By Mike Bires Even if the 2009 Steelers don’t make the playoffs, it’s been a special decade for the Black & Gold. It’s the second-best decade of football since the franchise was founded in 1933. Only the “Steel Curtain” dynasty of the 1970s produced a better 10-year stretch. Think about all the outstanding players who’ve played for the Steelers during this decade. Jerome Bettis and Alan Faneca will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu could also make it to Canton someday. We’ve seen the great tradition of linebackers continue with the likes of Jason Gildon, the Steelers’ all-time sack leader, and Joey Porter, James Farrior and James Harrison. This week, nose tackle Casey Hampton was named to the Pro Bowl for a fifth time. We witnessed the end of Bettis’ remarkable run in Pittsburgh and Willie Parker’s amazing success story. ParkerRead More »
By Mike Bires One reason why the Steelers can be dangerous if they get into the playoffs _ and that’s still a big if _ is the possibility of Troy Polamalu lining up again at strong safety. But another reason is LaMarr Woodley’s continued rise toward stardom. Right outside linebacker James Harrison, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, received nationwide claim the past two seasons for the havoc he’s wreaked on opposing defenses. But last year in the playoffs, Woodley, the Steelers’ left outside ‘backer, had a six-to-one edge over Harrison in sacks. “He’s been that kind of guy since he’s been here,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Woodley. “His rookie year, he came on late in the year. Late last year, he was playing good football. He’s a guy that’s on the rise at the appropriate time and that’s what makes him a good player.”Read More »
KUDOS FOR ZIGGY HOOD The key defensive play in Monday’s 28-10 win in Denver was free safety Tyrone Carter returning an interception 48 yards for a touchdown in the second half. Carter was Johnny-on-the-spot, but Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was quick to point out Ziggy Hood’s impact on that play.
By Mike Bires Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports These are tough times for Willie Parker. Even now as he’s close to fully recovering from a nagging turf toe injury, “Fast Willie” isn’t sure how much he’ll be used the rest of the season. With Rashard Mendenhall running so well with the football, he’s firmly entrenched as the featured running back.
Mike Bires PITTSBURGH _ Respectfully, Lawrence Timmons and Travis Kirschke would like to disagree with the Steelers’ injury report. Officially, Timmons and Kirschke are listed as doubtful for Monday night’s game against the Denver Broncos. That means they have only a 25 percent chance of playing. But Saturday, both said they will not play. “I’m out,” said Timmons, an inside linebacker who suffered a sprained ankle in the Oct. 25 win over Minnesota. “No, I’m not playing,” said Kirshke, a defensive end who suffered a torn calf muscle against the Vikings. That means that Keyaron Fox will make his third start of the year in place of Timmons, who missed the first two games of the season with a sprained ankle. Meanwhile, Nick Eason will make only the fourth start of his seven-year career. He’ll replace Kirschke, who had started the past two games after Aaron Smith suffered a season-endingRead More »
By Mike Bires Ryan Mundy claims he does not know who’s starting at free safety Monday night in Denver. But it could be him. A second-year pro who attended Woodland Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh, Mundy has been seeing extensive time with the first-team defense at practice this week. At least one Steeler defender said Mundy will make his first career start when the Steelers play the Broncos. “Nobody has told me anything yet,” Mundy said after Thursday’s practice. “So we’ll see.” Whether it’s Mundy or 10th-year pro Tyrone Carter, it appears more and more that the Steelers will have a different free safety at Invesco Field at Mile High. Ryan Clark, who experienced a serious health scare the last time the Steelers played in Denver, has yet to announce his intentions. But speculation suggests that Clark won’t play. Because he’s a sickle cell trait carrier whose blood isRead More »
TIMMONS STILL QUESTIONABLE Even though he expects to play in Denver, inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons missed his third straight day of practice this week. Timmons suffered a sprained in the win against the Vikings. But because the Steelers don’t play until Monday, they have an extra day of practice this week. So if Timmons can practice Friday, his chances of playing against the Broncos improve. If Timmons can’t go, Keyaron Fox will start. ROETHLISBERGER PRAISES BRONCOS’ DEFENSE. Josh McDaniels, the offensive-minded first-year head coach, and quarterback Kyle Orton have been getting plenty of credit the Broncos’ impressive 6-1 start. But according to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, the Denver defense is holding up its end of the deal. “They’re the No. 1 defense in the world, that’s what we’ve heard Coach (Mike) Tomlin say 1,000 times this week already,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s going to be an awesome challenge for our offense.”Read More »
Monday Practice Report By Mike Bires If Ryan Clark has already decided not to play in Denver, he and coach Mike Tomlin aren’t saying. On Monday when the Steelers returned to practice after their bye week, Clark refused to address his personal health issue to the media. The highly regarded free safety said, “I’ve got nothing else to say. Ask Coach Tomlin.” As a sickle cell trait carrier, Clark experienced severe health problems the last time the Steelers played at Invesco Field at Mile High. In a loss to the Broncos on Oct. 21, 2007, the combination of over-exerting himself in the game and low oxygen levels in the Rocky Mountain air caused Clark’s blood to negatively affect his spleen.