Daily Archives: June 29, 2012

Max Starks Almost Back To 100%?


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If you have been reading the site all off-season you know that I have been keeping close tabs on the ACL rehab of free agent tackle Max Starks. It has been a few weeks now, but Starks has made sure to give updates every few weeks of his progress after tearing the ACL in his right knee in the Steelers AFC Championship game.

Friday Starks tweeted that he generated peak force during his squat workout today and that he is feeling close to normal again. He also posted that he is back on the practice field doing his first true pass sets and that it feels good to almost be back at 100%. I asked Starks Read more [...]

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Friday Open Thread: Steelers Discussion Around Other Stuff


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As usual, we'll dig into a few topics, but the agenda here is pretty open.

It's Friday afternoon, just a few hours left before you kick off your weekend. We're turning the conversation dictation to the readers.

Judging by the weather map I'm looking at currently, with most of the country in deep red or even an Arizona-like pink in some areas (Cincinnati), you are likely hotter than the blazes of hell wherever you are.

- Anyone else feel that was the least entertaining NBA Draft in history? Agents are so paranoid now they're clients are going to say something dumb, they seem to be instructing them to not even listen to the question asked, and just repeat cliches until they have to throw it back up to the play-by-play guys.

So not fun. Not even the ticker on the bottom that listed off fun facts about the players. I remember a foreign guy listing "riding the subway" as what he's most excited about playing in the NBA. You just can't make that up.

- I touched on this a little bit in a comment on a story I wrote yesterday, but one of the main things I want to bring to BTSC is a more transparent look into the editorial decisions made here. Granted, it's not quite as serious as that, but I wanted to share a little insight into what I look for in a story, and how I write it.

Most of what I write is done early in the morning. I get up around 4:15 a.m. (no, not a 4:20 guy), make coffee and refresh my ass groove in my easy chair. Typically, I start by reading over email (a few are from readers, and I accept story ideas, sometimes writing them based heavily on the email exchange I just had with a reader), then I check over the standard news generators - Twitter, fish wraps, mega-sites, etc.

I usually have something of an idea in my head of what I'm going to do, but it's also spontaneous. If I see something my bosses would think need to be on the site (the NFL announcing late game start times going back to 10 minutes for example), I'll write it on the spot. This time of the year, though, is about features. A feature story is basically something less timely, maybe a bit longer and involves a bit more color.

In determining the kinds of features I want to write, I think about readers who will be at their desks on that day, bored and looking for something to read. Will they be interested in the same angle I am? Have they heard this a thousand times already? Why is my angle more unique than another site's? I can't say I need certain answers to those questions before writing it, and in fact, what I usually do is read over your comments on the past few articles to gauge what kinds of things you're talking about.

That is a moving target. A quickly moving target, in fact. Personally, I thought my story on Toney Clemons would generate the most traffic. Rainey v. Batch destroyed it (getting linked by both ESPN and Pro Football Talk for some reason). Suppose, in retrospect, I should have seen that coming.

So you've got two topical features (the training camp battles), both did well enough where it isn't a concern (some features are completely bombed), but those are the kinds of things I think about the next few days when I'm preparing the content for the day.

For whatever reason, I thought you might find that interesting.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Steelers Brandon Lindsey, dream over or placed on hold?


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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Brandon Lindsey who dreamed of playing for the Steelers may have found his dream over or possibly placed on hold. The former University of Pittsburgh player has been released giving him the option to find another team or wait another year, hoping for a shot to persue his dream.

Reports from Steeler Depot suggest that Lindsey might have been waived due to a shoulder injury, meaning that the Steelers could place him on injured reserve provided he clears waivers. In another move the Steelers have signed linebacker Ryan Baker:

A.J. Hunley--Senior Writer, AFC North
A.J. is Senior Writer and Editor for both the AFC North Report and the Cleveland Browns Report. He has been writing articles for several years, many of which have been featured on numerous high-profile websites. A.J. can be followed on Twitter, and you can join him on his Facebook Fan Page-- Cleveland Browns Report

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Dick LeBeau and Night Train Lane: A Blast from the Past

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Sorry to be MIA recently. My youngest son, (not the former BTSC mod but the horn player) was married last weekend in Mexico City, and naturally that has kept me away from the computer all too much : ) I haven’t forgotten about BTSC, though. I have rolled up my sleeves and am working on a series comparing players across the AFC North. It will be full of stats and charts and hopefully not too homeristic. It’s taking way too long, as usual, so I thought I would take a few minutes off and share one of my summer reads with you all.

As I noted in the "Annual BTSC "Get to Know Each Other" thread, I’m a relative novice to football fandom. My dad was a keen Cowboys fan during my formative years, but I definitely wasn’t paying attention. I’ve been trying to redress my lamentable ignorance, and have picked up various books from the earlier days of football. "Paper Lion" by George Plimpton caught my eye, and even though it was about the Detroit Lions rather than the Pittsburgh Steelers I picked it up and gave it a go.

Imagine my delight to discover Plimpton spent his summer at training camp during the Dick LeBeau years. There are several stories about LeBeau in the book.

Plimpton described the various ways the players amused themselves in the evenings during camp. Often they would tell stories, particularly if they were waiting for an evening class to begin. These could be about places they had visited, coaches they had known, past training camps, and so on. One evening the stories were about one of the team members, "Night Train" Lane.

Given my ignorance about the earlier days of even Steeler history, it won’t surprise you to hear I had never heard of Lane. I looked him up and discovered what fascinating character he was. For those of you who are equally in the dark, here is a bit of information:

Richard Lane was born in Austin, Texas, and abandoned as an infant. The woman who found him in a dumpster, Ella Lane, took him home and raised him. After a year of junior college he went into the army for a four-year stint, and then went to work in an airplane factory. Apparently he hated his job and went looking for something better. He showed up at the Los Angeles Rams training camp with a scrapbook detailing his high school, junior college, and army football experience and asked for a tryout. The coach, Joe Stydahar, decided to give him a whirl. Lane wanted to play on the offensive line, but he was the wrong size and build, and eventually they tried him as a wide receiver. He was assigned as a tight end, and then Stydahar decided to move him to defensive back. This move created a legend, as Lane set a record for interceptions in a single season (14) which still hasn’t been bested. This is particularly impressive when you realize Lane accomplished this in a twelve-game season. His career total of 68 interceptions is the third highest all-time. [Dick LeBeau’s 62 is seventh all-time.] In 1969 Lane was named the best cornerback of the first fifty years of the NFL. Lane played for the Rams for two years, the Chicago Cardinals for six years, and finished his career in Detroit, playing from 1960-65.

Descriptions of Lane’s play remind me a good deal of Troy Polamalu, actually, except without the now-illegal "head-hunting" tackling Lane used to terrorize opposing offenses. As one of the other players said, "He gambles, but then he recovers it it’s going wrong. That’s what separates him from most cornermen—his natural reflexes. You can’t learn to play like him because he gambles so much. There’s no one like him."

According to Plimpton, Dick LeBeau was sort of a self-appointed archivist of Night Train stories, and LeBeau described Lane as a theorist and a tactician.

As LeBeau recounted, the year Don Shula was the defensive backs coach for the Lions, Lane used to watch him diagramming plays on the board with increasing agitation. Finally he would get up, go to the board, grab a piece of chalk, and start working away. According to LeBeau, his theories were incomprehensible, and it was like "stepping into another world" when you tried to listen to him. "He’s all the time talking about ‘angles’—angles between him and the pass-receivers, and also between him and his defensive teammates, Gary Lowe, and [Bruce] Maher, and me, and the rest of the secondary." I particularly enjoyed this comment by LeBeau:

"When the offense comes out of its huddle and takes up a formation, often Train calls out, ‘What sort of setup we got heah?’ reflecting on it, like he had something spread out on a newspaper to look at. Then his mind begins to go to work, and that’s when you can get into trouble if you listen. One time he calls across to me: ‘Dickie-bird, on this play fuss with a zone defense over theah and over heah I’ll play a man-to-man.’ I yell at him he’s crazy, plumb crazy, and he calls back: ‘Mix ‘em up, Dickie-bird, confuse ‘em!’"

Plimpton described Dick LeBeau as a favorite target for the pranks the other players liked to pull, because of an "abstracted air which made it possible for the jokesters to work around him, setting up their props, without his being aware." LeBeau liked to play the guitar and sing, and Plimpton said he had "a pronounced Mid-Western twang, nasal and slow, which made the songs he put to his guitar quite incomprehensible, though fetching: gentle songs full of melancholy and poverty, one supposed, and love unrequited."

He also discussed LeBeau’s "ladykiller" reputation, and how he danced with "an aloofness close to disdain, which made the girl moving opposite him, invariably pretty, work very hard, although in the manner of those dances he never looked at her, staring out to one side, then the other, then over the girl’s head..."

Since Plimpton was "masquerading" as a fourth-string quarterback (the players figured out the ruse by the end of the first week) most of the book concerns the offense more than the defense, although Plimpton did get a quick lesson from Night Train and before attempting to play corner in a scrimmage. (He was hopeless, of course.) The book is quite entertaining, and if you have a chance, there are far worse ways to while away the long days before Training Camp starts than a visit to the Lions’ training camp in 1963.

(Editor's note: 'Paper Lion' is to sports journalism as Mean Joe Greene is to football. As Freebird is to Rock 'n Roll. You won't talk about any of those subjects for long without each of them coming up. Quite literally the 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' of the trade, except, as few people like to believe, Thompson ripped Plimpton's originality, but made a bunch of stuff up because he couldn't make the story compelling enough on its own. Plimpton could, and did. It re-branded journalism to be far more inclusive than the nuts-and-bolts style it had been to that point. The first-person accounts had been saved largely for war, Plimpton made it both serious and humorous, letting all of us armchair quarterbacks see how truly difficult it was for the pros who compete ever day. One of my favorite feature stories of all time was me playing the women's basketball Division II National Player of the Year in a game of 1-on-1, an idea based almost entirely on this book. Yes, I lost. And yes, smartie, I did score. Once. A heave-and-pray from the top of the key)



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Nose Tackles


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Today we continue on with our look at the training camp roster battles for the Pittsburgh Steelers by looking at the nose tackle position.

Steve McLendon and rookie Alameda Ta'amu are locks to make the 90 man roster and we will take a look at both of them more in depth later. Casey Hampton will open training camp on the active PUP list as he continues to recover from the torn ACL that he suffered in the AFC Wild Card game. Hampton is shooting to be ready by week one of the season, but that may be wishful thinking on his part. If he is close to being ready by that time, he might not warrant starting Read more [...]

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Steelers Hold Football Camp South Of The Border

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Steelers Nation knows no boundaries.

In fact, the most recent Steelers Camp was held south of the border.

Former Steelers Craig Wolfley and Tunch Ilkin teamed up with five present-day players last weekend in Mexico City to teach the art of “Futbol Americano.”

Steelers Go South Of The Border:

“The adults’ camp, we were expecting maybe 300, and we got 600,” Wolfley recalls. “The next day, we had the young kids, and we had, I don’t know, maybe 300. But they were all the same, in the sense they were full of passion and energy, zip and zeal for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Steelers Nation south of the border is ‘ginormous.’”

Wolfley says fans were especially taken by Steeler Brett Keisel’s beard.

“Reporters were asking questions of the beard,” he said. “Not even Keisel, just the beard.”

He admits something might have been lost in translation.

“We’re going along, you’re explaining, you know,” he said. “When you’re down there, you’re coaching them up and everything like that. And they tell you afterwards, after the group goes out, ‘You know, they didn’t understand a word you said!’”

Steelers Youth Football Camp:

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Filed under: Local, News, Sports, Steelers, Syndicated Local, Syndicated Sports Tagged: Brett Keisel, Craig Wolfley, Football Camp, Mexico City, Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers Nation, Tunch Ilkin

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

Steelers Cut Former Pitt Linebacker Brandon Lindsey


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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pittsburgh Steelers cut former Pitt linebacker Brandon Lindsey Thursday.

Lindsey was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers after April’s NFL Draft. He attended rookie camp, but it appears a shoulder injury became a big enough problem that the Steelers were forced to cut him.

In turn, Pittsburgh added linebacker Ryan Baker to the roster. Baker is a rookie from LSU. He was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after April’s draft and later released.

Lindsey, an Aliquippa native, confirmed via Twitter Thursday that he has to have shoulder surgery.

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Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers, Syndicated Sports Tagged: Brandon Lindsey, Cut, LSU Tigers, Pitt Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, released, Ryan Baker

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Breaking Down the Six Steelers On The “NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2012″ List


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Six players would up littering the latest NFL Networks “Top 100 Players of 2012 List,” this while the highest player on the list for the Black and Gold was #19, that being safety Troy Polamalu.

Here’s the “Steelers Six” for the list for 2012:

#63 LaMarr Woodley

#49 Maurkice Pouncey

#47 Mike Wallace

#30 Ben Roethlisberger

#29 James Harrison

#19 Troy Polamalu

Here’s a couple insights to the list, and why I think once again this season the Steelers got the shaft in a couple different areas:

1. Roethlisberger is so much better than #30 – Think the Steelers don’t value their QB? Well, they went out and got him a couple new linemen to protect him and help out the run game, and there’s no doubt that for the past two seasons the list has been for whatever reason not favorable to Roethlisberger. Look at a couple names that were ahead of him – #27 Clay Matthews (seriously?), #20 Ray Lewis (old and WAY overrated at this point in his career), #23 Wes Welker (total product of the system and replaceable), #15 Andre Johnson (always hurt it seems like) and #8 Adrian Peterson (already seems to be wearing down as a top notch RB). Sorry, for my money, you can put Ben in the top 15 and be right now, but not 30.

2. Polamalu may actually be a bit high at 19 – I know, when healthy Troy is still one of the biggest game-changers in the game today. That remains as the big issue right now – he can’t seem to stay healthy. The years of hard hits and flying around have caught up with Troy, and any real Steelers fan knows it seems like it’s a matter of time before he goes out again. Not to say Steelers fans want to see that, but it just seems the way it is. If he plays 16 games and the postseason, 19 is fine, but that’s asking a lot at this point.

3. Antonio Brown will be in the top 30 next year – I will go out on a limb already and say the Pro Bowl WR is going to find his way not only on the list for 2013, but will have a HUGE impact in his 3rd year with the Steelers. Brown is a star in the making, and 2012 he is going to lead the Steelers (all in my opinion) in catches, yards, and touchdowns. Look for a monster season for Brown starting in a few months, and next season his peers won’t be able to overlook him.

Source: Steelers Gab

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NFL shifts times for doubleheaders


Thu, 28 Jun 2012 17:23:56
staff reports




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