Photo Gallery: Check out more fun photos at Players 4 Kids Gala
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley and fullback Will Johnson were part of the Players 4 Kids Gala on Tuesday night at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown.
They teamed up with Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle, second baseman Neil Walker and centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma, and Atlanta Braves pitcher Paul Maholm to benefit the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation.
Tags: Andrew McCutchen, Clint Hurdle, Dan Bylsma, LaMarr Woodley, Neil Walker, Paul Maholm, Will Johnson
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Steelers news, notes, rosters, depth, chart and more for this week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
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It was team photo day at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on Saturday morning, with photographer Karl Roser lining everyone up for the perfect shot.
Enjoy some of the behind-the-scenes shots.
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The Steelers are heading into the 2013 season under the radar, a team some are picking to finish third in the AFC North. That doesn’t bother cornerback Cortez Allen or his teammates, who know they just have to go out and do their job and the rest will take care of itself.
“For as long as I have been here there have been people that have doubted us, people that have said we are too old,” said Allen. “It’s never been a problem for us yet. For two years in row we have been the number one defense and I don’t see that stopping with the mindset and group that we have.”
Allen knows the defense can’t rest on their laurels. A number one ranking is the goal once again this year, but not just overall and against the pass, but also against the run.
“We want to be better in the turnover category,” said Allen. “We want to continue to be better against the pass and run. We finished one against the pass last year, but we would like to be one in every category. There are always things to work on.
“That is the approach we take every day, to get better every day. That should be any defense, any individual, to work to perfection. Each day there is something to build on.”
Tags: Cortez Allen
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The Steelers defense finished the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in the NFL, but the players think they could be even better this year.
So how can you improve on No. 1?
“I think that the number is not as important as the effect you have on football games,” said safety Ryan Clark. “We were extremely hard to score on last year. I think we were hard to move the ball on last year, which is good. But how many games did we truly dominate? How many times did you guys come in and start to write or speak and say, ‘The defense dominated this game. The Steelers defense won this game.’
“Whereas, you look at the years like 2008, it was almost every game where we did something in that game other than stop people that helped us to win. I think that’s how you get better. That’s the way you improve, and that’s the difference between 8-8 and 12-4.”
SI.com recently didn’t include the Steelers among the top five defenses in the NFL this year, and Clark joked it’s because “we’re old and slow and done.”
“You have to go out on Sunday and play the games,” said Clark. “The things that you know – we’re going to run to the ball, we’re going to be physical, we’re going to hit people and let the chips fall where they may. But there are not a lot of running backs or receivers that go into the week saying, ‘I can’t wait to play the Pittsburgh Steelers.’ So, that’s what we have to do. We have to continue to be physical.”
Tags: Ryan Clark, Steelers defense
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In support of USA Football Month and the Heads Up Football Pilot Program, the Steelers will have a Dick’s Sporting Goods Halftime exhibition youth football game between the West Mifflin Titans and Mars Invaders.
In addition, local youth football players from teams enrolled in the program will lead this week’s Terrible Towel Twirl along with 1st-IN-GOAL pre-game field pass winners.
Gabby Barrett, youth singer as part of NFL Youth Football, sang the national anthem, and the Connellsville Area High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors.
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Alameda Ta’amu won’t hesitate sharing what he needs to work on. He knows what he has to do in order to make the 53-man roster, and he reminds himself of it all of the time.
“It’s my hands and pad level,” said Ta’amu. “When I am low and my hands are disciplined, I feel like I can control the man in front of me. But sometimes when I am too high I might get beat.
“If you look through my notebook, there are a lot of things that say hands, hands, hands. It’s that and pad level. Right now those are my biggest problem.”
Ta’amu said he works on the issues daily, and will continue to until he is where he needs to be.
“I try to focus on my keys,” said Ta’amu. “Wherever my eyes are, that’s where my hands are going to be. I have to discipline my eyes to know where to put my hands.”
Tags: Alameda Ta’amu
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A look at some of the action at Steelers practice at the UMPC Sports Performance Complex.
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The Steelers were back to work at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side on Wednesday after spending the last three weeks at training camp at St. Vincent College.
But no matter what the location, the work was the same.
“Work is work, regardless of the venue we are here to do a job and that is play football,” said cornerback Ike Taylor. “We all have the same goal and that is to win games and it starts in practice. Whether you are in Latrobe or the South Side, football is football.”
Taylor said Coach Mike Tomlin approached training camp with the same mindset the team has in the regular season, so there was no real adjustment getting back to the practice facility.
“I felt like we had that in training camp,” said Taylor. “Coach laid out a blue print and it was a regular season atmosphere. It was like that throughout training camp.”
Tags: Ike Taylor
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Following Monday night’s loss to the Redskins Coach Mike Tomlin said he might bring officials in to practice this week after the Steelers were penalized eight times for 95 yards.
On Wednesday he kept his word, with four officials working the practice.
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Running back Jonathan Dwyer hates to see injuries at his position, but knows if someone goes down like Le’Veon Bell did against the Redskins he needs to take advantage of the opportunity.
Dwyer got most of the carries against the Redskins with Bell injured in the game and Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling not in uniform because of injuries, carrying the ball 14 times for 68 yards.
“You want your opportunity,” said Dwyer. “I don’t want it because someone got hurt, we all want a fair competition. We all want an opportunity. I hope these guys can come back and play from a team aspect and for the competition.”
Dwyer, who said offseason conditioning has him in good shape, is behind Redman and Bell on the depth chart, but is still battling to win the starting job.
“It’s not where you are at the start, but where you are at the end when the race is over,” said Dwyer.
Tags: Jonathan Dwyer
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Steelers game notes, rosters and depth chart for this week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
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The Steelers will wear their 1934 Throwback uniforms when the team hosts the Detroit Lions on November 17 at Heinz Field.
The Steelers wore the jersey for two games last season, against the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens.
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Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
Re: QB Ben Roethlisberger had his baby:
That’s one less thing we have to worry about. [Laughs]
Re: WR Plaxico Burress:
I think with Plaxico, number-one, you’re talking about a guy that’s played a long time in the league. It’s funny because when I was a receivers coach with the Jets in 2000, when he came out, we were set on taking Plaxico and we assumed the Steelers were taking Chad Pennington. They were a couple picks ahead of us and it turned our room into a tizzy in a hurry. We’re 12 years late getting to work together, but we’re excited about having him here. He’s a veteran guy that brings us size, and we’ve got to get him up to speed. That’s the challenge.
How much is easier is the learning when a guy has been around as long as Burress?
It’s not easier from understanding the terminology and things like that. It’s easier from techniques and understanding what routes we’re looking for and those types of things. The real challenge is just trying to get him into a position mentally to compete, and also understand the guy hasn’t been on the field in a number of months. But we’re excited to have him. Brian [Hoyer] is a sharp guy. There’s some carryover with him, having been in New England where they still use a bunch of the same terminology that we use here. He’s a quick study, and he has been around and backed up on a really good team behind a really good quarterback. You can tell that he didn’t have big eyes, so to speak. He steps in the huddle and takes control. He’s a smart guy who’s working his backside off to be in a position to help us if he needs to.
Will you adjust the offense to play to QB Charlie Batch’s strengths, and if so, what are those strengths?
Absolutely. That will never change, and like I said last week, especially at the quarterback position. Charlie’s a well-rounded quarterback that has a lot of experience and he’s comfortable running the majority of our offense and the majority of things we’ve been able to practice through the offseason, training camp and the season. With him, I think you just let him go through the lists of things he likes and is comfortable with, and comfortable with what the guys are doing. He’s done a good job this week. He’ll be ready to go. He’s a veteran, savvy guy that’s an accurate thrower, short and long, and I think he’s excited to play.
Is it like having a coach on the field when Batch is playing because of all the experience he has?
We have to teach him the art of not over-coaching. [Laughs] That is an art, too. Charlie has been around a long time. I’m joking but I’m being serious. You’ve got to understand everybody you’re working with and not over-coach. We’re on that.
How much work can you give a quarterback that has only been here three days?
It will be limited. But like I said, because of some of the carryover and a lot of people run very similar concepts, and once he gets it translated, which he’s worked hard at doing, he’s got that part done. So, understanding where the football goes, the protection and protection issues, he’s good at that. Like I said, he’s experienced enough to know where the ball needs to go in those concepts. Really, it’s just narrowing down a package for him that he’d feel comfortable with, run and pass.
Can you expand Burress beyond just a few packages with limited practice time?
I don’t know. We worked hard at trying to get him as much as we could without overloading him. We’ll have to see on Sunday exactly where he’s at. There’s the physical aspect of not having practiced every day for the season, and there’s a lot of factors going into it. Like I said, we’re excited to have him and he gives us a size presence that we don’t have other than Heath [Miller] or [Leonard] Pope and those couple guys. The key now is just getting him up to speed where he can come in and compete fairly.
Are you expecting to see Browns CB Joe Haden play this week?
Yeah. He was limited yesterday. I don’t know how he was today. But I would expect that he’d be out there.
It would be big for Cleveland if he plays, right?
Yeah. He’s a heck of a player when he’s in there. He gives them another guy that has experience and makes plays, and they do some matching and things like that to the receivers they feel are the number ones. And he’s the guy. Between him and Sheldon [Brown], they’ve got two pretty solid, veteran corners that know how to play.
What allowed the Browns to get a good pass rush against Dallas?
I think Dallas threw it a bunch, number-one, and number-two, it starts with 97, [Jabaal] Sheard, the guy from [Pitt]. He is a high-motor guy that is relentless, and he’s got a couple very good moves that he uses. He’s not a one-trick pony. When you add motor to skill set, those are usually your premier rushers, which he is. They’ve got the rest of the front four, which is a quality front four that keeps some pressure off him and keeps him in some one-on-ones. I think you’ve got to be aware of where he is and make sure that you have a couple bodies on him, generally.
Re: Impressions of G David DeCastro’s first practices since a knee injury:
I’m just excited to see him, number-one. I think it was a pretty significant injury and to have the new rule in place, which is great, and it allowed him to have a little light at the end of the tunnel, whereas most of the time when something like that happens, most guys just go and wonder the halls waiting for next year as they work on their body. But that was a real positive that he had a carrot dangling there to chase, and he’s obviously a tireless worker as a football player, and I think the same holds true in rehab and things like that, at least from the things I’ve heard. He looked good. He said he felt good and obviously we weren’t in pads or anything like that, so he hasn’t hit anybody since August. I’m glad that there’s a window but I wouldn’t set a bar on it with him, because I’m surprised that he’s even out here practicing right now.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
How much does their offense go through Trent Richardson?
He is their leading rusher and their leading receiver in terms of receptions, so that’s a lot. He’s not unlike Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. He is carrying the weight on both sides. They have some nice young wide receivers that they are getting the ball to deep. They use Richardson a lot.
Re: It looks like the Browns have a West Coast offense but they throw the ball deep more:
I think that’s because they have such a good runner. The core of their offense revolves around him. So your passing game is going to be play action. It is formidable because the linebackers have to respect the running threat and it gives them a little more space to work. That’s where you see them throw that deep ball. We will have to be on our keys, especially in the secondary. We can’t go chasing rainbows or they will be floating something over us.
Re: Rice being similar in size to Richardson:
I think that’s probably accurate. But the differences aren’t much. Maybe Rice is a little faster and maybe Richardson is a little bigger. Between the two of them, they are pretty damn good backs.
Re: Brandon Weeden:
He is getting better every week. He has done a good job from Week 1. You look at their scores in the last four or five games, they could have, and you maybe could say they should have won all of them. They won a couple of them. It’s going to be a close, hard-fought game. They are playing good football and he is playing good football.
Is he a pure pocket passer?
He scrambles some. He is a little more athletic than you might think. He can keep a drive alive. I don’t think he looks to do it. He isn’t that type of a quarterback but he can definitely keep the play alive in the pocket. He can scramble if he has to. I have been impressed with his speed and agility.
Re: Will Allen:
I think he’s done a great job, along with Ryan Mundy. Allen has been getting the majority of the snaps between the two but they’ve both done a great job in Troy Polamalu’s absence. In recent games, Allen has made a lot of tackles all over the field. He plays hard. He has continued to be productive on special teams. He is just a really solid veteran, and professional that can go in there, get the job done and let your defense function. He has definitely done a good job.
Re: Comparing and contrasting Allen to Polamalu:
I don’t think you should compare anybody to Polamalu. In my mind, he is as different as any safety I have ever seen. He can do everything. Allen has the speed and tenacity that Polamalu has. Allen has gotten to a ton of footballs and has played very well. I think Allen has his own style of play. You’ve all seen that it’s very productive and effective.
Re: Challenges and advantages of facing a rookie quarterback:
Early on there may be some but by the time you get this far into the season, I don’t think there are any. Weeden has had the whole training camp, all the coaching sessions and now all this game experience. He is just a young veteran quarterback now. It will come down to who plays the best football.
Do you have any advice for Ben Roethlisberger on being a father?
It’s the greatest thing in the world, absolutely. He and his wife will discover that. Don’t miss a minute of it because it goes pretty fast.
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There was no rest for the weary as the Steelers’ coaches were back at it on Tuesday morning, preparing for Sunday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.
The Ravens are 7-2, one game up on the 6-3 Steelers in the AFC North. But both teams could have 0-15 records and you would still get the same kind of battle that is expected this week.
“It’s Ravens’ week for us,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “This is going to be an awesome game. It always is. They are a talented bunch as they are perennially. They are a very good football team.”
The Ravens might be without their emotional leader on defense in Ray Lewis, who is on the injured reserve-designated for return list, but they certainly aren’t hurting for talent there.
“They still have some guys that have historically been issues for us,” said Tomlin. “Haloti Ngata is a guy that has created issues for us in the past and anyone else that suits up against him. He is tough to deal with. Terrell Suggs is back in action. He has had big games against us in the past. Ed Reed kills everyone.”
Reed continues to be a thorn in the side of opposing offenses with three interceptions so far this season, while cornerback Cary Williams leads the team with four.
“Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams are all playing really good football for them. These are guys that have grown in their program and have been playing for them for a number of years,” said Tomlin. “They are familiar names to us but might not be familiar to others. When I watch them on tape I see the emergence of this group and their ability to deliver crucial plays for them. They step up when needed.”
Another player who has stepped up this year is quarterback Joe Flacco, the AFC’s seventh leading passer. Flacco has completed 186 passes for 2,331 yards and 13 touchdowns, while spreading the ball around to prime targets Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, and Torrey Smith, as well as Ray Rice who is a threat in the air but primarily on the ground.
“They are continuing to grow on offense and mature with their quarterback,” said Tomlin. “The offense runs through Joe Flacco. They do a lot of no-huddle. They have a lot of autonomy for him, and rightfully so. He’s a great decision maker. He spreads the ball around to a variety of guys. He does a nice job of highlighting the talents of people.”
It all boils down to a classic battle to stay in the race in the AFC North, and the bottom line this week is this game is not going to be one for the faint of heart.
“More than anything, we understand what this matchup is all about,” said Tomlin. “It’s about physicality and playing good, hard-nosed football. We expect them to do that, and we better be prepared to do it.”
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The Steelers are looking to get back into the win column this week in a key AFC North match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This will be the Steelers first divisional game of the season, while the Bengals are 1-2 in the division coming off a loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“This is a big game for us and for them,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s our first venture into division play. We all know the importance of division play, particularly when you’ve had the kind of start we’ve had. I would imagine they can say similar things. It’s going to be a big game for all parties involved. It should make it entertaining for our fans.”
One of the main weapons the Steelers defense will have to contend with this week is the Bengals number one draft pick from last year, wide receiver A.J. Green who has 43 receptions for 628 yards and six touchdowns through six games.
“You don’t get taken that high in the draft unless you have a unique physical skill set,” said Tomlin. “But looking at his body of work since he’s been in Cincinnati, he’s got some intangible things to go along with that that allow him to produce and produce at a high level in the manner in which he has. We respect him, we respect what he’s capable of, and obviously, in terms of slowing them down, he’s a big component of that for us as we build a plan.”
Green isn’t the only weapon, though, that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has to work with, including running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, receiver Andrew Hawkins and tight end Jermaine Gresham just to name a few.
“By no means is he a one man gang,” said Tomlin of Green. “Jermaine Gresham, their tight end, is really doing some nice things. I really like what Coach (Jay) Gruden is doing with him schematically. They are putting him in some situations and displacing him from the core and getting him in matchups with linebackers and safety-types. He has a unique skill set. He is like an enormous wide receiver. He has good body control and runs great routes. He is a vertical threat.”
* * *
After in-game injuries against the Titans had the offensive line down to only five healthy bodies, there is a chance this week that the Steelers could dress eight instead of the normal seven linemen for the Bengals game.
“Absolutely it’s a possibility and it’s a real possibility considering the circumstances,” said Tomlin. “Obviously, with Marcus (Gilbert) being down and let’s say Maurkice Pouncey makes it, obviously you’d want to fortify yourself in that situation. I think eight linemen is a serious discussion that’s going to take place given the circumstance, not only the recent history in terms of what’s transpired with the group, but also the very present in terms of some of the men that will be playing, obviously, who will be dealing with things as we approach the game.”
Tomlin was also asked if there would be a roster move this week because of the injuries on the offensive line, and he acknowledged that there were players at the team’s facility on Tuesday that they were taking a look at, including Jacques McClendon who was signed to the practice squad. But Tomlin said it will be players already on the team they will be leaning on.
“Those that are going to help us win the football game this weekend are in our building and have been in our building,” said Tomlin.
* * *
Guard David DeCastro, who is on injured reserve/designated for return, is slowly making progress but there is no timetable right now for the rookie’s return to action.
“He ran yesterday in a straight line,” said Tomlin. “It’s part of the rehabilitation. I thought it was positive and I think how he responds to those workouts, of course, is going to be a critical component.
“But, there is a certain period of time that he has to go through before he’s even eligible to come back. So, we haven’t spent a lot of time discussing his status or his progress. I just happened to look over there and see him running.”
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