As announced previously in this space, XFINITY from Comcast has generously agreed to support the best NFL community around -- us! As part of that effort, between now and the end of the 2010 NFL season XFINITY will be sponsoring a variety of special editorial and interactive features on our site.
IX - Not that this would necessarily have much, if any effect on his life in the National Football Laegue, but reports surfaced Monday alleging that the NCAA and Florida officials are investigating a potential rules violation by Maurkice Pouncey, the Pittsburgh Steelers' first-round draft choice this past April, while he was a member of the Florida Gators.
From the ESPN report:
Florida is internally investigating what sources described as an allegation that a representative of an agent paid Pouncey $100,000 between the Gators' loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game to Alabama and their season-ending Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati. Florida apprised the NCAA of the allegation after it became aware of it.
Don't expect any resolution or final verdict any time soon (see: Reggie Bush scandal), but stay tuned to see if the Gators might potentially have to forfeit any of their myriad team accomplishments.
X - ProFootballFocus has ranked the performance of all 32 offensive lines from a year ago. It's a fairly solid list actually, and I don't disagree with where they placed the Steelers or most of the other 31 teams around the league. Here's what they had to say about Pittsburgh, the 24th ranked unit in '09 in their estimation:
No. 24 -- Pittsburgh Steelers (Run No. 27, Pass No. 18, Penalties No. 17)
Things seemed to be moving in the right direction, with three of five starting positions playing at least reasonably well, until Willie Colon suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in offseason workouts. The grades are dragged down massively by center Justin Hartwig, RG Trai Essex and backup Ramon Foster.
Best Player: Unfortunately for the Steelers, RT Colon is one of the most underrated players in the game. His pass protection is as good as there is but he needed to work on reducing his penalties (nine).
Biggest Concern: Maurkice Pouncey was brought in to address Hartwig's poor play, but Essex remains as probably the least-effective starting RG around.
Regardless of what last year's unit did, I'm confident that this year's line will be better than last year's and decidedly better than the one that took the field in '08. Yes, even without Willie Colon who's been lost for the year. I say that because I'm personally so high on new offensive line coach Sean Kugler. Dale Lolley, the veteran beat reporter who also authors the blog NFL From The Sidelines, wrote a profile about Kugler and his early work with the line in this year's version of the MSP Steelers Annual, which actually will be in stock and available for purchase online beginning on Wednesday. Not sure yet when it will be available in retail outlets in the western PA, Ohio and Washington D.C. areas, but soon enough and I'll be sure to pass along any information when I get it.
XII - A contributing author at the new SB Nation Pittsburgh regional site weights in on the Steelers' 2010 schedule. I diverge in places with my opinions, but it's a nice comprehensive read with some good stuff in it.
XIV - You made the right choice, my man. Antwaan Randle El claims that he strongly considered joining the Baltimore Ravens this offseason when mulling where he'd like to play the third leg of his professional career.
XL - Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, who coached the Steelers' quarterbacks the past three seasons, remembers his long career in the NFL. Cincy Jungle, SB Nation's Bengals blog, also writes about Anderson's career.
XLIII - Now that New York has been awarded a Super Bowl down the road, other cold weather cities are coming forth to claim that their city would be the ideal candidate to host the Big Game. Pittsburgh is no exception.