August 21, 2008

Two Days 'Til Antarctica...

So far this week...
1. The Steelers signed Orpheus Roye
2. Chuck Batch had shoulder surgery
3. Troy Polamalu returned to practice
4. Willie Parker stopped giving Wreckingball advice, and
5. Roy Lewis looks to have made a spot for himself on the active roster.

But forget all that, we have a preseason game on Saturday night.

Now, I'm sure you're all still reeling from the comedic goodness (read: sucking royally at life) of the last couple of days, but it's time to focus. Saturday is just two days away and preseason or not, if you're a real Steeler fan, you at least care about how the team fares. So let's discuss this thing, shall we?

Last week
I did this in "three things I'll be watching" format. And that seemed to work pretty well for me. As for you all, who knows. Nonetheless, I'm going to go with it again this week.

As for that post title - well, Minnesota really is the god damned Arctic Circle (lest I get corrections in the comments, I'm well aware that Antarctica and the Arctic Circle are not one and the same). I've been to this state, and it's 95% ice, even in August. They're probably out there playing pond hockey right now. Which brings me to the point of all this...which is, they're playing in a dome. What does that mean to the post? Absolutely nothing.

With that, here are the three things I'll be watching for on Saturday...

1. Santonio returning punts
2. Wreckingball in the red zone
3. Justin Hartwig

First up is the great debate - should arguably our best receiver, who struggled readily with it during his first go around, be returning punts or not? For the record, I like Tomlin's suggestion that he might use San Antonio like the 'Skins of old did with Darrell Green (who's trading card I still have for reasons unknown). You know, put him in every now and then just to bust one (hopefully). But aside from that, I don't really think we need Santonio going anywhere near "Special" Teams. I may be wrong (which would make Tecmo wrong as well), but Santonio is going to have a monster year. The last thing I want to see is him regularly returning punts in the face of some of the NFL's most ravenous beasts. Just. Not. Necessary.

Moving on, I'd like to keep at least one eye on Wreckingball's goal line prowess. Obviously we didn't draft him to be a scat back, and he did well last week, but will he show us something again this week? No doubt in my mind. Again, I wasn't in love with the 11 carries for 30 yards stat. But the one stat that really counted for him was the TD. A six yard scamper, showing impressive poise for a guy who's really just a month into his professional career. So I'd like to see Wreckingball continue to demolish goal line Defenses, and Minnesota could be quite a test. Remember who they have up there - Pat Williams, KEVIN Williams, and JARED ALLEN. Not to mention Chad Greenway, EJ Henderson and Darren Sharper behind them. Wreckingball better equip his juggernaut armor and roll through those dudes...or else...something.

Lastly, in continuation of last week, Justin Hartwig with the first team Offense. I didn't really get to see the Buffalo game, so I had nothing tangible to draw from in forming an opinion about him. But after reading further into it, it seems like Mahan is the real starter right now and Tomlin is just evaluating how Hartwig fits with the rest of Big Ben's oxen up front. From a purely uninformed perspective, I've gotta think, "shake things up." Make it Hartwig's job to lose. You obviously brought him in for a reason. The Steelers don't just sign free agents for the hell of it. The guy must have SOME talent. Then again, Sean Mahan was a free agent pickup as well, so...

What do you guys think? Is all this preseason talk just a giant tease or what? Anything you'll be watching for on Saturday? And did anyone hide Steely McBeam's keys? That guy is smashed...

PS - if any of you are in the greater Minneapolis area, or by some odd twist of fate will be there on Saturday, my man Neal Coolong (formerly of the now-defunct, Die Hard Steel) will be in attendance at the game. Or so he tells me. So if you see him out there dancing bare assed in the parking lot by himself, be sure to take a picture and send it to me. That sucker's going on the wall of shame.


Cotter said...

Alright, fine. I admit it. This post sucked. Nothing new for OFTOT...


marc said...

Company is being audited marc busy. Sorry buddy, I'll get back to posting more soon.

How about Farrior's 5 yr $18.5ish deal?

Cotter said...

I like that we re-signed him. It'll be great to have him finish his career as a Steeler!

I'm kind of surprised that we think he'll be able to go five more years productively, though. Or maybe we just think he'll go five more years, period.

I know he's said he'll take a diminished role to stay with the team. So maybe that factored into it?

tobiathan said...

Gene Upshaw is dead.

RIP Mr. Upshaw, you were a great man.

tobiathan said...

Mendenhall didn't get a lot of yards but he did keep digging and didn't go down on the first hit. Or second. Unlike the not-so-dearly departed Poopy-pant Davenclosetshitterport. So that's good. I like his fight.

So- i'm looking for a bigger push from Mendenhall this week. I think he'll see more playing time. And he needs to add some vision and footwork to his impressive effort. I like his build- low to the ground with very solid lower body and excellent foot-pump in the scrum. He did a good job holding the ball, too. And showed a nice burst on the TD run. He did lack some decisiveness early on tho.

I think Hartwig might actually be the starter come Sept. If Mahan plays a lot in pre-seasonit might be a way of challenging him. He certainly needs to give more in the middle. To be fair, teams were doubling him and stunting the heck out of our midle last year. And Ben's holding the ball too long made Mahan look bad a lot too. So- i think the two of them will add up to some healthy competition at center.

I'd like to see Sweed play more with the first team. But- i also want to see Nate get more reps and make more catches. He flashes brilliant at times but fizzles on long balls too often- a mental mistake, because it looks like he gets overly-excited. Maybe age/experience will help that.

I''m also excited about Dixon. He seems like a real-deal 21st century Slash-type, tho hopefully w/o the high-strung nervousness. Luckily, he seems like a well-spoken and thoughtful guy with a solid outlook.

Leftfoot Leftwich looked good on exactly two plays last week, but slumped after that. I give him some leeway since he's new, but he was drilling balls into WRs hands that certainly didn't need to be thrown so hard, ie Wiillie Reid's drop; Reid got hit in the hands and should have caught it, but Leftwich literally drilled the ball into his chest. I doubt Jerry Rice would've made that catch. I've said before and i'll say again that Leftwich is unsteady emotionally and tends to be exciteable at times. Maybe he'll serve well at #2, but i have my doubts. If Ben struggles at all it ccould be a problem...(hopefully i'm wrong.)

Finally- the O-line has a lot of work to do. We've had a lot of turmoil this season, and it'll take some time for chemistry to develop. I think there is some real talent there, but there's no telling when it will peak.

tbn said...

Oh yeah- Farrior will be asset even as a player-coach-backup. In a couple years his main role might be support/situational and teaching new guys from the field. A bargain at those numbers given his intelligence, character and productivity.