Karl Rosen/Steelers.com. “Coach, I need me some first-team reps…”
Mike Tomlin is fond of saying that “football is a game of attrition.” Well, there’s a great deal of attrition taking place. I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but I’d rather be that than Pheidippedes, the guy who ran from Marathon to Athens to report the Greek victory over the Persians and then fell down dead. Not that I would ever risk my life by running a marathon…
But our beloved Steelers are out on the field almost every day, risking their limbs, at any rate. The injuries have been piling up (although for those who might criticize Mike Tomlin for starting padded practices so early, it’s worth noting that there were at least two injuries to significant players, Morgan Burnett and Jerald Hawkins, during the “football in shorts” phase.)
photo via Steelers.com
2018 third-round draft pick OT Chuks Okafor seemed like a luxury pick when he was selected. Or perhaps not so much a luxury as a “Haven’t dem Stillers noticed that the problem last season was the durn defense?!!!” pick. But with the (temporary) demise of third-year tackle Jerald Hawkins during OTA (torn quad) it started to look a good deal smarter.
And now G Ramon Foster, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL, is out, at least for the nonce. In Foster’s case the news is considerably better than first feared when he was taken off the field with a knee injury during the Steelers’ first padded practice on Saturday, It turns out he has a hyper-extended knee with no ligament damage, which is projected to keep him out for 4-5 weeks. Fortunately the heir apparent, YouTube star* B.J. Finney, has had a considerable number of game reps by now coming in for injured players—mainly Foster, but he also played some center last season, with mixed results.
Photo via Steelers.com, illustrating some of those intangibles…
I’m launching another new offseason feature this year, because as Kevin Colbert said in his recent press conference, if you keep doing the same thing, why would you expect a different result? (Although why we would want a different result than a 13-3 season and winning the division was not stated, except, I suppose, for that little “first-round playoff exit” thing…)
And I don’t know what different result I’m aiming for, either. Truth to tell, I just like the sound of the headline, and you’re going to see it a lot, exploring different issues. Today’s issue, as you might suspect, is the potential free agents whose status is still very much up in the air at the moment.
Today’s post was inspired by the following exchange on yesterday’s Asked and Answered, Bob Labriola’s Q and A column on Steelers.com:
QUESTION: Do you see Justin Gilbert getting a start against the Chiefs, and do you also see Mike Tomlin making any changes to the secondary?
ANSWER: Justin Gilbert starting against the Chiefs? No. But there could be some personnel changes to the secondary, and those changes could be dictated by injuries. Yesterday, Robert Golden (hamstring) and Sean Davis (back) both missed practice, and both of those guys have significant roles either in the starting lineup, in sub-package alignments, or both. As a rookie, Davis is going to have to show Mike Tomlin that he can practice, because knowing what to do is a big part of it. I cannot predict how the Steelers might react if either or both of those guys cannot play, but if changes have to be made, and those changes produce positive results, then my experience is that’s how changes can become permanent.
Who are the Chefs? An oldie but goodie…
It hasn’t been nearly long enough since we’ve seen the Chiefs. For some reason the Steelers seem to have to play the Chiefs almost every year, and almost every time something bad happens. So let’s begin by checking whether this is actually true in recent years.
The most recent was just about 11 months ago, on October 25th. The quarterback for the Steelers was Landry Jones. Ben Roethlisberger had been injured four weeks previously, and his back-up, Michael Vick, had been injured the previous week in the win against the Cardinals. The Chiefs were 1-5, having won their first match and lost the subsequent five. And of course they turned out to not be as bad as you expect an 1-5 team to be. In fact, they didn’t lose a single game after that, including, of course, the tilt against the Steelers, and ended the season at 11-5. Read more
“For some context on the Steelers injuries in 2015, Pittsburgh placed 25 players on injured reserve from May 2015 through the Super Bowl. Only the Giants and Ravens had more. The Steelers recorded 124 instances where a player appeared on an injury report, which isn’t all that bad (24th league wide), but when the Steelers lost players, they lost Pro Bowlers (Maurkice Pouncey, Le’Veon Bell, etc).”
Thus reads a recent tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. (It refused to embed, or else I would have done so.)
by Hombre de Acero
The Steelers are in their second week of free agency, yet already the South Side has seen a whirlwind of action as Steelers Nation doesn’t know whether its saying bye or saying hello…. While Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin have many more chess pieces to move before it is all over, enough of the board has been set for 2016 for Going Deep Steelers to pose 5 Smoldering Questions on Free Agency and the Steelers 2016 Off Season thus far.
1. If there was ever a spot in Steelers Nation that appreciated Heath Miller’s contribution to the Pittsburgh Steelers it was this site. Numbers might never do Miller justice as a player, but perhaps they can reveal what he meant to the Steelers:
The graphic at left ranks Heath Miller’s performances vs. the rest of the players during his time with the Steelers who got over 100 targets. As you can see, only Le’Veon Bell has a better targets-to-catch ratio. Heath Miller was a close to a sure catch as you can get in the NFL.
Finally, some real Steeler news with the advent of the free agent signing period. The worst part of the silly season is over, at least until the draft is over . . . .
My favorite signing so far is the three year contract for “Big Play” Willie Gay. Aside from being the team’s most consistent cornerback, he is as mentally tough as any player on the roster.
Once the favorite whipping boy of more critical fans. Gay not only survived the torrent of catcalls for his ouster, he has improved to the point where keeping him was critical to the continued improvement of the secondary. Ike Taylor might have had a lot to do with Willie’s mental toughness. . . .
AP photo, Adam Taylor
Back in 1994 I was talking with a colleague of my husband, a former Brit who taught at a university in Philadelphia and had long before embraced American sports. It was during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and he made what I thought was a very curious statement. In effect, he said that through watching a player like Simpson, and particularly as he went on to a career as an NFL commentator, he felt as if he knew Simpson. Thus when the news hit the papers, he had a very hard time believing that the O.J. Simpson he “knew” could ever do anything like that.
Simpson was acquitted of the murder charge but is now serving a 33 year sentence, without parole, for numerous felonies stemming from a later incident.
And of course all of the information coming out about Peyton Manning is just the latest incident of someone not fitting comfortably anymore into the neat package he’s created, with his singing commercials, his Saturday Night Live appearances, and hanging out with everyone’s friend, Papa John.
But what actually prompted this article is something quite different. In fact, you might say it is almost the antithesis of “knowing” a player through their public persona.
AP Photo/John Froschauer
The past two weeks in the NFL have been quite the concussion-fest. There were 15 concussion reported on the NFL injury list for Week 11 and 23 reported in Week 12 (some of those were holdovers from Week 11, but most were new.)
And although the Week 13 list wasn’t out when I wrote this, we know of at least two—Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Shazier of the Steelers.
Of the multiple concussions in the Week 11 games, the one which garnered the most attention was the one in the Ravens-Rams games. In it, a clearly concussed Case Keenum was sent back into the game, presumably due to a combination of circumstances and failed safety checks. The referee who should have stopped the game instead sent the Rams’ trainers off the field, leaving Keenum to play a couple more downs. The NFL spotter was looking at heaven only knows what, because there was no way you could have seen Keenum go to the ground and lay there clutching his helmet with his hands and not insist he be looked at. Coach Jeff Fisher more or less implied it wasn’t his job to babysit his players. Read more