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T-Minus Two Weeks And Counting Until Steelers Football

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How about some reading material to start your Monday?

* Starting on a light hearted note: Cotter, from One For The Other Thumb, has mapped out our season in the way he knows best - with some humor and Photoshop. Check out the comical breakdown in Parts 1 and Parts 2.

* Gotta have it. Have what? Aaron Smith playing at a high level if we want to accomplish our goals in 2008.  Saturday night sure was a positive indication that Aaron Smith is healthy and ready to go in 2008. The article is not amazingly interesting, but there is a quote from Chris Hoke that made me pause and think:

"He's the guy that gets us all fired up," nose tackle Chris Hoke said when asked about Smith's five-tackle, one-sack performance in the first half. "He's the leader of our defensive line."

Interesting. I know that Hines is probably our unquestioned overall leader, and that Big Ben is coming into his own as a leader on and off the field. But, I was wondering who exactly assumed some of the leadership responsibilities on the defensive end? Makes sense I suppose that Aaron Smith factors in. All he does is show up to work, perform, and quietly watch the bulk of the credit go to someone other than him.

* Dale Lolley makes an interesting observation in his most recent blog post. He touches on the absence of several players from action on Saturday night. In his mind, that signals the end of the road for them here in the Steel City. Dough Legursky and Ryan McBean are included in the list. Check it out.

* The lack of an Open Thread for Saturday's game was an indication of my absence this weekend. Consequently, I'm not going to pretend to do a meaninful recap.  Thankfully, maryrose did just that in the post found below this one. Although some of you addressed the subject in the comments section, I don't feel like I have a complete grasp on Mendenhall's two fumbles. The situations? Whether or not the Vikings' forced said fumbles, etc. Between him running a touch upright and the fumbling issues, there's plenty to be concerned about, despite his flashes of occasional brillaince and work-horse like qualities this preseason.

* I can't say I agree with maryrose about Byron Leftwich. I know, I know. Byron Leftwich is a QB who has led a team to the playoffs, has seen just about every defensive wrinkle out there, etc.  But, did you know Byron Leftwich is 1-6 in his last 7 starts? Yikes. He's also never thrown more than 15 TD passes in a seaon, despite have started 15, 13, and 11 games in 2003-2005 respectively. I just don't quite get it. He's not a 'winner' really in any sense of the word. And yes, his arm strength is a thing of beauty, but the last time I checked, the top 3 QBs in the league imo (Manning, Brady, Brees) mostly make their living with accuracy and touch. I feel Leftiwch too often throws the 2-seam fastball when he needs to throw the offspeed stuff. Furthermore, I suppose I am having a hard time getting used to the notion of us hitching our wagons to the former Jaguars' starting QB. Hopeffuly, it's all irrelevant, and Big Ben will play a complete season. Well, at least 15 games, minus Week 17 when we rest against the Browns with the divison in hand :)

* Your random Monday reading material: the rise of the infectious superbug. Totally random, I know. But, if you have a few minutes, check it out. A great read and frankly, very scary stuff. To keep it NFL relevant...remember this story about the St. Louis Rams a few years ago? They haven't been the last team either to deal with such an issue. Lesson: don't take antiobiotics unless you need to. And definitely don't give them to kids unless you have to.

* Oh, be sure to catch TheMostViolentTeam's second installment on How the Steelers Defense Works. His latest entry covers the play of the linebackers. If you missed the first one about the secondary, you can find it here.