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Old 10-01-2009, 10:27 PM   #1
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Default Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report
Posted 44m ago E-mail | Save | Print | Subscribe to stories like this
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/footb...lers/notes.htm

Pittsburgh desperately needs to get its un-Steelers-like 27th-ranked running game going, and the Steelers figure what better way to do it than play the San Diego Chargers at home Sunday night?

The Chargers rank 26th against the run, giving up 142.3 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. They are without 350-pound nose tackle Jamal Williams. And even with Williams in the lineup last season, Willie Parker gained 115 yards in their regular-season victory and 146 in their playoff victory against San Diego.

"I think that'll be a big help," Parker said of Williams' absence. "He's definitely a big guy up front. He clogs up a lot of holes and takes up a lot of space."

Parker has turf toe that kept him out Wednesday and Thursday but believes it will not prevent him from playing Sunday night, and he's counting on the running game to continue to improve.

"We're on a steady incline and hopefully we'll improve in run game."

Rashard Mendenhall would love to be part of that improvement. He was benched by coach Mike Tomlin last Sunday in Cincinnati for blowing assignments in practice. Their 2008 first-round draft choice is off to a rocky start in his second season after his first ended in the fourth game with a broken shoulder.

"It would be pretty big, especially confidence-wise, for him," Parker said. "Stepping up in this offense would be real big for him. Last week is last week. You have to learn from it and keep moving."

That is what Mendenhall said he intends to do.

"You learn in the NFL that minor things are major so be on top of everything," Mendenhall said. "I'm just looking forward to get an opportunity and be able to play and show the fans and my teammates what I'm able to do."

Despite his setbacks, Mendenhall is not disappointed with his early pro career.

"Not really. I feel everything happens for a reason. I feel like to this point I've done everything I can here, with the injury and coming back in the preseason until now. I feel good, and I'm still learning and growing and I look forward to showing people what I can do."

SERIES HISTORY: 27th regular-season meeting. Pittsburgh leads the series 20-6. The Chargers are 2-1 against the Steelers in the postseason, their only loss coming last January in a playoff at Heinz Field. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are 13-0 in the regular season against San Diego, 14-2 overall. They beat the Chargers twice last season, 11-10 in the regular season and 35-24 in the playoffs. The Steelers have won five straight at home to San Diego in all games, last losing the AFC Championship Game in Three Rivers Stadium to the Chargers after the 1994 season.

NOTES, QUOTES

—The Steelers will wear their throwback uniforms Sunday night, typical of what they wore between 1947 and 1962. They will wear them again against Baltimore on December 27 in Heinz Field.

Some players, though, are not happy with the pink shoes and pink gloves they're being asked to wear as the NFL promotes Breast Cancer Awareness Month this weekend.

"I have to do something pink," safety Ryan Clark said. "If I can mix it in good, I'll try, if I can't I'll just stick out like a sore thumb and look like half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. Hopefully it will raise awareness."

—Pittsburgh was 7-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less through the Super Bowl last season. This season, they are 1-2 with all games decided by three points, one in overtime.

Is the law of averages catching up to them?

"I hope not," defensive captain James Farrior said. "A lot of our games were close last year and we won a lot of them, a lot more than we lost. Every game could be like this. This is the NFL and every team comes to play."

—Limas Sweed has been demoted from competing for the No. 3 job a wide receiver to No. 5 and not dressing Sunday night after he dropped a potential 34-yard TD pass in Cincinnati. Sweed has had his problems with drops since the Steelers drafted him in the second round in 2008.

"It's just confidence," WR Hines Ward said. "You go out, you worry about a drop; I think it's anxiety. He sees the ball there and it's like 'Oh, no.' He tries so hard not to drop it, I think he ends up hurting himself because he tries so hard not to mess up."

—The Steelers' defense has given up fourth-quarter leads in the past two games, both losses.

"One time is a coincidence," safety Ryan Clark said. "Now it's becoming a habit and we need to break that habit."

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 — The number of sacks the Steelers have through three games, a pace of 27, after leading the AFC with 51 last season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He is not in the doghouse. I don't have a doghouse." — Coach Mike Tomlin, who benched 2008 first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall on offense last Sunday.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Pittsburgh went to the bullpen to call back fullback Carey Davis this week. Davis was their fullback last season but surprisingly cut before this one. Injuries to rookies Frank Williams and David Johnson prompted them to re-sign Davis, and some of his teammates believe he will help them.

"Carey's able to do a lot of different things — catch the ball out of the backfield, pass block; he does a lot of things," Hines Ward said. "I know all the guys in locker room are glad he's back on the team."

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

—SS Troy Polamalu, despite reports to the contrary, was never going to return to play Sunday. He did not practice again Thursday and hopes to play Oct. 11 in Detroit. He left the opener with a sprained MCL.

—C Justin Hartwig returned to practice and will start Sunday. He has an ankle injury and the Steelers have no experienced center behind him.

—WR Shaun McDonald will suit up Sunday and serve as the No. 4 receiver in place of demoted Limas Sweed.

—WR Mike Wallace could become a bigger target as the No. 3 man after his 102-yard game vs. Cincinnati. The rookie is the fastest man on the team and has streaked open deep on several occasions.

—CB Deshea Townsend played some safety last week vs. the Bengals and could see more time there again Sunday with Polamalu out. Townsend also serves as their nickel cornerback.

—CB Ike Taylor leads the team with five passes defensed and at times has posted up on the opponent's best receiver, as he has done in the past.

—RB Willie Parker has 78 percent of the carries by the running backs with 52 runs from scrimmage. The other two combined for 15.

—QB Ben Roethlisberger is having his most accurate passing season, at least in the early going. He has completed 71.6 percent of his passes. His career best was 66.4 as a rookie in 2004.

GAME PLAN: The Steelers would love to run against the Chargers' 3-4 defense and keep San Diego's offense on the bench for long periods. That will be more difficult with Willie Parker nursing turf toe. Parker ran for 115 yards and 146 in the two games vs. San Diego last season. On defense, look for them to put more pressure on Philip Rivers, or at least try to. They sacked Rivers four times in that playoff game. San Diego could not run against them in either game, with 81 total rushing yards in those two games.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Steelers LOLB LaMarr Woodley vs. Chargers RT Jeromey Clary. Woodley had 11.5 sacks last season, plus six more in the postseason but none in the first three games.

Chargers WR Vincent Jackson vs. Steelers CB Ike Taylor. Jackson, who's 6-foot-5, averages 19.8 yards per catch. Taylor (6-2) often covers the best receiver.

INJURY IMPACT: SS Troy Polamalu (MCL) remains out and that has had a big impact on the Steelers' defense, including their ability to rush the passer. Tyrone Carter again will replace him. RB Willie Parker (turf toe) says he will play but Rashard Mendenhall could get an increased workload.
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Carey Davis is probably like "S'up, bitches! Looks like you need me after all!"

Interesting about Townsend playing Safety...make a whole lot of sense to me.
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:12 PM   #3
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Carey Davis is probably like "S'up, bitches! Looks like you need me after all!"
Maybe we can start a winning streak with Carey Davis back
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Old 10-04-2009, 07:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Lets go Mendenhall show them what you have. I still have the faith in you.
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Old 10-04-2009, 07:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

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Originally Posted by revefsreleets View Post
Carey Davis is probably like "S'up, bitches! Looks like you need me after all!"

Interesting about Townsend playing Safety...make a whole lot of sense to me.
I thought Townsend would make the shift to safety this year anyway. That is one player we have gotten our moneys worth out of .
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Old 10-04-2009, 07:56 AM   #6
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

I think Mendenhall has a better than average chance of running for over 100 yards...(due to Williams being out of the lineup)...and we will have a controversy over who should start next week.
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Hopefully Mendy breaks one for a TD and doesn't cough up the ball.
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

I started Mendy on my fantasy team. I know he's a bust, and Redman will score 11 TD's today, but I couldn't help myself.
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:18 PM   #9
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I started Mendy on my fantasy team. I know he's a bust, and Redman will score 11 TD's today, but I couldn't help myself.
Actually I think that was a smart move on your part revefsreleets!
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Old 10-05-2009, 09:58 AM   #10
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I think Mendenhall has a better than average chance of running for over 100 yards...(due to Williams being out of the lineup)...and we will have a controversy over who should start next week.
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