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DeCastro eager to play

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 12, 2012 – 9:56 pm

Steelers guard David DeCastro doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, but he is definitely eager to get back on the field this week, with the potential to start at right guard against the Dallas Cowboys.

“We believe that his health is at a level now that we can put him in and watch him prepare during the course of the week,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “If we like what we see, he may have an opportunity to play.”  

With left guard Willie Colon out after knee surgery, the Steelers could move right guard Ramon Foster into Colon’s spot and start DeCastro on the right side if he has a good week of practice.

“I am extremely eager,” said DeCastro. “That is what I have been working the past couple of months for. I have been injured, doing rehab, and you set a goal like this to get back out there and play.”

DeCastro saw limited action for the first time this season when he was on the extra point and field goal units against San Diego. While it was only a few snaps, for him just playing was a bonus after he has been out all season after suffering an MCL injury in the preseason. Now he is ready to take it to the next level.

“I definitely know the system,” said DeCastro. “It’s just a matter of getting back out there, first game, real live action. It’s a little different than practice. I feel great in practice and have only been out there the last couple of weeks and haven’t taken any steps back.

“It’s one of those things where I was getting comfortable every week. Every week has gotten a lot better, which is positive. It’s gotten better every week so it should keep going upwards.”

DeCastro, who will wear a knee brace on Sunday, said he feels confident and isn’t worried about how his knee will react in game action.

“After the last couple of weeks practicing you get more comfortable with it,” said DeCastro. “I feel confident in it. I am good.

“I might be a little nervous, but that is natural. It would be a problem if I wasn’t.”

* * *

Receiver Mike Wallace heard something at Heinz Field last week that he hasn’t heard since playing with the Steelers – fans booing him.

While Wallace caught two touchdown passes against the Chargers in a 34-24 loss, he also dropped a pass that brought on boos, but said it didn’t get him down.

“It’s not like I am surprised or upset, if I handled my business or did my part nothing would go on,” said Wallace. “There’s not too much to say about it. They have their right, people do whatever they want. Anything I do is going to be magnified. I just have to do what I need to do and don’t give anybody a reason to say anything. Whatever happens I take full responsibility for it.”

Wallace said he needs to “be a better player,” but there isn’t any lack of effort on his part.

“I know that and I work hard at it every single day. I would love to make every play. I just have to keep working at it.”

* * *

Cornerback Ike Taylor missed his first game since 2004 last week when the Steelers hosted the Chargers, something that was tough for him. And while he will miss this week’s game against the Cowboys as well, his hope is to get back on the field this year, but he couldn’t commit to anything.

“Right now it’s going really well,” said Taylor. “The process is going really fast. I wish I had a genie bottle. I wish I could make things happen fast, come back and give you a timetable. The process is going fast.”


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Coach Tomlin on Mendenhall suspension

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 12, 2012 – 6:15 pm

Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall was suspended for this week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys and on Wednesday Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the suspension. Tomlin spoke about the suspension after practice, stating that Mendenhall did not attend the Steelers-Chargers game at Heinz Field last Sunday, but did not field any questions.

“Last Sunday, he was not at the game,” said Tomlin. “I deemed those actions a detriment to our efforts. I stated as such when I met with him that there were going to be repercussions with it. It was a good visit. He accepted it. He looks forward to coming back and rejoining his team on Monday and being a positive contributor to our efforts the rest of the way.

“Obviously there is frustration with his situation, understandably. But we all have a job to do. I require that all guys remain professional regardless of personal circumstances. He didn’t meet the standard in that regard, and he accepted the consequences of it. Hopefully this will be a lesson learned, not only for him but for everyone, and we will be able to move on from it. Right now, our focus is on the guys that are here and their preparation in an effort to pursue victory this weekend.”

Mendenhall was inactive for Ravens and Chargers games, and will not play for the third straight week because of the suspension.


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Woodley practices, Harrison doesn’t

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 12, 2012 – 4:14 pm

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Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, with hopes of returning to action this week after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.

“I did everything today,” said Woodley. “I practiced the whole time from individuals to every team period. So I was out there the entire time.”

Woodley injured the ankle in the second quarter against Cleveland on Nov. 25, and missed the Baltimore and San Diego games.

“It’s always tough watching from the sideline, but when you’re on the sideline, you can do a lot,” said Woodley. “It’s almost like I was a player/coach. So when Jason Worilds was out there, I was telling him things that maybe I can see, what the offensive tackle was doing, just being out there helping one and other.”

While Woodley practiced, eight players sat out including tackles Mike Adams (ankle) and Willie Colon (knee) and cornerback Ike Taylor (ankle), all who have been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Also missing practice were cornerbacks Cortez Allen (groin) and Keenan Lewis (hip), linebacker James Harrison (illness), safety Troy Polamalu (not injury related), and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (shoulder).


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Inside the locker room: Ben Roethlisberger

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 12, 2012 – 3:43 pm

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke with the media prior to practice on Wednesday.

Re: This weekend’s game against Dallas:
It’s a big one for us. As we know, and those of you know that have been around here, it’s all about when you get hot and when you start playing good football. For us, the time is now. We need to start playing our best and try to put together a little run here.

Re: Talk about the team not being ready against San Diego:
I didn’t see that from the people I was around. I sensed maybe a little bit of trying to get it energized and get it going a little bit. But I think everyone was ready to play. I don’t think it has been addressed this week. I think you’ll see from guys that have been around here a while, it’s that time where you’ll start seeing some leaders stepping up in the ways of how to practice and how to get ready for games. Hopefully, the young guys take some cues from that.

Do you think there is a sense of desperation now, especially with Cincinnati losing?
No. Every game for us right now is big, it doesn’t matter if it’s AFC-NFC, Cincinnati or whoever it is. This is a big one for us. We need to come out and play ball, and I don’t want to use the word desperation because I don’t feel desperate. I just think that we need to put it together and play ball the way we know how to play ball.

As the offensive captain, what do you say to RB Rashard Mendenhall?
Just like Coach Tomlin said this morning, we’ll let him address all that stuff.

Does this season feel like it is atypical from how things usually are and turning the corner on two wheels?
I think that’s a good way to put it, turning the corner on two wheels. But I think the turn is over. I think we’re going to settle back on four, kick it into four-wheel drive and get going.

What makes you think that?
Just a feel. Like I said, it’s that time of year that you’re going to start seeing some guys that have been around here, that you’re going to start seeing a different mindset and mentality that it’s that time of year. In years past, it just is a natural thing. No one has ever had to say it because you’ve had so many guys that have done it before for such a long time that this time of year it’s a natural thing and it’s time to pick it up and go. We’re going to have some veteran guys starting to do that and like I said, we’ve got to get the young guys to do the same.

Is that an unspoken thing?
It has been since I’ve been around here and we’re going to try and keep it that way.

Re: Trying to find a rhythm last game:
I don’t know if the rhythm, or lack thereof, last week had anything to do with injury. I think I did come out a little anxious, a little rusty, but we just couldn’t put it together. From one phase of offense, one position, on any particular play, it wasn’t like we had any two positions doing the right thing. It was one of those funky things, and I think we’ve got it corrected.

Re: Dallas linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer:
They’re very good. Their defensive line, in general, is very good. It’s kind of where it starts for them. We consider them defensive linemen. They get after it. We’re going to have to put a special emphasis on blocking them and trying to take advantage down the field if we can block those guys.

Ware and Spencer bounce around from side to side, correct?
Yes. There’s no way to know exactly where they’re going to line up on any particular play.

Are you confident in G David DeCastro if he gets the start?
I’m always confident in the guys, no matter who it is. We’ll get a good look today because we’ll have some pads on and him knowing that he’s going to be in there and be the guy, I think he may have a different mindset and mentality than he’s had in previous weeks, where it’s been more feeling himself out and how his leg feels out there. Now, he has no choice. He’s going to have to be ready to go so I think today and tomorrow will be a big step to see where he is.

Re: Dallas QB Tony Romo being a high-profile quarterback:
He plays for “America’s Team,” right? [Laughs] I think the Steelers are the world’s team. We just want to go beat them.

Was there any thought of coming out of the game on Sunday once the score became lopsided?
Not that I know of. And if Coach [Tomlin] would have said something to me I would have told him, “No.” Doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t have been out, but I would not have wanted to come out, no matter what the score was. That’s just not me.

Those reps helped you knock the rust off, right?
Yeah, why not? I want to be out there. I never want to quit.

How did the jacket you wore to protect your ribs work?
I didn’t even wear anything different, other than I had a little bit of padding on the outside of my shoulder pads and that was little bulky, so I took it off.

How do you feel after a couple days removed from the game?
Normal Wednesday. No major setbacks so I actually feel pretty good.

Is there any concern that WR Mike Wallace’s confidence is shaken at all?
No. None whatsoever. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Mike. He’s got it in himself and we all have it in him that he’s going to come out and be great. There was never a second thought in my mind about it.

Did you guys talk after the first half?
I kind of unloaded. I laid into the whole offense, not just Wallace. I think we all deserved to get booed, which I feel like we did.

Re: Playing in Dallas against the Cowboys and not the Packers:
I just got done talking with the Dallas media and they asked me about my memories of that place. I said I don’t have any, and I don’t remember any.

Did you put that Super Bowl out of your head?
Yeah, that’s right.

Re: Your first trip to Dallas earlier in your career:
That was a long time ago. I was talking about that. That’s the old stadium and that seems like a long time ago. That was the last time we played in Dallas.

Re: Getting WR Plaxico Burress his first catch and his role moving forward:
It was really cool to get him the ball. I knew that play when we called it, we practiced it during the week, and I was about 98% sure I was going to him no matter what. I kind of forced it into some traffic but in typical fashion, he goes up and makes a play, gets hit and gets up. It was really neat for me. It was a nostalgic type of thing and for the crowd to cheer for him, I really enjoyed it. We’ll see about using him as we keep going. I would like to. I think he’s a great target and asset to this team.

Is that the type of play that only works once?
No, not necessarily because we have other options. But it worked out pretty well that time.

Do you think Burress is ready for a bigger role?
I do. I think he’s been putting a lot of extra time in and work on getting himself ready and prepared and understanding this offense. I do think he’s ready to expand his role.

Are you still talking to Bruce Arians?
Yep.

What is about Arians that allows him to communicate so well with young quarterbacks?
He’s a player’s coach. I talked to some of the other Colts’ players and they really enjoy playing for him. They respect him. They’ve got something special going on over there. It’s really neat to see with Coach [Chuck] Pagano and all of the stuff they’re going through.

Are you still playing for a player’s coach or is the style different?
Oh yeah. I think we are. Absolutely.


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Steelers, Cowboys Social Showdown

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 12, 2012 – 2:57 pm

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One of the most storied rivalries in the NFL has now spilled over into social media. The Steelers and Dallas Cowboys kicked off their #SocialShowdown today, pitting the two teams against each other in the social media landscape. 

The winner is determined by the team that accumulates the most combined Twitter followers and Facebook Likes between now and the end of their game on Sunday, Dec. 16 at Cowboys Stadium. 

Fans are encouraged to follow @steelers on Twitter and Like the Steelers Facebook page, as well as encourage others to do the same by sharing the showdown on their Facebook walls or Tweeting for their team. Both can be done by visiting the #SocialShowdown page.


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Ward training for Ironman triathlon

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 12, 2012 – 2:30 pm

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Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is training for the 2013 Ironman World Championship triathlon, a grueling event that includes swimming, biking and running. Ward has teamed with REFUEL | ‘got chocolate milk?’ for the Become One, program as he prepares for the endurance race in Kona, Hawaii.

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