View Full Version : Honkytonk doesn't suit Steelers

09-14-2010, 10:53 PM
Honkytonk doesn't suit Steelers
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Tuesday September 14, 2010 11:40 PM

Dennis Dixon, left, will be back under center this week against Tennessee. Times photo by LUCY SCHALY

PITTSBURGH — For an optimist who usually subscribes to the glass-is-half-full theory, Mike Tomlin clearly understands the daunting dilemma facing the Steelers.

“There’s not a lot to be optimistic about,” the coach admitted Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

By no means is Tomlin conceding defeat in the Steelers’ second game of the season. But with the personnel issues the Steelers are dealing with, beating the Tennessee Titans on their home turf Sunday will be extremely difficult.

Consider these points:

l Dating back to last season, Tennessee has won nine of its last 11 games, including Sunday’s 38-13 romp over Oakland.

l Of the eight games the Steelers have played on Tennessee soil, they’ve lost seven of them.

l The Steelers will probably be without two starters Sunday. Left tackle Max Starks has an ankle injury. Nose tackle Casey Hampton has a pulled hamstring.

Even though Tomlin said there’s a chance Starks and Hampton will practice this week, that’s wishful thinking. Both are doubtful at best.

“But we’ll go to work,” Tomlin said. “We’ll prepare our guys. We’ll put together a good plan and they’ll go out and execute it to the best of their abilities.”

Trying to execute the offensive game plan for the second straight week will be quarterback Dennis Dixon, the starter in last Sunday’s 15-9 overtime win over Atlanta.

Dixon is playing as Ben Roethlisberger continues to serve a four-game suspension and Byron Leftwich continues to recover from a sprained knee.
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“Dennis is going to lead us into Nashville,” Tomlin said.

In all likelihood, the starting left tackle will be Jonathan Scott, who held his own against the Falcons after Starks went down in the third quarter. Scott is a fifth-year pro who spent two years with Detroit and two with Buffalo. He started eight games last year for the Bills.

Due to Hampton’s injury, Tomlin said “it’s a hairy situation” on the defensive line.

If Hampton doesn’t play and the Steelers only dress five defensive linemen, fatigue could become a factor against a very good Tennessee offensive line.

Chris Hoke, who’s backed up Hampton for nine years now, will likely start at nose tackle. If Hoke needs a rest, backup defensiveends Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood have the flexibility to play nose tackle, too.

Last week at home, the Steelers were 2½-point underdogs against Atlanta. The early line lists them as 5½-point underdogs against Tennessee.

“We’re going into a hostile environment,” Tomlin said. “Really, it has nothing to do with Dennis. We’ve been there with Ben and gotten beat up. That’s the reality of it. It’s a tough place to play, particularly if they get you behind on the scoreboard.

“It’s what playing on the road in the National Football League is supposed to be about. It’s an awesome challenge.”

09-15-2010, 12:50 PM
I think it's a genious move by Tomlin to lower expectations. It should calm Dixon's nerves...most people play better when expecations are lower. And should motivate the D to step up to the challenge. It's the anti-Anthony Smith effect.