View Full Version : Plenty of work to do

01-04-2011, 12:36 PM
By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com

Posted 16 hours ago

aaThe following is an informal diary following the action through the playoffs. Regular updates will be posted.

Monday, January 3

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, because in Pittsburgh, it’s playoff time and that means time to start a playoff diary, bringing you a little of this and that.

Things were relatively quiet at the team’s practice facility on Monday – even the media room was dark all day - as the players had a well-deserved day off after winning the AFC North and securing a bye with a 41-9 win over the Browns the day before.

But there were some players who did make an appearance. Among them was defensive end Aaron Smith, who was working out and is trying his best to get back for playoff action. It’s just a matter of time for him and will he have enough to fully heal. But as far as effort, there is much more that Smith could be doing. The guy is kicking butt and wants to join his teammates for the playoffs, but knows he has to be smart too.

It was family day for a few players. Brett Keisel stopped by, sporting an AFC North Champs hat, with his son Jacob (smartly snagging a cookie in the cafeteria) and beautiful baby daughter Grace. Larry Foote was in the training room with his adorable daughter Jayln, one sweet little girl.

Other guys stopped in, including Anthony Madison who had a big interception against the Browns, Doug Legursky, who filled in at center when Maurkice Pouncey left the game injured, as well as Ziggy Hood, Jonathan Scott (check out what he had to say about his first-time in the playoffs by clicking here), Ryan Mundy and an array of others. Max Starks and Dennis Dixon, who are both on injured reserve, weren’t letting an off day get in the way of their rehab as they were hard at work in the weight room.

Rookie Stephenson Sylvester was also around, talked about advice he has received from veterans, and you can tell he “gets it” from these words.

“To go about our business is not to talk about it; it’s just to do it,” said Sylvester. “You learn that from the veterans, just go out there and do your job and everything else will take care of itself.”

While things were quiet, but busy, at the South Side facility, Heinz Field was buzzing with workers still moving equipment and turning the building back into a football field after the NHL’s Winter Classic was played there on Jan. 1. They have their hands full, but you know come January 15, the building will be more than ready for the Steelers to play.

01-04-2011, 12:37 PM
By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com

Posted 16 hours ago

aaYou can’t blame Jonathan Scott for still having a smile on his face on Monday, the day after the Steelers won the AFC North. After all, since coming into the NFL in 2006 not only has Scott not been in the playoffs, he has never even been on a winning team.

Scott, who signed a one-year deal with the Steelers this offseason, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2006 and spent two seasons there, going 3-13 and 7-9. He signed with the Buffalo Bills late in 2008 and they finished 7-9 and in 2009 the Bills were 6-10.

“It’s an amazing feeling being able to look at the whole spectrum of the league and see there are only 12 teams left. That is it and we are one of them,” said Scott. “Now we are at a point where we have to go out there and continue to do what we are doing and strive to be the best.”

He credits the attitude among Steelers players with being the driving force in them making the post-season and putting them in position to make a Super Bowl run.

“I like that everyone knows they are going to win,” said Scott. “That attitude shows when you are out on the field with everyone. It’s expected. It gives you a great deal of confidence knowing we are going to come out with a victory, the next guy is going to give his all. It’s always refreshing to know someone is battling for you and fighting to get a ‘W’ for you.

“This team has a lot of resilience, a lot of fight mentally and physically. As you can see it’s carried all of the way into January.”

Scott, who was sporting his AFC North Champs t-shirt, said he never experienced an attitude like the one in the Steelers locker room since he has been in the NFL and it reminds him of the way things were at the University of Texas.

“I am having glimpses of what it was like when we won a National Championship when I was back in school,” said Scott. “This is a feeling I remember and a feeling I love to have. We have to keep it rolling.”

* * *

Linebacker Stephenson Sylvester is fortunate to experience the playoffs as a rookie, and after growing up watching games he is looking forward to being on the other side of it.

“Being a fan in the years before, in college and high school, and watching the NFL so much and now you are a part of the playoffs, is great,” said Sylvester.

Many of the veterans have been sharing advice with the younger players, letting them know what to expect this time of year.

“Things intensify in December and January,” said Sylvester. “The coaches and veterans tell us about it, that the play is different, the energy, games are closer. You have to go out each game and know every play can have an effect on the game.”

* * *

The dates won’t be known until spring, but the Steelers do know who they will be playing in 2011. The following are the team’s opponents for next season:

Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks.

Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers.

01-05-2011, 01:30 AM
By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com

Posted 4 hours ago

aaThe Steelers were back to work on Tuesday and without knowing who their opponent will be for the divisional playoff game on Jan. 15 (4:30 p.m. kickoff) the focus was on working on improving the little things.

“It was just keeping up with the chemistry, going over the base plays that we will run,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “Little things like that and making sure we stay on our Ps and Qs.

“It’s Steelers-Steelers. It’s letting old men like Hines (Ward), James Farrior and Flozell (Adams) rest and get their legs back. Let guys get healthy. We don’t want to take an approach that we are off. It’s not an off week for us. It’s a week we still have to get better and focus on little things.”

In the past Steelers players remember using the bye week to prepare for potential opponents, but prefer using the week the way they are this year.

“What we are doing now is focusing on getting us better,” said safety Troy Polamalu. “We had a bye week in the past with Coach (Bill) Cowher and we did one day for each possible team, but I think I like this way better. It might have been Coach (Mike) Tomlin a few years ago. I don’t remember.”

Polamalu doesn’t plan on worrying about who the playoff opponent is – with the potential ones being Baltimore, Indianapolis or Kansas City – until Wild Card weekend reveals who it will be.

“I don’t know anything about the Chiefs,” said Polamalu. “We know the Indianapolis Colts given the history we have with them and the Ravens. I won’t be watching any games this weekend to find out what the Chiefs are about, but if we do play them I will know quite a bit about them.”

While Polamalu doesn’t plan on watching the games, Roethlisberger isn’t sure what he will be doing.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” said Roethlisberger.

* * *

Having a bye can work for or against a team, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the Steelers locker room who feels it’s a bad thing.

“It’s important,” said tight end Heath Miller. “I don’t think there is a guy in this locker room that would say he wouldn’t need it at this point in the year. We are glad we got it.”

The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII while having a bye, but also won Super Bowl XL when they were a sixth seed without a week off.

“It probably depends if you have done it before,” said Roethlisberger. “If you have been there, what is your team like, how veteran a group is it, have they been in the playoffs or not. We have an older group, a veteran group so I think this is the best thing for us to let the guys get rest.”

* * *

The Steelers will be represented in the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick National Finals by Emily Riggs from Bridgeville, Pa. in the 8-9 year-old girl’s division. The competition is being held in Atlanta during the NFC Divisional Playoff weekend.

01-05-2011, 08:18 AM
Good read.We sure have a great bunch of veterans on this team. Bye or no bye this steeler team will be ready to put in all on a line come gametime.
These guys have one thing in mind and that the Lombardi, however, they have the maturity to go buy it one game one play at a time.
As for the punt pass competition, I have memories of this thing going on right in the middle of the game,not even halftime.It sort of broke our momentum once, can you recall?
Anyways I believe now they have it at halftime and not between the 3rd and 4th quarter.

01-05-2011, 01:26 PM
This is a whole new experience for guys like Scott, Brown, Sanders, and other young guys who are new to the NFL. The speed of the game gets faster, more intense, there's so much on the line that any one play can be a key factor in the outcome. These guys will face an opposition that is playing a step above what they are used to seeing in the regular season so hopefully they'll be ready to go.

01-05-2011, 04:49 PM
• Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons ended inside linebacker James Farrior's long reign as the team's tackles leader. Timmons had 100 solo and 149 total. Farrior, who led the team the previous four seasons and six of the previous seven, finished second with 99 solo and 137 total.

• Receiver Mike Wallace led the NFL with seven 100-yard games. Although he did not make the Pro Bowl, his 1,257 yards were third in the AFC. His 21.0-yard average per catch led the AFC and his 10 touchdown catches tied for third in the AFC. He just missed becoming only the third receiver in NFL history to lead the league in average per receptions in his first two seasons after leading with 19.4 as a rookie. DeSean Jackson of Philadelphia averaged 22.5 yards.

• Hines Ward failed to lead the team in receptions for the first time since he led them with 61 catches in his second season in 1999. He finished one behind Wallace, 60-59.

• Troy Polamalu's seven interceptions ties for the most in the team's past 15 seasons. The other seven-interception season: Polamalu in 2007. His 27 career interceptions moved him into 10th place in team history. Mel Blount owns the record with 57.

• Five Steelers completed at least two passes this season, the first time that has occurred since the NFL merger in 1970: Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich and Antwaan Randle El.

• Defensive end Aaron Smith watched practice Tuesday, and it appears as if he will not return to play for the Steelers' Jan. 15 playoff game. Center Maurkice Pouncey, who left the game Sunday at Cleveland in the third quarter after getting hit on the head, practiced.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11005/1115570-66.stm#ixzz1ACSvplgM

Real Deal Steel
01-06-2011, 12:25 AM
I'm happy that we got the bye week. We can heal up, re-energize and our coaching staff can properly game plan. I feel very good going into the playoffs.

01-07-2011, 01:47 AM
By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com
Posted 5 hours ago

Rookie Maurkice Pouncey finished an impressive rookie season, earning a spot on the Pro Bowl roster and winning the Steelers rookie of the year honors.

Now he is ready to take the next step and play in his first NFL playoff game.

“I can’t complain at all,” said Pouncey. “My rookie year has been the best time of my life. It’s been an honor for me. Things have been going my way and hopefully it will stay that way.

“I am blessed. I am with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best teams in the NFL. I smile all of the time and tell my family how crazy it is that I am here.”

Pouncey, who said he plans on watching the Colts-Jets game on Saturday before returning to practice on Sunday, said he is grateful for all of the help and advice he has received from the Steelers veterans this season.

“A lot of good things have happened to me and they tell you to stay humble and focus,” said Pouncey. “It’s a one-game season. Either you win or are at home, you have to focus and prepare the right way.”

* * *

Aaron Smith attended practice this week, but his status for the Steelers AFC Divisional Playoff game isn’t known. Smith has been out since the Miami game on Oct. 24 with a triceps injury and his teammates would love to see him on the field after going through a tough stretch.

“I feel for him very much,” said fellow defensive end Brett Keisel. “He has been struck with a lot of adversity the last few years. He never complains. He just puts his nose to the grindstone and gets to work. What makes him the great player and teammate is everyone sees the work ethic he has and it resonates with all of us.

“I would love it if he played. I love seeing him in the huddle, I love watching him get ready to play.”

If Smith can’t play, he has been impressed with those who have stepped up on the line this season.

“Nick (Eason) and Ziggy (Hood) and the rest of the defensive line have been playing fantastic,” said Smith. “I appreciate them carrying me this far. They have played well. They’ve done a good job all year.”

Hood has stepped in to Smith’s starting role, but Eason and Chris Hoke have also played a major role this year and it’s a benefit to the defense.

“Those guys have done a great job stepping in and playing well,” said Keisel. “It’s only going to make us stronger going in to the post-season having that kind of depth.”

* * *

If you would have told long snapper Greg Warren at the start of the season that he would finish the year working with a different kicker and punter, he probably would have looked at you like you were crazy.

But that has been the case as Jeff Reed was released and Dan Sepulveda suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Steelers signed kicker Shaun Suisham and punter Jeremy Kapinos and Warren has adjusted just fine to working with both of them.

“It’s not been as big an adjustment as most people think,” said Warren. “Both of these guys are so professional. Shaun is so good at what he does and Jeremy is very good at what he does. After a day we pretty much all just gelled together as if we had been working with each other all year.”

Warren was placed on injured reserve to close out the last two seasons, with the 2008 season ending for him in late October and him missing out on the playoff run. This year, he is enjoying every minute of the post-season.

“I’m loving this,” said Warren, who played in Super Bowl XL, but not Super Bowl XLIII. “My first year in the league we won the Super Bowl. It was such a blur I couldn’t enjoy it like I wanted to. The second time we won the Super Bowl I was hurt. Now I can finally can sit back, and take a deep breath and realize how special it is to be in the playoffs and how hard it is to achieve this. It’s awesome to be a part of it again.”

* * *

Steelers veterans have been giving the rookies plenty of advice about what to expect for the playoffs and they are listening closely.

“It’s going to be high intensity,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown. “It’s a win or go home type of environment. They want to make sure the young guys don’t make any errors and we are on top of our game.”

The rookies know there is no room for error in the playoffs and plan to be on top of their game.

“They tell us there are no such things as small plays in the playoffs,” said Emmanuel Sanders. “I have never been there before, but I can see the attitude of the veterans has changed and they know what’s at stake and it’s helped us younger guys come along.”

* * *

Safety Troy Polamalu’s jersey was the top-selling one from April 1, 2010-January 2, 2011 on NFL.com. Wide receiver Hines Ward’s jersey finished at 25th. Overall the Steelers ranked as the top team in jersey sales.