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Labor Day, The End Of Summer, And The Glorious Return Of Steelers Football

First of all, Happy LaborDay to all of you. I'm sure you deserve a day off to gather yourself and enjoy some relaxation with friends and family before the commencement of the typical crescendo of work and stress that typically accompanies the fall. Enjoy.

I suppose now's an appropriate time as well to send our best to the people of the Gulf Coast. It's extra relevant for me because my brother Alan, who served in the 1st Gulf War, lives in Baton Rouge. Things are not looking as apocolyptic as they were during the leadup to Hurricane Katrina, but you just never know. Fingers crossed for now.

A few thoughts before cranking into full fledged 'game week mode' for the rest of the week.

* Yesterday, I started a post on the teams that I thought might be sleepers in the NFL this year. My intention was to list five teams that I thought might exceed expectations. I made my way through my choices of New Orleans and Tennesse, then started on the Cincinnatti Bengals, then suddenly thought better of it.

 There is a part of me that thinks that Carson Palmer, TJ Houshmanzadeh and Chad Johnson are good enough to keep the Bengals relevant. And it's hard to imagine the Bengals suffering as much bad luck injury wise on the defensive side of the ball as  they did last year. Those two realities (at least in my mind) are enough to make me believe they're no worse than a 7 win football team, but, when I stopped to think twice (or rather, a third time) about the internal dynamics of the team, I stopped myself in my tracks and thought better of it.

As we all know, the Bengals recently re-signed Chris Henry. No need to rehash Henry's past, other than to say the decision was beyond head-scratching. But, as it turns out, it was arguably the least puzzling move that the Bengals would make during the month leading up to the start of the regular season.

As was mentioned in the 'fanposts section' (keep 'em coming guys!), the Bengals released RB Rudi Johnson and OT Willie Anderson. Why is that relevant? Well, they're great citizens and extremely hard workers. A bad fit for the Queen City, I know. Yes, Rudi Johnson had not been able to inequivocally prove that he had recovered from a nagging hamstring injury, and yes, Willie Anderson is not what he used to be. But for a team that's trying to rid itself of the negative baggage that has accompanied this organization during the Marvin Lewis era, one can only shake his or her head in disbelief by this series of moves.

Let's reward the villain, give up on the hardest working member of our team, and kick to the curb the patron saint of selflessnes, all in one fell swoop. Who dey think is going to turn things around? Good question.

* The Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad is set. Judging from you guys' comments, LB Patrick Bailey and CB/S Roy Lewis are the two guys that might have been most deserving of making the team. WR Micah Rucker might also find himself dressing sometime this year if Dallas Baker and/or Limas Sweed succumbs to injury.

* Speaking of those final cuts, kudos to LB Donovan Woods for flying under the radar for most all of this preseason before eeking his way onto the final 53. Many point to his athletic play during the 4th and final Steelers preseason game as his golden ticket, but something tells me that Woods performed at a consistent level all of camp. One play is not enough to make this team, as was evidenced by Willie Reed's release. After all, he too had a few eye-opening plays during the preseason, but the overall body of work was not enough to merit a spot on the squad. 

* Back to Willie Anderson and Dre Moore, two players cut by other organizations recently.  Anderson, formerly with Cincinnatti, might be worth the risk if he could still be a viable option at the tackle position. I'm not sure he is. Said differently, I'm not sure he'd be much of an upgrade over either Max Starks or Willie Colon at this stage in his career. As for Dre Moore, the DT out of Maryland recently released by the Bucs? Though I'm a firm believer in the mantra 'one man's trash is another man's treasure', I don't think he'd that much of an upgrade over the triumverante of Orpheus Roye, Chris Hoke, and Nick Eason, our three primary reserves along the DL. The Buccaneers may not have room for Moore on their roster right now, and I don't think Moore is withouth future opportunity in this league, but at the same time, I don't really see him as any sort of answer to our long-term needs along the defensive line. Orpheus Roye, on the other hand, while also not a long-term solution, at least will be able to step in right away and contribute due to his experience and physical maturity (euphemistically speaking), even if on a limited basis.  

* The BTSC Fantasy League had its draft today and lo and behold, I find myself behind the 8-Ball once again after the draft. To make matters worse, my roster is littered with players that are either on hated rivals, or 2008 opponents. From Carson Palmer and Braynt Westbrook, to MJ Drew...the cream of my roster is filled with guys I love to hate (though in Westbrook's case, that's not so true). Regardless, I have no idea what I'm going to do. I either hope they perform at a huge level, and jeopardize the Steelers chances all the while, or I frantically try to make some alacritous trades. Or I just accept my fate as the Detroit Lions of fantasy football and do nothing about it. Survey says? We'll see, but history says Answer C is most likely.

* Again, enjoy your day off friends. I'll be back gearing up for our first opponent in the 2008 season, the Houston Texans, in a bit.  

Be blessed and as always, GO STEELERS.