STEELERS – WEDNESDAY
By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has to be among the most maligned groups in sports during the past five years.
The five-man unit was slammed so much during the Steelers 2008 Super Bowl season that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger felt the need to comment about it on national television after the big game.
“Who’s laughing now, O-line?” Roethlisberger said while standing on the victory platform and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. No one has been laughing since then, but there has been much consternation about the Steelers offensive line from the outside and within the organization, as team management has tried to revamp it every season since Roethlisberger’s rant.
The Steelers went so far as to draft guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams with the top two picks, respectively, in this year’s NFL Draft. DeCastro is battling back from preseason knee surgery, while Adams has started the past two games at right tackle for 2011 second-round pick Marcus Gilbert.
“I think he’s done pretty well so far, but two games is nothing compared to a 16-game season,” starting right guard Ramon Foster said. “So, we need to maintain that consistency the rest of the way. That’s especially important this week against a good defense with a real good defensive line. We’ll learn a lot about ourselves this week.”
The Steelers (4-3) could say that about their entire team after playing the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (6-2) Sunday at 4:25 p.m. at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. With a third straight solid performance, the Steelers offensive line just might change the public’s opinion about it.
“Well, we’re not really worried about that,” left tackle Max Starks said. “But we do want to play well again this week. We’re playing against probably the most athletic front four in the NFL, so it’s going to be tough. But if we can maintain our consistency, get another good game from Ben and the running backs, we should have a successful game.”
Roethlisberger is on a record pace with nearly 2,000 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, just three interceptions and only 13 sacks. Roethlisberger has had success for several reasons. The line has played much better lately, with a healthy center Maurkice Pouncey and solid play from tackle to tackle, a solid running game with Jonathan Dwyer’s 100-yard performances the past two weeks, and a game plan with short pass routes where Roethlisberger can release the ball much quicker than in the past.
“That’s a perfect formula for success,” left guard Willie Colon said. “But it all starts up front with the O-line, so we have to lock it down right away this week against the Giants.”
Ta’amu Gets A Second Chance
Alameda Ta’amu, the Steelers fourth-round pick this year, was reinstated by the Steelers this week after a two-game suspension and eventually released safety Damon Cromartie-Smith Wednesday afternoon to make room for him on the 53-man roster.
Ta’amu was unsure if he’d incur additional sanctions from the NFL or the legal system for the felony charges he received after a drunken driving spree early Sunday morning, Oct. 14, when he ignored orders to pull over from Pittsburgh policemen, attempted to run over those officers and hit several parked cars.
“The first thing that popped into my mind when I sat down to think about it was how sorry I was, and I feared for my job,” Ta’amu said Wednesday in his first public comments. “I knew that this was the biggest mistake that I made in my life, and I just prayed that they would give me a second chance. If they did that, I told them that it would never happen again.
“I was embarrassed to call my family to tell them what happened. It was totally out of my character to do something like that. I apologized to everyone and told them that it’ll never happen again. The guys in this locker room, veterans like Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, my fellow D-linemen, they all had my back. And I appreciated their support.”
Notes: Troy Polamalu, Gilbert, LaMarr Woodley and Stevenson Sylvester did not practice Wednesday. Rashard Mendenhall was limited, while Ryan Clark and Isaac Redman were full participants in practice.