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Old 12-03-2006, 11:43 PM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Monday, December 04, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



The Steelers lost two more starters to injuries yesterday and both might not recover in time to play against Cleveland Thursday night at Heinz Field.

Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson left the game in the first quarter with a left ankle sprain and free safety Ryan Clark left after his groin was injured while he covered a punt in the third quarter.

The Steelers already were missing starters at receiver (Hines Ward) and strong safety (Troy Polamalu) because of injuries and may have to play backups at those four starting positions against the Browns. Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes may have to start at wide receiver, while Tyrone Carter starts at strong safety and rookie Anthony Smith may have to start at free safety.

"It's a short week," coach Bill Cowher said of the injury to Wilson. "I'm not real optimistic."

Clark said he did not know if he could play Thursday.

"We were going down like flies," Carter said.

Wilson's injury left the wide receivers looking green. Second-year player Nate Washington, who made his first start in place of Ward, and rookie Holmes were on the field when the Steelers used two receivers. Special teams co-captain Sean Morey entered when the team went to three and Walter Young, signed from the practice squad Nov. 25, came on as the fourth wide receiver.

The Steelers can use tight ends Heath Miller and/or Jerame Tuman to replace a wide receiver in some of their packages.

"We may expand that a little bit," Cowher said. "But we feel good about Sean Morey. Walter Young's here. We're not going to get rid of everything."


Turf troubles


Kicker Jeff Reed did not want to blame the Heinz Field dirt for a miss on a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. But he's not fond of the surface that has been worn down by college, high school and pro games the past month.

"I don't ever blame it on the field," Reed said. "I lost my plant [foot] a little bit and tried to compensate for it.

"There was no grass between the hashes. That's kind of evident in this game. Nobody has to ask those questions now. That's the way it is, both teams play on it."

Reed's third field goal left him with 106 in his career and moved him past Norm Johnson into third place on the team list.


Reed boots a long one


Reed nailed a 50-yard field goal with two minutes remaining in the first half. It is the longest field goal in an NFL game since Heinz Field was opened in 2001 and is the second-longest field goal of Reed's career. He has hit three from 51 yards in his five years with the Steelers


For Bettis


Linebacker Joey Porter wore a green Notre Dame jersey with the No. 6 on it after the game, an old Jerome Bettis replica. It was to honor his former teammate, whose father, Johnnie, died at age 61 last week and will be buried in Detroit today.

"It's just to let them know we're thinking about them, him and his family," Porter said. "They're always in our hearts and we're always playing for them. He's a brother to us. He's not one of those guys who, when he's off the team, you don't think about him. He's still a family member."

Many Steelers have lined up private jets and will attend this morning's services and return in time to practice this evening.


Ben big vs. NFC


Ben Roethlisberger entered the game with a 103.7 passer rating against NFC teams. That was second best in the past three seasons to Peyton Manning's 113.7 rating against the other conference. It included six touchdowns and no interceptions and a 138.5 rating this season, an otherwise subpar year for Roethlisberger.

Yesterday, he had a middle-of-the-road 85.1 rating, mainly because he completed less than 50 percent of his passes and he threw an interception. It was his 20th this season, the most for a Steelers quarterback since Cliff Stoudt threw 21 interceptions in 1983.


Mistaken identity


Fox, which televised the game, made a major gaffe in the third quarter when it talked about Bruce Gradkowski being another NFL quarterback from Western Pennsylvania, the area that sent the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath and Jim Kelly to the league. While this was going on, Fox showed some clips that were supposed to be of Gradkowski in high school at Seton-LaSalle. Except the quarterback in the video was wearing No. 14 and was Anthony Doria, who played after Gradkowski. Gradkowski wore No. 7 at Seton-LaSalle.


Happy to be back


Gradkowski enjoyed the weekend in his native Pittsburgh, just not the result.

"It was an amazing opportunity," he said. "I was thrilled to come back to Pittsburgh. The fans in Pittsburgh and everyone around here has been so good to me. Especially for all the family and friends that got to come to this game and see me play.

"I wish we could have put on a better show and personally me also, but things happen like that."


Quick hits


Tampa Bay avoided another loss in sub-40 degree temperatures (a case in which it is 1-21 lifetime) because it was 42 degrees at kickoff. ... Porter's two sacks give him 60 in his career, moving him past Keith Willis into fourth place on the Steelers' list .... Deshea Townsend added to his Steelers' career sack record for cornerbacks with another yesterday, giving him 151/2. ... The Steelers are 7-1 against Tampa Bay. ... The Steelers have won 11 of their past 12 games against NFC teams. ... Fullback Dan Kreider had his first carry of the season; he gained 5 yards.


Inactives


Steelers -- QB Brian St. Pierre, WR Hines Ward, OT Willie Colon, G Chris Kemoeatu, C Marvin Philip, S Troy Polamalu, RB Duce Staley, WR Willie Reid.

Buccaneers -- CB Alan Zemaitis, S Donte Nicholson, C Nick Mihlhauser, OT Donald Penn, WR Paris Warren, DE Charles Bennett, DT Jon Bradley, QB Luke McCown.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com. Staff writers Gene Collier, Jerry Micco and Bob Smizik contributed to this report. )
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?Jarrad Page, we?re not at UCLA anymore. You need to wrap.? ?an ESPN commentator, on the Chiefs rookie?s weak attempt at tackling the Steelers? Nate Washington in a 45-7 loss.
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Old 12-04-2006, 02:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

I'll be interested to see how Ben does throwing to all those "kids". Not so sure I'm excited about the youth in the secondary. Against the Browns it may be OK, but Steve Smith will light us up in a couple weeks if all those young guys are still back there. Then again, Steve Smith lights everyone up pretty much.

Why was Kemoeatu inactive? Is it something serious?

-Mike
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Mistaken identity


Fox, which televised the game, made a major gaffe in the third quarter when it talked about Bruce Gradkowski being another NFL quarterback from Western Pennsylvania, the area that sent the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath and Jim Kelly to the league. While this was going on, Fox showed some clips that were supposed to be of Gradkowski in high school at Seton-LaSalle. Except the quarterback in the video was wearing No. 14 and was Anthony Doria, who played after Gradkowski. Gradkowski wore No. 7 at Seton-LaSalle.


Good job FOX. Normally I would expect those type of mistakes from ESPN.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Steelers notebook

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, December 4, 2006


The Steelers may not have their two starting wide receivers for Thursday night's game against the visiting Cleveland Browns. Cedrick Wilson left the Steelers' 20-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a high ankle sprain, and coach Bill Cowher said he is "not real optimistic" that Wilson will be ready to play against the Browns. Hines Ward, the team's leading receiver, had knee surgery Nov. 27. Nate Washington started in place of Ward on Sunday and had three catches for a game-high 78 yards.

"You see two guys go down like Hines Ward and Cedrick Wilson, you don't have any room for mistakes when the ball's in the air," Washington said. "I looked at Santonio (Holmes); he looked at me. We knew we were going to have to make plays. We leaned on each other, and it worked out for us."

? How much Holmes is able to practice this week remains to be seen. The rookie is due to appear in Franklin County, Ohio, Municipal Court at 10:30 a.m. today. The rookie is facing misdemeanor charges of assault and domestic violence stemming from a June 19 arrest in Columbus, and his case could go to trial. Bill Meeks, Holmes' lead attorney, did not return phone calls last night. Meeks said last week that a trial could take two or three days. Holmes is charged with assaulting LaShae Boone, the mother of one of his three children.

? Tyrone Carter started for Troy Polamalu (knee) at strong safety, and rookie Anthony Smith played much of the second half at free safety for Ryan Clark (groin). The secondary, while depleted, played one of its better games of the season, with cornerback Bryant McFadden making a key interception and finishing with nine tackles, Carter notching six solo tackles and cornerback Deshea Townsend recording a sack and five solo tackles.

"There's a reason all of the guys are here," Townsend said. "Everyone can play. It's all about getting out there together. When you communicate and play on the same page, you do all right."

? Wide receiver Willie Reid didn't play because of a foot sprain that has been slow to heal. Other Steelers inactives were running back Duce Staley, guard Chris Kemoeatu, center Marvin Philip, offensive tackle Willie Colon and quarterback Brian St. Pierre.

? Rookie cornerback Alan Zemaitis, a former Penn State standout, did not dress for the Buccaneers. Other inactives included safety Donte Nicholson, center Nick Mihlhauser, offensive tackle Donald Penn, wide receiver Paris Warren, defensive end Charles Bennett, defensive tackle Jon Bradley and quarterback Luke McCown.

Digits

4 - Turnovers forced by the Steelers' defense in yesterday's 20-3 win.

24 - Rushing yards Willie Parker needs for 1,000 after getting just 61 on 22 carries against the Buccaneers.

76 - Rushing yards by the Steelers yesterday.

110 - Rushing yards by the Buccaneers.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_482580.html
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Well, looks like we're gonna need the defense and the running game to step up. Hopefully Santonio, Nate, and Sean can make some plays when they need to.
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Glad to read a number of Steelers are laying out the coin to charter jets to attend services for Jerome's Dad today.

I know it is a short week and the coaches have a lot to take care of, but I will be interested to read if any of the coaches attend. These are the types of situations where balancing professional and personal obligations can be tough.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:42 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Quote:
Tyrone Carter started for Troy Polamalu (knee) at strong safety, and rookie Anthony Smith played much of the second half at free safety for Ryan Clark (groin). The secondary, while depleted, played one of its better games of the season, with cornerback Bryant McFadden making a key interception and finishing with nine tackles, Carter notching six solo tackles and cornerback Deshea Townsend recording a sack and five solo tackles.
While the backups played well enough in this game, TB's ineptitude and dropped passes helped out as well. The upcoming game against the Browns will feature Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr., two receiving targets that victimized us last game. Also, if Frye cannot play, the backup who brought them back against KC could prove to be problematic with this mobility. That game reminded me of our game against them, which I'm sure is hot on their minds as well. Hopefully we can pull out this win, since I HATE losing to Cleveland.
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Old 12-04-2006, 09:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
Glad to read a number of Steelers are laying out the coin to charter jets to attend services for Jerome's Dad today.

I know it is a short week and the coaches have a lot to take care of, but I will be interested to read if any of the coaches attend. These are the types of situations where balancing professional and personal obligations can be tough.
Hey Bill Cowher is still having practice today. **** that I could careless about the upcoming game against the Browns. Jerome Bettis did alot for the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh. Every member of the Steelers organization should attend the funeral today. What a classy move Bill. At 5-7 I think being there for a former player that did alot for you in his time of need is alot more important then a stupid practice and a meaningless game against the Browns. I'm so tired of Bill Cowher I can't see straight. **** you Bill Cowher and I hope I don't see your sorry ass on the sidelines next year.
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Old 12-04-2006, 10:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
Glad to read a number of Steelers are laying out the coin to charter jets to attend services for Jerome's Dad today.

I know it is a short week and the coaches have a lot to take care of, but I will be interested to read if any of the coaches attend. These are the types of situations where balancing professional and personal obligations can be tough.
the further we get away from jeromes retirement, the more evident it becomes how important he was to this team.

Quote:
Linebacker Joey Porter wore a green Notre Dame jersey with the No. 6 on it after the game, an old Jerome Bettis replica. It was to honor his former teammate, whose father, Johnnie, died at age 61 last week and will be buried in Detroit today.

"It's just to let them know we're thinking about them, him and his family," Porter said. "They're always in our hearts and we're always playing for them. He's a brother to us. He's not one of those guys who, when he's off the team, you don't think about him. He's still a family member."
i have to wonder when jerome came out and reported that this would be cowhers last season, if many of the players believed him more than their head coach. hmmmm.
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Old 12-04-2006, 01:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: Wilson, Clark leave with injuries

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Originally Posted by Black and Gold Forever 32 View Post
Hey Bill Cowher is still having practice today.
You think practice should have been cancelled? Members of the team who chose to, went to Detroit to pay their respects to Mr. Bettis. Perhaps you should question all of the players who did not go?

The Browns are going to be preparing for this game today. As unfortunate as the death of Mr. Bettis is, this team needs to be ready for the Browns, and the rest of the season.

-Mike
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