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Weekend Checkdown: the top stories of the week

Minicamp and the period of football in shorts comes to an end. The good news is the next time the Steelers gather they'll have on their big boy pants. The bad news is that's six weeks away.


Oh no. This was a pretty good news week all things considered. But if you are addicted to following football news and the Steelers in particular there is no getting around the fact that we are staring into the maw of six weeks of Hell. As Neal Coolong has noted elsewhere, if there is news during this period it's probably not something you want to hear about. Most likely it will be about someone getting shot, arrested, blowing out their Achilles or getting caught with someone else's wife. I don't want to write about it and you don't want to read it. If we're smart what we are hoping for is a month and a half of mind numbing boredom, punctuated with the occasional report about a player helping a little old lady across the street or rescuing a cat from a tree while they were on their way to their third workout of the day. If you're the mean spirited sort then you might wish to see Patriots or Ravens being carted off to jail (We got a Pacman Jones story this week). Personally, I don't want to tempt the gods that way. Just give me boredom all around.

One reason we love the Steelers

You've probably heard that the Mike Tomlin cancelled the last day of minicamp, but you are probably in the dark as to why. The cancellation was almost certainly planned in advance. The third day of minicamp coincided with the youth football camp that Tomlin runs at Brashear High School. After minicamp was cancelled all of the Steelers rookies joined Tomlin at the youth camp and worked with the kids. The camp was conducted free of charge to area youth. Tomlin, Jarvis Jones and Mike Golic Jr. are featured in this video on

The Mike Adams incident

A breaking story today is that the third man accused of attacking Adams on the South Side (the alleged knife wielder) was captured at a Florida motel. Adams himself was present at the Steelers practice facility for the second day of minicamp. He did not speak to the media but was reported to be in good spirits and appeared fine.

Tomlin and minicamp

Some people get frustrated with Tomlin's press briefings in that often he does a very good job of not saying much. In this video on Tomlin gives what I think to be a pretty meaty assessment of what transpired, and what were the expectations for the spring.

Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau

As is customary at this time of the year the offensive and defensive coordinators were available for detailed interviews with the media. I felt that both were pretty candid about the challenges they face this season and provided some nice tidbits concerning the progress of specific players. LeBeau in particular has a pretty good track record of providing an accurate preview of emerging players on his side of the ball.

Jack Bicknell Jr.

Some of the biggest question marks and concerns have surrounded the offensive line. Given the history of injuries and instability, the replacement of key components Willie Colon and Max Starks with young, talented but largely untested replacements, and ongoing questions concerning depth there is, shall we say, a degree of nervousness associated with this unit. I found this interview enlightening and not a little reassuring.


At the risk of seeming completely self serving, there has been a lot of quality pieces coming from the writers at this site that need to lifted up if you haven't already read them.

Rebecca Rollett provided, according to her own assessment, an incomplete roundup of some of the high character individuals who play for the Steelers and some of the things they do, most of it below the radar. Its an inspiring portrait from an inspiring contributor.

Anthony Defeo had two well received efforts. The first questioning the perception that professional football players are more inclined to be involved in certain 'incidents'; this is the wake of the Mike Adams attack. Later in the week he followed with a profile of Charlie Batch.

Paper Champion took on the challenging task of unraveling the mysteries of the LeBeau defense.

PaVaSteeler addressed the question of the ability of Steeler Nation to exercise trust in the team and the constant search for reassurance.

Baron Batch

The Steeler running back was the featured artist in an arts festival in Texas. The popular reserve has also created pieces for teammate Brett Keisel and head coach Mike Tomlin.

Landry Jones

The fourth round draftee signed a contract on Thursday and marked the last outstanding deal to be completed. This means that going into the hiatus all members of the team are now under contract. There remains the possibility that contract extensions or other new deals may be negotiated before training camp, or even the possibility of free agent moves if deemed advantageous. But it should be noted that the team will go into camp in a state of relative labor peace.

Cortez Allen

The bandwagon for the third year cornerback is picking up steam. Sports Illustrated is the latest national media organ to name Allen as an emerging talent to watch. He is also continuing to receive high praise from his veteran teammates such as Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.

Le'Veon Bell

Sports Illustrated also weighed in with a piece matching up the two running backs drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft, Bell and Alabama's Eddie Lacy who now labors for the Green Bay Packers. Their verdict of who would have the stronger year came down in favor of Bell.

A free agent tight end?

I don't agree with the assessment but Bill Barnwell at Grantland questions whether Pittsburgh should have invested in a tight end in the free agent market this spring.

Stadium security

Concerns for public safety continue to haunt our sports venues. The Steelers announced restrictions on purses and other bags being brought into Heinz Field effective this season.

Cause for optimism?

A pundit for CBS Sports predicts that Pittsburgh will be in the AFC title game matched up against the Denver Broncos.

Warren Sapp

On the other end of the spectrum, you have to give it to Sapp for being consistent. Once again he is predicting that the Steelers defense is old and slow. No explanation thus far as to how these geriatrics keep managing to finish number one in the league on defense.

Pacman Jones

And while we're being negative, you could be forgiven if you were starting to believe that the Cincinnati Bengals had finally moved beyond their tendency to embrace social pathology. Again in a nod to consistency Pacman Jones has turned himself in based upon an incident at a Cincinnati Reds game.

Ben and Todd

A lot of energy was expended last year in speculation as to when the Steeler quarterback and his offensive coordinator would start fighting. Its a vastly different story now as it appears to be all about peaceful collaboration, a bromance if you will.


There appears to be a broad gulf between how some view Burress and others in Steeler Nation. I fall into the camp that feels that he should still have something in the tank, has a history of have a tremendously successful rapport with Ben, and could be a very significant difference maker in the Steeler attack, especially in the absence of Heath Miller in the red zone. On the other side are those who believe his contributions will be negligible at best, and possibly a liability and an impediment to the development of younger talent. If I'm right then the Steelers will have a very dangerous, diverse passing attack with just the right combination of youth and veteran savvy. If not then we need to be burning incense in support of the development of Wheaton.

Rod Woodson

The Hall of Fame cornerback was at minicamp helping Carnell Lake with the defensive secondary. He will also be working with the team at Latrobe. Considering that Tomlin won his first Super Bowl ring as the defensive secondary coach for Tampa Bay (a unit that had a very good day during that Super Bowl), a fellow Hall of Famer in the person of Dick LeBeau and the stellar credentials of Lake, as well of the presence of a likely future Hall of Famer in Troy, I would think that the players in that particular unit should consider themselves rather fortunate.

Ryan Clark

Sickle cell anemia is one of those afflictions that is so abstract in the minds of the public that it is difficult to rally much interest in trying to find a cure. Ryan Clark has put a face and an appreciation of the dangers and consequences of this disease. He sponsored this event to further increase public awareness and support.