Pouncey, Saunders, Everest: Reasons for Steelers Nation to be Thankful

Steel Curtain Rising may be written out of Buenos Aires, where Thanksgiving is just a work day, but last year I inaugurated what I hope will be an annual tradition here at Steel Curtain Rising – citing Steelers specific reasons to be thankful. This year Ed Gleason aka Mary Rose has followed suit, and I encourage you to read his post if you haven’t already.

A year ago, the Steelers were smack in the middle of their 5 week mid-season meltdown, but we recognized Rashard Mendenhall for the heart he displayed in picking himself up and running the length of the field to prevent and interception from becoming a pick six (click here to see the video.)

So, on this day when we give thanks, Steelers Nation can be thankful for:

Maurkice Pouncey

When the Steelers drafted Maurkice Pouncey was supposed to challenge for time and perhaps a starting slot at guard.

He not only won the starting job, but made Justin Hartwig expendable. Pouncey didn’t simply establish himself as a starter, he established himself as the Steelers best offensive lineman.

Maurkice Pouency, Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Thanksgiving

Maurkice Pouency and Ben Roethlisberger. Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire, US Presswire via Stillcurtain

Emmanuel Sanders

When the Steelers selected Sanders in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft, Steel Curtain Rising questioned the pick suggesting that needs at defensive line and defensive back were more impending.

Emmanuel Sanders has made an impact as a rookie on special teams and as a receiver, providing the Steelers offense with some much needed speed. I am thankful I was wrong.

Al Everest and Antonio Brown

One year ago the Steelers special teams were a glaring liability.

Al Everest has changed that. I lump Everest in with Antonio Brown, although Emmanuel Sanders has also been one of Everest’s weapons of choice.

But it was with Brown, down in the heat against Tennessee, that Everest put the rest of the NFL on notice that he was transforming the Steelers special teams into a strike force. I am thankful that thus far in 2010, the Steelers have been on the right side of special teams splash plays.

Happy Thanksgiving to All

I suspect, and hope, that all of you have other, deeper, more meaningful non-football related reasons to give thanks. Thanksgiving has long been my favorite US holiday, but it is one I have not celebrated now for 10 years.

So please, as you come together with your friends and family to give thanks, have an extra slice of pumpkin pie for me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Rashard Mendenhall: A Reason for Steelers Fans to Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

As Mike Tomlin declared in his Steelers State of the Union Tuesday:

We’re ten games into this thing, we’re a 6-4 football team. Definitely no where we anticipated being or want to be, but definitely where we are.

Steel Curtain Rising will have more to say about “where we are” later in the week (time permitting) but on this Day of Thanks, we’d like to remember one thing that Steelers fans can be thankful for in 2009.

And that is the emergence of Rashard Mendenhall. Injured in Street Fight Number 1 against Baltimore in 2008, Mendenhall surfaced as somewhat of an enigma when he rejoined the team at St. Vincents.

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers vs. Jets, Steelers Thanksgiving

Rashard Mendenhall rushes for the Steelers vs. the Jets. Photo Credit: Kevin Dietsch, UPI.

Judging solely on statistics (remember, they don’t show preseason games here in Buenos Aires, so yours truly never got to see him run), he did not run strong. Steelers coaches nonetheless seemed to bend over backwards to complement him.

While Mendenhall’s ability re-inject power rushing into the Steelers offense, to the extent that Arians allows, is certainly his most celebrated accomplishment, today Steel Curtain Rising commends him for something else.

His heart.

When Mendenhall screwed up his very first carry of the season against Tennessee, Steel Curtain Rising observed:

For as boneheaded as collision with Roethlisberger was, he muscled through a would-be tackler and turned a certain 3 yard loss into a one yard gain.

Clearly you expect more from a number one pick, and Steelers Nation should be concerned that he is not delivering more, but Mendenhall’s reaction showed good instincts and some heart.

Mendenhall’s instincts and heart were the one thing that shown brightly in that God-awful loss to the Chiefs.

Take a look the effort and hustle he mustered to make the tackle – and save a touchdown, on Studebaker’s second interception – ah alas Roger Goodell’s YouTube Police have had the video taken down!

There you see it. The man ran clear across the field and was gaining speed as he approached the opposite end zone – Studebaker probably did not even know he was gaining on him.

That was pure want to, and that is something Steelers fans can be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.

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