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Steelers Blog

Offense ready to be tested by champs

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 8:36 pm

The Steelers offense has continually progressed since week one of the season, and there will be no better test than going against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

“It’s a good game, a good challenge for us,” said receiver Mike Wallace. “At the same time we are a team that is finding ourselves right now. We are finding ourselves at the right time. It’s a great test to see where we are and go against the defending champs.”

While the Giants have allowed their fair share of yards this season, ranked 24th in total yards allowed per game, they are tied for first in the NFL in takeaways. The Giants have 16 interceptions through eight games, with strong safety Stevie Brown accounting for five of them.

“They give up a lot of yards, but they take the ball away a lot,” said Wallace. “The secondary, when the ball is in the air, they are one of the best in the league in taking it away and creating turnovers.

“They have probably the best defensive front in football. We have to be more precise in what we are doing. You don’t have as much time as you usually do. You have to get the ball out fast, but we are going to work this week and I think we are going to do well.”

The Steelers offense was ranked 25th in the league after two games and over the last five has gradually improved to rank 10th in the NFL. 

“Right now we are clicking on all cylinders,” said receiver Emmanuel Sanders. “It looks really good. Last week I felt like every time we had the ball we had a great opportunity to score. That is what you want as an offensive unit. I feel like we are heading in a positive direction.”

The offense has been referred to as a “dink and dunk” one by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, not in a negative manner, but instead referring to effectively moving the ball downfield with short gains.  

“We have an offense that is working right now and that is all that matters,” said Sanders. “When we go down, no matter how we do it, no matter how we put up points, as long as we get the win it doesn’t matter what the offense is called.”

But, don’t think for a minute the receivers would object to opening things up a bit more and being on the receiving end of some deep pass plays.

“Right now it’s working,” said Sanders. “Whatever we are doing offensively is working. We put up a lot of points last week and we are going to continue to build off of that.

“Hopefully we can put the ball in the air and give me, Mike, Antonio (Brown) and Jerricho (Cotchery) a shot down field, but continue to also get the short passes. I think that can be a strength with our speed and quickness.”

Wallace, who thrives off of the big play, knows if the ball doesn’t go deep, then it’s up to the receivers to make big plays.

“We are winning games so you have to take what you get,” said Wallace. “I always want to go downfield, but we are being effective. We are doing well with the placement of everybody. You have to do what works and what is winning.

“We are not getting the yards per catch, but we are getting opportunities and we just have to take short ones and make them big.”

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Clark, Redman practice; five others don’t

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 4:50 pm

Five players missed practice on Wednesday, including running back Jonathan Dwyer (quadriceps), tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (calf), and linebackers Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring).

In addition, running backs Baron Batch (shin), and Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) practiced only on a limited basis.

There was good news, though, as safety Ryan Clark was a full participant in practice after suffering a concussion against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

“I got dinged. It was a football play,” said Clark. “I passed my test this morning that I had to take. Practice was another test. You have to make sure none of the other systems linger from having a concussion. I feel good. I am going to continue preparing to get ready for the game on Sunday.”

Also back on the practice field was running back Isaac Redman, who missed the last few weeks with an ankle injury.

“I feel pretty good,” said Redman. “I got loosened up as practice went along. I felt good. There were no problems.

“I am ready to go. I have been sitting out too long. I am ready to get back on the field.”

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Ta’amu returns, working on getting better

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 4:48 pm

Rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu is back on the active roster, following being reinstated on Monday and the team making room for him by waving safety Damon Cromartie-Smith on Wednesday.

Ta’amu spoke for the first time since he was arrested on Pittsburgh’s South Side for an incident he still faces multiple counts on.  

“It was just a big mistake,” said Ta’amu. “It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life. It won’t happen again. It was a bad night. I let a lot of people down, my family, fans and especially my teammates. I have to keep moving forward and keep getting better.

“I am trying my best to keep moving forward and getting better. I have to do everything the coaches and Rooneys want me to do and take it step by step.”

Ta’amu could not speak about the incident, but admitted he did fear losing his job because of it, and would have understood.

“I was scared, but it’s good to know everybody here is behind me and it was a mistake,” said Ta’amu. “Either way it would have been a life lesson. I am still here, I am learning. I want to get better.

“It was rough. I was embarrassed to call my family. It was just out of my character to do something like that. I just promise that it won’t happen again.”

Ta’amu said he is thankful to his teammates who have supported him through all of it.

“The veterans and all have had my back,” said Ta’amu. “The guys my age are like my brothers. We are brothers in here. They have my back. They tell me to keep my head up and move on with this.”

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Sanders to meet with NFL

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 4:45 pm

Receiver Emmanuel Sanders has been summoned to the NFL offices for a meeting about an injury that occurred during the Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 21.

Sanders went down during the fourth quarter of the game, while the team was preparing to get into their huddle. He was taken off the field by trainers, but did return to the game, leaving the league office questioning the injury.

“I have to go up and visit the NFL offices in New York,” said Sanders. “I am looking forward to it. I am not going to speak on it too much. It’s an in-house issue.”

Sanders said he learned of the meeting after receiving a letter via FedEx and wasn’t sure when the meeting was going to be held.

“It’s an in-house situation and we are going to handle it from there,” said Sanders. “That situation is a week ago. The NFL wants me to go to New York and I will continue to deal with it and we will handle it when I get there. Right now I am talking with Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin and we are handling it in-house.”

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Inside the locker room: Ben Roethlisberger

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 3:01 pm

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke to the media before practice on Wednesday, talking about the offense and the Giants game this week.

Do you expect to continue to avoid being sacked against the Giants’ defensive front?
You put a lot of faith in your offensive line, running backs and tight ends. They’ve done a great job this year. We’ll keep trying to do the best we can to avoid sacks.

What do you attribute avoiding sacks to this year?
A little bit of a lot of things, really. The line has been doing a great job. Our offense is kind of designed for that, the “dink and dunk” offense, the shorter passes and just making plays. I think it’s just a combination of a lot of things.

Do you feel physically better because you’re taking fewer hits?
I feel about the same. When you get the high ankle sprain and things like that, it’s unavoidable. Right now I feel great, just like I did last year at this time.

Re: The Giants giving up 400 yards passing to the Cowboys last week:
I just got done talking to the New York media about that. It’s so deceiving because the Cowboys were down and you’ve got to try and score as much as you can. I think that number is a little bit deceiving.

Why has the time of possession been so good and what has it meant to the offense?
I think a big part of it is converting third downs. We’ve had a lot of long drives that we’ve converted a lot of third downs on. I think our third-down conversion percentage is still really high I believe. I think that’s the biggest one.

When people use the phrase “dink and dunk” does it bother you at all?
That’s what we are. Like I said, when I said it a couple of weeks ago people made a big deal about it like I was being negative. When I grew up, the 49ers, that’s what they did. That’s what a West Coast offense is. Not saying we’re a West Coast offense but “dink and dunk’ is not a negative term. We’re taking advantage of quick, fast receivers, a lot of different receivers, running backs, tight ends, guys getting open. Especially when defenses take away the big play down the field, that’s what’s open.

How’s this offense different from a West Coast offense?
Terminology is a lot different. Just the system, the way a West Coast works with things that are kind of more in-depth than we get into. It’s similar in ways when you talk about a lot of short passes.

Does it matter who starts at running back for you guys?
No. We always say it’s the next guy up and whoever’s ready to go. That’s really the case. We’ve got a lot of capable guys that we feel confident and comfortable with.

Re: The people affected by the storm:
Your heart goes out for all the families, the people, everybody up there that is going through a really tough time right now. It’s just a crazy thing that’s going on right now. Like I said, our thoughts and prayers are with everybody.

Re: OT Max Starks:
I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s a new dad. It’s awesome to have him out there because I’ve got so much confidence in him having my blind side. I just always know that he’s going to be a guy you can trust and count on. He’s been there for this organization and for me for a long time.

Re: WR Emmanuel Sanders having to meet with league about possibly faking an injury:
I can’t talk about that.

Do you think opponents have faked injuries against the Steelers?
People get hurt. That’s the way it is. You can’t control injuries in this league.

Are you looking more toward TE Heath Miller this season, particularly in the red zone?
Yeah, I mean he is who he is. He’s a great player. I just have comfort in him. It’s not necessarily because we call more plays for him. It’s just the way it is. He’s getting open and we are calling some more things for him.

Is Miller’s production a product of the new offense?
I think it’s a little bit of the offense. We’re getting down there and he’s taking some screens. I think last week we called a screen to him. Like his touchdown last week, it was a regular drop back pass that I scrambled on and he scrambles and makes a play.

So Miller wasn’t the main target on the touchdown pass last week?

Is the offense more consistent than in years past?
Well, we’re playing pretty well. We always said that we felt like we had a good group coming into this year and we felt that the sky was the limit for us. We’re playing pretty well right now but we still feel like we can get better.

Does any player on their defensive front scare you more than the others?
No. All of them [scare me]. You can’t put all your attention on one guy because there are five or six them that will just get after you.

If the Giants defense overpursues does that open up the running game?
Possibly. I think they put a lot of comfort and trust in their front guys to stop the pass and the run. It will be a challenge for us.

Who is better from your draft class, you or Eli?
Eli. He’s got the most recent championship and he’s a good player. I’m happy to be here and he’s happy to be there I’m sure.

Do you think the offensive line is getting used to the offense and more fresh at the end of games?
I just think they want to finish. It’s always the linemen’s mentality at the end of the game to put the nail in the coffin. It’s all I’m saying in the huddle is, “Let’s step on their throat. Let’s just keep going and put them right into the ground.”

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Hearing from the Giants

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 2:59 pm

Head Coach Tom Coughlin

Re: Running backs coach Jerald Ingram:
He is an excellent coach. He’s been with me a long time. He was at Ball State and I hired him as the offensive backfield coach at Boston College. When I had the opportunity to go to Jacksonville, I invited him to go with me. He’s been very loyal. He’s a Michigan guy. He’s from Western Pennsylvania and played in the great football lore out there, and he went to Michigan to play for Coach [Bo] Schembechler. So, he has all of that great background. He’s been a real solid guy for us here and has been very loyal to this program. He’s a hard worker and he’s developed and believed in the same principles that we do in terms of ball security and the way in which it’s taught and being primarily responsible as a runner for protection first and those kinds of things. Those are the reasons he’s a good coach and he’s done very well and he’s developed some talented runners over the course of his career, including Fred Taylor in Jacksonville.

What have Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning meant to their respective franchises?
They’ve been outstanding players for their franchises. If my math is right, both have two Super Bowls. They’re outstanding leaders. I know Eli does and what little I’ve been able to note of Ben in his career, he’s done a good job of working the chemistry of his team and that’s the way Eli has worked here. Both have been the voice of their franchise and done a good job of that. That was a very good, talented draft, and both the Steelers and the Giants got a couple of outstanding players.

Did you have issue with the timekeeping at the end of your game against Dallas last week?
You think you’re going to get me into that, do you? The only issue I’ve got is I try to think of myself as somebody that’s always interested in trying to sculpture down and realize what you can do with a limited amount of time. I’ve had a difficult time thinking you could get three plays off, two of which are throws into the end zone, in ten seconds. That was my only thing. If that’s possible, then I’ve been going about it the wrong way because I’ve stopped and kicked field goals with seven seconds left because I was worried something would happen and we wouldn’t get the field goal. I was surprised that you could get that many plays.

Re: This current Steelers team:
I think that based on most recent history, the Steelers did a nice job with the Redskins the other day and we were fortunate to win in our game. We keep everybody in the stands right until the very end at our place and it took an outstanding play at the end between two outstanding players for us to make it happen. The Steelers have always been, in my tenure in coaching, going way back to the middle of the 90s, and we were trying like heck to be as good as that franchise, so that we could have something to say about postseason play. Even now today, during all those years, the Steelers have been certainly a benchmark for anybody who’s trying to develop their team as the example and model of toughness.

Re: Your relationship with Coach Mike Tomlin:
I just admire him as a young coach and the opportunity he’s created for himself in Pittsburgh and what a great job he’s done there. I really enjoy being around Mike and his family and seeing them at the league meetings and the coaching meetings is fun too. He’s never at a loss for some challenging words, whether it be officiating meetings or whatever. He’s very respectful of it but he’s not about to stifle himself in terms of asking and inquiring.

Are the Steelers surprising on defense or do you know what you’re getting coming in?
I think you’ve always got that card. We all study everything. We study in the offseason. When there’s a new opponent on our schedule we research in the offseason and we try to gather as much information as we can. But there’s always something that comes up during the game because the people that are doing the planning, in this case it’s Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau, whether it’s our defensive staff here with Perry Fewell, you’re looking for something which allows you to be little bit different or attack a certain way or a style or perhaps a formation or concept. But, therein lies the difference. So whether it be something on third downs, whether it be something on early downs, there’s always going to be something different. That’s the nature of the game.

Have you approached this season differently in terms of winning the championship last season?
No. We tried to do a good job of talking to our team about what we call “build a bridge,” bridging over from the six-game run that we had at the end of last season and the championship, and into the new season. It remains to be seen whether we’ve captured all of those outstanding elements but we continue to strive to do that. But our approach, no, our approach, and everyone in this league, their approach has been modified by our new collective bargaining agreement and to be honest, I think some of us, and me included, are still trying to find the best way to prepare your team for the season ahead under the new regime.

Would you like to hit a little more in practice if you could?
I don’t know. I suppose practice would help. We’re currently into the real belief in trying to do, as long as we can have all the jog-thrus, and those things are great, and we’re hoping we’re making progress mentally with that throughout the course of training camp. But the fact of the matter is you’re not going full speed, and when it comes time to go full speed you have an awful lot of things you’re trying to capture that you know is accumulative and whether or not you get the time spent as you start the season, sometimes you shake your head and it takes you awhile. Even when you’re talking about having played X amount of games, still sometimes you’re not sure. Coaches are always going to be looking for more, you know that. But as far as our approach to this season, it wasn’t really any different. Quite frankly, we counted on having played longer than most of the teams and the league and we thought that was going to be an advantage for us.

Quarterback Eli Manning

Re: Team’s mindset coming into this game:
We know we‘ve got a big, tough challenge ahead of us. It’s not a team we play very often but it’s a team with a lot of talent and a good scheme. We’ve got to do a lot of preparation to get ready for all the different looks and for their players. We’ve got to have a good week of practice and we know we’ve got a good team on our hands and we’ve got to play great football.

Do you view this game as you versus QB Ben Roethlisberger?
No, I don’t. This is Giants versus Steelers. My focus is on getting ready for their defense and I know their offense is capable of making plays and scoring points, and he does a great job leading his team. This isn’t about me and him, and I’m sure some people are trying to make it that way. This is us playing against a top-quality team in the NFL and us trying to go get a win. 

Have you followed Roethlisberger’s career?
Yeah, of course. I think you always pay attention to guys in your draft class, and especially quarterbacks at the same position. In my case, you root for the guys and when people look back years from now, you say that was great draft class, Philip Rivers and Roethlisberger and some of the quarterbacks. I’ve really kept up and I can’t recall his stats but I know he’s played in three Super Bowls and won two of them, obviously that being the most important thing.

Will you talk with your brother about facing the Steelers?
I talked to him a little bit last night. We talked a little football. I asked if they had anything and he said they do what they always do and they have good players and a good scheme. He didn’t have anything earth shattering to tell me that I wouldn’t see from previous games that we played against them over the years or just watching the film from this year.

Is your team finding the challenge of trying to repeat any different than last time?
I think we’ve done a good job of not worrying about repeating. You can’t repeat in the regular season. All you can do is go out there and compete and try to play well and try to win games. Our goal is to get into the playoffs. The only way to ensure that you get into the playoffs is winning your division and we had a big game last week versus Dallas and the week before versus Washington, division games. Now it’s a matter of continuing to play well and trying to win these games. You never know how it’s going to end up, six or seven weeks from now where everybody is going to be. All we can do is worry about ourselves and try to win games.

Have you ever had a team come back like Dallas did last week?
Not that I know of. Obviously, we don’t want that to be the case where we didn’t score any points in the third quarter and didn’t do much in the second quarter as well. But in the fourth quarter we put ourselves in a bind and were down and responded well with two good drives in the fourth quarter that we scored points on and gave us the lead. The defense did a great job holding onto it. In this league, you take wins however you get them. It wasn’t the prettiest. Offensively, we’ve got to do a better job on some things but we did respond when we needed to.

Did you find it easier or more difficult to win your second Super Bowl?
It’s hard. It is difficult. You get in there the same time you completely realize how hard it is and how things have to go your way. You get breaks and if you get a little break you’ve got to ride it out and take advantage of it, and that’s what it’s about. You realize just making it to the playoffs is hard. That’s something to be proud of every year if you can make it to the playoffs, and winning those four games in a row against good teams is tough. You’ve got to make plays. All three phases, offense, defense, special teams, have to play great together and for a long period of time. It’s not easy and we feel very fortunate that we’ve worked hard, and last year our team deserved to be champions.

What’s your reaction to playing the Steelers defense likely without their two starting safeties?
Obviously, that can change things a little bit. Troy [Polamalu] is a tremendous talent and all over the field and just a playmaker. I think their scheme stays very similar though, and it’s a defense where everybody knows what they’re doing and everybody is on the same page. They don’t make mistakes, they’re very fundamentally sound, they have good players and they let their players play fast. We’ve got to be prepared for whatever they throw at us.

Is WR Victor Cruz getting better by the week?
I think so. I hope so. He’s a guy who works extremely hard. He treats practice very seriously. He competes in practice. We talk a bunch. We grind and we want to make practice perfect, and we think that carries over into games. I’m proud of the way he has not lost focus and has come out and done some great things. We need him to play well for us.

Is the league going back to a balanced offensive attack?
It’s tough. Everybody has their differences. Some people want to throw it. We try to have a balance. We try to have the run mix in with the pass and have them complement each other. Sometimes it just depends on the game. Sometimes that’s what you want. If you’re running it well, you’re going to keep running it. If you’re having a tough day running it but you can throw it well, let’s throw it. If we’re getting one or two yards a run, that’s not helping us. Let’s throw the ball and take some shots and take quick throws, hit these quick gains and still get plays. You want to be flexible. If both of them aren’t working, that’s how you get into tough days. We go in with a game plan but if something’s not working or you get in a situation where you want to do one more than the other, we feel very flexible and confident we can be successful using both of them.

Is it tough concentrating on football in the wake of the storm?
These last couple days have been a little different but the most important thing for the players is staying safe and that their families are safe. Coach Coughlin let us come in later this morning and have a little time to get our situations settled. For me, I was excited to get in this morning, see the teammates, check on everybody and get back to preparation, get back to practice. I think once you’re in the facility, once we get these meetings started up, our focus will be on football, on Pittsburgh and doing everything we need to do to get a win.

Re: The Giants defense creating so many turnovers:
It’s great. As an offense you love that. It’s great momentum. The defense is getting turnovers and getting us great field position. Offensively, we’ve got to do a little bit better job of taking advantage of that and scoring touchdowns when they’ve put us in those situations. Our defense starts with our front four and our pass rush. We get to the quarterback, make the quarterback throw it before they want to, make them throw it a little high and then guys being in the right spot and making some great plays for us.

Were you or the stadium or the facility affected by the storm?
No, the facility is fine. We’re in here. Everything is up and running and we’re working well. My building is without power right now. My family is safe and in a good situation now. I’ll probably stay at a hotel the rest of this week until we get some power.

Re: Peyton Manning’s performance this year:
I’m proud of the way he has played this year. I know he’s worked extremely hard to get back to playing at a high level. Last year was frustrating for him. Being injured is always frustrating but he is grinding and grinding and this is a long process. He had his date set for the first game of the season being ready to play and play at a high level. I think he’s accomplished that. He’s gotten better and better over the weeks and more comfortable in learning a new offense, being in a new city. A lot of changes have gone on. He’s playing at a high level. The team is playing well and winning games. I’m just happy for his success and I hope it continues.

What has FB Henry Hynoski brought to the offense?
Henry is a guy who just has toughness. He’s very smart. He’s always got questions for me. Every Saturday he has his four or five questions on a call I’m going to make and how he’s going to block this and how we’re going to do this. He’s a guy who wants to make sure he’s got everything down and he does not want to make a mental mistake. He has great toughness and is just a good person and a great teammate.

Are you going to get Hynoski a touchdown?
We almost had him one the other week. He got tackled at the one. He made a good catch and got tackled at the one-yard line. We’re going to try to get him in the endzone one day.

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Wilson gets into Halloween spirit

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 11:25 am

Running backs coach Kirby Wilson got into the Halloween spirit on Wednesday, dressing up for team meetings this morning.

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Batch to host “In The Pocket”

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 9:23 am

Quarterback Charlie Batch will host “In The Pocket with Charlie Batch” on Monday, Nov. 5 from 7-11 p.m. at J. Verno Studios.

The event benefits the Best of the Batch Foundation’s reading and computer literacy programs.

Guests have the opportunity to challenge Batch and some of his Steelers’ teammates to fun games like pool and ping pong as well as bid on unique silent and live auction items.

Tickets are still available at www.batchfoundation.org or by calling 412-326-0119.

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Happy Halloween Steelers style

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 31, 2012 – 9:21 am

Thanks to our cafeteria staff for the great Halloween cake.

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Colon honored for his courage

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 30, 2012 – 2:27 pm

For a man who eats, breathes and sleeps football, a man who has put football ahead of other things in his life, a man who treats the game like it’s his first love, having it taken away from him the last two years has been challenging for Steelers guard Willie Colon.

Colon suffered a torn Achilles before the 2010 season, bringing his season to an abrupt and disappointing end before it even got started.

He worked his tail off to get back on the field for the 2011 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens and was proud of how far he had come and excited to be playing again. But it didn’t last long. He tore his triceps muscle against the Ravens, and for the second-straight year found himself on injured reserve.

“The second time was the hardest,” said Colon. “As a player you think you are going to have only one big injury in your career. I thought that was it. I had a good camp, week one I felt good in Baltimore. I was back in the groove.

“When I tore my triceps I didn’t think about it. I knew it hurt but at the same time it was a normal football injury. When (athletic trainer) John Norwig told me I was going to be out again that was the hardest. I thought I was done with injuries. It was heart breaking.”

Colon couldn’t help but ask himself, why me? What have I done to deserve this?

“That is the number one question. You wonder who you ticked off,” said Colon. “The toughest thing in life is to accept reality. I realized this is my reality and I can either cry about it or get back on the horse and get better and work from it. That is how I approached it, every day getting better and staying positive.”

What Colon did was get right back on the horse and not only fought back from the second injury, but made the switch from tackle to guard while doing so.

And on Tuesday he was honored for his hard work and perseverance when he received the Steelers 2012 Ed Block Courage Award, voted on by his teammates and presented annually to a Steelers player who has fought back from an injury or tough situation to return to the field. Colon and Sheakia Edwards, an alumnus of Holy Family Institute who won the Courage House Award, received their awards at the 20th Arthur J Rooney, Sr. Courage House Luncheon

“He has been through a lot on and off the field, obviously dealing with an injury two years in a row,” said Coach Mike Tomlin, who presented the award to Colon. “You couple that with the position change. This guy has been playing tackle for us since I came here and this year not only is he coming off an injury, he has been playing left guard. It tells you what type of man and teammate he is. I called him and gave him that news and he didn’t bat an eye. As a matter of fact he thanked me for believing in him, that he could do that job. That is the kind of man Willie Colon is. I am not going to stand in front of you and pretend that he is a nice guy, but he is a good man.”

Colon thanked those that helped him through the last few years, including Tomlin, offensive line coach Sean Kugler, the Rooney family, his teammates and trainers, and his family, who were in attendance after being stranded in Pittsburgh by Hurricane Sandy.

“Coach Tomlin tells us that’s reality is real,” said Colon. “As much as that sounds crazy, you have to accept reality. My reality was I was hurt for two years and I had to accept it and get over it.”

Keeping that positive attitude wasn’t always easy. There were definitely rough patches, times when disappointment meshed with anger, creating some long days, and even longer nights.

“You hear Coach (Mike) Tomlin talk about the love affair with this game,” said Colon. “I have a deep love affair with it. I have sacrificed relationships, my own body and mind, my every day growth to be a football player.

“There is so much that goes into this game. You have to have balance, though. If you don’t have balance you can fall off the deep end. I fell off that deep end and was able to climb back up that ladder. I just had to take it day by day.”

The injuries are well in Colon’s rearview mirror. He is back to where he was before the injury, now strong as ever.
“I learned a lot about myself during the injuries,” said Colon. “I had a lot of dark nights, wanted to give up. But it made me think about how much I love the game, and I thought about the good times and it lit my fire. I love coming out of the tunnel and hearing the fans cheer. That feeling you get in your gut, the nerves. I still have that in my belly. That kept me going. Even now, when I see my helmet, put my cleats on, I still have that fire that I want to play football.”

With all he has been through he is thankful every time he walks on the practice field, and doesn’t forget how lucky he is, kneeling and praying before every practice.

“With all I have been through, I try to give God thanks for giving me another day to practice,” said Colon. “I try to keep humble, practice my humility and work on my pride as far as being able to fight through anything I am going through.”

Greta Rooney, Willie Colon, Sister Linda Yankoski and Sheakia Edwards

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Steelers notes for Giants game

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 30, 2012 – 11:31 am

Check out the Steelers notes for this week’s game against the New York Giants,

Steelers Game Notes

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Steelers Hall of Fame busts on display

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 30, 2012 – 10:31 am

Steelers’ fans can enjoy a piece of history as all 22 of the Steelers Hall of Fame busts are still on display at the The Heinz History Center, including the newest members Dermontti Dawson and Jack Butler.

The busts, part of the History Center’s Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit, rarely leave the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and their stay at the History Center has been extended until Friday, Nov. 2 at noon due to their popularity.

This is the first opportunity for fans to take photos of all 22 Hall of Fame busts together. 

Tickets can be purchased online at www.showclix.com or by calling 1-888-71-TICKETS. Tickets can also be purchased at the Heinz History Center.

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Johnson another weapon for offense

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 29, 2012 – 11:08 pm

When the Steelers running game started off slowly early on this season, the players preached patience, saying that things would soon turn around. While some might have doubted that, the players never did and the last two weeks the ground game has been a key factor in the Steelers wins.

Part of the reason for the success can be credited to the power running game provided by Jonathan Dwyer and also to the blocking, including the contributions of fullback Will Johnson.

When Johnson first signed with the Steelers this offseason, he was hoping to make the team and contribute on special teams. But after fullback David Johnson suffered a season ending injury in the preseason, Will Johnson’s role quickly changed.

“When I first came in I knew I was going to be competing for a spot, whether special teams or whatever,” said Johnson, now the team’s only fullback. “My role is to be a fullback and do what they ask me to do and earn the coaches’ confidence and trust.”

Johnson has also earned the trust of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and not only is he asked to block, but also be a part of the passing game. Johnson was wide open for a one-yard touchdown against the Redskins, for his first NFL score.

“We do it a lot in practice. It works then,” said Johnson of the touchdown play. “I was surprised they lost me. There is usually a guy right on my hip. I was surprised I was wide open. As soon as I turned around I knew. I saw the linebacker get lost in the mix and I knew I was going to be open.

“Ben seemed like he fired it right in. Luckily enough I was on the goal line and able to get it.”

Johnson’s numbers for the season aren’t anything that jump out, with one carry for five yards and six catches for 52 yards and the one touchdown. But what he adds is another weapon to an offense that is loaded with threats at receiver, tight end and running back.

“We have a lot of versatile players,” said Johnson. “I think we are showing a lot of balance.”

The other thing they are showing is confidence. Just like the players preached the running game would come on strong, after losing three games early on the veterans let the young players know that there was no reason to worry.

“I trust the guys,” said Johnson. “They have been in this position and have a lot of Super Bowl rings. I trust guys and doing what I had to do.”

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Miller helps the fight against breast cancer

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 29, 2012 – 10:00 pm

Throughout the month of October the Steelers have shown their support for the fight against breast cancer, and that continued on Monday night when tight end Heath Miller and his wife Katie hosted Bid for Hope.

The event benefitted Glimmer of Hope, a foundation committed to raising funds for breast cancer research and finding a cure.

“It’s a cause that affects a lot of people, whether it’s someone in your family or friends, everyone knows someone who has had interaction with breast cancer,” said Miller. “We are happy to help out any way we can.

“The more people are aware of the disease and females are more in tune to their bodies, they are able to catch it before it becomes as serious. If we can help in that manner and with research and learn more about the disease and work towards a cure, we are happy to be involved.”

One of Glimmer of Hope’s main initiatives is funding an under-40 breast cancer study to help find a common thread and work towards a cure, as well as programs to help those younger women deal with the emotional and physical breast cancer battle.

“With the proceeds from Bid they can buy equipment at Hillman Cancer Center to help the study even further,” said Diana Napper, the founder of Glimmer for Hope. “They are also pushing to set protocol for premenopausal women to give them avenues from the beginning through the whole process. We want to give them avenues to make it simple and less frustrating for young women.”

Bid for Hope is in its 11th year, with Miller leading the charge after the departure of former Steelers guard Alan Faneca, who helped get it off the ground.

“Heath stepping up meant a great deal to the organization for him to pick up the ball and continue to run with it and score many touchdowns by lending his support,” said Napper. “Every year the money Bid for Hope creates some new avenue that helps young women with breast cancer. It’s with grateful heart that we thank them for doing this for us.”

In addition, defensive end Brett Keisel presented Glimmer of Hope with a check for $5,000 from the sale of his pink Da Beard Gear t-shirts during October, a shirt specially designed to help the fight against breast cancer.

“We just wanted to do something to give back,” said Keisel. “Heath and his family mean a lot to us. Plus my wife Sarah had an aunt that was close to her pass away from breast cancer. My Da Beard Gear crew got together with a witty idea and I was impressed to see the shirts raised that much money in such a short amount of time.”

The players signed autographs for those attending and a silent and live auction also highlighted the night.

“When you have the Pittsburgh Steelers participate with any organization it helps out tremendously,” said Napper. “Having them on board is a tremendous asset for us.

“When the Steelers put on pink t-shirts, or pink cleats, people take notice. They have brought this to the forefront. It’s a great avenue to educate the women.”

The Steelers have been wearing pink uniform elements throughout the month of October as part of the NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative, raising even more awareness to the fight against breast cancer.

“I think the NFL has done a pretty cool job the past few years of taking this initiative and running with it,” said Miller. “You see guys wearing pink the whole month of October. If that just opens someone’s eyes and makes them think twice about going in and getting a check-up that’s great. In the long term it could save them.”


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Coach Tomlin’s Post-Game Comments

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 28, 2012 – 5:03 pm


Coach Tomlin: Good win for us in all three phases. Very necessary. Obviously, contributions from all parties involved. I liked the overall energy. The team worked together. Ryan Clark got a concussion. LaMarr Woodley has a right hamstring strain. I don’t know the extent of it. We’ll take a look at him tomorrow. Jonathan Dwyer had a right quad that got tight. We don’t know the extent of it. We’ll take a look at him tomorrow. We’re going to enjoy this today. We’ll review it tomorrow and push forward, but a good win for us today. I tip my hat to a lot of the guys, contributions, and so forth from players and coaches and the administrative staff. They did a nice job.

Re: Defenses ability to contain Redskins QB Robert Griffin III:
I thought we did a nice job. We weren’t perfect. They test you, really. Dive, quarterback pitch, some of those things. They got some plays on us. The big thing and what we talked about all week is, regardless of what happened, we needed to run to the football with energy, run and hit and get multiple guys to the football. We thought that was the only way we could contain that outfit, largely, and I thought we did the job.

Re: Controlling the ball on offense:
For us, we look to possess the ball. If we convert third downs we feel like we’ve got a chance to do that. I think we did that today. That’s kind of been our story this year. Of course, if you don’t turn it over and you do that, that’s a recipe for success for us in our mind. I think it was today.  

Has RB Jonathan Dwyer earned himself a chance to become a regular starter?
He’s answered the call and taken advantage of the opportunity and that’s what we expect from all our young people. We don’t discount what any of them are capable of. He did the job today but obviously, I read his name here when I talked about the list of injuries so I’m not going to speak to soon on that. We’ll check all of the people involved and the health of guys that get the opportunities next week.

Re: Improvement on the offensive line:
I think we have improved as a team and that’s what this journey that is a football season is about. You better find ways to win along the way. We hadn’t done that enough to this point but I like the direction which we’re headed.

When all three running backs are healthy, could Dwyer possibly be the starter?
I’ll see what they look like next week. You’re not getting it today.

Has Dwyer’s performance the last two games surprised you at all?
This guy went over 1,500 yards his last two years at Georgia Tech. He was the ACC Player of the Year. He’s not foreign to running the football.

Re: Players running backwards into end zone:
I didn’t see it. I was looking at the penalty on the other end of the field. So, I’m not going to pass judgment on something I didn’t see. Obviously, we’re not into that.

Re: Putting together drives:
Like we were kind of talking about, just converting third downs, we also mentioned that we were running the ball effectively so we were on schedule. That creates manageable third downs. Ben [Roethlisberger] does a nice job of managing and protecting the football.

What is your assessment of the special teams today?
I thought we had our moments. We’ve got some dangerous return men and I think we acknowledge that. If we can stay penalty free, I think everyone will acknowledge that. We had some successes and failures in that regard. I thought our kick coverage was solid. We’re going to continue to work.

Re: Thoughts on the uniforms:
I love them if we play like that in them. Go get them. I bet you they’re hot.

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Steelers-Redskins Game Stats

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 28, 2012 – 4:50 pm

Complete stats and play-by-play from the Steelers 27-12 win over the Washington Redskins at Heinz Field.

Steelers Game Stats

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