Steelers Notebook: Big Ben gets Stanley Cup fever
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This time, the Steelers quarterback will do it in the supporting role of a fan when he roots for the Penguins in the Stanley Cup final at Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.
"I plan on making a trip to Detroit and plan on being at all of the home ones if I can," Roethlisberger said after practice yesterday.
He, coach Mike Tomlin, football operations boss Kevin Colbert and other Steelers players have attended many of the Penguins' NHL playoff games, in addition to regular-season games at Mellon Arena.
"I love watching them play," Roethlisberger said. "They have a great chance. It will be a good series. I don't want it to go to seven because I hope they can sweep it, but a Game 7 and us winning it would be pretty sweet."
Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks two years ago in Detroit, where Steelers fans were estimated to make up 75 percent of the neutral-site crowd.
It will be a little different this time, since the Red Wings make their home in Detroit.
"I know they will be there in full effect," Roethlisbeger said of Penguins fans. "It was great for us because there were so many fans there. It's so close. It will be good for the fans."
Tomlin said he quickly became a Penguins fan since arriving in Pittsburgh last year. He attended one of their games, in fact, during one of his interviews for the job.
"It's awesome. I'm like another emerging hockey fan. My boys enjoy it, we enjoy going to the games. Man, they have an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, and I'm excited like everybody else is in Western Pa."
Players on the shelf
Rookie halfback Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) joined veterans who are not going through full practices because of injuries.
Among them are guards Kendall Simmons (shoulder) and Chris Kemoeatu (hamstring), receiver Hines Ward (knee) and defensive ends Aaron Smith (biceps) and Ryan McBean (foot).
Tackle Marvel Smith skipped the day to attend to a personal matter and safety Troy Polamalu continues to train in California.
"What we want to do is come out of this offseason with a football team that is in shape, ready for training camp, and a football team that's healthy," said Tomlin, who will have spring practices each Tuesday through Thursday for this week and the next three. "So the guys who are not healthy at this point, we're gong to exercise a little caution."
Ward did practice after watching on the field during the mandatory minicamp at the beginning of the month, but Tomlin has him on a limited repetition count.
One player who did resume practicing is tackle Jason Capizzi, returning from a foot injury.
Simmons' shoulder surgery
Simmons, the starting right guard, had surgery with a scope on a shoulder May 14 after hoping to avoid doing so. The surgery, he said, was a "clean-up" to remove loose particles that were causing him pain.
"It's something I tried to hold off and be stubborn about it and get through it," Simmons said. "I didn't want to miss any games this year because of stubbornness. It will give me a chance to recover from it."
Kemoeatu, hand-picked to replace Alan Faneca at left guard, injured his hamstring working out over the past two weeks and did not practice as a precautionary measure.
2 rookies still in school
Linebacker Bruce Davis, the team's third-round draft choice, will miss three-fourths of the team's spring workouts because his semester at UCLA does not end until June 6 -- one week before the Steelers end their organized team activities June 12.
Roy Lewis, an undrafted free agent from Washington, is the only other rookie in that situation.
"Those guys go to quarter schools, they really can't come back until their school is done," Tomlin said, citing an agreement between the NFL and the NCAA. "It's unfortunate for them, but it's just that short-term misery. I'm sure they'll be prepared to catch up."