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Steelers Blog

Plenty at stake on Sunday

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 26, 2012 – 9:02 pm

Steve McLendon knows what the feeling was like losing to the Cleveland Browns, 20-14, on Nov. 25.

And while this Sunday’s game against the Browns at Heinz Field has no playoff implications, McLendon does not in any way, shape or form want to have that same feeling again. 

“There is something at stake,” said McLendon. “First of all we’re playing against Cleveland. We don’t want to lose to those guys twice.

“You want to finish strong no matter what the situation is. The type of guys we have here, we don’t want to go out with a loss. We are all motivated this week. We just have to go out here and finish.”

A win would give the Steelers an 8-8 record, and while finishing .500 was not the goal when the season started, it would keep them from having their first losing season since 2003.

“The desire now is to finish 500,” said tackle Max Starks. “When you think about that, you never want to finish with more losses than wins. I have never done that in my entire football playing career and I don’t plan on starting that now. For me that is my drive and I think it’s a lot of guys drive. I don’t plan on ever finishing under 500. I don’t want that to start this year.”

Casey Hampton remembers that losing season when the Steelers went 6-10. He didn’t like it then, and he doesn’t want it to happen again.

“It’s been a long time,” said Hampton. “I remember that. It’s tough. You get paid to do a job you have to go out there and be professional about it and just make the best out of it.”

Hampton is well aware the team wouldn’t be in the position they are today if they would have pulled out some early season wins that they expected to have. But when they didn’t it put them behind the eight ball and time ran out.

“Early in the season you can’t give away games you are supposed to win,” said Hampton. “That comes back to bite you at the end of the day. You have to win those games early that you are supposed to so later on you can afford to drop a game or two when guys aren’t at full strength. You have to win the ones you are supposed to win early.”

* * *

Hampton, in his 12th season with the Steelers, said he wants to continue to play but whether that is in Pittsburgh or elsewhere time will tell. Hampton will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and isn’t sure what his future holds.

“I definitely want to continue to play, whether it’s here or wherever,” said Hampton. “I definitely want to be here, but I understand it’s a business. Whatever happens will happen. I don’t have any control over that. I only have control over what I do on the field.”

Last year receiver Hines Ward retired rather than trying to play for another team, but Hampton is leaving his options open.

“I want to play and I feel like if somebody wants me to play for them I’m going to play,” said Hampton. “That’s just what it is. I’m a little different than Hines.”

* * *

Cornerbacks Curtis Brown (ankle) and Keenan Lewis (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (not injury related), and receiver Mike Wallace (hip) did not practice on Wednesday. Tackle Mike Adams (ankle) was limited, while guard David DeCastro (hamstring) was a full participant.


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Inside the locker room: Ben Roethlisberger

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 26, 2012 – 5:16 pm


Have the last few weeks given you cause to think about the offseason and the changes the team may make? Also, what has the problem been with the failed comeback attempts?
In the past, I’ve prided myself and our team in the fourth quarter comebacks. We’ve always said you don’t want to have them because then you’re usually not doing so well early-on in the games. But we’ve always been good at it. This year just wasn’t. I don’t think there is a rhyme or reason why. Just was a year where I wasn’t [good]. I don’t think there’s any reason to go panic. I’ve been pretty good for eight years doing it. I had one not-so-good year at it. I felt like I played pretty good football though, other than those situations. There’s not going to be any panic. I know that this offseason, when it gets here, will be a focus on really striving to get better.

Have you found a little perspective in the days since the Bengals game?
A little bit. It’s still pretty tough. I still go over a lot of things in my head but that’s the competitor in me.

Were you still dealing with injury-issues down the stretch here?
I’ll never make excuses. We can talk about that in the offseason maybe. I feel good enough to play.

How do you prepare for a game that has no bearing on the season?
Well, we want to finish strong. I want to finish strong. I’m going to go out there and give it my all. I’m not going to quit on this team or this franchise or the fans. They’re going to get everything I’ve got and I think everyone in the locker room feels the same way.

How disruptive was the three-game layoff?
It’s unfortunate. Injuries are never fun. But you know me, I won’t make excuses. I’ve got to be able to step-up and perform afterwards just as well as I did before.

Have you felt the same since you came back as you did before the injury?
Obviously, as you progress throughout a season everyone is a little injured and everyone is a little banged up. Every week you get a little more banged up. But no excuses from me.

How important is it to avoid a sub-.500 season? Or is it playoffs and Super Bowl or bust for you guys?
Obviously the playoffs and Super Bowl are always our goal. One of my goals coming in was to never be below .500. I know we want to try to avoid a losing season at all costs.

What are the chances that if we were to talk to you a week from today that you will have had surgery already?
I have no clue. Hopefully nothing happens this week. [Laughs]

Have you thought about who may or may not be here next year?
No, because, I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not looking past this game. This game means a lot to me. It means a lot to a lot of the guys in here. I’m not going to quit on this team or the fans because we at least owe that to them, to fight all the way to the finish.

Can you put something on film this week to convince the team to bring certain guys back?
We hope so. We would love to put a good showing out there. I think everyone wants to go out and play their best. Obviously, every year we want to have everybody back. We know that never happens. I think we’ve got a great group of guys and I know who you’re talking about. I hope he’s back.

Why did this team not finish strong this year?
I don’t know. If I knew I think we would have fixed it. I think a lot of it has to do with my play, not playing well down the stretch and fourth quarter drives or last minute throws, just not making it happen. I guess my best is answer to you is probably because I didn’t play well enough.

Are injuries just sometimes an explanation and not an excuse as to why things snowball and pile up?
They can be. It just depends on who says injuries were an issue. We have a lot. We’ve dealt with it in the past. I’m proud of the way guys have stepped-up this year and fought through injuries. We’ve had other guys step in spite of injuries. It is what it is. We have a lot of them and we just have to hope that we don’t have as many next year.

Re: The possibility that a number of guys are playing their last games as Steelers:
I don’t like to think negative because to me that’s negative thought. You never want to lose anybody and you don’t want to think about it being the last game. I’m just not going to think about it. I’m going to cherish the time I get with these guys and go forward from there.

Are you looking forward to working with Todd Haley and this offense next year?
Yeah, we need to continue to grow. We need to get better every week. I know in the offseason it’s not like every week is a game week but we need to continue get better and grow in all aspects – our run game, our pass game and every position needs to get a little bit better.

Are you happy with the offensive system?
Yeah, I think it works for us. When we’re executing I think it works.

What gives you belief in the core group of the team?
I know the competitiveness in myself. I know it in a lot of the guys around here. I think that we know what we have and what we can have and how good we can be. It’s hard for us to really sit here and look at next year because we have a game but we’re going to try and start next year, next season, this week, if that makes sense.

Do you want to play the whole game, and do you think all the starters should?
Everyone has their different perspective and they have injuries and whatever. But, I want to play. I want to be out there. I would love to only play a half because we’re up so much, but I don’t think that’s going to happen in an AFC North game because it’s always going to be a fight. But, yes, I want to be out there.


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Inside the locker room: Heath Miller

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 26, 2012 – 5:02 pm

Tight end Heath Miller, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday after suffering an ACL injury against the Bengals, was in the locker room folllowing practice and talked about the injury.

Re: The injury:
It is what it is. I will just try to make the most out of it and get better.

Did the tackle early in the game have any effect on the injury?
I don’t know for sure. It’s hard to say.

Re: You weren’t too thrilled about that tackle:
No, it’s never a comfortable position to be in. That’s part of today’s game, based on the rules that are being put in place.

Re: Timetable for return:
I just am taking it day-by-day now. We will do the surgery, and I look to get better each and every day.

Is the surgery scheduled yet?
Yeah, it will be done tomorrow.

Is the ACL the most serious part?
I would assume. I know it will have to be fixed. We will go from there.

Is the PCL damaged?
Yeah it is. But I guess they don’t do anything for that. That will heal on its own. This is kind of new territory for me.

Re: Ready for training camp next season:
I am just going to take it day-by-day and try to get better each day, and go from there.

Re: Worst injury before this was a sports hernia:
Yeah that was easy compared to this. Especially now, they do it in and out.

Re: The season:
It’s disappointing, because we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked. It’s obvious. I personally have a lot of work to do in this offseason but as a team I think we have a lot of work to do. This is unfamiliar territory for us. We need to get better.

Re: Unfamiliar territory:
There aren’t many meaningless games around here. We just will approach it full steam ahead.

What would it mean to you if you were voted Steelers MVP?
It’s an honor. It would be humbling. Like I said, the overriding factor is the disappointing season and not doing what we set out to do.

Re: Timetable:
I think it would be unfair to predict how my body is going to heal or how the rehab process will go. I am just going to try to get better each day and see where that takes me.

Re: Possibly making the Pro Bowl:
I don’t know. It’s not why I play. It’s a nice accolade but obviously it was a disappointing season and we aren’t where we want to be.


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The weather outside is frightful

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 26, 2012 – 1:35 pm

2012_Practice_1226_0072

Heavy snow and freezing rain forced the Steelers to move practice inside on Wednesday, but it didn’t stop the specialists from getting some work outside in case blustery conditions exist on Sunday. Shaun Suisham, Drew Butler and Greg Warren worked in the snow with special teams coach Amos Jones prior to the team’s afternoon practice.

2012_Practice_1226_01392012_Practice_1226_0099 2012_Practice_1226_0109 2012_Practice_1226_0111 2012_Practice_1226_0128


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