Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Steelers Determined To Be In The Hunt In 2013

by Christina Rivers

If the Lombardi Trophy were a 'she', the Pittsburgh Steelers might have been singing Bill Withers' “Ain't No Sunshine” after their .500 season in 2012.

Consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs would cause a major Earth event...at least that's the way many fans have reacted. The Steelers' players and coaches, however, are "made of sterner stuff." Challenged to prove themselves, the Steelers have spent the offseason breaking down the pillar of success and rebuilding it one block at a time. Infusing new blood as mortar to the bricks of veterans has been proving to pay off. If there is any team more determined to get back into the hunt in 2013, it's the Steelers.

Steelers quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger put it plainly, “When it's not you, you never like it.” Big Ben said that the end result last season was, “just motivation to be better this year.”

During minicamps and OTAs, the Steelers have made some interesting discoveries regardless of the doomsday predictions of NFL pundits. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has become more respected, especially by Big Ben, and a little less prickly around the edges. A new zone blocking scheme for the offensive line has allowed young linemen to jump in and learn the system at a quicker pace. Veterans have been mentoring rookies with results that have been positive.

Defensive lineman Brett Keisel doesn't just believe in the team this season, he has been making a point to prove it. “People can say and believe what they want to believe [about this team],” Keisel shared with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “In this locker room, we feel we have the team and the talent to get back...our first goal is to get back and win our division.” And what are Keisel's opinions about the doom and gloom and sad songs being broadcast? “Good things have happened around here when we won our division...that's our mentality.” Keisel may just be channeling a little Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, because he senses that the Steelers are absorbing the good vibrations.

Regardless of the success of AFC North rivals Baltimore (Ravens) in 2012 and the trending hot-talk being spread about the Cincinnati Bengals by those sing-song NFL 'experts', the Steelers have never been a team to get kicked in the teeth and not fight back. The Steelers shouldn't be considered a 'surprise' team in 2013. They should be considered potential champions. Their new rallying cry could be words right out of a song by 'The Script' and find themselves standing in the spotlight once again and the world knowing their name.

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TIDBITS: First off, thanks to Christina Rivers for being a guest writer for If It Ain't Steel. We're in transition with some things and haven't been able or available lately. But like General Douglas McArthur, we shall return.

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Speaking of veterans mentoring rookies, both of the Steelers starting safeties, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, have taken rookie Shamarko Thomas under their wings to share their insight and experience.

“I have always been willing to teach anybody if they are willing to learn,” Polamalu said. “But a lot of times I pour out too much too soon to a lot of players. It is trying to teach algebra to basic math.”

Polamalu has Clark to help in the tutoring.

“Troy and I have asked for years for a guy to mentor,” Clark said. “Some players feel like they can play forever. We understand it is not going to be that way. We want to see somebody take it over and do well.” - http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/4198554-74/thomas-clark-polamalu#axzz2WhH3a1gr

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"Our goals have been simple and they are to lay a foundation for our football team here in 2013," said Tomlin. "Obviously, our goals are what they are and that is to be World Champions. I think we've done a nice job in terms of laying a foundation, individually and collectively, towards that goal."

"We could trick ourselves into believing something that would be untrue," said Tomlin. "Football is a game that's played in pads, so I'm not going to rush to judge or search for things to grasp onto at this time of year. They come here, they work hard and they're legitimately humble. They're taking the information being given to them from coaches and guys that have been a part of this thing. That's a great place to begin." - Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on what has been seen thus far and on being realistic about preparation for the 2013 season.

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Pedigree can be a proliferous advantage for NFL players. Many fathers and sons and uncles and nephews (not to mention numerous brothers and cousins) over the years have graced the professional gridiron. So, considering that Mike Golic, jr. wasn't drafted but picked up as an undrafted by the Steelers, was poppa Golic disappointed?

"He was very proud," said Golic of his dad's reaction to his signing. "He knows what a great organization this is and what a great tradition they have here. He is proud to see me get one step closer to hopefully accomplishing a dream, making this team and becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler."

"He told me to do all the little things," said Golic. "That starts with going in after practice and taking care of your body every day, getting ready for the next practice. He told me always have your nose in the playbook, not to be afraid to watch extra film and do all of the little things day-to-day that are going to build great habits and great play." - http://tinyurl.com/lb8a2pj