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Weekend Checkdown: the top Steelers stories of the week

Steelers Nation copes with the doldrums of April awaiting the draft.

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Top stories?

Kentucky just fell to Wisconsin..no wait. That's not professional football. The Pirates are about to open a new season..no, that's not football either. As the draft is the better part of a month away we are now being confronted with the limits of the NFL and the football worshiping community to maintain any legitimate sense of relevance. For me, April marks the official beginning of the MSU portion of the football year. The (G rated) definition of the term is Making Stuff Up. How else do you generate clicks and attract eyeballs when nothing of real significance is going on? So from now to the beginning of training camp you can expect copious amounts of BS serving as filler for what few newsworthy items and events that actually occur with spring football.

This is a particularly challenging time of the year for me. Those who follow this series know that I don't do mock drafts or fantasy, and at this time of the year what's left after that? I also don't subscribe to the Prophecy School of sports reporting, where your credibility is linked to how audaciously you can predict the future. I confess that I never received my bachelors in Nostradamus or Masters in Cayce. And, speaking frankly, many of you who believe you have need to really see if you can get your money back. Because, well...

April Fools

How appropriate is it that the MSU season begins on April Fools Day? And how appropriate is it that two of the top stories of the week were pieces intentionally written as lies that were viewed by many as legitimate news items because they so closely resemble what is being passed off as truth? Anthony Defeo suggests that all six of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl victories may be in some manner fraudulent creating hurt feelings among friends, and 'I knew it' reactions from enemies. Hombre de Acero had the Steelers trading linebacker Lawrence Timmons which should have been dismissed as ridiculous on its face, except for the fact that a few weeks ago a 'legitimate' journalist with a BN (Bachelors in Nostradamus) was predicting that Timmons would be a cap casualty this spring. The fact that no one took this person, put them in stocks in the public square, hung a sign saying 'Idiot' around their neck and then pelted said person with rotten fruit and vegetables says all you need to know about the decline of Western Civilization.

Antwon Blake

Want a working definition of the term 'panic'? Just say the word "cornerback" to a certain set of Steelers fans and watch their eyeballs roll around in their heads. Now, no one is saying that this isn't an important area of need, but there are clearly differences of opinion concerning the sense of urgency that should be brought to addressing the issue. An example came earlier this week as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin dropped by the training camp of the Pirates in Florida. (Center Maurkice Pouncey threw out the first ball of the game played that day as well). Nice gesture you would think. Tomlin and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle really do get along well, and the solidarity and mutual support of the three major professional sports franchises in Pittsburgh (Penguins, Pirates and Steelers) is somewhat unique. However, when you checked out some of those who commented on the piece describing the event they chastised Tomlin because they believed that his time would be better spent working night and day to do something about his godawful defense. Never mind the fact that the reason he was in Florida was to scout pro days for prospects. Apparently he doesn't understand that the season opening game on Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. It is Memorial Day isn't it?

I'm anticipating the suggestion that we exhume the body of Brady Keys and sign him to a one year deal. In the meantime Antwon Blake signing his tender will have to do.

Shayon Green

Coming in a respectable second to 'cornerback' is 'outside linebacker'. With Arthur Moats dismissed as pedestrian and unsexy, James Harrison having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel and Jarvis Jones possessing a one way ticket to Bust City, the ragged edges of panic are beginning to show here as well. The important thing is to do something, anything that might reassure some that the problem is being addressed. Whether Green will make a difference or is merely a camp body remains to be seen.

Clifton Geathers

The defensive lineman signed a one year deal to re-up with the team. Geathers didn't do anything in the brief time he was with the team in 2014 to leave an impression one way or the other, but he does have two things going for him; he plays defense and his name is not Cam Thomas.

Andrew McCutchen

Returning briefly to Florida, the Pirates' star outfielder drew praise from Tomlin who stated that he could use him as a punt returner. If he had mentioned playing the defensive secondary I am sure that a movement would have already been put in motion for a cross-sports trade.

Ryan Shazier

In an attempt to head off the perception that there might be two recent first rounders on that express to Bust City, Tomlin gave a vote of confidence to the second year linebacker. Hopefully, it also slows down the talk about his future as a safety.

Off season schedule

The spring football schedule was announced this week. I will contradict myself and make a prediction about this. Every year at this time we get excited about the OTAs and minicamps until we remember that football in shorts is only slightly more interesting and enlightening than nothing at all. Then we will get bored again and pray that no one steps in a hole and breaks something or is caught in a compromising position with..well let your imagination take free rein here.

Draft needs and free agency

Of course I am getting a little ahead of myself talking about the spring practice schedule when the composition of the job applicants hasn't been settled yet. So here is some information on draft needs, the current state of free agency, including the lasted thinking about Troy Polamalu.

Position evaluations

Dale Lolley gives his take on the situation at quarterback and the defensive line.

Bettis

Steelers alumnus, former center Jeff Hartings, gives his impressions on the man that he blocked for entering the Hall of Fame.

Mel Blount

He held his annual celebrity roast honoring former Steeler cornerback Dwayne Woodruff. Surprised nobody tried to sign him.