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Old 08-26-2006, 06:44 AM   #1
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Default It's No Time To Panic

Despite preseason, it's no time to panic

By Joe Starkey
Saturday, August 26, 2006


PHILADELPHIA - Sometimes, boring is good.
Steelers training camp broke Thursday without producing a single sexy storyline -- not one that involved somebody other than backup offensive lineman Barrett Brooks, anyway.

The exhibition season has been largely an exercise in maintaining good health. Most notably, making sure Big Ben's head didn't explode -- as so many feared -- the first time he took a hit.

Boring is good if you're a Steelers backer, because the offseason was anything but. It was chock full of the kinds of headlines that send coaches into early retirement, which, come to think of it, was the subject of a few of those headlines.

This space was reserved for a pre-camp piece claiming the Steelers vibe was bad coming off such a tumultuous offseason.

It was then.

It's not now.

Oh, you'll find reason to panic if you're so inclined. You'll cite the team's preseason record, as if that has any relevance, and you'll bemoan the first half of Friday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

You'll gripe about Ike Taylor's two dropped interceptions (some things don't change, you'll say), Duce Staley's mediocre stats (21 yards on his first 11 carries), more third-down troubles on defense and the heavy pressure on Roethlisberger.

Relax.

The only major concern I see is Hines Ward's left hamstring. Ward, clearly, is troubled by the persistent nature of his injury. He vowed again last night that he'll be ready for the season-opener Sept. 7 against Miami, but it's only natural to wonder if he'll be healthy enough to be a difference-maker.

As for the other concerns -- all of them sure to be hot topics on talk radio this week -- take a deep breath and consider, for starters, that Taylor put himself in position to make two picks. The second was a spectacular, diving attempt, which was overturned only after a replay review.

The third-down worries just don't register. Wait until defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau starts game-planning people. If it's still happening then, by all means, worry. For now, be satisfied that Joey Porter apparently has returned without a hitch from knee surgery.

Staley, meanwhile, was given a heavy workload, which is precisely what he needed. He didn't exactly evoke Jim Brown, but he looked OK on a few carries and might just need some time to shake the rust off.

On the other hand, he might be finished, in which case, you'd better hope Willie Parker stays healthy.

The starting offense mounted a decent opening drive for the third consecutive game. Actually, it might have been a four-play touchdown drive if Parker hadn't slipped after catching a perfectly timed screen pass.

Parker played only one series. Coach Bill Cowher has kept him under wraps, which is only logical. "Fast" Willie's going to fly out of the gates and have a big year.

Don't be surprised if Cedrick Wilson has one, too.

Quietly, Wilson built on his big postseason with a stellar camp. He made a gutsy touchdown catch last night, reeling in a 23-yard pass from Charlie Batch late in the second quarter despite a hard smack from safety Quintin Mikell.

Meanwhile, take heed in these preseason developments:

? Chukky Okobi made a miracle comeback from neck surgery.

? Roethlisberger flourished.

? Nate Washington emerged.

? Anthony Smith looks like a player -- ask Eagles punt returner J.R. Reed, who might still be stuck to the turf after absorbing Smith's vicious second-quarter hit.

It has been a fairly uneventful preseason, all right. And for the Steelers, no news is good news.
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

Good read, LLT. I'm not even close to hitting the panic button. Though it would be nice to see the team get a win in the pre-season, that is exactly what it is - the pre-season. The team is still basically working from a generic game plan and knowing our coaching staff, I have no doubt whasoever that they will have this team ready to play on opening day.
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

After the SB win...the bar is set so freakin high......

I loved Starkey's take on all of this....after last night...I am concerned about Duce...although he's a veteran...and may actually turn it on when the money is on the line...
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

One more interesting thing to point out in the Barr-Gardocki "controversy"....

Barr was the holder for both of Reed's FG misses.....
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackNGold203 View Post
One more interesting thing to point out in the Barr-Gardocki "controversy"....

Barr was the holder for both of Reed's FG misses.....
I didn't even notice that as I had a FF draft going on! Good point, 203.
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

Thank you Mr. Starkey for writing the article and thank you LLT for posting it. We are going 0-16 this year. Mark my words.
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackNGold203 View Post
After the SB win...the bar is set so freakin high......

I loved Starkey's take on all of this....after last night...I am concerned about Duce...although he's a veteran...and may actually turn it on when the money is on the line...

Im with you..if I have any concern, its for Duce...He looked winded early. But I still think that when we open things up people will be surprised
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

Really read.......I must say I woke up this am with maybe a little panic in my gut.......I would have wished for at least 1 on the win side.....but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.......I am concerned about Hines though.......this injury seems like a tough one for him.......the rest I'm hoping will just fall into place.......
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

uhm...I thought Staley looked horrific. He is too big in the hips and looks slow- he has all pre-season.
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: It's No Time To Panic

But if we are looking for positives how about Smith destroying that poor guy on the punt. We were really high fiving that one!
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