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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Nowhere to run

INDIANAPOLIS – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column is, of course, off the game here last night.

The running game, that is.

The line is going to take a lot of the heat over this, and they should. But let’s not exempt Rashard Mendenhall. I had an astronaut’s view of the game from way up in this press box, but it sure looked to me like there were holes that he was missing. It also looked like he was more interested in running 25 yards east or west rather than north.

>> Best line anyone had in the locker room came from Hines Ward: “We won, man. We’re not apologizing for winning ballgames.”

>> One tradition I’ve always enjoyed watching. After the game — whether it’s a win, loss or whatever this thing was — Dan Rooney, Art Rooney and Kevin Colbert go around to each stall to shake the hands of every single player.

Talk about old school

>> I see that Ryan Doumit never picked up a bat yesterday at PNC Park, so I’m guessing no one really had a chance to react to his years of service with the Pirates.

If you’re betting that Doumit will be back, I’m betting that you lose.

The team isn’t going to exercise Doumit’s dual club options for 2012-13, and if Doumit’s smart — he is — he’ll go out and test free agency. It’s a lousy year for catchers on the open market, which could be great for him.

>> People looking for signs about Sidney Crosby’s health based on the degree to which he participates in drills or scrimmages are overlooking the elephant in the room: The only degree that matters is being cleared for contact, then persevering through that contact. Everything else is eye-candy.

It is nice that he hasn’t missed a day of workouts yet. That does matter.

>> Todd Graham and Jim Tracy, separated at birth?

You know how I hate to bring up good predictions — I can always can on you to remember the bad — but it was at Pitt’s introductory news conference for their football coach that I called Graham reminding me much of Tracy and his passion for his system, his revolutionary methods, him, him, him. Fellow columnist Joe Starkey roasted Graham for this trait after the Notre Dame loss, and I wholeheartedly concur.

If players are failing to execute a system, that most likely means the players aren’t good enough to do so. It’s the coach’s responsibility to have the system match the talent, not the other way around.

And it’s never the domain of the coach keep throwing his players under the figurative bus as a way of defending that system.

Find a way to make it work, or it’s your fault, too.

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