Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly-Steelers Edition

After the Steelers practice on Wednesday a bunch of stories hit the wires:

The Good:
In his chat this afternoon on, Chris Mortensen suggested that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau "will give the [Arizona] Cardinals DC job serious consideration." Later in the chat Mort put the odds of LeBeau taking the job at 50.5%.

I don't know if Mort had any sources, but as we suggested on The Terrible Podcast, Episode 30 LeBeau isn't going anywhere. It only took four hours for the Arizona story to get completely shot down. As LeBeau told the NFL Network "I promise you, if I'm coaching, it will be the Pittsburgh Steelers." Thinking LeBeau, age 73, would leave the best defense in football and a group of guys and an organization that genuinely love him seemed far-fetched. Turns out, it was. "With this defense, this group of men, they'll have to run me out of here." And that's not happening either.

The Bad:
Defensive lineman Aaron Smith continued to be limited in practice on Wednesday. Rather than placing Smith on the injured reserve when he injured his triceps in October, the Steelers have effectively been playing with a 52-man roster with the hope that he would be back for the Super Bowl. Former first round pick Ziggy Hood has been outstanding as Smith's replacement and the defense has hardly missed a beat, but a healthy Smith would be an asset. However, for Smith to get a helmet come game day, he's going to have to be able to go full speed next week. There is not charity. If he can't help the team, he'll sit.

Some suspect the unfortunate injury to Maurkice Poucney (see: The Ugly) could open a roster spot for Smith. I think the opposite. If Pouncey can't go the Steelers are likely to dress an extra offensive lineman as insurance and another position will lose a spot, making it even tougher for Smith to get a helmet against the Packers. Another tough break for a standout pro that has had more than his fair share.

The Ugly:
When center Maurkice Pouncey had to be helped off the field during the first quarter of the Steelers AFC Championship game against the Jets, it appeared Pouncey was done for the game and the season. Nonetheless, Pouncey was optimistic afterward saying he would "most definitely" be ready for the Super Bowl.

That appears to have been youthful enthusiasm. While an MRI revealed no structural damage, Pouncey was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. He said he had sustained a similar injury to his other ankle in college and been back in a week. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that will happen this time. The rookie center is on crutches and in a hard cast as opposed to a soft cast or walking boot. Today he declined to comment on the injury, but fellow lineman Chris Kemoeatu told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "We are definitely sad that he won't be able to be with us in the Super Bowl...We just have to win it for him."

Undrafted third-year pro Doug Legursky will take Pouncey's place with Trai Essex his likely backup. It's a tough way for the rookie Pro Bowl center to end his season and will weaken an already shorthanded offensive line.

No comments: