Daily Archives: December 16, 2011

Steelers 49ers Friday Injury Report Week 15 – Roethlisberger Limited

The Pittsburgh Steelers were once again on the practice field Friday getting ready for their week 15 game Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. The Friday injury report is now out and once again center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot), safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring), linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) all did not participate in practice for a second straight day. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) was very limited today according to reports as he looks to try to recover from his high left ankle sprain suffered last Thursday night Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers Insider Ed Bouchette Previews Steelers-49ers Game

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Steelers beat writer for the Post-Gazette Ed Bouchette joined Joe Starkey, Josh Miller and Colin Dunlap on Sportsradio 93-7 The FAN to break down Monday Night’s matchup between the Steelers and 49ers.

Bouchette said some of the concern surrounding Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle injury is the possibility of him re-injuring it, but you also have to ask how much he can help the team playing on this injury.

Despite the Steelers saying that Charlie Batch will start if Ben can’t go, Bouchette said you have to think they have some designed plays to get Dennis Dixon involved.

We also got Bouchette’s thoughts on the James Harrison hit and suspension, and how unhappy Mike Tomlin is with James for putting the team in this position.

Bouchette also told us how much the Steelers could focus on getting Hines Ward nine more catches to reach 1,000 for his career.

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Ed Bouchette, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

Suspension and arrest headline Week 15

Mike Florio looks at trending topics in the NFL including the suspension of Pittsburgh’s James Harrison, the arrest of Chicago WR Sam Hurd and the mental health status of Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert after a rough loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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NFL upholds suspension of Steelers’ Harrison

The NFL has upheld a one-game suspension of James Harrison, and the Steelers linebacker will miss Monday’s game in San Francisco.

Source: post-gazette.com – Steelers/NFL

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James Harrison’s suspension stands

Steelers linebacker James Harrison appealed his one-game suspension to a former NFL linebacker and defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell. But even though Cottrell, like Art Shell, is jointly appointed and paid by the league and the NFLPA, Cottrell agreed with the decision that the time has come to suspend Harrison for a game.  As a result,…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Opponent Spotlight: 49ers DL Ray McDonald


The Steelers haven’t produced a 100-yard rusher in seven games (Week 6 vs. Jacksonville). They only have two 100-yard rushers all season (Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer).

That streak is likely to be extended Monday Night when the Steelers travel to San Francisco to take on the run-stingy 49ers. While super-stud LB Patrick Willis will likely get most of the credit for their eye-popping run defense statistics – 3.2 yards per carry, 70 yards per game, zero rushing touchdowns against – the play of their defensive ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald is what should concern the Steelers.

If the season plays out the way it’s begun for the 49ers, it would be surprising not to see Smith as a top three defensive player of the year candidate. Think of Aaron Smith in his prime, but with better pass rush numbers. That’s the kind of season Smith is having – unblockable at his best, barely containable at his worst.

What Smith is doing from the right defensive end position for San Francisco is opening up opportunities for the rest of the defense. And his battery mate, LDE Ray McDonald, is taking full advantage.

McDonald, a fifth-year player from Pahokee, Fla., was a high school teammate of Santonio Holmes. While Holmes gained notoriety at Ohio State and many of McDonald’s teammates from the University of Florida received accolades, McDonald was a third-round draft pick in 2007 – defensive line mates Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey would both end up being first round picks.

He’s steadily improved in each of his five seasons, and is now breaking out as one of the best 3-4 defensive linemen in football. Much of that is due to his versatility. The 49ers have a hybrid scheme in their defensive front seven. They play with three and four down linemen, depending on the situation, and McDonald plays both end and tackle.

He’s equally effective in both, very similar to Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins. This versatility helps the 49ers create chaos along the front seven, making it extremely difficult to move the ball against them. He will test other Florida alum, RT Marcus Gilbert and C Maurkice Pouncey, as well as RG Ramon Foster, in various situations throughout the game.

It certainly helps that the 49ers can generate pressure from a slew of talented defenders, notably Willis and rookie OLB Aldon Smith. But McDonald’s ability to collapse the pocket from the left side will strain an offensive line throughout a game.

The 49ers were upset by Arizona in Week 13, largely due to their sinking offense not being able to sustain drives. McDonald, though, was a beast, particularly early.

Play Sequence

With 54 seconds left in the first quarter against Arizona, the Cardinals are pinned at their 1-yard line. The 49ers put four down linemen – McDonald, who’s head up over the right guard, DT Isaac Sopoaga is over the center and Smith is off the left guard. Flanked to either side are LB NaVorro Bowman (left side) and DE Parys Haralson (right).


Cardinals QB John Skelton snaps the ball from an off-set I formation, FB Anthony Sherman goes to the 2-hole (right guard). McDonald (yellow), however, gets a great jump off the snap, whips RG Rex Hadnot, and RB Beanie Wells immediately bounces the play toward the left side. McDonald was one more step away from drawing a safety. Wells gained two yards on the play.

On 2nd-and-8, the 49ers are showing the same defensive front – Bowman, McDonald, Sopoaga, Smith and Haralson. Arizona is in a single back look this time, and motion Sherman from his right to left, squaring up over Bowman.


At the snap, Skelton takes a three-step drop and immediately looks to WR Larry Fitzgerald off to his left. The Cardinals block McDonald with just RT Brandon Keith, who never has a chance on the play. Skelton isn’t even done with his three-step drop before McDonald is a full two yards in the backfield. Skelton has time to make a throw, but Fitzgerald hasn’t cleared CB Tarell Brown’s aggressive coverage. He’s forced to make the throw anyway, and Brown knocks it away, setting up 3rd and long.

On third down, San Francisco plays it a bit more conservatively with four down lineman – Ahmad Brooks, McDonald, Sopoaga and Smith, and drop their linebackers in coverage. San Francisco is looking to stunt Brooks around McDonald – an excellent play call, considering how badly McDonald has beaten both Hadnot and Keith. They were likely to double-team him.


McDonald isn’t double-teamed, he’s triple-teamed by Hadnot, Keith and C Lyle Sendlein. Brooks’ delayed stunt isn’t picked up by Sendlein, and Brooks is able to get in Skelton’s face, negating him a chance to make a clean throw to WR Early Doucet, who’s open on the right side and past the first down marker.

It was a great three-play sequence for McDonald, who was able to draw attention from a combination of three linemen on three different plays. San Francisco allows just two yards on three plays, and one of the league’s best return men – Ted Ginn – is going to field a punt that will give the 49ers excellent field position.

That’s the kind of disruption McDonald brings to this defense, and the Steelers aren’t going to be able to worry only about San Francisco’s superstars, Smith and Willis (assuming he plays). A hobbled Ben Roethlisberger means the 49ers are likely going to bring a lot of pressure up the middle, aiming and getting bodies on the ground around his feet. Whomever will have responsibility for McDonald on each given play (some combination of Gilbert, Foster and Pouncey) are going to have to be prepared for a lightning-fast first step and a lot of power. Don’t be surprised if a few false start penalties occur (Gilbert had two against Cleveland, and that was in Pittsburgh).

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

James Harrison Will Not Play Monday Night at San Francisco

Not surprisingly, Steelers Digest is reporting the appeal James Harrison made on his 1-game suspension was denied by Ted Cottrell, one of two men paid by both the league and the union to handle disciplinary appeals.

James Harrison will not play in Pittsburgh’s Monday Night game at San Francisco in Week 15.

Harrison appealed the suspension, which was given after he struck Browns QB Colt McCoy in the facemask just miliseconds after McCoy released the ball from outside the pocket. McCoy had tucked the ball, and was running, thus making him a runner and not subject to the same rules as a quarterback.

NFL rules state defensive players are still liable for hitting a quarterback in a defenseless position. The extremely short amount of time between McCoy changing from a runner to a quarterback was likely the grounds for Harrison’s appeal, but it wasn’t ever considered to be likely to pass.

While Harrison’s suspension is a first under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for actions between the whistles on the field, denial of an appeal certainly isn’t a first. Harrison appealed a string of fines in the 2010 season and a portion of the money he was fined was eventually returned.

That is pretty much the only appeal that has ever succeeded.

Goodell and a group of league executives (Ray Anderson and Merton Hanks) dole out the fines and suspensions, and Cottrell and Art Shell – both former coaches and Shell is a former player – hear the appeals. It’s rare when details of the appeal surface, but the group almost always sides with the league. The salaries of Cottrell and Shell are provided by both the league and the union in an effort to establish a fair process.

Jason Worilds will start in place of Harrison at the ROLB position, and LaMarr Woodley will return to his usual LOLB position – Worlids has been playing there since a hamstring injury forced Woodley out of action essentially since Week 9.

Harrison, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, has eight sacks this season in nine games played.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Ben doing everything in his power to play

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he is going to do everything in his power to play on Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers, but it might not be up to him.Roethlisberger, who did not prac…

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

‘That’s Just James Being James’

James Harrison says he won’t change his playing style. That’s OKAY with me.

James Harrison lays victorious after his 100 yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII

In the wake of a one-game suspension handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell, James Harrison is once again sticking to his guns in regards to the way he plays the game.
Jerome Bettis relayed Harrisons words on ESPN’s NFL Live, where Bettis said of James,
“He told me he cant, He tried to do it one time before and there was a problem with it. He felt very uncomfortable. He felt if he continued to do that, he would get himself hurt because he would not be [playing] 100 percent.”
Anyone who has played the game of football has been taught that when you play the game you play all out until the whistle.
This is the first rule of playing football. It’s not about trying to inflict pain on the opposition, but rather it’s self-preservation.
All it takes is one play at half speed for a knee, an ankle, or a head …

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Week 15 Steelers Spotlight: Breaking Down OLB Jason Worilds


It’s unclear if a spotlight has shone brighter this season than it currently does on Steelers second-year OLB Jason Worilds. It’s due to three major factors that will play into Pittsburgh’s Week 15 primetime game at San Francisco.

One, the suspension of James Harrison thrusting Worilds back into the starting lineup at ROLB after multiple stints of playing for either the injured Harrison or LaMarr Woodley.

Two, the collapsing 49ers offensive line, particularly on the right side, will draw their attention more toward stopping Woodley, who will return from a hamstring injury that’s prevented him from playing in all but 13 plays since Week 9.

Three, the fact that Worilds is turning into a pass-rushing beast, coupled with the likelihood of San Francisco running at him the vast majority of their offensive plays.

Put simply, it’s a huge game for Worilds. He’s got a schematic advantage, it’s a prime time game and the fact he’ll line up on the defensive right side of the field over Harrison carries with it arguably the most controversial decision the league has made this year.

San Francisco’s offensive line has been ravaged by injuries over the last few games, and the result of that has been poor protection for the NFC West champions. LT Joe Staley suffered a head injury in their Week 14 loss to Arizona, and if he’s unable to play, Alex Boone will get the start. This is a unit that has surrendered 26 QB hits and 18 sacks in their previous three games.

Against the pass

Worilds has improved with each game, and the 49ers will have to consider him an impact player. Their game plan against Arizona was to make the pass their top priority, and it’s probably the reason they lost the game. Arizona brings a great deal of pressure up the middle, but former Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton dialed up pressure from all over the field, and held the 49ers to just 19 points and a donut in the red zone.

The Steelers have seen an improved pass rush among their interior from Ziggy Hood (injured groin may prevent him from playing Monday), Steve McLendon (who will start at LDE if Hood cannot) and Cameron Heyward, but Worilds will be a key in the pass rush. Staley is a decent tackle, but he doesn’t appear to be as strong against speed rushers like Worilds. Not the biggest guy on the field (he looks much thinner than his 262 pound listed weight), Worilds makes it up with great quickness and explosion off the ball. The mix of he and McLendon – who provides for the bulk – or Hood – technically savvy – could be a tough match-up, especially with Brett Keisel and Woodley on the other side.

If Worilds can push into the backfield on passing downs, it will force the anemic 49ers offense to go into max protect, which means keeping TE Vernon Davis, the team’s best receiver, in-line to block.

Against the run

Worilds size becomes something of a disadvantage in this regard. It’s easy to physically compare Worilds to Harrison – another undersized pass rusher – but Harrison’s strength and flexibility made him extremely difficult to move off the edge. Worilds doesn’t play as low as Harrison does, and he has a tendency to get hooked – meaning he rushes upfield and is pushed too deep to make a play by the lineman. Harrison, despite having the ability to speed rush, does not get hooked. Much of that is due to the obvious experience advantage Harrison has, but a good amount is due to the lower body strength Harrison has, and he fact he can play with his knees bent below a 45 degree angle, giving him a base of support that even offensive tackles can’t move easily.

The key for Worilds is recognition. Harrison is patient in his recognition, identifying the intention of the play. Worilds is a bit more hyperactive, and pushes up field sometimes too quickly. Upon recognizing it, he must get lower in his stance, anchoring his weight to that spot, and force the running back to cut back toward the pursuing linebackers, or be in a position to keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage as the back bounces to the outside.

He has a great example of how to do that correctly in Harrison, who’s the best run-stopping outside linebacker in football.

The 49ers are a struggling football team if they can’t pass, but they’re an elite team if they can run. RB Frank Gore seems to be feeling the weight of being the offensive centerpiece, and has ankle and knee injuries slowing him down. One doesn’t need to be Jim Harbaugh’s brother to see you’re going to have a tough time beating the Steelers if you are a one-dimensional offense. They’re going to want to establish the run, and the best way to do that is going to be going after Worilds.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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