View Full Version : Hines Ward endorses Dennis Dixon

08-17-2010, 03:44 PM
Steelers notebook

August 17, 2010 01:22 AM

Herald Standard

Dixon's play means QB controversy

LATROBE - Since there's a reserve quarterback who completed a few passes against the Detroit Lions' backups, there HAS to be a quarterback controversy among those following the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And on Monday that alleged controversy between Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich raged at Saint Vincent College.

The questions were bounced off every available offensive player and coach, and, to add a surreal touch, someone even mentioned Kordell Stewart.


"Seeing him in that (number) 10 jersey," Hines Ward said of Dixon, "all you think is Kordell Stewart. I mean, he's just a better version of Kordell Stewart. He's the new Kordell Stewart."

Is he better? Or newer?

"Newer, not better. I'm sorry," Ward said. "Let me get that right: a newer Kordell.

"You see the resemblance between the two," Ward continued. "Dennis has done everything you asked him to do, but it's still a learning curve for him. When he's supposed to look right, he's looking left, and stuff like that. That comes with practice."

Ward then explained to a reporter that, no, he'd rather not see the quarterbacks alternate each series during the regular season, but that he's not the coach. Ward then innocently said, "I'd like to get some more reps with Dennis, but Byron is doing well."

This was presented to Mike Tomlin later in the day as "Hines endorsed Dennis," and what does the Steelers' coach think of that?

"It was a nice start, guys. That's what it was," Tomlin said. "He was productive. Half that production came in the fourth quarter of the game, so we're not going to get carried away."

The bottom line of this alleged controversy is this: The coach has made a commitment to Leftwich and it's not going to change, and that no matter how Tomlin finesses his quotes about a "competition," there isn't one.

Tomlin did admit that Dixon could see the field in September as part of a change-of-pace package.

NOW, ABOUT BEN: Ben Roethlisberger isn't sure what Tomlin has in store for him in Saturday's preseason game at the New York Giants. Tomlin would only say, "We'll see."

However, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians gave it up:

"Ben's going to play this week," Arians said.

If nothing else, putting Roethlisberger in the game would keep him out of Tomlin's ear.

"If you go back and look at the film," said Roethlisberger, "you'll see me talking to him about every three plays, trying to get in there. But he wasn't budging."

"I thought it was every second play," said Tomlin.

BACKFIELD IN MOTION: Running backs coach Kirby Wilson was fired up over the performances of the backs who didn't fumble Saturday night. Wilson said he was "really happy with the way (Isaac) Redman played. Hopefully he'll continue to grow and take the next step."

With his 60 yards on 15 carries, a screen pass he took for 13 yards, and his blitz pickups, Redman's on-field success was obvious.

That wasn't the case for Frank Summers, who had more subtle assignments to carry out. But Wilson praised his play as well.

"He had one lead (blocking) opportunity and he was one for one," Wilson said. "The big thing for him is to make sure he manages the backfield, lines up correctly, lines the halfback up correctly, and just makes sure that everyone knows their assignments back there and that he adjusts according to the front. Sometimes at that position, you can have an assignment and it changes based on the front shift or the rotation of a safety, and he's got to take that next level of understanding. I thought Frank did a really good job of that Saturday. That was a big thing for him and he came out of that with zero mental errors, so to me that's very good progress on his part."


- Jonathan Dwyer (shoulder), Brett Keisel (calf) and Dwayne Wright (illness) missed Monday's practice and are day-to-day. NT Steve McLendon (knees) is two weeks away from resuming practice.

- The receivers and defensive backs worked on fade passes into the back corner of the end zone. Antonio Brown dropped two touchdowns, while the star of the drill was little known Isaiah Williams, who beat Joe Burnett, Will Allen and Ryan Mundy for touchdowns.

- Thaddeus Gibson drew criticism at the morning meeting for dropping into coverage too often Saturday night when he should've been rushing the passer. But Monday afternoon Gibson intercepted Roethlisberger on a short pass over the middle.

- Anthony Madison is clearly the top punt gunner on the team. At Monday's practice, he consistently beat the jammers off the line and hit top speed quickly.

- Brown dropped a punt and Tomlin hollered, "Just say 'I was scared of Deebo' and everyone will understand." James "Deebo" Harrison had stepped in with the coverage team on that particular punt.

- In one-on-one drills, Jason Worilds easily ran past Max Starks on the first rep but was pushed to the ground by Starks on the second.

- Tony Hills, praised for his Saturday night performance by coaches leaving the film room, did a good job on Worilds one-on-one.

- Dorian Brooks (6-2, 306) is the priority free agent from James Madison who was mentioned by Tomlin after Saturday's game as another potential short-yardage fullback. On Monday, the small guard was snapping during the 7-on-7 passing drills and said he's about to begin taking his first lessons at center.

- The third and final team scrimmage of the day was a workout for Antwaan Randle El, who was handed an end-around and then handed off to Mike Wallace for a reverse. A few players later, Randle El handed the same play off to Brown. And finally, Randle El faked a third reverse and threw back across the field incomplete.

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08-17-2010, 03:51 PM
Where's the endorsement? I don't see, "I'd like to get some more reps with him" as an endorsement.

08-17-2010, 05:21 PM
back to reality for Brown???

08-17-2010, 05:43 PM
The bottom line of this alleged controversy is this: The coach has made a commitment to Leftwich and it's not going to change, and that no matter how Tomlin finesses his quotes about a "competition," there isn't one.

For all the hullaballoo in the article- THIS is the story right there.

08-17-2010, 09:47 PM
back to reality for Brown???

looks like it...

Ken Laird's Stillers Blog on 1250ESPN

August 17, 2010, 11:26 AM

Monday August 16th was an afternoon-only practice, DAY 15 in Latrobe

The final week of training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe featured a morning game-film review by the players with their coaches. In the afternoon, the team was back to work on the practice fields in front of the public on Chuck Noll Field.

The two big news items of the day were the elevation in competition for the starting center spot, and the gained clarity in the interim QB plan.

On the center front, rookie first round pick Maurkice Pouncey took first-team center reps (he had previously taken some first-team guard reps), while in***bent starter Justin Hartwig took some second-team reps there for the first time as well. It was an even time share at the spot. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said in the game Saturday Pouncey's play was "excellent, physical, and fast." Arians continued that Pouncey has "earned the right to play some more there."

Arians also said that the center's job of reading defenses and calling out blocking declarations hasn't been too big of a job for Maurkice. Arians explained, "The third down stuff is what separates everything. Our defense is as complicated as it gets so after 38 practices now, [Pouncey] has figured it out and shown he can handle that part of it no problem."

For Hartwig's part, he handled the increased competition with class, saying "I'm just going to keep playing hard, I've been doing this for a long time and I'm not going to change anything about what I'm doing. I'm just going come to work every day and work hard. Competition is part of the job. There's always going to be somebody pushing me. We're an offensive line unit and I'm going to help Maurkice as much as I can to be the best center that he can be, and we're making each other better every day."

Pouncey also praised Hartwig, saying "Justin's brought me a long way. He's teaching me a lot, and the best man will play. We're coming out here to get better."

On the QB front, although we've seen Dennis Dixon run a few specialty plays with the first team offense through the first two weeks, yesterday was the first time the coaches admitted that Dixon could spell Leftwich as a change of pace guy. Arians said, "When we play without Ben you're going to utilize all the players you have. Dixon has his package, it's a special package, and how he plays within that will determine how much he plays. I'm not against playing both [QBs]."

Tomlin also declared that playing both QBs during Ben's absence is a possibility, but downplayed Dixon's production in preseason game #1 saying, "it was a nice start guys [but] half that production came in the fourth quarter, so we're not going to get carried away."

As if to drive that point home, during team drills Monday Dixon took all third-team reps behind Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich. In fact, Ben took all the first team reps, and Arians said definitively that Roethlisberger will play Saturday night in New York against the Giants in preseason game #2.

All told yesterday Ben took 16 11-on-11 reps, Dixon 15, and Byron 13. That brings the camp totals to: Dixon 243, Ben 225, Byron 215, and Batch 78 (+/- 2 reps margin of error).

Steelers WR Hines Ward said at lunch that he wouldn't mind seeing some more of Dixon with the top unit, saying "I would like to get some more reps with Dennis, but Byron, all the guys are doing well... I'm glad I'm not the head coach. It's still a learning curve [with Dennis], when he's supposed to look right, he's looking left. But that comes with practice. He adds another dimension to our offense. Seeing that #10 jersey, all you think is Kordell Stewart."

In other camp observations from Monday, the team worked ball security drills, on red zone passing and pass defense, and resumed linemen pass rush drills.

WR Antonio Brown had a tough day, dropping two passes in the red zone drill, and later dropping a punt during special teams as James Harrison was bearing down on him. Tomlin shouted out, "It's OK Antonio, just say 'I was scared of Deebo (Harrison's nickname)' and everyone will understand."

Guys looking sharp in the red zone drill were Mike Wallace, who scored on Bryant McFadden and David Pittman; Tyler Grisham, who also dusted McFadden on an inside move, and William Gay who came up with an INT near the pylon. Gay has been mocked at times through camp by Tomlin, though, when he has caught balls, as Tomlin has shouted, "big-play OTA Willie Gay," a sure reference to William making plays in practice but not necessarily in games.

In the pass rush drills, rookie Jason Worilds got back to action after missing considerable time this camp due to injury. Worilds beat Max Starks on an inside speed move, but on the rematch was plowed to the ground by Starks. Later in the drill, Tony Hills also dumped Worilds with authority. Fellow rookie Thaddeus Gibson looked good for his part, soundly beating Flozell Adams on an inside move of his own. The team has another afternoon-only practice day Tuesday, followed by a two-session affair Wednesday, the final day practice is open to the public here in Latrobe.


08-17-2010, 10:18 PM
For all those that think Dixon is going to get the nod over Lefty, it just ain't going to happen.

I wonder if Goodell is waiting to see fan reaction towards Ben to decide the length of his unfair punishment ?

08-18-2010, 01:20 AM
Goodell will never admit he was wrong. He'll go no lower than four.

08-18-2010, 05:53 AM
Goodell will never admit he was wrong. He'll go no lower than four.

I don't think Ben would had suffered that type of suspension from Goodell if it were not for the organization's role. Only reason why I say that is because of the way Goodell handled other players and situations. I believe the organization is the biggest reason why Ben received that length of a suspension.

If you want to lay the hammer down on anyone, let it be the organization. I believe they felt it was necessary for Ben to change his ways.

08-18-2010, 09:43 AM
Leftwich last the games he started with the Falcons. He was horrible with Tampa last season and lost the starter's job. He wasn't all that good for us.

I can't beleive it, but I truely feel as if Tomlin made a choice very early on and now his ego won't let it change. If Lefty was actually beating Dixon out in a fair competition but that's not the case. Tomlin has handcuffed Dixon for some odd reason. This is the guy that had them winning agains the Ravens into the 4th quarter last year. What gives?

08-18-2010, 03:14 PM
How bad is Batch if his name hasn't come up about being a QB ?

08-18-2010, 03:39 PM
How bad is Batch if his name hasn't come up about being a QB ?

He's F-R-A-G-I-L-E (must be Italian).