Daily Archives: April 15, 2012

2012 Steelers Mock Draft Version 4.0

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After hours of even more tape watching and researching more on the pro days, my latest Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft version 4.0 is now complete. I have battled back and forth with myself, as I do with every mock draft, on the first 4 rounds. Who will drop where is always the toughest question to answer. One position I was not able to fit in this go around was running back. I am not totally sold the Steelers will take one in the first four rounds, but I am also not ready to rule it out from happening either. My first round pick will draw the most ire once again as it goes against the grain of Read more [...]

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The Pittsburgh Power Storm Back to Defeat the Orlando Predators for the Biggest Comeback in Arena Football League History, and I was There to See it


The Pittsburgh Power knocked off the Orlando Predators, 57-54, last night before a crowd of just over 4400 at the Consol Energy Center. I was one of the 4400-plus in attendance, and I got to witness the biggest comeback in Arena Football League history, as the Power stormed back from a 31-point second half deficit to win in overtime.

You might be thinking, "Well, what does this have to do with the Steelers, Tony?" Well, first of all, Lynn Swann and Mike Logan, two former Steelers, were both there. At least there's some Steelers connection.

Also, I just broke up with my girlfriend, and I need this writing release, damn it!

Sorry, I got emotional. That's what happens at times like these. Your emotions are just all over the place. I must control them in-order to finish this post. I'll try.

I digress.

The reason why Mike Logan was there is because he's the new color analyst for the Pittsburgh Power radio broadcasts. I was in line to buy a ticket for the game, and I happened to look over to see him talking to a woman. I said to myself, "That's Mike Logan! I'm going to go get his autograph!" After I bought my ticket, I started to approach him to maybe ask for an autograph, but I couldn't decide. Before I could make up my mind, he turned toward me to walk to wherever he was going, and I almost bumped into him. At least that was something.

My ticket was in section 106, row z seat 8. It was right in front of one of the reserved areas, and as I was searching for my seat, right in front of me was Steelers Hall of Fame receiver, and hero of Super Bowl X, Lynn Swann. Why was Swanny there, you may be thinking to yourself? Well, he's part owner of the team, and he can do whatever he wants. I was instantly star-struck. I don't think I've ever been that close to a Hall of Famer. Again, I wanted to ask for an autograph or whatever, but instead, I blurted out, "Am I in the right section?" Why did I say that? I don't know. Like Lynn Swann had time to help me find my seat. That's why he pays ushers. Anyway, Swann didn't even hear me (at least I hope he didn't), because he walked away without saying a word.

I don't know why I had such trouble talking to those guys. But I'm going through a breakup, and sometimes, it's not easy approaching former Steelers when you're hurting and vulnerable.

I found my seat soon enough, but I discovered that I was sitting right in the middle of a bunch of kids and their parents. And that meant that I couldn't swear the whole game. But that was OK, because I didn't know many of the players names anyway. It also meant that I couldn't spend too much time ogling the Pittsburgh Power cheerleaders--the Sparks.

Another reason why it's alright to talk about an arena football game on BTSC is because Antonio Brown was there for some pre-game festivity, and he got a pretty loud ovation.

As for the game itself, you can find a thorough summary of the game-action right here. I would do it, but again, I don't know many of the names. That would require me to constantly reference the Pittsburgh Power game day program.

The first half was pretty boring, as the Predators jumped out to a 41-17 lead, and I almost left at halftime. Fortunately, I decided to stay, mainly because I wanted to scope out the women-folk beings that I'm newly single--I know, too soon, but you have to start sometime.

I didn't approach any lovely ladies, but I did buy a beer and decided to order some chicken fried rice. That's right, you read that correctly. They were serving Chinese food at a football game. It was great, and just like any other Chinese restaurant, they gave me huge portions.

When I was walking back to my seat with my food and drink, I didn't think there would be any way I would be able to finish all of the fried rice. Fortunately, my breakup has left me without much of an appetite, and I haven't eaten much food in recent days. Therefore, I ate my food like there was no tomorrow.

I was so busy filling my face with food and drowning my sorrows with Pabst Blue Light, I didn't look up to see any of the second half action until about halfway through the 3rd quarter. By then, Orlando had built their lead to 48-17, and I didn't think there was any way Pittsburgh could come back.

The Power's offense looked awful as it was, and besides, even if they did start to come back, it's pretty hard to keep a team from scoring in arena football. What were the odds of the Predators failing to score another touchdown the rest of the way? Well, as it turned out, the odds were pretty good, and Orlando could only must another three points in regulation.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh took advantage of a quarterback change--I don't remember the guy's name, someone called number 15 or whatever--as well as some turnovers by Orlando, and they were able to storm all the way back to tie the score with less than a minute remaining.

Orlando had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but their kicker missed a long field goal as time expired, and the game went into overtime tied at 51.

In fairness to the Predators, they probably should have won the game in regulation. Late in the contest, a Predator defensive back picked off a pass in the end zone and had full possession with both feet down. Touchback, right? Wrong. A Power player stripped him of the football and Pittsburgh recovered for a touchdown. That didn't seem like the right call, but it's arena football. Nobody will notice.

The arena football overtime rules state that each team gets a possession. If the game is still tied after each team has a possession, sudden death rules apply, and the first team to score after that wins.

Orlando did manage to kick a field goal on their first possession to take a 54-51 lead.

However, Pittsburgh had great field position after nearly taking the kickoff the distance, and a few plays later, the Power scored a touchdown to win the game and complete the epic comeback.

I know that minutes from now, there won't be too many people who remember the biggest comeback in Arena Football League history, but I'm happy to say that I was there to see it in person. Heck, it might have been the biggest football comeback of any kind in Pittsburgh history.

Besides, maybe it's a metaphor for my situation. If the Pittsburgh Power can make the biggest comeback in Arena League history, maybe I can make the biggest comeback in break-up history and date Jennifer Aniston. Or at least one of the Pittsburgh Sparks.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Mike Wallace reportedly has no plans to sign his tender

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There’s no sign that another team is going to offer Mike Wallace a contract before the deadline to sign restricted free agents passes on April 20th, but that isn’t moving Wallace closer to signing his tender from the Steelers. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on NFL Live Wednesday that Wallace has no plans to sign…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers re-sign Trai Essex

The Steelers have brought back two of their own unrestricted free agents in the last two days. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery returned to the team on Wednesday and Thursday brings news that offensive lineman Trai Essex’s has re-signed with the Steelers. Essex broke the news on his Twitter account that he’ll remain with the team…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers Bring In BYU DT Hebron Fangupo & Wayne State CB Jeremy Jones For Pre Draft Visits

The Steelers have BYU defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo and Wayne State safety Jeremy Jones in for pre draft visits on Friday to close out the week according to a tweet by Steelers Digest.

Fangupo measured in at the combine at 6011 and weighed 323 pounds. He ran the 40 in 5.18 seconds to go along with a 4.62 short shuttle time. He put up 36 reps on the bench and had a vertical jump of 31 1/2 inches to go along with a 08'03" broad jump. He played defensive end in the 3-4 front at BYU and projects as a 2 gap nose tackle at the next level. He is a pure pocket pusher when he keeps his pad level low Read more [...]

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Steelers’ Offensive Line has Depth, Needs Starters

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The Steelers brought back three offensive lineman this week in Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky and Trai Essex. All three players are back on one year deals; Foster and Legursky signed their restricted free agent tenders and Essex signed a one year deal to return to Pittsburgh. All three players played m Continue

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Weekend Check Down: The Big Stories of the Past Week

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After I spent much of last week lamenting the fact that there wasn't much going on in April; events have conspired to make a liar out of me. I wouldn't say that there have been many really big stories since last weekend, but there has been a lot of news, much of it pretty encouraging for Steelers fans. Most importantly, like clockwork the Steelers started swinging in free agency and they did it in an efficient manner.

Jerricho Cotchery

For me this was the biggest and best news of the week. Cotch well represents the type of free agents the Steelers select. They almost never are the player that folks think about or wish the team would court, but once on board cause people to say ‘that makes sense'. There are a lot of things that recommend Jerricho as a player, but one of the things that stood out to me was an interview conducted on a local Pittsburgh radio program where he was asked about who he favored to win the AFC Championship Game between the Ravens and the Patriots. He said he couldn't respond because he didn't like either of the teams. In Steeler Nation this is what would be called a politically correct statement. And I can say that it was the moment when I began to fervently hope that some way, somehow the team could retain his services.

Other reasons are that he is a fine receiver and an important veteran presence. This latter point is particularly important given the loss of both Hines Ward and Arnaz Battle. And it was reassuring because of the uncertainty surrounding the contract situation of Mike Wallace and the health concerns relative to Emmanuel Sanders. Because of injuries we only got a taste of what Jerricho could do on the field, but it was impressive.

The team, players and coaches, seemed equally impressed by what he brought to the locker room as well. While that probably had nothing to do with the team's decision to cut ties with Ward, it may have helped make it an easier thing to digest. By all accounts this is the outcome that Cotch wanted for himself and his family. When compared to the circus, zoo, whatever you want to call the New York Jets locker room, this isn't too difficult to believe or understand. So it's good for him and good for us. But from a business perspective maybe not so good for the agent of...

Mike Wallace

Seemingly minutes after the announcement of the signing of Cotchery, information was leaked that Wallace would not be signing his tender offer from the Steelers. This bit of news concerned and maybe even upset some folks and it has led to some conversation about trades, holdouts and the like, but I'm not buying.

What our amateur GMs are not taking into account is that the Wallace camp is in a situation of rapidly deteriorating leverage relative to the Steelers camp. As you read this it will be less than a week before the deadline for other teams to make an offer, and if you've noticed those offers haven't exactly been rolling in. Holding out? I see three problems with that strategy, though I won't rule out the possibility that they may go down that road. First, historically speaking using this method to sweat this particular franchise hasn't been much of a winner.

Second, the signing of Cotchery turned a somewhat precarious situation into something much more stable.Last season Pittsburgh had an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver. Before the Cotchery signing all that was in the fold was Antonio Brown and Sanders. Advantage Wallace. Now if nothing changes the team has a very solid receiving corps (the factor that might have precipitated the ‘leak').

Finally, and most importantly, if Wallace wants to have the option of being an unrestricted free agent next year given the questions being bandied about concerning him being a ‘one trick pony', among other things, he needs to have a strong audition year to put himself in the best position possible. With a new offense being installed can he afford to place himself being the curve? The only rationale for holding out would be to try to get the best possible deal on a long term contract, IMHO.

These are some of the reasons I part company with Neal and others who feel that a trade at this time would be advantageous to the Steelers. For one thing there has been something of an undercurrent on this site at least, that the Pittsburgh front office (Colbert/Khan) have been somewhat overmatched by the new financial realities of the league.

Still believe that? I could certainly be wrong but so far they look like they're in control to me. More to the point, trades aren't a big part of the MO of this team. Speaking specifically to the Holmes trade, while there are similarities as far as the contract status of Holmes as compared to Wallace, two other factors were probably what was critical for the Steelers to pull the trigger on that move. First were Holmes' seemingly intractable character issues, second was the level of vulnerability caused by the circumstances surrounding Ben's suspension.

Right now the worst possible scenario, besides some team making an offer at this late date that Pittsburgh can't match, is for Wallace to sign his tender and decide to leave via the open market next year. Wallace, in turn, has every incentive to have a career year, which will cascade down to Brown and the others, meaning a banner year for the receiver corps. By all accounts this will be a deep year for receivers so no unnecessary manipulation is likely to secure a quality prospect if it comes to that.

And it's not just the signing of Cotch that bolstered the Steelers position. It didn't hurt that they acquired...

Leonard Pope

Pope was the week's first free agent signing, and it's worth remembering that tight ends are also part of the receiving corps. Besides being a six year veteran and 6'8" tall, Pope has played for new offensive coordinator Todd Haley at both Arizona and Kansas City. In addition with his familiarity with the new system being installed by Haley, Pope will provide support for group of tight ends thinned, at least temporarily, by the upcoming suspension of Weslye Saunders and the fact that David Johnson, who also resigned with the team this week functions mostly as a blocking H Back. But it wasn't just receivers that were signed this week.

Ramon Foster, Trai Essex, Doug Legursky

Normally very good news concerning a group of veteran linemen; but the enthusiasm was muted given the maligned status of the O line. Many are looking past these solid contributors in search of salvation in the form of other (outside) free agent pickups or (preferably high) draft choices. We like to talk about a sense of history in these parts. Perhaps it's time to inject some history into the ongoing discussion and hand wringing surrounding the offensive line.

A year ago similar hand wringing was going on concerning the defensive backfield. The consensus solution was an infusion of new talent via the draft or free agency. The team did obtain two talented new dbs in Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown, but their contributions were not sufficient to explain the turnaround that led to this group being ranked among the best in the league. It was the improved performances of William Gay and Keenan Lewis, players largely written off by Steeler Nation at the time.

At least two things seem to be forgotten in a discussion of what is wrong or how to fix the offensive line. First, the work at ‘fixing' the offensive line is ongoing. The team has invested high draft choices during the last two drafts (Pouncey and Gilbert) already. Second, nothing could have mitigated against the injury woes this group suffered last season. The list included Pouncey, Gilbert, Starks, Colon, Legursky, and that's the short list of players that suffered significant injuries during the 2011 campaign. Any solution of significance will involve experience, depth and position flexibility all of which are met with this group. Pretty good news.

Lance Zierlein

Neal turned us on to the interview of Zierlein on Steel Curtain Radio with links his two part series The Steelers Project. This is a must read for those seeking insight into the values and methods that drive the Steelers draft strategy.

Mike Tomlin

Coach Mike was selected this week for induction into the William and Mary Athletics Hall of Fame.

Heinz Field to Expand

The Steelers will be bringing a proposal to the league seeking to expand Heinz Field by about 3,000 seats. The new seats would be in the open south end zone area.

The Bounty Issue

Chief among non-Steelers news, Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of Sean Payton and two other members of Saints management. And Bill Parcells is not coming to the rescue. He decided against coming out of retirement to replace Payton for the 2012 season. Drew Brees is still in contract limbo. The drama continues.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Is Stevenson Sylvester ready to take Farrior’s spot?

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"I feel like I'm the linebacker of the future," Stevenson Sylvester said. "I've still got a lot of work to do, but I'm confident I can do this job."

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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