Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As noted in the premier post in this series (“premier” in the sense of first, not the sense of good…) this feature is a placeholder for the 5 Smoldering Questions. So let’s get to it, since it’s already late.
1. Most everyone seems to think Lawrence Timmons will be a cap casualty with the Dolphins. His stat line last year was nothing to write home about. Part of this is because he bizarrely missed the first walk-through of the season for the Week 2 game, the first for the Phins because of the hurricane, thus being suspended for the first two games. It was the first time since 2009 he missed a game.
But some might say that, in terms of inside linebackers, beggars can’t be choosers, and the Steelers, due to Ryan Shazier’s health and their cap constraints, are definitely beggars. If you were the Steelers brain trust, would you try to bring the 32-year-old Timmons back for another year in the Black and Gold?
2. James Harrison recently showed up, rather to most people’s surprise, to Brett Keisel’s “Shear Da Beard” event. Arthur Moats said they had “talked out their differences.” Whether Steeler Nation will ever again take him back to their collective bosoms is another matter. But my question concerns Harrison’s stated desire to play next season. What’s your guess? Did you see enough from him in a different scheme to think another team will take him on?
That’s all for now. This is plenty to deal with in the offseason, right in the middle of the Olympics. And speaking of the Olympics, here’s a bonus for you. One of my son-in-laws is a police officer, and this was recently published in the department newsletter. Names are changed to protect the guilty:
- PO Jim Smith at 7 PM: “Oh…Figure skating?”
- PO Jim Smith at 10 PM: “If they nail this triple twist they’ve got at least 40 in the technical category.”
Stay warm, y’all.
As we all know, the interest (or, for some, the only vestige of an interest) in the final preseason game is getting one more look at the roster bubble guys. Which brings up my first question—why is it a “bubble?” I could see a player being “on the bubbly” if he actually makes the 53 man roster. If I were Joe Haden I would be very tempted to invest in some bubbly, although perhaps he should wait until the bye week at this point. Kevin Colbert is perhaps on the bubbly tonight, as he has a nice new contract after 175 wins as GM for the Steelers.
But tonight there is an extra soupçon of intrigue, outside of any sort of bubble, as Vance McDonald is playing. Joe Haden, although he attended the team meeting this morning, is not, but it will certainly be interesting to see the shiny new tight end.
Via WMU Football
This year’s training camp has been quite a roller-coaster ride. The hopes of Steeler Nation rise high as we see Ben putting the ball wherever he wants, whether that is in a garbage can, the crosspiece of the goalpost, the stomach of a recalcitrant cameraman*, or to be gently cradled in Antonio Brown’s arms. Then they crash to earth as we look at the list of injured players sitting out practice—a sort of Who’s Who of our best defensive players. Not to mention the League playing Whac-a-Mole with Martavis Bryant and the Steelers, seeming moving the bar every time Bryant thinks he’s hurdled it. (I realize that was a mixed metaphor, but it’s morning, people…) Read more
photo via Steelers.com
The Steelers won their first game of this young (pre-)season. We all know these games are meaningless, or so we’ve been telling ourselves for the past however many years, when the Steelers have lost most of them. It might not mean much, but it’s nice to see them win one, especially under the circumstances.
As we knew going into the game, many of the starters didn’t even see the field, except where their feet might have strayed onto the turf on their way to the sidelines. Those starters on the offensive side included Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones (abdominal strain,) Le’Veon Bell (who of course wasn’t even there,) Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant (who was there but not playing,) James Conner (putative second back,) Maurkice Pouncey, and Alejandro Villanueva (concussion.) Did I miss anyone? Is anyone left? From last year’s starters, at least the majority of the season, the only guys on the field were Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Jesse James, and Eli Rogers (if you considered him a starter.) And of course there were the extras—Xavier Grimble, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, et al.
In other words, given they were working against the Giants’ first-team defense (with a few exceptions such as Jason Pierre-Paul) you might think the Steelers’ offense, led by the first rookie quarterback to open the preseason for a very long time, would be overmatched. And of course you would be right, although it might be just as fair to say many of the wounds were self-inflicted.
It’s time to tackle head-on the 275-pound elephant in the room—James Harrison. In other words, we’re going to have a look at the outside linebackers.
No one has more respect for what James Harrison has brought to the Steelers than I do. He’s had a full career of overcoming the odds, and he continues to do so. Last season he was, at age 38, the oldest non-kicker or quarterback still playing football. That’s amazing. And when you consider he did so at a high level for the past two seasons, and was the almost-every-down ROLB, after Joey Porter had solemnly assured everyone Harrison’s snap counts would be limited, is nothing short of remarkable. Read more
via Steelers Wire/USA Today
Anyone who isn’t nervous about this game, please raise your hand. And then please tell us what you are smoking. The Bills are fighting for their playoff lives. The game is on the road. The weather is predicted to be inclement. The Bills have far and away the best rushing numbers in the league. They average 161.9 yards per game on the ground, and only the Cowboys and the Titans are within 20 yards of that. They average 5.4 yards per attempt, which is just crazy. They have 23 rushing touchdowns, and again only the ‘Boys are at all close.
And to make matters worse, the Steelers have not only lost Cameron Heyward, their best run defender, but their next-best, Javon Hargrave, is “Doubtful” for the game as he is still in the concussion protocol.
Associated Press/Ken Srakocic
Tomorrow we’ll get back into the upcoming Buffalo game. But today I want to pause and honor a man who truly deserves it.
I was driving around town yesterday and had the sports radio station on for the tri-hourly update. The announcer said that Arthur Moats is the Steelers 2016 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and I knew as soon as I heard it that I would write about him.
Moats is one of my favorite Steelers. The timing of this award is particularly fitting as the Steelers signed him as a free agent after he played out his first contract with the Bills.
via Steelers.com—the annual Pouncey turkey giveaway at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
In yesterday’s 5 Smoldering Questions, Hombre de Acero added the following as a sort of bonus question:
Hopefully, all of you have non-football things to be thankful for, and those are far more important than anything that happens on the gridiron.
But who or what about the 2016 Steelers are you thankful for?
I didn’t answer that question because as it happens I’d already decided that was going to more or less be my post for today. Here goes: Read more
It was another minimally inspiring preseason game. The backup quarterback for Carolina, Joe Webb, played the whole game.
The Steelers sent out an assortment of back-ups as well. DeAngelo Williams made it on the field only once, for the coin toss, as the Steelers made him the sole captain for this game. He spent most of the time hugging his former teammates.
Landry Jones played three series, resulting in a three and out, a six and out (if there is such a thing) and a three and out.
Just about the only many busier than Jordan Berry last night was the Panther’s kicker Graham Gano, who was six for seven on the night.