.

Galloway was a number one draft choice by the Seattle Seahawks in 1995 and has played for Dallas as well. Perhaps Galloway is one who never quite lived up to his billing, but he did post three consecutive 1000 yard seasons between 2005 and 2007. Two of his year’s there also overlapped with Mike Tomlin’s, which could explain the mutual interest, that plus Tomlin’s fascination of athletes of Galloway’s pedigree.

Realistic Chance?

Which begs the question, is there a realistic shot at Joey Galloway becoming a Steeler?

It depends.

He is 37 and is reaching the end of his playing days. Injuries last year limited him to 9 games and only 13 catches. This is not the typical profile of Steelers free agent pick up, yet Galloway also visited the New England Patriots, a team known for finding veterans who just enough left in the tank to make a contribution.

If he is willing to play for at or close to the league minimum, the Steelers would incurr little risk by bringing him on board. The Steelers did something similar back in 2002 when they brought in Terance Mathis as their fourth wide receiver and he caught 23 passes for 218 yards. Those are not impressive numbers at all, but are far better than the seven catches that Limas Sweed and Dallas Baker totaled in 2008 working out of the fourth receiver slot.

There’s also no certainly that any concrete talks will emerge from this visit. Last year the Steelers entertained Kyle Brady and Anthony McFarland and nothing materalized with either veteran.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.

Watch Tower: 2008 AFC Championship Varium

Kudos to Gary Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for keeping his head about him to point out one very obvious coaching blunder by the Steelers that got lost in the glow of victory. In his Two Minute Drill column, Dulac called out Bruce Arians for calling the pass play on third and 1 after a 7 yard run by Willie Parker.

In his weekly chat Ed Bouchette indicated that the play was designed for Hines Ward, and well, Nate Washington didn’t run it like Ward would have. Obviously they did not convert.

This play followed the Steelers 21 yard punt, which, with the help of Ike Taylor’s pass interference call, gave Baltimore 7. Give Gary Russell a shot at pounding out one yard and you can take couple of three minutes off of the clock…. Good pick up Gary.

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag, Sort of

In the same article, Dulac committed a minor faux pax.

One of the most interesting things about keeping an eye on the media is trying to figure out what they know by can’t or don’t say.

Members of the Pittsburgh media watch every team practice, but they’re barred by agreement from revealing what they see. Hence, you’ll never see, “you know, don’t expect much of so-and-so this week because he’s had a really crappy week of practice.”

Commenting on Limas Sweed’s drop of a sure touchdown at the end of the first half against the Ravens, Dulac said: “Practice-watchers will record just another daily drop for the rookie.” In his weekly chat, Ed Bouchette confirmed the observation.

Given that that was Sweed’s second drop in as many playoff games, it’s not as if they’re giving away a big secret. One can imagine that both men’s press credentials are still secure.

Don’t Look Now But…

Literally, this means you cannot look now because you won’t find it. But one of the PG’s early articles on the game was chalked full of errors.

Mike Tomlin was quoted with out any attribution, just the quote and no indication of who it was from. That was after the writer asserted that Tomlin was the first coach to take a team to the Super Bowl in his sophomore season….

…a distinction which of course belongs to Joe Gibbs, who accomplished the feat in the strike shortened season of 1982.

These mistakes, however, were corrected by mid-day.

Regular readers of this site know very well that Steel Curtain Rising has little room to criticize others for typos and other types of syntax mistakes, but then again, we’re not getting paid, nor do we have an editor. (Well, the women in my life sometimes point stuff out. Help for which I am grateful….)

Thanks for visiting. Please take time read the rest of Steel Curtain Rising.

Please lend a hand by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc... Thanks.