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Old 12-22-2006, 06:17 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: 12/22/06

Steelers Notebook: Rookie Colon to start for Starks Sunday
Friday, December 22, 2006

By Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rookie offensive right tackle Willie Colon will not just dress for his first NFL game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

He'll go one better. He'll start.

He was named the starter by coach Bill Cowher yesterday.

Colon will play in place of Max Starks, who had knee surgery earlier in the week.

"Certainly, he is excited about the opportunity," Cowher said of Colon, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound Hofstra product from the Bronx, N.Y., who beat out second-year man Trai Essex for the starting job.

Cowher said if the Steelers reach the playoffs, Starks should be available.

"His surgery went well. Max is doing fine," Cowher said. "It was performed by Dr. [Jim] Bradley and Max got through it well."

Townsend, Keisel lauded

For the first time since its inception in 1988, voting on The Chief Award, named in memory of the Steelers' late founder Art Rooney and given annually to the member of the organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media, ended in a tie.

Cornerback Deshea Townsend and defensive end Brett Keisel were named co-winners.

The Chief Award, as is the case with the top rookie award, is voted on by members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Past Chief Award winners have included Jerome Bettis (1998,'00 and '04), Lee Flowers ('99 and '01), Merril Hoge ('90) and last season's winner, Alan Faneca.

"It is an honor to receive this award," Townsend said. "Especially because it is something named after Mr. Rooney."

Injury upgrades

Listed as questionable earlier in the week, strong safety Troy Polamalu (sprained MCL) and safety Mike Logan (hamstring) were upgraded to probable yesterday.

Polamalu was injured Nov. 26, the previous time the Steelers played Baltimore and Sunday would mark his return from a three-game absence.

Lewis, other Ravens snubbed

Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, who leads the Steelers with seven sacks, didn't display any contention with getting left off the Pro Bowl roster for the first time in the past three years.

"I didn't have the year I felt I could have," Porter said in yesterday's editions of the Post-Gazette.

Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, known as one of the more vociferous players in the league, was also left off the Pro Bowl roster.

His reaction?

"I never played the game for Pro Bowls," Lewis told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday.

"Is it sad the way it goes down? Of course. I was around when the voting was right. I was around when you used to vote for guys for what they did and not by whatever comes up."

Lewis' disdain for the voting system, which counts equal weight of votes cast by fans, coaches and players, didn't necessarily revolve around his own perceived or real snub, but that of his teammates, defensive end Trevor Pryce and linebacker Bart Scott.

"I told Bart, 'You can be hurt because you got robbed, but if that's on your mind, Miami can't be on your mind,' " Lewis told The Baltimore Sun, referring to this season's Super Bowl venue.

Pryce is tied for fifth in the NFL with 12 sacks and Scott is Baltimore's leading tackler with 93 stops.


Last edited by 83-Steelers-43; 12-22-2006 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 12-22-2006, 06:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: 12/22/06

Steelers notebook

By Scott Brown
Friday, December 22, 2006

? The Steelers likely will have three rookies in the starting lineup Sunday when they host the Baltimore Ravens. Steelers coach Bill Cowher confirmed after practice Thursday that Willie Colon will start in place of Max Starks at right offensive tackle. Anthony Smith is assured of making his third consecutive start at free safety since Ryan Clark (groin) got downgraded and is officially out for the 1 p.m. game. Santonio Holmes also is in line to start, though Cowher said earlier in the week that he and Cedrick Wilson will each see a lot of playing time at split end. Colon and second-year tackle Trai Essex had been competing for the starting job that became available when Starks underwent arthroscopic knee surgery for a meniscus tear.

? Along with Holmes, who was given the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers' top rookie, defensive end Brett Keisel and cornerback Deshea Townsend were honored yesterday. The two shared the Chief Award, which is given to the player -- or in this case players -- that best exemplifies the cooperation Steelers founder Arthur J. Rooney had with the media. The Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America voted on the award as well as the one named after Greene, the Hall of Famer. Despite the fumbling problems he had early in the season, particularly on punt returns, Holmes has been one of the more productive rookies in the AFC. He is second on the Steelers in catches (40) and receiving yards (610) and returned a punt for a touchdown last week against the Carolina Panthers. He called the Atlanta game - the former Ohio State star caught five passes for 91 yards in the Steelers' 41-38 loss -- a turning point in his season. "It started clicking that I could become a very good receiver if I put the effort in at practice and the coaches give me the opportunity," said Holmes, the Steelers' first-round pick in last April's draft. "That's what I think helped me get to where I am now."

? It might be a stretch to say that Hines Ward played on one leg the last time the Steelers and Ravens met. The veteran wide receiver was hobbled by a bad knee and had to leave the Steelers' 27-0 loss after hurting the same knee. He said his left knee feels better than ever, comparing the arthroscopic knee surgery he had after the last Ravens game to an oil change. "I got healthier and it really didn't cost anything," said Ward, who didn't play in Steelers wins over the Buccaneers and Browns. "I'm excited about going out there because I wasn't healthy the first time we played Baltimore."

? In addition to Troy Polamalu, reserve safety Mike Logan (knee) got upgraded from questionable to probable. Safety Andre Lott (ankle) and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (neck) didn't practice yesterday. Lott, who signed with the Steelers earlier this week, is out, and Kriewaldt is probable. Starting Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton injured his chest during yesterday's practice and is listed as questionable.


0 - Career starts made by offensive tackle Adam Terry, who is expected to replace Pro Bowler Jonathan Ogden in the Ravens' starting lineup Sunday.

4 - Tight end Heath Miller's total receptions in the last three Steelers games.

24.5 - Sacks Joey Porter has registered since 2004, which is second among NFL linebackers.

27.5 - Sacks Baltimore's Adalius Thomas has registered since 2004.

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