By Mike Batista
August 9, 2008
The eyes of
the football world are on a certain practice field today, where a veteran quarterback who wasn't wanted by his old team is
trying to make a good first impression.
Brett Favre's first
practice with the Jets?
I'm talking about Byron Leftwich's tryout for the Steelers. We all breathed a sigh of relief Friday night when Ben
Roethlisberger made it through the first series of the first preseason game unscathed after picking apart the Eagles defense.
But we forgot that there was another valuable Steelers quarterback in harm's way during a meaningless game: Charlie Batch.
He broke his collarbone and will be out at least four weeks.
33, is one of the top backups in the NFL. The Steelers wouldn't have won Super Bowl XL without him. They wouldn't have made
the playoffs without the two wins he picked up as a starter during the regular season. The good news is it looks like the
Steelers will have Batch back early in the regular season. But until then, they need a stopgap plan and Dennis Dixon isn't
ready yet. So they're working out Leftwich, who is injury-prone but would at least provide a veteran presence if Roethlisberger
got hurt. Or should I say if Roethlisberger really wasn't overdoing it during one of the 25 times per game he gets up slowly.
If Leftwich doesn't work out, then maybe Trent Dilfer can be coaxed out of retirement.
He's got a Super Bowl ring, just like Roethlisberger. Actually, his performance in Super Bowl XXXV (12 for 25 for 153 yards
and a touchdown in the Ravens' 34-7 win over the Giants) was better than Roethlisberger's in Super Bowl XL (9 for 21, 123
yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions).
August 7, 2008
bad Anthony Smith can't stop anyone not wearing a Steelers uniform.
has come to be known for his big mouth as well as his big hits. Too bad those hits are in practice. Smith leveled Hines Ward
on a pattern up the middle during a drill on Wednesday. Ward wasn't pleased. He's had words in the past with Smith about hits on other receivers during practice. Is there any way opposing receivers
can be disguised as Steelers during games? Smith hurt the Steelers enough by predicting a win over the unbeaten Patriots last season. The Steelers don't need him putting their own receivers on the disabled list.
Druckenmiller's offer to buy the Steelers is still on the table. I say the Rooney brothers not named Dan should sell to the
I think it would be the best-case scenario for the Steelers.
It appears that he would allow Dan Rooney and his son, Art Rooney II, to run the Steelers as they do now. Forbes magazine
ranks Druckenmiller as the 91st richest person in the United States.
His money would allow the Steelers to compete for the top free agents. So the Steelers wouldn't automatically be a have-not
if the NFL does away with the salary cap.
For Dan Rooney to
buy out his brothers, he'd have to hock some if not all of the Steelers' Super Bowl trophies. Yeah, the Steelers would still
be owned by the Rooneys, but they'd be in debt up to their chinstraps. Forget
about signing even the crappiest free agents like Duce Staley and Sean Mahan.
The end of 75 years of Rooney ownership might be a tough pill to swallow for some Steelers fans. But just like in
life, change is inevitable in sports. At least the Rooneys still will be associated with the franchise if Druckenmiller buys the team. One of the best things about the Rooney ownership is their patience with head coaches.
It paid off with Bill Cowher. Being a huge Steelers fan, I bet Druckenmiller is aware of that and would maintain that philosophy as Mike Tomlin tries to become the team's third straight coach to win a Super Bowl.
The Steelers might lose their mom-and-pop charm if they sell outside the family.
But Druckenmiller, who once painted his face at a Steelers game, has
the potential to be a swashbuckling, free-spending owner without being obnoxious like Jerry Jones, clueless like Dan Snyder
or incoherent like Robert Kraft. Look what happened to the Red Sox when John Henry bought them after they were owned by the Yawkey family for decades. The Steelers have to do this deal.
When you're a Jet
Is there anything else going on in the NFL right now? Any quarterbacks changing teams? Hmmm. Oh yeah, there is this
Favre guy going to the Jets.
It's a case of the rich getting
richer and the poor getting poorer. By that I mean the NFC was already
significantly weaker than the AFC. Now one of the conference's best quarterbacks goes to the AFC. The weakness of the NFC
is one of the reasons the Packers were able to go from .500 two years
ago to within a heartbeat of the Super Bowl last year. Sure, having Brett Favre makes the Jets better. But it doesn't make
them a playoff shoo-in like the Patriots, Colts, Chargers and Jaguars. The Steelers don't have to worry about having Favre in the conference. They just have to worry about getting into the
playoffs, and the way to do that is to win the AFC North, a task the Browns won't make easy.
By Mike Batista
July 29, 2008
Any more PUPs for
the Steelers, and it's going to be a dog of a season.
Third day of training camp
and the Steelers already have three guys on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
if it wasn't bad enough that the Steelers didn't draft anyone for their aging defensive line, roly-poly Casey Hampton came
to camp too fat to practice. We better get used to the sight of opposing running backs zig-zagging through the Steelers' defense
this season. Let's hope the Steelers can win a lot of 38-35 ballgames.
We can't get
upset with Troy Polamalu and Chris Kemoeatu. They have legitimate injuries. But their absence doesn't bode well because they're
both key guys. I know the Steelers say Polamalu's injury is minor, but hamstring injuries can linger. If Polamalu doesn't
return to his pre-2007 form, the Steelers are a wild-card team at best. And for some reason Kemoeatu has been hailed as
their heir to Alan Faneca. That was dubious enough before his injury.
It's not even
August, and I'm worried.
By Mike Batista
Steelahs.com Drill Sergeant
July 25, 2008
Now that Mike Tomlin has a full year under his belt as the Steelers head coach,
there have been a few observations made about him.
I heard someone
say he looks like Omar Epps. When he's angry, I think he looks like Bernie Mac.
training camp upon us, what we need from Tomlin is a little bit of Louis Gossett Jr.
As in Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley from "An Officer and a Gentleman."
This was a team that was knocking on the door of the NFL's
elite last season before losing four of its last five games. And this season, the Steelers have the NFL's toughest schedule.
So this should be no ordinary training camp. Tomlin needs to put those worms and
maggots through Basic Training Camp.
Here's a sampling of the
dialogue in this 2008 remake of the classic movie starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger:
Tomlin: "I don't know but it's been said!"
Steelers: "I don't
know but it's been said!"
Tomlin: "Coach Bill Belichick wets his bed!"
"Coach Bill Belichick wets his bed!"
Tomlin: "I don't know but I've been told!"
Steelers: "I don't know but I've been told!"
Tomlin: "Super Bowl champs
wear black and gold!"
Steelers: "Super Bowl champs wear black and gold!"
"A left, right. A left, right. A left, right. Halt!"
Ben Roethlisberger plays Zack Mayo. If Mayo,
who often rode around on a motorcycle without a helmet, can be one of Foley's Fire Eaters' top candidates, Roethlisberger
can lead Tomlin's Troopers. Mayo had the stash of money and shiny
belt buckles hidden in the ceiling. Roethlisberger has the eight-year, $102 million contract.
(CUT TO SHOT OF QUARTERBACK DRILLS)
"You better stop dancing around that pocket, Mr. $100 Million Man! 47 sacks last season is totally unsatisfactory! You
made your offensive line look bad. It wasn't all their fault!"
Roethlisberger: "But I can
make something out of nothing, sir!"
Tomlin: "Don't you eyeball me! And don't you eyeball
your receivers, either! Use your peripheral vision! Out there behind enemy lines in Jacksonville, Rashean Mathis can read
you like an eye chart. Three interceptions in the first half of a
playoff game! That simply cannot happen! And I'm tired of seeing you limping around pretending you're hurt every time a defensive
player lays a hand on you! The Jaguars have improved their pass rush this season. When you face the Jaguars' defense on October 5, you're going to be deep in a sea of teal! What are you going to do
(CUT TO SHOT OF STEELERS IN FILM ROOM, STUDYING
THEIR OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE FORMATIONS)
"None of this video was shot by a member of our staff! They were taken by the Patriots from outer space! That's right,
men, the Axis of Evil has resorted to stealing information by satellite. Therefore, we will have to come up with our own form of intelligence. And it's not just the superpowers we have to worry about. The
Cleveland Browns are rising to power and have developed Weapons of Steelers Destruction."
(CUT TO SHOT OF OUTDOOR PRACTICE)
"You think practicing in 95-degree heat is tough? Wait 'til you're at Gillette Stadium on November 30, and the only thing
standing between you and another bitchslapping by the Patriots is what you learn from me! You didn't have to beat the Patriots to win that one Lombardi Trophy! If you want to win another one, you're
going to have to win in Foxboro!"
What might also help
the Steelers win in Foxboro is if Anthony Smith can keep his mouth shut the week before the game. Last year, Smith awakened
a sleeping giant by guaranteeing a Steelers win over the unbeaten Patriots.
(CUT TO SHOT OF SMITH GETTING BURNED BY A RECEIVER DURING PRACTICE)
Tomlin: "I want your DOR!"
"But I got nowhere else to go! I got nowhere else to go! (crying) I got nowhere else to go."
Then hopefully Smith will be assigned to clean a staircase at St. Vincent College
with a toothbrush.
If Smith doesn't straighten out his act,
he'll end up like Worley. The Steelers defense has enough to worry about, starting with an aging front line. The 2007 draft
will be put to the test with second-round pick LaMarr Woodley starting
at outside linebacker and first-round pick Lawrence Timmons challenging Larry Foote on the inside.
Playing supporting roles for Tomlin's Troopers are Willie Parker as diminutive Della Serra. So that he doesn't have
to cut his hair, Troy Polamalu will be an extra, playing one of the shaggy candidates getting berated by Foley on the first day of basic training. No Alan Faneca, of course. He's flying Jets.
The Steelers couldn't afford both Faneca and Roethlisberger. For all that money, Big Ben better be hoisting at least
one more Lombardi Trophy under that contract. After all, it will be up to him to lift the Steelers Up Where They Belong.