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Old 12-22-2006, 06:12 AM   #1
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Default Holmes catches on to become top rookie

Holmes catches on to become top rookie
Friday, December 22, 2006

By Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If the newspaper Letters to the Editor section and phone calls to radio talk shows provide an accurate barometer of public sentiment, some inhabitants of this town wanted Santonio Holmes run out of it before he even got here.

Back in late June, the Steelers' first-round draft pick from Ohio State was in the news for all the wrong reasons.

There was that 3:30 a.m. incident on May 27 in South Beach in Miami that ended with Holmes being cited for disorderly conduct when he and a police officer disagreed about the flow of traffic outside a hotel on ultra-trendy Collins Avenue.

There also was that June 18 Columbus, Ohio, incident in which Holmes was charged with domestic violence, assault and a minor traffic offense.

Charges stemming from the incidents were subsequently dropped. That said, at the time of the first and second arrests, Steeler Nation raised its collective brow wondering why Holmes was the common denominator and if such incidents would continue.

"Those things happened, I put them in the past and I never look back at them," Holmes said yesterday.

"Even when I had to attend court, I never looked back at it and said, 'Man, this is going to stop me from becoming successful.' ... I just said, 'Forget it. It is something I have to go through.' I got it over with and I got back to work."

That he did. And, in doing so, he has become one of the most prolific rookie receivers in franchise history and a bona fide weapon as a return man.

Heading into Sunday's showdown at Heinz Field against Baltimore, Holmes has made two starts and is first in the AFC among rookie receivers with 40 catches. He's also second in the NFL in punt return average as his 10.3 yards per attempt trails only Chicago's Devin Hester (13.8).

Yesterday, Holmes was selected by members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America as the Joe Greene Great Performance Award winner, given annually to the team's outstanding rookie. Holmes is the third receiver to garner the award since its inception in 1984, joining Louis Lipps, who won the first award, and Troy Edwards, the 1999 winner. Edwards caught 61 passes in his rookie season while Lipps pulled in 45.

His contemporaries and the Steelers' coaching staff knew Holmes had the raw physical skills and the competitive makeup to be a difference-maker in the NFL when he reported to preseason camp just moments before the deadline.

"This guy can be pretty good. That's the first thing we thought when he got here," Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch said. "We knew what we had."

What the Steelers also had was a player with a pedigree at one of the nation's elite college programs.

In his three years at Ohio State, Holmes caught 140 passes and 25 touchdowns. Most impressive was his 18.4 yards per catch average.

But that was college and, as with any receiver, a transformation needed to occur.

"He had to adjust to this game," Batch said. "When you are in college and you are faster than everybody, you can get away with that, you know, just being faster than people. But, when you come to this level you have to be precise and Hines [Ward] sort of took him under his wing and said, 'This is how it needs to be done.' "

Holmes acknowledges that Ward and some of the other Steelers veteran receivers have made his acclamation to NFL life, both on and off the field, much easier.

"I probably owe it all to those guys," Holmes said.

"Because they have been picking me up every day. When the time came around where I was down from all these accusations off the field, those guys told me, 'Hey, we've all been through it or we know somebody else who has been through it. The best thing to do is focus on your job.' "

A focus with one key component -- soaking everything in.

"One thing about Santonio is that he is always listening," Batch said. "And that is what has made him grow as the year has gone on."

Even if, back before camp opened, many in this town had already started to count Holmes out.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06356/748187-66.stm
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Old 12-22-2006, 07:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

Congratulations Santonio. You deserve it and up to this point you have proven many of your doubters wrong. Good job.
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Old 12-22-2006, 07:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

"Even when I had to attend court, I never looked back at it and said, 'Man, this is going to stop me from becoming successful.' ... I just said, 'Forget it. It is something I have to go through.' I got it over with and I got back to work."

Yeah those court appearances for domestic assault charges are a real inconvenience; Holmes makes it sound like it is something everyone needs to put up with, like going to the DMV to renew your license.

I am glad Holmes appears to be cleaning up his act (of course the offseason is usually where the trouble starts so this column might be a bit premature), but when it comes down to it this reflects that most fans will cheer an ax murderer if he is wearing their team's laundry and helps win games.

I am among those who are cheering Santonio's on field performances, but still contend he caught a big break with teh charges being dropped in Columbus.

Last edited by Atlanta Dan; 12-22-2006 at 08:11 AM. Reason: Wanted to clarify I am among those cheering holmes
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Old 12-22-2006, 08:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

Props to Holmes for becoming such an integral part of the offense already - he appears to be a lock for the starters position opposite Hines next year.

As far as the 'character' stuff goes - I agree that his biggest test will be when he has all that free time on his hands in the off-season.

Hopefully now he can see the tnagible benefits of keeping his nose clean.

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Old 12-22-2006, 04:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

I have faith in the guy. He's been with this organization for a full season now. He understands what will fly and what won't fly with this organization.

Once again, congratulations Santonio!
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Old 12-22-2006, 04:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

i didnt want a wr with the 1st pick, because i knew they wouldnt have grat impact, but im glad we got the one we did and traded up to do so. can anyone imagine us with sinorice moss at #32?

what i like more than his actual numbers on the field is how well he has been tutored under hines ward. reminds me of willie parker and jerome. and like ward, he will lay out and sacrifice his body for the ball and make a strong effort in the blocking game. these skills will serve him well when he actually learns how to be a pro wr. he will be the reggie wayne to hines ward's marvin harisson

atleast we didnt wind up with a t. williamson player like the vikings.

now a suggestion to him and ben: give up the motorcycles and wifebeating in the offseason and spend a couple of weeks running the passing tree. look to mcnabb and peyton for inspiration.
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Old 12-22-2006, 05:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

Hopefully he can keep his nose clean this off season.
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Old 12-22-2006, 05:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

Welcome to the Steelers, 'Tone!!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 12-23-2006, 03:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
I have faith in the guy. He's been with this organization for a full season now. He understands what will fly and what won't fly with this organization.

Once again, congratulations Santonio!
I`m not sure that I agree. The organization has done nothing so far. And it seems that he is coming along as a player, minus all the fumbles! But it was the off season when he got in to trouble, whan he isnt around the players and coaches day in and day out. I hope all is well, but only time will tell.
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Old 12-23-2006, 04:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Holmes catches on to become top rookie


I know that I was one of the roughest of him during last summer and I hope that he is gonna make me eat my words for years to come...
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE...
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