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83-Steelers-43
05-17-2006, 09:04 AM
Steelers exude confidence, unity

By Joe Bendel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Former Washington Redskins safety Ryan Clark needed all of 15 seconds to understand why the Steelers are the defending Super Bowl champions.
"The camaraderie here is incredible," Clark said at the conclusion of Steelers minicamp. "You can see why they were able to overcome tough times. They're all friends. It's a real team."

Moments after Clark made his comments, wideout Nate Washington and cornerback Bryant McFadden were on the other side of the locker room jawing back and forth while playing a game of garbage-can basketball.

Meanwhile, quarterback Charlie Batch joined a gaggle of reporters and began asking strong safety Troy Polamalu questions while using his cell phone as a tape recorder.

Then, there was running back Verron Haynes, who stuck his head between linebackers Joey Porter and Larry Foote and made a statement that elicited loud laughter.

"We enjoy being around each other," Porter said. "All good teams do."

At the outset of minicamp, there were concerns that the retirement of Jerome Bettis might leave an irreplaceable void in the locker room. But by Day 3, things were getting back to normal.

The chemistry appeared to be intact.

Ditto for the lightheartedness and unity.

"Guys are going to step up," wideout Hines Ward said. "Trust me."

Of course, time will tell how things play out during the 14 voluntary workouts that begin today, training camp in late July and August and the season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 7 at Heinz Field.

As coach Bill Cowher likes to say, the Steelers must recapture the mindset that helped them overcome a 7-5 start and win eight consecutive games, including three playoff contests on the road, en route to their first Super Bowl championship in 26 years.

"We became a desperate team, a more focused and disciplined team, and that's the urgency in which we prepared," Cowher said. "We played that way, but we prepared that way. That's the thing that you have to take with you from the very beginning. Again, it starts at training camp.

It sets the tone for an entire season, in Cowher's estimation.

"It's not something you can turn on and turn off," Cowher said. "You play like you practice, in mind, and practice like you think. The most important thing now is for us to have the right approach when we go out there, have great veteran leadership, which I think we'll get. They set the tone, and everybody else will follow that lead. We'll push each other, we'll compete with each other, and we'll also play with each other. This group knows how to walk that line. It's a very fine line to walk."

Rookie wideout Santonio Holmes, a first-round draft pick who participated in minicamp but will miss the voluntary workouts, needed little time with the Steelers to discover how championship-level teams conduct themselves.

He observed the work ethic and professionalism of Ward and tight end Heath Miller. He also had several conversations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is emerging as a leader in the locker room.

"Everybody around here was willing to help; that's an important thing," Holmes said. "Guys were here for business, but you can see they enjoy being around each other. The focus is already here. Everybody wants to win another Super Bowl. I really like the environment, because you know expectations are high and everybody's going to work to meet them. Now I know why they won it all last year."

Suitanim
05-17-2006, 10:09 AM
I'd still like Roethlisberger to be more like "One of the dudes"...

Haiku_Dirtt
05-17-2006, 02:17 PM
I'd still like Roethlisberger to be more like "One of the dudes"...

What do mean? Is he reclusive? I didn't hear about that.

Suitanim
05-17-2006, 02:45 PM
Yeah, there's been rumblings and stuff almost since the beginning that he's a little aloof from the rest of the team...nothing really substantiated, but...

burgsville
05-17-2006, 03:01 PM
My impression was that he and the Bus were tight. That would include with the rest of the team.

83-Steelers-43
05-17-2006, 04:37 PM
I'm probably in the minority here, but I think he still has to put another season under his belt before he can be considered a "leader" on this team from the veterans on this roster. For me, It has nothing to do with Ben's "supposed" personality problems, but with how much time he has under his belt on this team and to give him more time to mature as a person and as a better QB.

Please keep in mind my opinion or comments are not meant to be a knock on Ben, I just feel it's better for the team as a whole. On another MB I already had the Hines Ward Bunnies jump on my case and take my comments out of context, I don't need Ben's Bunnies...lol. I'm not stating Ben is immature, but in order to be a leader, I think your maturity level needs to be higher than a QB going into his second legit year as a starting QB. I know Heath Miller considers him a leader (keep in mind Heath was drafted a year after Ben of course), but I wonder what Faneca, Porter or Ward think about the idea of Ben taking over the leadership role? I have no doubt Ben can step up and become the leader of that offense in the future, but I'm not crazy about it occuring this upcoming season.

I would be more than happy to see Ben sit back and conitinue to learn from the veterans on this team and have Hines Ward or Alen Faneca become the leaders on that offense. Ben's time will come and he will become the leader of this offense. He's still young. Just my two cents.

OX1947
05-17-2006, 04:44 PM
Enough please. Im a huge Laker fan and I have had to endure the fact that Kobe Bryant was stand offish also. I think people need to understand that there are people out there that are not like that. Respect it and go on. Big Ben's job is to win games, not hold hands and be best freinds with everyone. One of the things I have hated about the Media the last decade, and thats this notion that everyone has to lick each others balls in order to have a best situation on the field, court or whatever, leave it alone and let Big Ben be who is.....

tony hipchest
05-17-2006, 05:59 PM
"It's not something you can turn on and turn off," Cowher said. "You play like you practice, in mind, and practice like you think."

is cowher going phil jackson and pulling a zenmaster on us?

all this talk of who will replace jerome as the leader is a bit over rated. this team is full of players who would be leaders on other teams. the steelers dont fight over who SHOULD be leader, infact it seems like they deflect that role on eachother. like 83-steelers-43 said ben is young but hes more than willing to develop into that role. but nothing will, or should be forced. every player knows cowher is the true leader as long as he is head coach.

really, do we focus on who was the leader in 94 and 95, or 97, 01 or 05? plenty of players have come and gone but leadership was never anything that was lacking. it wont be lacking next year either. who could argue agains james farrior or jeff hartings being a leader? hell, even chris hope considered himself a leader on defense. i dont think bradshaw, franco, lambert, or green were over consumed who led their dynasty back in the day.

as for been being aloof, it really seems like he his a happy go lucky big kid. last year i remember reading how he was advised to not get too close and buddy buddy with teamates and not to alienate others. he is making a concentrated effort to threat all his teammates the same. he seems to be all about business where football is concerned. that is his focus and his job. let someone else be the class clown, who goes out and parties with everybody. people thought the same about bradshaw cause he would hang with certain players and study the bible, yet he liked and was well liked by all his players.

Steelhorse
05-17-2006, 06:32 PM
Aloof = Peyton Manning

The last word I would use to describe Ben is aloof from what I've seen and heard.

RoethlisBURGHer
05-17-2006, 06:34 PM
Why wouldn't we be confident?WE ARE THE DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!

tony hipchest
05-17-2006, 06:43 PM
Aloof = Peyton Manning

The last word I would use to describe Ben is aloof from what I've seen and heard.weve gone from kordell being described as gay, to ben being described as aloof. atleast the critisizm seems to be lightenning up on the qb in pittsburgh.