Rapid Reports: Halfway Full Edition

We're halfway through the season and there are a couple of things that I have noticed.  Tomlin intends to allow Jeff Reed to dictate his value.  All this off-season we heard Reed and his agent pout about how much he was worth and how he deserved to be paid.  Mike Tomlin was taking notes.  Not only taking notes but devising a plan like only Mike Tomlin can.  Jeff Reed is now the lowest rated kicker in the NFL.  Tomlin effectively shut Reed's pie hole.  By putting Reed in position to seal games, enhance leads, and even help the team cut down leads; Tomlin has shown Reed his true value.  The kicks have not all easy, Reed has tried more 50+ FGs than he ever had in a year.  Reed also hasn't made any kicks within the 40-49 yard range.  This could just be one bad year but its a heck of a time to have one bad year, on your contract year.  The message is, if you want to get paid then you must perform.  Reed has wet the bed but thankfully the Steelers as a team haven't.

Many fear that the pass defense will undo our Steelers.  I cannot predict the future but I do know this.  This team has been to the Super Bowl and back, they know how to persevere, they know how to overcome.  I don't know what the answer is, maybe trying K. Lewis at corner again or giving Butler a shot but I do know this, champions find a way.  The running game is miles better than it has been over the last two years and if the line ever gets stable the offense has a chance to shine.  I know that the offense can help the defense by milking the clock with the running game in the 4th quarter, if we get one more first down last Monday night then we aren't holding our breathe at the end of that game.  We'll see how Mr. Jon Scott does at LT.  We've been 6-2 at the mid-way point in each of tomlin's three previous seasons.  I say lets continue the trend of a SB every other year.

The battle between WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown appears to be decided. Sanders has been solid on special teams and is getting work at No. 3 receiver. Brown hasn't dressed for four straight games

I'd say.  Sanders make Brown look dispensable.  But I want to keep brown because next year, if we win a SB, Ward and Randle EL might be gone.  Brown looks good though.  I do want to see Sanders come on in the latter part of the season, we could use more production from the 3rd WR position.  I like the idea of making the rookie earn his spot though, ARE is not giving up without a fight.

The Steelers are in good shape at the halfway point. They play five of their next seven at Heinz Field, and one of the road games is against winless Buffalo.

So we make our final stand at home.  If we just win our home games and beat Buffalo then we're guaranteed 6-2.  We must protect this house!  Yeah, I said it.  It all starts with the Pats this week.  If we can win this game I'm confident we'll get to 12-4.  This game is important mentally because last year we were 6-2 then collapsed.  If we can win this game we'll prove to ourselves that this year is a new year.

The Steelers pass defense has been suspect this year because of their weakness at corner. Second and third corners - William Gay and Bryant McFadden are often easy to get open against. Teams will generally stay away from Pittsburgh's best corner Ike Taylor .

It makes you think, what would this defense be without Ike?  It also goes to show you that we can't pin the pass D woes of last year completely on Troy.  Guys have to step up and play.  We have troy this year and we've seen the same result in the pass D as 2009.

Bill Belichick is a big admirer of Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who is 73 and in his 38th NFL season. Belichick on LeBeau's Hall of Fame induction this past July: "I think it is awesome I don't think anyone that has ever known Dick would say a bad word about him. He is a real football lifer."

I hope the Hall of Famer have Brady's head spinning with pressure this sunday night.  I'm glad we got Dick but I'm not sure if his bend but don't break scheme will need to be modified.  Against QBs like Brady they can dink and dunk all over the field.  The Steelers have spent 5 draft picks in the last 3 years on CBs.  Most people believe that we need to spend a 1st rounder on a CB.  But I beg to differ because even 1st rounders can be a bust... Chad Scott... we just need to find the right guy, he may be a 1st rounder and he may not be.

Replacing injured LT Max Starks won't be easy, but T Jonathan Scott will be given the first chance. He will start Sunday night against the Patriots. If he falters, look for Tony Hills or G Ramon Foster to get a look.

Ready or not, we're about to find out about our depth at the offensive line position.  What worries me the most about when the backups are playing that you are only one bad play away from the practice squad players from playing.  No NFL is going to do much on offense with a bad offensive line.  Many people will blame the FO for not having depth but I caution people to remember that this isn't college football.  You don't get 85 man rosters and scholarships to stack your depth.  We haven't picked an elite T in years, why?  Because we're a darn good football team and rarely pick in the top 10 in the draft.  That is where the elite talent on the line goes at the tackle position.  The FO doesn't force picks which is why they have done well at other areas.  They could although do well in the later rounds in finding OL talent, for instance Urbik at this point in his career should be contributing to the squad as a backup and he is still on the practice squad.

LG Chris Kemoeatu , plagued by knee and ankle injuries, is not sure if he'll play Sunday night against the Patriots. If he can't, it will make an already weak line even weaker.

 If injured LG Chris Kemoeatu (ankle, knee) can't go Sunday night against New England, look for Ramon Foster to take his place in the starting lineup.

It looks like Chris isn't going to be able to go but despite this report I think Legursky will get the first crack at LG, he has been used more at RG when Essex went down  and some may prefer him to Essex, neither set the world on fire when it comes to guard play and that is being kind.  Our starting line should look like J. Scott, Legursky, Pouncey, Essex, Adams.

Some good news on the injury front, RBs Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore, along with S Will Allen, passed their concussion tests Wednesday and were back at practice as full participants.

This is good news, Mendy was gassed that last faithful offensive play for the Steelers.  If we would have been able to put Redman or Moore in on that play I'm confident they get that first down even though legursky missed his block.  Mendy just didn't have the energy to make a move.  So it looks as if we won't see Dwyer this game.

DE Brett Keisel (hamstring), LG Chris Kemoeatu (knee, ankle), TE Heath Miller (knee), K Jeff Reed (illness), and DE Aaron Smith (triceps) did not practice on Wednesday.

Not practicing Thursday: DE Brett Keisel (hamstring), LG Chris Kemoeatu (ankle, knee), TE Heath Miller (knee), S Will Allen (concussion), and DE Aaron Smith (triceps).

The injury list is growing, from this list I think we'll be ok if only Miller can play.  Of course I would like Chris to if he could but I don't see that happening.

Interesting sidelight to the game: Steelers backup OL Ramon Foster who should play a lot Sunday because their starting LT Max Starks is on IR, was college roommates with Pats LB Jerod Mayo . Mayo joked there might a little trash talking between the two of them

I hope there is trash talking when Mayo is on his back.  Mayo is the more accliamed player but Foster has exceed expectations already filling in last year as an undrafted rookie.  He wasn't rated well but our line is bad at RG that no one noticed a difference when he got in.  Lets hope a year of experience helps him and he can perform well if he gets a chance Sunday night.

 LG Chris Kemoeatu on his knee and ankle injuries: "I'm just happy it's not as bad as it felt and the MRI looked pretty good on it. If it's not ready, we'll take this week and get it right, and hopefully come back next week."

That is good news, we'll get Chris K. back next week most likely.  The pats doing have a vaunted pass rush so hopefully the line can manage.

NT Casey Hampton is being left in more on nickel and dime packages than in the past. "We're not going to let people dictate to us when Casey plays," coach Mike Tomlin said. 

I love the mindset.  I love the attitude.  We dictate what happens, not the other team.  Teams have been doing this so they can have some success running the ball and its good that we are adjusting to it.  I want to keep teams under 75 rushing yards all year.  Lets hope they make some more adjustments in the pass defense too.

WR Brandon Marshall on why other teams can throw deep to their WRs despite heavy coverage. “Because they’re not Brandon Marshall.” Marshall said against Pittsburgh he had S Troy Polamalu in front of him, a CB behind him and a LB running to him. 

This is what Dick's defense is based on preventing the deep ball.  In defense nowadays you will give up something so you'd rather give up a 5 yard out than a 50 yard bomb.  Still if we're going to win in the playoffs against elite QBs we gotta get off the field on 3rd downs.

On a side note its official.  The NFL has said that the pass interference call that allowed the Bengals to get to the 1 yard line and the roughing the passer call against Hampton were the wrong calls.  We still won the game but those calls put it in real jeopardy.  It just goes to show you that the officials aren't on the Steelers payroll after all.  

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