View Full Version : Victory comes at cost for Steelers

12-08-2010, 03:37 AM
Victory comes at cost for Steelers
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 12713.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_712713.html)

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin knows that a date with the Baltimore Ravens usually provides a "laundry list" of injuries in its wake, especially when the AFC North rivals have so much on the line.

Their 13-10 victory Sunday night over the Ravens came with consequences: punter Daniel Sepulveda tore the ACL in his right (plant) leg and will have season-ending surgery Friday; quarterback Ben Roethlisberger required surgery Monday to repair a broken nose; and tight end Heath Miller appears doubtful this week while experiencing post-concussion symptoms.

"We're pleased, of course, with the win," Tomlin said of avenging a 17-14 loss to Baltimore. "It was very necessary. We had to even the score. They had come into our place and won one, so it was good to go and do that at theirs, a significant win to go in a hostile environment and win in December. That's a measure of a good team."

Tomlin expressed confidence Tuesday at his weekly news conference that although Roethlisberger - who is expected to wear a clear shield on his facemask - is going to experience "some level of discomfort," it likely won't sideline him when the Steelers (9-3) host the Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) Sunday in another AFC North contest at Heinz Field.

The Steelers, however, were forced to place Sepulveda on injured reserve and sign former Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Kapinos spent four games in 2008 and all of last season with Green Bay. He averaged 44.5 yards on four punts for Indianapolis against Tampa Bay on Nov. 1.

"He's got league experience, he's kicked in games this year, and, of course, he's no stranger to the elements, as we know that that may be a factor for us moving forward," Tomlin said. "We're excited about having him in the fold and moving forward with him as our punter. He represented himself nicely in the workout."

Kapinos found himself in an identical situation in 2008, joining the Packers for the final four games of the season, and averaged 39.2 yards on 17 punts. He averaged 43.8 yards on 66 punts last season, including 15 placed inside the 20-yard line, but also had one blocked.

Kapinos also is a possibility to replace Sepulveda as the holder on placekicks, although Tomlin was adamant that while it was "an element to the equation," he wasn't going to allow it to be a significant one.

"We needed a punter," Tomlin said. "We have some holder candidates on our football team, some guys that have held in NFL football games and are capable - Antwaan Randle El being one of them - so I wasn't going to let holding be the determining factor in terms of selecting the punter. I was more interested in the punting."

One encouraging sign for the Steelers is that tight end Matt Spaeth has been given a "clean bill of health" by team doctors to return to practice after missing two games with a concussion, just in time to replace Miller.

Although the Steelers could be without their third-leading receiver in Miller, who has 33 receptions for 384 yards and a touchdown, Tomlin noted that Spaeth was a Mackey Award winner as college football's top tight end at the University of Minnesota. Tomlin called him a "starter-in-waiting" and said the standards for Spaeth will be "Heath-like."

"He does everything that Heath does, and this won't be his first rodeo by any stretch, in terms of replacing Heath," Tomlin said of Spaeth, who has five catches for 49 yards this season but had successive six-catch games against Indianapolis and San Diego in 2008. "He's done it in stretches before."

Tomlin said he is taking the injury toll seriously.

"If we're going to err," he said, "we're going to err on the side of caution when it comes to players' health."

Lineup shuffle

A look at who the Steelers started along the offensive line, including tight end, at the beginning of the season and who might start at those positions Sunday versus Cincinnati:

LT: Sept. 12 starter Max Starks; Dec. 12 starter Jonathan Scott

LG: Chris Kemoeatu; Chris Kemoeatu

C: Maurkice Pouncey; Maurkice Pouncey

RG: Trai Essex; Ramon Foster

RT: Flozell Adams; Trai Essex

TE: Heath Miller; Matt Spaeth

12-08-2010, 03:38 AM
Doctors clear Steelers' Smith to begin lifting weights
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 12706.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_712706.html)

Defensive end Aaron Smith had an MRI on his torn left triceps and was cleared by team doctors to start lifting weights, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

"He's doing pretty good," Tomlin said. "We're going to take another MRI in about two weeks or so and see where that takes us, but we're encouraged by his progress. There's no setbacks in his recovery. It's time to take the next step and now start tossing a few weights around, which is good news."

Tomlin is optimistic that Smith could return in time for the playoffs, which is why the Steelers didn't place him on season-ending injured reserve.

"That's been our intentions all along," Tomlin said. "This is not charity by any stretch. We're not in that business. We're in the business of winning football games. We thought it was a possibility that this man could make it back and help us. He's doing what he's supposed to do; we're doing what we're supposed to do, which is win. Hopefully, the two things converge and meet."

Flozell Adams left the Baltimore game with what Tomlin called a "mild" high-ankle sprain, which could limit the starting right tackle in practice this week. Tomlin said Trai Essex is the frontrunner to start if Adams can't play. Tomlin added that the Steelers will continue to limit strong safety Troy Polamalu's participation in practice early this week as a precaution.

Tomlin said he was "a little uncomfortable" finishing Sunday's game with one tight end and six offensive linemen and was asked if wide receiver Hines Ward was a realistic replacement at tight end. "We have a bunch of volunteers," Tomlin said. "It doesn't necessarily mean I want to use them." Tomlin, however, didn't discount defensive end Brett Keisel. "He probably would be the first place I would go," Tomlin said. "He's an awesome athlete."

Tomlin said Shaun Suisham's 45-yard field goal into the wind was actually 2 yards beyond their agreed-upon range in warm-ups, but that he gave the kicker a "competitor's opportunity" and was rewarded. "That wind was significant at that end of the stadium," Tomlin said, "so it really wasn't a surprise that Baltimore didn't attempt a field goal at 48, 49 yards in that same direction. Forty-five was pushing it."

Tomlin's take

From Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's weekly news conference:

On QB Ben Roethlisberger continuing to play with a broken nose:

"He's a competitor. I think I even said it after the game: We expect that from him not that it goes unappreciated, just that we expect that from him. He expects that from himself. He's our quarterback. AFC North football is competitive. The series against the Ravens is a competitive one. No one is going to leave that stadium extremely comfortable, on either side. We understand what playing those guys is about, and he delivered for us."

On whether he liked that the NFL fined two Baltimore players for hits?

"Not my business."

On Steelers secondary getting beat deep against the Ravens:

"I don't like it when it happens. I'm not overly concerned about it, no. They've got some talented people. ... It's kind of uncharacteristic of us, but I think giving up big plays is uncharacteristic of any great defense. And, of course, we've got a desire to be a great defense. Hopefully, we don't make a habit of it."

On the Bengals' struggles since the first meeting:

"They're a 2-10 football team or so, no doubt, but they've been in just about every football game. They made us absolutely miserable last time we played them. This is an AFC North matchup. We expect no different. Sixty minutes of football is going to be required."

On finishing each of the first three quarters of the season 3-1 heading into season's final four games:

"I'm not ready to have a 'quarter' talk. It's Tuesday of the Cincinnati Bengals. They swept us a year ago. They celebrated pretty nicely on our field the second time they beat us. That's my focus."

12-08-2010, 03:43 AM
On the Steelers: Roethlisberger to fashion new look
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ben Roethlisberger will wear so many protective devices Sunday at Heinz Field he should come with a warning: This quarterback protected by Steelers security.

The latest apparatus will be a clear plastic shield to cover his face and protect his broken nose, repaired surgically Monday. That will join the oversized right shoe that contains two metal plates and a whole lot of tape wrapped around it to protect his broken foot.

He even got a slight bit of protection from the NFL, which Monday fined Baltimore's Haloti Ngati $15,000 for delivering the blow that broke his nose on Sunday. No roughing the passer was called by referee Terry McAuley's crew on that play, nor on the one in which safety Dawan Landry hit Roethlisberger late, but at least they noticed on Park Avenue this time -- unlike the previous week when two Bills players roughed up Roethlisberger after they sacked him and were neither penalized nor fined.

"I'm sure there's going to be some level of discomfort," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I don't think it's going to keep him out of football in any form or fashion.

"You know, he's a competitor. I think I even said it after the game we expect that from him. Not that it goes unappreciated; we just expect that from him. He expects that from himself. He's our quarterback. AFC North football is competitive. The series against the Ravens is a competitive one. No one's going to leave that stadium extremely comfortable, on either side. We understand what playing those guys is about. He delivered for us."

Again, he did. Troy Polamalu provided the impetus, and Roethlisberger delivered another winning drive. It was the third time he has done so this season in the fourth quarter or overtime, the 23rd time in his career, which is John Elway-esque.

Another potential foul against Roethlisberger the officials missed in Baltimore came on one of his best plays of the season, an incompletion. Linebacker Terrell Suggs hit and grabbed him in the helmet while trying to sack him. Roethlisberger kept fighting off Suggs as he moved out of the pocket until he could legally throw the ball away, which he did as if he were passing a basketball.

"I was just fighting to get out of the pocket," Roethlisberger said. "He grabbed me and I kept trying to get away from him. Fortunately, I was able to get rid of the ball in time."

Two plays later, Roethlisberger completed the winning touchdown pass to Isaac Redman.
Miller, Adams on injured list

Heath Miller and Flozell Adams could miss Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field, joining the growing list of starters who have missed games this season.

Miller has missed only two games in his six-year career, both in 2008. But he has a concussion from the $40,000 hit put on him by Baltimore linebacker Jameel McClain and Tomlin said Miller "is experiencing the discomfort that goes along with concussions, so his availability might be doubtful this week."

Adams has what Tomlin called a mild high ankle sprain from Sunday's game. Jordan Woy, Adams' agent, said the tackle should be OK by "next week."

"We'll see how that limits him in the early portion of the week and let that be the determinant of whether or not he's available to us," Tomlin said.

Adams has started every game at right tackle since joining the Steelers this summer as a free agent from Dallas to replace the injured Willie Colon. If Adams does not play, only rookie center Maurkice Pouncey will not have missed a start among the starting offensive linemen. There have been eight different starting linemen this season. Trai Essex, who has started five games at right guard, could replace Adams.

Matt Spaeth, who missed the past two games with a concussion, has been cleared and would replace Miller as the starter. Spaeth has five receptions, all in the past four games he has played.

"He does everything that Heath does and this won't be his first rodeo by any stretch in terms of replacing Heath," Tomlin said. "He's done it in stretches before."

Spaeth caught six passes in consecutive games against the Colts and Chargers in 2008, which Miller missed with an ankle injury. Spaeth has been a backup since the Steelers drafted him in 2007 but plays a lot and often officially starts at "fullback" because coordinator Bruce Arians likes to use two tight ends.

"This guy's a reliable guy," Tomlin said. "He's a Mackey Award winner. He doesn't get the notoriety because he plays behind Heath Miller. But he's not a backup; he's a starter-in-waiting as far as we're concerned. The standards for him will be Heath-like."

Tomlin also said defensive end Aaron Smith, out since he had surgery on his triceps that were torn Oct. 24 in Miami, had an MRI and has been cleared to start lifting weights, although a teammate said he started lifting them last week.
New punter

The Steelers signed former Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos after trying out three at Heinz Field Tuesday. He will replace Daniel Sepulveda, who will have his third surgery to repair a torn ACL on Friday.

Kapinos punted for Green Bay last season, averaging 43.8 yards on 66 punts. He punted one game for Indianapolis this season. He will wear No. 3, previously worn by kicker Jeff Reed.

Kapinos, a third-team all-American at Penn State in 2006, also will hold for placekicks, as did Sepulveda.
Point made

Tomlin has a way with words, getting his point across sometimes using big ones, sometimes eloquently and sometimes tersely, as he did on occasion Tuesday during his news conference.

Asked if he could talk about the importance of winning games as his team heads into the last quarter of the season, Tomlin replied, "I'm not ready to have a quarter talk. It's Tuesday of the Cincinnati Bengals. They swept us a year ago. They celebrated pretty nicely on our field the second time they beat us. That's my focus."

Asked if Keenan Lewis does not know the rule that a player cannot run out of bounds on punts and return to the field of play after he was flagged for it the second time this season, Tomlin said, "Ask Keenan."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10342/11 ... z17VIceyM0 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10342/1109042-66.stm#ixzz17VIceyM0)

12-08-2010, 11:48 AM
Our level of play is amazing given all the injures.

12-08-2010, 01:00 PM
this attrition rate is not cool. freaks me out. who's gonna be left at the end of the season? ideally, i would like to win the next three games. this would lock up the #2 seed.
leaving the Cleveland game as a game that has no value in terms of affecting our seeding,etc. naturally we would want to stomp on the browns but we dont need ben in there to do it. leftwich could take it from the 2nd qrtr. on out. The Steelers would get the ten day break between carolina(Dec. 23) to cleveland(Jan. 2). Then the two week bye as a top seed. we could get real healthy. gotta get that 1 or 2 seed.
and this is one tough team. from top to bottom. the way these young players are stepping up at the behest of the leadership that comes from above is incredible to behold. Really makes me proud to be a steelers fan. if the offense could stop shifting every other week we could get some stability of an attack going. just need a bit of luck staying healthy these next couple of weeks.

12-08-2010, 04:24 PM
Lemieux to Ben: You "look like a hockey player."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ben Roethlisberger walked through the locker room wearing a boot on his broken right foot and tape over his broken nose.

"Mario Lemieux told me I finally look like a hockey player," the Steelers quarterback said, managing a slight laugh.

Nevertheless Roethlisberger took his regular turns on the practice field with his teammates this afternoon. He will wear a protective shield in Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a first for him.

"We're going to get some practice [with it] so we'll see," Roethlisberger said. "I saw the early forecast is rain, snow, so it'll be fun I'm sure."

Roethlisberger had a brief talk with referee Terry McAuley in Baltimore Sunday night after Haloti Ngata smacked him in the head with his left hand, breaking his nose. There was no penalty flag tossed on Ngata but the league fined the Ravens defensive lineman $15,000 on Monday for the hit it called illegal.

"I just asked him if he saw the blood and just kind of asked him -- I'm not one that cusses at the refs or anything -- so I just asked him if he thought that he went for my head," Roethlisberger said of McAuley.

"His response was, 'He was just trying to tackle you.' So I just let it go at that."

He also pretty much let go a comment by Cincinnati wide receiver Terrell Owens on his Versus network television show shortly after Oakland's Richard Seymour decked Roethlisberger with a sucker punch after a play Nov. 21 in Heinz Field.

"A hockey player would have took that," Owens said of Seymour's punch, " [and] kept on ticking. That shows you how soft Ben is."

Said the hockey-player-looking Roethlisberger today, "Im glad I could get ratings for him."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10342/11 ... z17YNql2jM (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10342/1109184-66.stm?cmpid=steelers.xml#ixzz17YNql2jM)

12-10-2010, 01:23 AM
Adams practices, will likely start Sunday for Steelers
Thursday, December 09, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Flozell Adams returned to practice today and it appears he will make his 13th consecutive start at right tackle for the Steelers on Sunday.

Adams left last Sunday night's game in Baltimore with what coach Mike Tomlin described as a mild high ankle sprain. He did not practice Wednesday

Tight end Heath Miller (concussion) and safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles) did not practice again today. Polamalu has missed two practices in each of the past three weeks but played on Sunday.

First published on December 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm

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12-10-2010, 01:28 AM
Steelers' Adams confident he'll play vs. Bengals
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 12864.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_712864.html)
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Heath Miller isn't quite sure if he will be cleared in time to play Sunday against the Bengals after suffering his first concussion, but right tackle Flozell Adams is very sure that he will be in the starting lineup. Miller said he's feeling fine after getting hit in the head by Baltimore's Jameel McClain but will wait until he makes a decision about playing against the Bengals. Adams left the game in the second half with what was called a mild high ankle sprain. He said yesterday that he will be in the starting lineup Sunday. "After I got treatment the past couple days, I know I'll be ready to go on Sunday," Adams said.

Not practicing for the Steelers yesterday were Miller, Adams, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Aaron Smith.

Polamalu was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco was held to one catch against the Steelers five weeks ago, leading to a plea to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau afterward to cut him a break and don't double cover him. Ochocinco said he expects much of the same Sunday as he did during the first meeting. "We know what's going to happen," Ochocinco said. "When my time comes, it will come.'

You can just call new punter Jeremy Kapinos the traveling man. Kapinos said he has been to 12 workouts this season. "Week 1 through 7, I've been on the road, and actually I had one on a Thursday then one on a Friday in another state. I've been everywhere," Kapinos said. Indianapolis worked him out Week 8 and signed him for one game because Pat McAfee was suspended.

Kapinos practiced holding for kicker Shaun Suisham and is expected to take over those duties as well.

12-10-2010, 03:51 PM
Looks like Flozell will be able to go on Sunday!!! That will help!!! That was the one injury that was scaring me this week. I didn't really wanna see Essex starting at RT, so the fact that as of today Flozell is on pace to start kinda makes me feel more comfortable about the game on Sunday. The Bengals don't generate much of a pass rush so if the Steelers can establish a good consistent running game on Sunday then the offense should be able to put up some really nice stats on Stinky!!!

12-10-2010, 03:55 PM
"His response was, 'He was just trying to tackle you.' So I just let it go at that."