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83-Steelers-43 10-29-2007 11:56 PM

Holmes is a rising star
 
Holmes is a rising star for Steelers
Holmes is better known as the Steelers' deep threat, but now he is making the tough plays over the middle, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's not as if they called Santonio Holmes a wimp. That would be ridiculous. You don't become a starter in the NFL by being soft. But it was curious what impressed the Steelers coaches and players most about Holmes' performance in the 24-13 victory Sunday at Cincinnati. It wasn't his diving 42-yard catch that set up the first touchdown or his two critical third-down catches that kept later scoring drives going. It was the ice bags attached to his ribs and right thigh after the game.

"Santonio is learning how to play beat up," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

Don't underestimate that.

"He's understanding that he can go over the middle and make plays," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "He caught that one slant where he went real high, caught it and got hit. That's him maturing. Last year, he probably goes up and ducks."

Added Arians: "He's making the really tough catch and getting up to make the next one. He took a big hit on that thigh in the first half. I don't know that he would have came back and played in the second half last season."

It's not as if they gave Holmes a choice against the Bengals.

"Everybody was yelling at me to get back in the game," Holmes said.

Well, not everybody.

"Ben asked me after almost every play if I was OK," Holmes said. "I told him, 'Ben, don't worry about me. I've got your back.' "

Roethlisberger's concern is understandable. Holmes gives Big Ben a third go-to receiver along with redoubtable Hines Ward and rising star Heath Miller. The man drops nothing. "He makes my job so much easier," Roethlisberger said.

It's no coincidence that Roethlisberger looked for Holmes on those important third-down conversions Sunday on out-of-the-pocket throws. "Ben is always saying never to give up on a play," Holmes said. "He hates to leave anything on the field." Holmes certainly didn't give up on a third-and-4 play early in the second quarter even though defensive tackle John Thornton had Roethlisberger by the legs and was pulling him down. His catch was good for 7 yards.

Holmes also didn't let up after the Bengals had Roethlisberger scrambling for his life on a third-and-6 play midway through the fourth quarter. He grabbed Roethlisberger's off-balance, sidearm pass for a 12-yard gain to set up the clinching field goal, a play that many, including Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, thought might have been the play of the day. "Big-time play," the coach called it.

Holmes got the Steelers going with his 42-yard catch. Roethlisberger's pump fake gave him time to get behind cornerback Leon Hall. It was Holmes' third catch of at least 40 yards this season. He has four of the Steelers' five longest receptions.

"I'll let everyone else do the judging and just keep making plays for my team," Holmes said when asked if he felt he was becoming an elite NFL receiver in just his second season. He didn't yield much ground on that subject when pressed again later. "Just say I'm working hard toward becoming one of the great receivers in this league."

Who better than Arians -- the Steelers' receivers coach for three seasons before getting the big promotion from Tomlin -- to ask for a judgment of Holmes?

"Right now, he's becoming a really good player. There's no doubt [stardom] is in his future as long as he keeps working hard. It's just a matter of him becoming more consistent."

There's more to it than just catching passes. Arians raved about Holmes' blocking. It's a significant factor in Willie Parker's 726 rushing yards -- the second-best total in the NFL -- and the Steelers' 5-2 record.

"What a legacy Hines has left in that room," Arians said. "The other guys see what he does as a blocker and it has an impact on everyone ...

"You block in this league with one muscle -- your heart."

That leads us back to Holmes' toughness.

It takes a real man to block NFL linebackers and safeties, to take the ferocious hits from those linebackers and safeties on catches over the middle.

"It's either in you or it isn't," Ward said. "It's in Santonio."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07303/829606-87.stm

Black@Gold Forever32 10-30-2007 12:09 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
I wanted the Steelers to draft and Holmes and was happy when they traded up and did....He is really coming into his own this year.....I like the fact that Holmes always tries to get open when Ben is on the move......Some WRs in the NFL just give up after their initial route...

Steelman16 10-30-2007 12:12 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
I'm very pleased with Santo's play and heart thus far. There were some red flags there for a bit just after he was drafted, but he seems to have cleared up his real-life problems and is able to play quality football.

I like it that Hines is always teaching these guys how to block well. Santo is without a doubt going to be a star reciever for us for many years to come.

83-Steelers-43 10-30-2007 12:31 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Steelman16 (Post 314091)
There were some red flags there for a bit just after he was drafted, but he seems to have cleared up his real-life problems and is able to play quality football.

Combination of two things IMO....

A) Getting involved with the Steelers organization and seeing how things are handled here. I believe his troubles occured before he was able to get involved with the organization.

B) Hines Ward pulling him aside and having a few talks with him and making it very clear to him what is expected of him.

Man, I remember some fans wanted to give the kid the boot before he even entered Pittsburgh city limits.

jjpro11 10-30-2007 01:32 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
man.. i remember thinking he had bust written all over him around draft day. undersized wr, average speed, decent hands, coming out as a junior... phew.. glad i was dead wrong. im so so glad we took him over chad jackson!

Haiku_Dirtt 10-30-2007 03:01 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 (Post 314094)
Combination of two things IMO....

A) Getting involved with the Steelers organization and seeing how things are handled here. I believe his troubles occured before he was able to get involved with the organization.

B) Hines Ward pulling him aside and having a few talks with him and making it very clear to him what is expected of him.

Man, I remember some fans wanted to give the kid the boot before he even entered Pittsburgh city limits.

And I was one. The red flags within the context at the time and the historical failure of No. 1 receivers made the jump to a conclusion easy.

And how HE has turned this around is the most pleasant surprise since perhaps...

We don't want "stars." We want receptions. And this sly cat is becoming the 'known commodity.' Dare I say disciplined?

Galax Steeler 10-30-2007 03:41 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
I really like holmes his speed and hands or great.I must admit I couldn't understand why we took this guy especially when we traded up to get him I am glad we did and I was wrong.

STEELtownHAVOX 10-30-2007 07:00 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
As much as Santonio fumbled last year, I still had faith in him. While some of my other friends hated him, they probably still do; I stuck by him, and supported him day in/day out. I just saw the potential in him, and saw how hard he worked. It's definately paying off now!

steelpride12 10-30-2007 11:43 AM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
I liked Holmes from the beginning, but i knew last year his playing time would be limited.
It wasn't till GW TD in OT against the Bengals i knew i was right that he was going to be something great for us.

With a combination of speed, agility and surprisingly already great hands he poses a great threat with the deep pass def. on one on one! This guy devotes his time in practice to ask and chat with Ward about what he should do or what he is doing wrong which in my eyes in Pro like.

Holmes is there for the big play and about 5 times this season when Ben was out of the pocket running around Holmes adjusted his route and Ben got it to him for a usually important first down.

Lord Stiller 10-30-2007 12:52 PM

Re: Holmes is a rising star
 
I also noticed that Holmes is a very good downfield blocker, looks like Ward's hard work is rubbing off on him


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