Daily Archives: June 10, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers Player Profiles: CB Keenan Lewis

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This is the third article in the series about players who will help to define the Steelers' 2012 season. The first, covering SS Troy Polamalu, can be found here. The second, covering RB Isaac Redman, can be found here.

"After two seasons of battling injuries, Lewis had a healthy senior campaign, establishing himself as one of the most physical cornerbacks in the West. His work ethic and team-first attitude saw him perform at a level that has professional scouts feeling that he will quickly emerge as one of the National Football League's elite pass defenders."

Thus begins the NFL pre-draft scouting report on Keenan Lewis. Unfortunately, the optimistic conclusion wasn't warranted, at least not yet.

Drafted in the third round in 2009, Lewis saw little action on the field, and a back injury eventually put him on the Reserve/Injured list.

Lewis was healthy for the 2010 season, but the only thing he did quickly was enter Mike Tomlin's doghouse. During preseason Game Three against the Denver Broncos, he made some mistakes, which was not a good start. He then got mad and picked up two personal-foul penalties, which was really not good. To top it all off, he smashed the glass around a sign on his way back to the locker room, causing Tomlin to hold him up as an example of "young and dumb." Not a propitious beginning to the season.

He spent a lot of time on the bench that season. He was inactive for Weeks 1, 3, and 4; 5 was the Bye week. He was also inactive for Weeks 6, 9, and 13 - 15. On the bright side, Lewis was not on the injury report for essentially the whole year. It may not have seemed like the bright side to him at the time, but he was never riding the pine because of an injury.

After Week 15 he was on the roster for every game, including the Super Bowl. However, he only got about 40 snaps the entire season, and the bulk of them were in the Oakland game when the Raiders were beyond help, even from friendly Steelers fire.

During the post-season Lewis had only one play sufficiently notable to make it into the NFL game summaries. Early in the second quarter of the Ravens-Steelers Divisional game, Lewis was awarded an Illegal Block in the Back penalty, negating seven yards of Antonio Brown's eleven-yard punt return. (Lewis was hardly the only, or worst, offender in the early part of the game. I still haven't gotten over Cory Redding walking into our endzone because NOBODY COULD BE BOTHERED TO FALL ON THE BALL. I'm not bitter, though. Had the Steelers lost the game it might be a different story.)

This was, I'm sure, not the path Lewis envisioned for himself when he was drafted, or, for that matter, the path the Steelers envisioned when they drafted him. But Lewis decided to take his fate into his own hands. When the Steelers lost Defensive Backs coach Ray Horton to the Arizona Cardinals, they hired former Steeler DB Carnell Lake. Determined to make his mark before it was too late, Lewis went to talk to his new position coach. As Lake tells it,

I have a soft spot for Keenan. Keenan was a 3rd round pick three years ago, but never really played much. When I came on board he was like a little sad puppy.

He came to me in July and said 'I'm glad you're here, Coach; whatever I can do, I want to help, and if you have any extra time can you work with me?' And so we started working together after practice. The guys already had double practices on those days, and yet he still wanted to do more. This made me feel that he might be something special.

He's big—over six feet tall. I'm six feet tall, and he's a little taller than I am. He's just as fast as the other DBs, so how come this guy's not playing? I started asking some questions, and they would say 'He's not this, he's not that.' I decided to just work with him and decide for myself whether Lewis had what it took or not. I wanted to see that he got a shot.

Keenan has been playing better every week, and last week he sealed the deal against Kansas City with the interception. I was walking past the guys saying 'good job' and so on, and Lewis grabbed me, gave me a hug, and said 'I love you, Coach!'...That was my first great experience as a coach here.

Carnell Lake appeared to have made an enormous difference in the play of the Steelers' secondary last season, although the jury is still out as to exactly what the greatly improved pass defense can be attributed. There are plenty in Steeler Nation who won't really be believers unless the secondary can put up similar numbers this coming season against a tougher lineup of quarterbacks. But whatever the case may be generally for the DBs, there is no question that Keenan Lewis greatly improved last year. He credits Lake for the improvement, and said he is probably the best coach he ever had.

The departure of William Gay, also for Pittsburgh West, leaves the second cornerback position open, and is generally considered to be Lewis's to lose. But he has a couple of second-year players breathing down his neck.

Curtis Brown had accumulated the most special teams tackles last season until an injury in December sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Cortez Allen saw an increasing amount of time on the field toward the end of the season, and comes into the 2012 season with game experience and familiarity with Dick LeBeau's complicated defense.

It's good to have competition, but it sounds as if Keenan Lewis doesn't really need it. He has set his sites higher than just winning the number two corner position. Lewis declared to Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette that he will make the Pro Bowl this season. If he does, it would be surprising, but I don't think anyone would be complaining.

This season it is critical for someone to step up to the plate and not just play but play very well in the spot opposite Ike Taylor. If Keenan Lewis can finally fulfill the promise the NFL scouts saw in him back in 2009, the Steelers will be set. If he falters and none of the youngsters behind him can fill the spot either, the Steelers' defense is going to struggle.

Fortunately Lewis is smart, hard-working and determined. (The scouting report also noted "Lewis not only excelled on the football field, but also received recognition for his success in the classroom, earning Academic All-Pac 10 Conference honors as a senior.") With Coach Lake at his side, and if he stays healthy, the Steelers' pass defense just might have another banner year.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Roethlisberger and Wife Expecting First Child

Big Ben’s going to be a big daddy.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wife, Ashley, are expecting a son later this year. Roethlisberger released the news on his official website Saturday afternoon.

Roethlisberger posted: “It is truly a blessing and we are so excited!”

The Roethlisbergers were married just more than a year ago in a small enclave north of Pittsburgh in a quiet ceremony attended by a sizable contingent from the organization.

It’s been a busy offseason for Roethlisberger, who turned 30 in March and graduated from Miami (Ohio) last month with a bachelor’s degree in education. He is expected to join the team for mandatory minicamp next week.

Source: Steelers Gab


Confessions of a Die-hard Steelers Fan: I Missed Troy Polamalu’s Heroics in the 2008 AFC Championship Game Because I Wussed Out

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Just the other day on BTSC, Neal Coolong wrote this awesome piece that chronicled the Steelers epic clash with the hated Ravens in the 2008 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field. The most significant moment from that game was Troy Polamalu's 40 yard pick-six that secured a trip to Super Bowl XLIII.

Here's an excerpt from Neal's article:

Items making a great highlight include magnitude of the moment, skill of the player, elegance on the field and historical worthiness.

For me, the best Steelers highlight to encapsulate all of those things was SS Troy Polamalu's interception of Ravens QB Joe Flacco in the 2008 AFC Championship game, and subsequent touchdown return, sealing the trip to Super Bowl XLIII.

Yes sir, it truly was a special moment, and something I'll never forget. Only problem is, I didn't actually see the play live. "But why?" you make be asking yourself. After all, I'm one of the biggest Steelers fans there is. I cry when they win, and I cry when they lose.

What could have prevented me from witnessing such a special moment? Was I working? Was I somewhere delivering a baby? Was I defending the Universe from the evil forces of darkness? No on all counts. I was in my apartment all by myself, and my cable was working just fine.

If you must know, the moment was just too big for me, and I wussed out.

Actually, the entire 2008 postseason was too big for me. This whole wussing out thing started a week earlier when the Steelers defeated the Chargers, 35-24, in the Divisional round.

I was actually on my way home from work at the beginning of that game, and I didn't want to put my car radio on as I was driving because I wanted to avoid any potential sudden jerks of my wheel. The playoffs are intense, and you can't be distracted while traveling at a high speed on I-79.

Anyway, just as I pulled into my parking spot in front of my apartment building, my girlfriend at the time texted this: "It's 7-0, honey." I said, "7-0, who?" She replied, "San Diego."

For whatever reason, this spooked me. The Chargers had given the Steelers all they could handle in their regular season matchup earlier in the year, and even though San Diego was 8-8, they came into the postseason on a pretty impressive winning-streak and had just knocked off the Colts in the Wild Card round a week earlier.

Instead of the Steelers taking care of business early, they were behind by a touchdown before I could even make it into my apartment.

In order to not drag this portion of the story out too much, I'll just say that I missed every significant moment of the first half. Instead of watching it like a real man, I turned my television off and paced back and forth in my apartment, only checking in to get updates from the CBS crew every 10 minutes or so.

I did watch the second half, mainly because I had a bowling match, and I had no choice--every television set at the alley was obviously tuned into the game.

Fortunately, the Steelers pulled away in the last two quarters, and it wasn't too nerve-wracking for me.

I hadn't planned on using the same wussy tactics for the Baltimore game, but like any other game plan, I knew I could always go back to that "defense" if I really had to.

Thankfully, the first half of the AFC Championship match-up pretty much went Pittsburgh's way as they controlled most of the action. Unfortunately, thanks in part to the bs ruling on a Santonio Holmes "drop" in the first quarter and the infamous drop for reals by a wide-open Limas Sweed near the end of the first half, the Steelers were only ahead, 13-7, at the break.

This scared the living daylights out of me. The thought of Ray Lewis and Co. parading around Heinz Field with the Lamar Hunt trophy was just too much for me to stomach. The Ravens had the Steelers right where they wanted them. They had taken Pittsburgh's biggest body blows, and they were still in the game.

This is when I chickened out and decided to employ the wussy strategy from the first half of the San Diego game a week earlier.

I checked in for updates periodically in the second half, like near the end of the third quarter when I learned that the Steelers were now up, 16-7, thanks to a 46 yard Jeff Reed field goal. This made me feel a bit better. I mean, let's face it, the Ravens have never been known for their explosive offense, and they certainly weren't in 2008 with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm.

Forget Troy's heroics, I didn't even see any of the significant moments of the second half that led up to it. I didn't know that a shanked punt by Mitch Berger and a pass interference call on Ike Taylor had set up a short Willis McGahee touchdown run that brought the Ravens within two-points with 9:29 to go. Instead, I was in the dark in my little Crafton apartment, just hoping for the best. I even managed to take a shower during this time. Why? Beats me (someone should have).

When I turned the television on with 6:50 left to go and saw that the score was now 16-14, and that the Ravens were set to begin a drive that could lead them straight to the gates of Super Bowl XLIII, my heart sank.

This was Ravens football. You just couldn't put them away. It didn't matter how ugly things got or how bad they played early on, they just had a way of hanging around and pulling out games late. As Lewis shouted right as this drive was about to begin: "Joe Flacco is going to become a star today. Why? Because the defense stood up!"

This is when I really went into panic mode. Had you seen me at that point, you would have had me committed.

I continued to pace back and forth in my darkened Crafton apartment. Every single part of my body was shaking and twitching. I was sweating. I was damn-near crying. I just knew that Joe Flacco was going to lead the Ravens to an AFC-clinching field goal in the final seconds. This was going to be my biggest nightmare since the 1994 AFC Championship game.

After about five minutes of this pathetic behavior, I was just about to rush over and turn my television back on when I heard shouts of joy coming from other dwellings of my apartment building. This had to be a good thing.

I turned on my television just in time to see Heinz Field rocking like it never had before.

Troy had done it! He had just created one of the most lasting memories in Steelers history.

Neal Coolong saw it live in a bar in Minnesota, and he and other transplant Steelers fans celebrated as if they were right there at Heinz Field. As for me? I was literally 10 minutes away from Heinz Field, all alone in my apartment, and I missed it because I had my head buried in the sand, just hoping that everything would turn out OK.

Since that night, I've watched the Youtube highlights of Troy's awesome play thousands of times. But there is nothing like seeing a play like that live.....unless you're a wuss.

And I call myself a Steelers fan.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


Ed Bouchette’s Instant Steelers OTA Analysis

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette joins Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan’s Troy Clardy. He looks at the Steelers as OTAs wrap up, and as minicamp begins.

Ed takes a look at the defensive side of the ball, reveals who has a leg up on the battle for the cornerback spot opposite Ike Taylor, and previews what awaits top draft picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams.

Ed also gives an update on how the Steelers are grasping Todd Haley’s new offense, and looks at two rookies who are already making a splash this spring.

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: Ed Bouchette, Minicamp, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Clardy

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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Starkey: Polamalu goes deep


Sun, 10 Jun 2012 17:23:38
by JOE STARKEY




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Source: TribLIVE RSS Feeds

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Troy Polamalu faces his football mortality

Safety Troy Polamalu has suddenly become an elder statesman for the Steelers. The departure of several veteran players from Pittsburgh this offseason has thrust Polamalu into a more prominent leadership role this season and it’s one he’s embracing. He’s been in Pittsburgh for offseason work for the first time in years and he’s making an…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers


Roethlisberger’s wife pregnant with boy


Sun, 10 Jun 2012 17:23:38
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Source: TribLIVE RSS Feeds

Starkey: Polamalu goes deep


Sun, 10 Jun 2012 17:23:38
by JOE STARKEY




...

Source: TribLIVE RSS Feeds

Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Schedule Preview Week 10: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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By Week 10, the thought of Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley squaring off against the team he coached for most of last year, the Kansas City Chiefs, would be more a novelty to sell a Monday Night Football game.

Expect it to happen anyway, though.

The Chiefs are one of the more intriguing teams in the league this year. Inconsistency plagued them even with being plagued by injuries to, among others, QB Matt Cassel, RB Jamal Charles, FS Eric Berry and TE Tony Moeaki. They still managed to win seven games under Haley and his mid-season replacement, Romeo Crennel, who's now the head coach.

Chiefs Improvements

Kansas City will improve its roster simply by the lack of injuries from last season. Charles and Moeaki proved quickly in their time in the league they will be at worst solid offensive players and Berry showed enough to see him as one of the better safeties in the coming years. Even with that, their grab of RT Eric Winston was a huge pick-up as they had targeted a tackle with the No. 11 overall pick in the draft. Instead, they were able to snare potential-laden NT Dontari Poe, and Winston's addition immediately makes their offensive line better.

RB Peyton Hillis would be a good combination runner with Charles if he can remain healthy, and not, you know, weird.

Chiefs Losses

Letting CB Brandon Carr go may end up being more risk than reward, but they've been building up a younger secondary, and there just simply may not have been room for everyone.

The loss of OT Barry Richardson likely won't be met with tears by Chiefs faithful, and Winston certainly removes any concern about it. Outside of that, the Chiefs look primed to return closer to their 10-6 season of 2010 rather than their 7-9 mark of 2011. They'll need it, considering the improvement across the AFC West, which, for a change, looks to maybe be one of the stronger divisions in the game.




Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Big Ben, Wife Expecting Baby Boy

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – One of biggest names in Pittsburgh sports will soon be a father.

Ben Roethlisberger and his wife, Ashley, are expecting a baby boy.

The due date is sometime later this year.

The brief announcement from Roethlisberger was made on his official website late Saturday morning.

“Ashley and I are proud to let you all know that we are expecting a baby boy later this year! It is truly a blessing and we are so excited!”

Stay With KDKA.com For More Details

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Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers, Syndicated Sports Tagged: Baby Boy, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pregnant

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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