Blitz had a busy night with school so I'll do my best fill his oversized shoes until he returns later this afternoon.
News is somewhat scarce during the bye week but what is trickling out is promising. We all know the injuries were starting to pile up and a week off had to have looked like water fountain on the desert horizon to this team. Here are some random tidbits of news out of the Burgh.
Injury Situation: What looked like a big question mark heading into the Jacksonville game should be a stength by the time the Steelers take the field again. The Steelers expect to get Carey Davis, Fast Willie Parker, Casey Hampton and Brent Keisel back from injuries. The injuries sustained in the win over the Jags to Marvel Smith and Jeff Reed are considered pretty minor. Smith was battling cramps and Reed had a calf injury, but Tomlin actually said that if they really needed Reed to kick a late field goal, he was avaliable. The only hangover for Reed is that he may not be used on kickoffs right away until he's fully healed. Tomlin also said that he expects Big Ben to be close to 100% by the Cincy game.
Harrison Fined: In case anyone was miffed about the officiating from the Jags game and was thinking about saying, "You don't make a call like that in a situation like that, c'mon. Unless (the referee) might have money on it, I don't know," you should know that it'll cost you $20,000. That was the fine levied against James Harrison by the league yesterday. Silverback's agent does plan to appeal the fine.
Essex over Starks: If you're one of the many Steelers fans who was scratching your head when Trai Essex came into the game after Marvel Smith went down, Tomlin explained the decision to go with Essex over Max Starks by saying it was based on match-ups. He went with Essex because he felt more comfortable with his ability to pass protect against the Jags' pass rushing defensive ends. Starks has always been a mauler who struggled against speed rushers but he played much better last year after dropping some weight, but I guess the staff still doesn't trust his ability to protect the passer. I've said it once and it's become more and more clear in my mind that there is a zero percent chance that Max Starks resigns with the Steelers.
AFC North news and notes after the jump.....
News Around the AFC North:
Bungles - Think things can't get worse for an 0-5 team? Well when your players start getting suspended for using performance enhancers, they can get worse. Darryl Blackstock, the teams top backup at linebacker, was suspended four games yesterday for failing a drug test and in what should be a surprise to no one, he blamed it on an over the counter supplement. Blackstock has played in all five games this season, with one start, even though he's only got five tackles to show for it. Considering the team's recent play, they might all consider enhancing their performance by any means necessary. The silver lining is that his suspension opened up a roster spot for the team to bring back Kenny Watson, who was cut last week.
B-More - Poor, poor Ravens. Remember two weeks ago when they were undefeated and excited about the opportunity to come into the big Ketchup bottle and prove their legitimacy to the Steelers? Well fast forward ten days and they're sitting .500 after two close losses (by a combined six points), but considering the opponents (9-1 combined record) they're certainly not pushing any panic buttons right? Not so fast, some fans are already calling rookie head coach John Harbaugh a liability who is holding the team back (robert ethan is that you?).
Brownies - News in Cleveland is scarce as they come out of their bye week but they should finally be healthy when they welcome the Giants on Sunday. They also signed a former Broncos safety, Hamza Abdullah, in an attempt to help shore up thier secondary.