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fordfixer
10-15-2009, 01:25 AM
Begginning of ends for Steelers

By: Mike Bires -
Beaver County Times

Thursday October 15, 2009 12:06 AM
http://news.google.com/news?q=steelers& ... CBUQsQQwAQ (http://news.google.com/news?q=steelers&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&ei=La_WSvyZI42xtgf0wdWdBw&sa=X&oi=news_group&ct=title&resnum=2&ved=0CBUQsQQwAQ)

PITTSBURGH — To patch the latest hole in their defense, the Steelers are calling on a 13-year backup with a chronically sore back.

Now that Aaron Smith is done for the year with a bum shoulder, Travis Kirschke, will take over as the starter at left defensive end.

Smith, who’s started 155 games in his 11 seasons with the Steelers, has been universally praised as the prototypical D-end for a 3-4 defense.

But now, coach Mike Tomlin said that Smith will be replaced by a “committee of bodies. The usual suspects: Travis Kirschke, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood.”

While Eason and Hood may get their share of reps, it will be Kirschke who gets the most, starting Sunday against 1-4 Cleveland.

“I have big shoes to fill,” Kirschke said. “Obviously, Aaron is a great player. It’s going to take a great effort by myself, Nick and Ziggy. But that’s what we’re here for.”

Kirschke, a Southern California native who played college football at UCLA, is a fascinating story.

He’s the oldest player on the Steelers’ roster (he turned 35 on Sept. 4). He’s one of two 13-year veterans on the team. The other is linebacker James Farrior.

But unlike Farrior, who was taken by the New York Jets with the eighth overall pick of the 1997 draft, Kirschke was an undrafted free agent.

Kirschke spent six seasons in Detroit, where he started only 10 games. He spent the 2003 season in San Francisco, where he started 15 games. Then in 2004, his football fortunes changed when he signed with the Steelers.

“It’s been a blessing for me,” Kirschke said of his pro career. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And I’m really enjoying it now. Coming into this league, all the critics said I wasn’t supposed to be here.”
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Before coming to Pittsburgh, Kirschke played in just two playoff games, both wild-card loses during his days in Detroit. Since becoming a Steeler, he’s played in 10 playoff games, including three AFC championship games and two Super Bowls.

After he battled through nagging back and abdominal muscle injuries in 2005, Kirschke seriously pondered retirement after Super Bowl XL. When he returned to his home in Lone Tree, Colo., he debated whether or not he should come back for the ’06 season.

“I was in pretty bad shape. I wasn’t feeling that good,” he said. “But it’s amazing what a little time off can do. So I can understand what Brett Favre went through.

“You realize that maybe you do have a little more in your tank. You want to make sure you’re done because you never want to look back and say, ‘What if?’”

Now, Kirschke is about to enter what may be the most significant phase of his career.

How well he plays may play a major role as the Steelers’ try to recapture first place in the division.

Although his back still bothers him on occasion, it’s nowhere near as painful as it was in recent years. He sat out Wednesday’s practice because his back flared up in Detroit. But he’ll return to practice today.

On Sunday, he’ll make his first start of the season.

Reminded that he’s 8-4 in the 12 games he’s started as a Steeler, Kirschke just shrugged.

“I don’t worry about things like that,” he said. “I just try to go out there and do my job.”

Oviedo
10-15-2009, 08:04 AM
Chance for Ziggy to prove he can get it done. IMO after a few weeks he will be the main man.

He may not be as stout as Smith against the run (who in the NFL is) but I think his speed and quickness and ability to penetrate will help with the pass rush and could open up opportunities for Woodley.

MeetJoeGreene
10-15-2009, 09:21 AM
Chance for Ziggy to prove he can get it done. IMO after a few weeks he will be the main man.

He may not be as stout as Smith against the run (who in the NFL is) but I think his speed and quickness and ability to penetrate will help with the pass rush and could open up opportunities for Woodley.


:Agree

At least I hope so. I would look for Hood to start (assuming he steps up) after the bye week.

flippy
10-15-2009, 10:52 AM
Chance for Ziggy to prove he can get it done. IMO after a few weeks he will be the main man.

He may not be as stout as Smith against the run (who in the NFL is) but I think his speed and quickness and ability to penetrate will help with the pass rush and could open up opportunities for Woodley.


:Agree

At least I hope so. I would look for Hood to start (assuming he steps up) after the bye week.

Hood not starting takes a little pressure off him.

But he should be in early and often.

steelsnis
10-15-2009, 11:15 AM
Tomlin is a smart guy. The last thing he needed to do was come out in the presser and lavish praise on Ziggy saying how he's ready to step right in and dominate. It would send the wrong message to him and the other players on the team.

IMO, he played it perfectly by underselling the guy. It takes pressure off of Ziggy and will allow him to work his way into the mix without feeling quite so overwhelmed.

Undersell and overperform. Perfect combo.

stlrz d
10-15-2009, 11:18 AM
Tomlin is a smart guy. The last thing he needed to do was come out in the presser and lavish praise on Ziggy saying how he's ready to step right in and dominate. It would send the wrong message to him and the other players on the team.

IMO, he played it perfectly by underselling the guy. It takes pressure off of Ziggy and will allow him to work his way into the mix without feeling quite so overwhelmed.

Undersell and overperform. Perfect combo.

In sales we call that "under promise and over deliver".

You don't set lofty expectations in the event you are unable to meet them.