Coach Mike Tomlin talks following the Steelers-Panthers game:
Coach Tomlin: That effort brings to a close our preseason and it’s much appreciated with not only in terms of what they did tonight in terms of winning the game, but efforts throughout. I respect that group of men that’s in the locker room. Obviously, we’ve got some decisions to make and we will make them. That’s part of this game of professional football. But, as we sit here tonight I’ve got big time respect for the contributions of all those men in the locker room and what they did. Obviously, we had some injuries in the game. Sean Spence’s knee injury is significant. He’s in the process of being examined at the local hospital. Robert Golden has got a hamstring injury, I don’t know to what extent and we had some other bumps and bruises and so forth in the game. But, the significant one is Spence. We’ll proceed with the decision making process but, again, I respect the efforts of the men.
Re: Injury to CB Curtis Brown:
He left the game with some knee issues. I don’t know whether it’s major or minor but he’s being examined. We’ll let you know when we do.
Re: Update on the surgery to G David DeCastro:
It was a successful surgery. I haven’t seen one those surgeries that isn’t successful. We’ll let the dust settle and we’ll follow his progress.
Re: RB Jonathan Dwyer getting a lot carries:
He toted the load tonight. He was the primary ball carrier and that’s kind of what we wanted to see. It’s really a snapshot of his growth and development throughout this training camp and preseason. First things first, he showed up in good physical condition, that’s a prerequisite. He kind of took off from there. What he showed tonight is kind of a snapshot of what he’s done for us here in the last month or so. It needs to continue. He’s capable of it continuing.
Do you like the new rule regarding injured reserve that just passed?
Yes we voted for it.
How do you feel about QB Charlie Batch’s performance tonight?
I thought he represented himself well. He made some nice throws but it’s not a one man game. Emmanuel Sanders made a great catch on the end of one of those throws. I thought we had good pass protection for the majority of the night. I like the overall production of a lot of people involved.
Re: Chris Rainey’s performance:
I thought he did some nice things in terms of making unblocked guys miss. I think that any reputable punt returner is capable of making those first one to two potential tacklers miss. He showed that tonight. Obviously, those didn’t count so we don’t look at them as touchdowns. It is what it is. Flags were thrown. But it is encouraging to see him make the first one to two tacklers miss. I think that’s a sign of any credible NFL return man.
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Former Steelers defensive end Chris Hoke was on the field pregame visiting with Coach John Mitchell and some of his former teammates.
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The Steelers continued their support of the United Way of Allegheny County at their preseason game against the Carolina Panthers by hosting the United Way Field Goal Kicking Contest at halftime.
The event recognizes companies that are leaders supporting the United Way of Allegheny County, as a way to thank them for their involvement with the annual campaign.
Dr. Linda Lane, Superintendant of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Scott Hudson, a professor in the Human-Computer Interactive Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and Tim Lee, husband of Community College of Allegheny County administrative assistant Shelly Hawkins-Lee, kicked field goals at halftime to help the United Way in their fundraising efforts.
A check for $10,000 was presented to United Way of Allegheny County President Bob Nelkin, with Community College of Allegheny County getting the honors thanks to Lee winning the contest.
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Cast members from the Lifetime hit show Dance Moms were on the field before the Steelers-Panthers game, taking in all the pregame excitement and meeting several players – including Ryan Clark and Mike Wallace.
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Quarterback Charlie Batch got the Steelers on the board with a first quarter touchdown pass, but before the game was signing autographs for fans like he always does.
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Excitement was in the air on Thursday afternoon at the annual Steelers Kickoff Luncheon, held at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown.
Fans decked out in their black and gold packed the ballroom for the luncheon, which is hosted by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, to help kickoff the team’s 80th season.
The event started with Steelers’ alumni Larry Brown, Justin Hartwig and Dwayne Woodruff signing autographs for those in attendance, and then the 2012 team arrived to the cheers of the crowd.
After the showing of the 2011 highlight film, Steelers President Art Rooney II welcomed the crowd and thanked them for the continued support they provide.
“It’s always a great way to get the season started and see so many people here ready to go,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “Last weekend we played in Buffalo and I think we set a new record for Steelers fans on the road for a preseason game. It was pretty amazing. We are looking forward to continuing that kind of support. We appreciate all of the enthusiasm and support you do provide us.
“It’s great to see the fans wearing the jerseys, wearing the colors. It inspires everybody to do what we do. We are looking forward to seeing more of that this year.”
Coach Mike Tomlin fired everyone up with his words, sharing the goal of the team which is the same hope every fan has.
“It’s an honor and privilege for us to be here,” said Tomlin. “You guys know we are not in the business of making bold predictions, but we are excited to chase our goals in 2012 and they are very clear…to pursue and obtain the Vince Lombardi Trophy for Steelers Nation.
“This group of men before you has been working diligently. We like their development. We will put the finishing touches on the preseason here at home tonight in front of you. We thank you for your support. You continue to inspire us and it is our goal to make memorable moments for you here in 2012.”
It was then on to the player introductions, with the crowd getting more excited as each player was introduced.
“I like this a lot,” said cornerback Ike Taylor. “It’s good to see the highlights. I like to see if I made the highlights on a good note.
“It’s good to see the fans. It’s when you know the regular season is approaching. It’s a good thing. I look forward to it ever year.”
The team had fun with the rookies, surprising several of them by handing them the microphone to introduce teammates that won awards in 2011. Wide receiver Toney Clemons introduced 2011 MVP Antonio Brown, tackle Mike Adams introduced last year’s Rookie of the Year tackle Marcus Gilbert, and Alameda Ta’amu introduced defensive end Brett Keisel, the Steelers Walter Payton Man of the Year last year.
“It’s always exciting because you know the regular season is right around the corner,” said Keisel. “That is what is exciting for me. We hang out with the fans, watch the highlights from last year and see a rookie think they have to get up there and give a speech and stumble through it. It’s exciting for me because I know the season is coming.”
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As soon as the horn signaled the end of Steelers’ practice on Wednesday, Brandon Brawdy’s smile was a mile wide, but nonetheless the 15-year old looked slightly overwhelmed when he saw the entire team heading his way.
It was a moment he had been waiting for since his family contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer almost a year ago, sharing with them his love for the Steelers and wanting to find a way for him to meet some of his favorite players, in particular defensive end Brett Keisel.
“It’s an amazing honor,” said Keisel. “First off that they can have one wish in the world and it’s to hang out with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the day. That’s a remarkable honor for this organization. For him to want to meet me is incredibly humbling. It means a lot to me.”
Keisel, Coach Mike Tomlin, and all of the players spent time signing autographs, posing for pictures and visiting with Brawdey, who came with his family from Piedmont, South Carolina, for practice and the team’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
“This has been almost a year we had this in the works,” said his mother Terry Brawdey. “The smile…he loves the players, he loves the Steelers. For the whole family to be able to do this trip has been great. We never know…we take one day at a time. You never know. We just have to enjoy every moment we can.”
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The Steelers current offensive line is made up of three former Florida Gators in Max Starks, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, a former Tennessee Volunteer in Ramon Foster and Hofstra’s Willie Colon.
When asked about the line this week Foster couldn’t help but take note of that.
“That is a great SEC line right there,” said Foster. “You have some good guys up front you know are going to fight for you. You don’t have to worry about the man next door to you knowing his job. It’s going to get done. “
When asked about Colon being the only non-SEC player, Foster was quick to bring him into the group.
“Willie doesn’t have a football program right now, so he is definitely going to take the SEC,” said Foster of Hofstra dropping their program. “We have adopted him.”
Tags: Marcus Gilbert, Maurkice Pouncey, Max Starks, Ramon Foster, Willie Colon
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Mike Wallace was on the sidelines during the Steelers practice on Tuesday afternoon, taking mental reps but only allowed to be a spectator after he reported earlier in the day, ending his long holdout.
Wallace isn’t allowed to practice for three days, and he hopes to return to the field on Monday when the team begins preparation for the regular season opener against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 9.
“I couldn’t even go on the field. That was a little different,” said Wallace. “I am here now, learning the plays. I get to at least see it. At home I couldn’t even see it. At least getting to watch those guys I am getting a couple of mental reps.
“I will be back on Monday hopefully and ready to roll.”
While he couldn’t practice, Wallace was happy just to be around his teammates and be back in football mode.
“That is the best feeling in the world, seeing all of the guys, all of the smiles, all of the sweat, all of that good stuff,” said Wallace. “I am ready to be back, ready to be with my teammates. I am ready to go.
“What I really feel like I missed is my teammates. I am not worried about everything else. Just being around football is what I missed. You have to be out there to run the plays, but I know the plays. I am not really worried about that. I had a lot of time so all I did was study my plays. I knew my plays. I just really missed being around my teammates and the atmosphere.”
Wallace said he decided to return to the team now because he felt like “my teammates need me,” as they prepare for the regular season.
“It’s time to get ready for the season,” said Wallace. “I felt like it was time to go. I am ready to roll, I am here. That is all that matters to me. I am not worried about why or nothing. Why, because my teammates need me here and it’s time to get prepared for the season.”
It’s going to take Wallace a few days once he is back at practice to get his body back in football shape, even though he definitely looked like he was in condition having spent time in Orlando working with trainer Tom Shaw.
“As far as conditioning-wise we have two weeks until the game,” said Wallace. “I have been working out, doing really good conditioning so that is not going to be a problem. Nothing is like getting in football shape. It’s a little different. The first couple of days I might be a little more tired than the rest of the guys, not because I am not in shape but because it’s different with the pads on. I will be ready when it’s time to go on Sunday night against Denver.”
Wallace, who has a one-year tender, was not focused on a long-term contract on Tuesday, just on being back with the team.
“That’s down the road,” said Wallace of signing a new deal. “Hopefully I can. I would love to be here. This is the team that drafted me and this is where I want to stay. I am not really worried about down the road. I am worried about playing football right now. That’s it. That’s really the only thing on my mind. You all might think I am just saying that, but that’s it. I am not worried about none of that. That was business. I am not on that right now. I am here to play football, that’s it. I am here with my teammates and happy to see the guys. There were a lot of smiles and a lot of love and that’s all that matters.”
Wallace said he has no regrets about how the holdout played out, and it was never about not wanting to be there for his teammates.
“I don’t dwell on the past,” said Wallace. “I am worried about right now, that’s it. I don’t have any regrets. Anything I do in life I don’t regret it. I am grown man, that’s what I do. Whatever I do, that’s what I did.
“The whole time, I never wanted to be away from my teammates. I love my teammates and I love the organization. I never once wanted to be away. But like I said, that’s the business side of it. We handled it the way we had to.”
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The Steelers practice facility was buzzing on Tuesday with Mike Wallace back in the fold, ending his holdout that covered the team’s OTAs, minicamp and training camp.
And those happiest to have Wallace back were his fellow wide receivers.
“Everyone is excited around here just to get him back,” said Emmanuel Sanders. “The dimension that Mike brings to the offense is the speed. He takes the top off the coverage for us.
“He is a big time playmaker around here. He has been doing that the past three years. We are excited to get him back. He is the last link for us to take off.”
Antonio Brown was energized to have Wallace back, knowing it helps the offense overall to have the speedy receiver as part of the arsenal.
“It definitely helps everyone’s cause with a guy like Mike, taking the top off defenses,” said Brown. “It opens us up. Mike can do so many things to get us open, draw coverage, help us get open underneath. It allows so many other things and options.
“It’s something special, knowing we have our guy back. We all need him here, working together, moving on in the right direction and chasing the Lombardi. He is going to be a key role in that.”
Another person who is going to benefit by Wallace’s return is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, giving him another weapon on the field.
“To have him here is another piece of the puzzle that completes it for us,” said Roethlisberger. “He is a fast guy that stretches the field for guys and gets other guys open and makes big plays for us.”
Wallace will have some catching up to do, but his teammates are happy to make sure he is right on schedule for opening day in Denver on Sept. 9.
“We are going to do the extra things we need to do to make sure he is ready,” said Brown. “If that is stay out after practice, we will do the necessary things to make sure when we go to Denver we are ready. It’s going to take a little bit of time and studying but that is why he is here. It’s just fun to have him back and see if we can get off to a great start.”
Wallace can’t practice for three days, ruling him out for the preseason finale against Carolina on Thursday night, and giving him only a week to prepare for the Denver game. But teammates are confident he will be ready.
“I feel like he is going to do everything necessary that he has to do,” said Sanders. “The coaches are going to work with him hard to get him caught up.
“It’s a new playbook. There are some similar things he will be able to pick up on. He is not familiar with the concepts, but he will get caught up fast and coach will do an exceptional job getting him caught up. I think he will be ready by Denver. No question about it.”
There was no dissension among the ranks, with the players understanding Wallace’s situation and welcoming him back with open arms.
“We understand. That is the business part,” said Sanders. “We missed his personality in the offensive room. Ever since I have been here he has been in that meeting room. It’s been different, but everyone is glad he is back. The Young Money Crew is back. We are looking forward to that. It’s going to be fun.”
And speaking of fun, right after Wallace arrived at the facility linebacker James Harrison had some fun snagging Wallace for the first exclusive interview, which he posted on his Twitter account, @jharrison9292.
“We are friends before anything else and he wanted to talk to a friend first, so I was there for him,” said Harrison. “We talked a little bit and then he gave me the first exclusive.”
Don’t look for Harrison to change professions and join the media ranks, though.
“I don’t like putting cameras in people’s faces,” said Harrison. “It’s not me. But you have to first hear it from James Harrison.”
Tags: Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Emmanuel Sanders, James Harrison, Mike Wallace
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Re: Reaction to seeing WR Mike Wallace back with the team:
It was neat. It’s neat seeing him back. He’s a friend, a teammate and a brother. We’re excited to have him back.
Are you worried about his football fitness?
Not at all.
Re: Understanding that football is a business and holdouts are a part of it:
We’re just excited to get him on the field. It’s kind of like your parents telling you that you get a new car but it has to sit in the driveway because you don’t have any insurance. Once you get that insurance, you can get out and take it for a ride.
How prepared is Wallace?
To me, it’s about how much work he has put in on his own learning the playbook. I know he’s been working out physically, but mentally has he been working out? We’ll see when we get in meetings and get out there.
What does Wallace bring to the offense that no other player does?
Every guy has something different, just like every lineman brings something different, every running back and every tight end. We’re excited to have him out there and get rolling.
Does Wallace change the offense at all for you?
I don’t know. He obviously has a lot of speed and everyone knows about that, but he’s working hard at his route running and we’ll see how much he has improved.
Do you feel Wallace will be ready for Denver?
He’ll be ready to go. I know him. I know his determination. He’s a competitor. He’ll want to be out there for his guys and that’s just the type of player he is.
Are you concerned that if Wallace does not get a contract done before the season it will be a distraction?
That’s a question for him. I don’t know how he’ll approach it. I wouldn’t think that he’ll let anything get in the way of his professionalism and him being out there to play for us.
How quickly do you think Wallace will grasp the offense?
It’s going to take time, because I’m still thinking about it on the run. It’s just a matter of how much he put in during the couple months that he’s been doing it. Any extra stuff, I’m willing to work with him and coaches are willing to work with him. Even in Week 8, there is going to be some slowness from all of us just because it’s new stuff. He’ll pick it up and do just fine.
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Wide receiver Mike Wallace arrived at the Steelers practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex shortly before lunchtime on Tuesday, and his arrival is something that had his fellow wide receivers smiling.
“It’s something special, knowing we have our guy back,” said Antonio Brown. “We all need him here, working together, moving on in the right direction and chasing the Lombardi. He is going to be a key role in that.”
Wallace, who held out all of training camp, can’t practice immediately but is expected by many to be ready for the Denver game on Sept. 9.
“He is going to have to be ready,” said Brown.
Wallace will be talking after practice on Tuesday, and you can watch what he had to say on today’s edition of Steelers.com Live at 4 p.m.
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Rookie guard David DeCastro, who suffered a significant knee injury against the Buffalo Bills Saturday night, will have surgery on Wednesday.
“I have no update on David DeCastro,” said Tomlin. “He has surgery scheduled. I’ll update you guys after the surgery.”
Tomlin said that teammates were disappointed for DeCastro, the team’s number one pick this year, after the injury which could have him sidelined for a while.
“The guy is injured and you feel sorry for him on a personal level,” said Tomlin.
“Professionally, we understand that this is as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. So, we move on.”
DeCastro’s teammates said he was upbeat when he was at the team’s practice facility on Monday, and when asked about that Tomlin joked about the quiet, reserved DeCastro.
“Well, those of you that know DeCastro, know that upbeat for him is a stretch,” said Tomlin.
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Much of the talk on Monday was about when wide receiver Mike Wallace will report, with speculation being that he could be with the team as soon as Tuesday.
“It definitely could be tomorrow,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown when directly asked if that is when Wallace will report. “I’m looking forward to seeing him, even though he has to wait three days to practice. Hopefully, we can keep him after practice and run a couple sprints and get him on board and all hands on deck for this journey we’re about to embark on.
“He’s excited. It’s special to be here and he knows that. He appreciates everything and he’s excited to get back. He’s ready to get back to work and ready to embark on a championship. This is where the journey begins.”
Brown said Wallace, who has yet to sign the one-year tender the team offered him, brings another dimension to the offense and his presence will be felt.
“A player like Mike is so explosive and gets so many things done,” said Brown. “You need a guy like that on your team. It’s amazing when you can get him lined up on the other side and you know what he is capable of. It’s a great thing to have him here.”
If Wallace does report on Tuesday he will not play against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night and can’t practice until next week, in time to prepare for the regular season opener against the Denver Broncos.
“I’m excited for my guy to come in, get back on the same page and get working together towards something that’s special,” said Brown. “He brings a lot. He’s another great, big-time player. It’s going to be special to get him in, see where he’s at, and get him on the same page.”
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Ramon Foster has been here before, being the guy who is asked to step up when a teammate is injured. Since his rookie year it’s a role that he has been asked to fill, and since then he has delivered.
“You just have to be able to step in and do the job with no slack off,” said Foster. “I have been in this position before. It’s just staying consistent.
“We have that gift of having guys that are experienced on the offensive line. I am one of those guys that has played a lot and started, and it’s almost like second nature stepping in and doing your job.”
This time Foster will be thrown into the fire at right guard after rookie first-round pick David DeCastro suffered a serious knee injury against the Buffalo Bills.
It’s an opportunity for Foster, who battled for the starting job during camp, to show that he is more than capable of not just holding things down, but being a solid force there.
“It’s definitely an opportunity,” said Foster. “I hate to have it happen to him, but I have to take advantage of it and hopefully run away with it.
“I understand the circumstance, you have a high draft pick and you just have to go to work every day and fight for it. Stuff like this comes along. That is what happens when you go about your business every day.”
Foster said when he entered the Bills game, there was nothing said by the fellow linemen as they had plenty of confidence that he knew what he was doing.
“I don’t think there is any issue. He is a veteran,” said tackle Max Starks. “He has been doing this for a long time. He knows the importance of position flexibility and being ready to be a starter in waiting and a starter.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for David but a great opportunity for Ramon. I think he will do a great job.”
Tags: Max Starks, Ramon Foster
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