Sunday, August 18, 2013

Steelers Prepare For Redskins As Training Camp Ends

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended their latest stay in Latrobe yesterday as they took the field in shorts and without running like tackle drills. They took it easy on their last day there before heading to Heinz Field for the upcoming season.

However, it wasn't just Saturday. They won't be live tackling anymore until the season starts per head coach Mike Tomlin.

As they leave, they look to prepare for the second leg of their tour of the NFC East as they play the Washington Redskins on the kickoff to ESPN's Monday Night Football lineup. The NFL's main marquee will be missing a few names as Robert Griffin III won't be playing for the Redskins, and the Steelers could be without running backs Isaac Redman and Le'Veon Bell.

The Redskins' RGIII is still recovering from his ACL and LCL injuries. He has returned to practice, but head coach Mike Shanahan rightly won't release him to play. As for Redman and Bell, they scared everyone within a stone's throw of the three rivers and everywhere else in Steeler Nation when they went down within a half hour of one another in practice Thursday. Redman suffered a stinger, and Bell re-aggravated his left knee.

Both running backs returned to practice on Friday, but remain game-time decisions. If one or both are down, that puts Jonathan Dwyer back into the position of starter. Once again, though, it would be because of injury. But, as Behind The Steel Curtain's Neal Coolong wrote, "it may be his last chance to do so." -

The Steelers have endured their share of injuries this off-season, however they aren't nearly as bad off as the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns. If the Steelers can be considered relatively healthy otherwise, what does that mean for them going into Monday night's game?

Monday night's game could ultimately reveal a lot about Danny Smith and his special teams unit's preparation. This is more than just another preseason game, it's a game that provides nine days of rest after the New York Giants game. Being new to all of the men in front of him, he needed every bit of that time.

“We're mixing and matching a lot of guys. And that's hard. It's not only hard on me, it's hard on them, to be honest with you,” Smith said. “When you start playing next to a guy, you get a feel for the other. But when you're trying to find those fits, it's difficult. It's a process.” -

It being a difficult process was proven true last Saturday when the unit made mistake after mistake. At least one of which that could be considered a game changer.

One area that isn't of concern is kicker Shaun Suisham, who was 28-of-31 on field goals last season, with only one of the three misses actually being shanked. He showed an even stronger leg during Training Camp by nailing a 60-yard attempt last week.

We were told that the offense was streamlined to fit quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and company. The distance between the first game of preseason and the first game of the playoffs is chasm-like, but more is still expected from them than what seen lastly. Especially from the No. 3 and No. 4 men, John Parker Wilson and Landry Jones.

They ran fairly well, blocked fairly well and the passing game looked fairly well at times. But "fairly well" is a C to C+ if you're grading. It is basically middle of the road, and middle of the road in the NFL is 8-8.

Last week, Jarvis Jones said he wasn't happy with his performance. It was other people who said they weren't happy with Jason Worilds'. Including his coaches and the NFL. Per Ed Bouchette, linebackers coach Keith Butler was not at all happy with Worilds' two personal foul penalties in three plays and even called him "selfish."

"It's something we can't do. We can't hit the quarterback in the head, we can't hit him with the head and that's what Jason did." -

Also, on Thursday, the fourth-year linebacker was fined $15,750 for one of those penalties.

As for Jones, he has said that he just wants to get better each time he's out there, that he studies film on his own and that he wants to learn. All well and good, but there is a short window of opportunity in which to do that if he's going to start at any point this season. And as If It Ain't Steel has said many times, he won't. But he 'must unlearn what he has learned' before we see him in numerous subpackages.

Nonetheless, both may possibly have their pass coverage skills tested as Redskins' tight end Fred Davis will play more of a role Monday night.

Was last week Al Woods' coming out party? Will Ziggy Hood ever have one? Is Cameron Heyward ready to take over? Is Brett Keisel ready to bow out?

Only one of those questions will actually be answered Monday night. If Woods can play as well as he did against the G-Men, then he'll move higher on the depth chart, or at least in the rotation. As for the other men, those questions will be asked (by us) and answered as the season itself goes on. For now, Woods, Alameda Ta'amu, Hebron Fangupo and possibly Brian Arnfelt will continue their fight over the two remaining defensive line spots.

UPDATE: Mike Prisuta of the DVE Morning News tweeted from his Twitter (@DVEMike) account: "Le'Veon Bell scheduled to get the start at RB for the Steelers tonight against the Redskins”


TIDBITS: Terry Hawthorne and other defensive backs made their way back to the practice field this week, which helps them get back into contention for the final roster spots. Another defensive back whose spot was already set is coming along more slowly.

Cortez Allen, who has been out for nearly all of Training Camp, was recently asked if he feels like he's made the progress he'd hoped to make.

"Yeah, I feel good," said Allen. "The rehab has been going good and I'm just out there testing it out to see where I'm at."

He went on to say "it's still a day-to-day thing, but I do feel that I've made a lot of progress from when it first happened, and I'm positive about the future of it and getting back on the field."


Steelers NT Alameda Ta'amu is on the road to redemption, wants to prove the Steelers were right to give him a second chance. -