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February 9, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Faneca not in Hall – yet – but already made transition to running as smooth as it was sudden

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steelersmarathon

(Photo courtesy RunnersWorld.com, via Steelers and Photo Run)

 

 

 

Despite making it 2-for-2 when it comes to being a finalist – and a strong, deserving résumé – Alan Faneca was not among those who were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2017 class.

 

 

But in talking to him last week about the anticipation he was experiencing in awaiting to hear the Pro Football Writers of America vote, we broached the subject of him completing a marathon (in less than 4 hour, no less) two years ago.

 

 

As you can see in photos of the former 300-plus pound guard, the transformation
in the former Steeler’s body was stark. Faneca said that, contrary to what I’d assumed, distance running wasn’t some sort of mechanism for Faneca to replace the competitive void that was lacking since retiring from pro football.

 

 

“I always wanted to lose weight when I was done playing; I figured it was the healthiest choice for me to do,” Faneca said. “And the running thing kind of came after that; my wife ran a half marathon and she’d been trying to get me to run with her, and I would always tell her, ‘I’m good; I’m done with all my athletic stuff. I’ve played my career.’”

 

 

But, like any good husband, Faneca stayed involved in (and supportive of) his wife Julie’s endeavor and began to join her on runs.

 

 

“And then one day she wasn’t feeling good so I went out for a run by myself in this park in New Orleans – and instead of going right (like usual), I went left and started going all the way around the park,” Faneca said. “It turned in from like a 3 or 3.5-mile run to an almost 8-mile run.

“I had not done that and it was definitely me against the pavement, and that run definitely got the juices – the competitive juices – flowing. I started thinking about it literally on that run about maybe trying  a half marathon myself and definitely stirred it back up and started getting me competitive again. I hadn’t really been competitive in anything, really, since I had retired.”

 

 

The New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 2014 remains the only full marathon that Faneca has run, though he’s completed “a bunch” of half marathons as well as several trail races.

 

 

“I still enjoy it,” he said.

 

 

When Faneca ran his marathon, he was a little more than three years removed from being a professional football player. He’d played for the high-profile Steelers for 10 seasons and he also spent two years in media-frenzied New York (2008-09 with the Jets). By then, apparently, he’d settled back into “civilian” life because Faneca was taken aback by the attention drawn by a nine-time Pro Bowler (who once weighed something like 320 pounds) when he’d do something such as complete a marathon.

 

 

“I ran the marathon,” Faneca said, “and then I get to the end and all of a sudden there were actually reporters there waiting for me when I finished, and it kind of caught be off guard.”

 

 

 

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January 31, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Report– Coates has surgery on troublesome fingers

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Contrary to popular opinion lately, Sammie Coates has shown good hands at times — such as, times when his fingers aren’t broken. (TribLive photo)

 

 

 

Sammie Coates underwent surgery on two fingers in his left hand Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported. The procedure repaired fractures and tendon damage to the Steelers receiver’s ring and index fingers that had severely hindered him throughout the final three months of the season, according to Fowler.

 

 

“Just got out of surgery went great! #thankYouGod” Coates posted on his verified Twitter account.

 

 

Coates had previously indicated that surgery was likely after the season ended. He was the NFL’s top deep-threat receiver over the first month of the season with six catches of at least 40 yards in his first five games. No NFL player would end up with more than that over the full season – but Coates did not add to his total after suffering the injury to his fingers during a Week 5 win against the Jets.

 

 

After having 19 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns over his first five games, Coates was held to two receptions for 14 yards over the regular season’s final 11 weeks. He was inactive for two December games because of a hamstring injury.

 

 

From an Oct. 16 loss at Miami (the week following his broken fingers) through a first-quarter drop during the AFC championship last week at New England, Coates had two catches for 14 yards on 19 targeted throws in 11-plus games (including playoffs). He finished the AFC championship with two receptions for 34 yards.

 

 

A third-round pick in 2015, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Coates enters this third NFL season as one of the most gifted pieces of a Steelers’ receivers corps that has vast potential but many question marks: All Pro Antonio Brown is entering the final season of his contract and is due an extension, Martavis Bryant (year-long suspension) applied for reinstatement to the league last week, Darrius Heyward-Bey will turn 30 on Feb. 26, Demarcus Ayers had nine catches in four games (including playoffs) as a seventh-round pick rookie, Markus Wheaton is a pending unrestricted free agent and Eli Rogers enters his second season after a strong debut as the slot receiver.

 

 

It could ultimately play out any number of ways, pending the statuses of Brown, Bryant and oft-injured big-play tight end Ladarius Green. But in the majority of scenarios for the Steelers’ passing game next season, Coates has a significant role and will be counted on heavily.

 

 

 

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January 28, 2017
by Joe Rutter


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Rutter: Long way to go for Steelers’ Bryant

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As we reported earlier Saturday on Martavis Bryant,  he has formally applied for reinstatement with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

But it’s just one step back on the journey for Bryant to rejoin the Steelers. He doesn’t get to sit back and wait for Goodell to make a decision.

As the NFL’s drug policy shows, much work needs to be done for Bryant to get back into the NFL — and for him to stay there once reinstated.

Bryant’s application, according to language in the drug policy, had to contain the following:

“His application should include all pertinent information about the Player’s: (a) Treatment; (b) Abstinence from Substances of Abuse throughout the entire period of his banishment; (c) Involvement with any Substances of Abuse related incidents; and (d) Arrests and/or convictions for any criminal activity, including Substances of Abuse-related offenses.”

Here is what happens next for Bryant, again, according to the drug policy:

1. Within 45 days of receipt of the application, the player will be interviewed by the medical director and the medical advisor, after which a recommendation will be made to the commissioner with regard to the player’s request for reinstatement.
2. The Player will execute appropriate medical release forms that will enable the commissioner’s staff and NFLPA Executive Director’s staff to review the player’s substance abuse history, including but not limited to attendance at counseling sessions (individual, group and family); attendance at 12-step and other self-help group meetings; periodic progress reports; and all diagnostic findings and treatment recommendations.
3. The player will submit to urine testing by an NFL representative at a frequency determined by the medical advisor.
4. The player will agree in a meeting with the commissioner or his representative(s) to comply with the conditions imposed by the commissioner for his reinstatement to the status of an active player.
5. All individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application.

In other words, Bryant must do all of the above so Goodell can decide on the reinstatement application by March 29.

Once reinstated, Bryant will return to Stage 3 of the NFL’s drug program, which is the last stage before banishment. Bryant will remain in Stage 3 and be subject to unannounced drug testing (up to 10 times per month) for the rest of his NFL career. However, after two years, the NFL’s medical director and advisor could discharge Bryant from Stage 3.

That, of course, is an issue for 2019. This year, Bryant has started the process of rejoining the Steelers. If all goes well, he could be back for offseason workouts in April.

— Joe Rutter

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January 23, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski – Sammie Coates on his season: ‘I lost my focus… I’ve got to grow up’

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Eric Rowe, Sammie Coates

After a remarkable first month, it was this kind of season for Sammie Coates. (AP Photo)

 

 

A HOTEL ROOM IN RHODE ISLAND – About a half hour after Sunday night’s game ended, Sammie Coates was one of the few Steelers remaining on one far side of the visitor’s locker room at Gillette Stadium.

 

 

A season that was showing such immense promise for the gifted second-year player had just ended. And fair to say, on an individual basis, it has not trended the proper direction for Coates.

 

 

“I’m about to go get ready to go back to work,” the receiver said of approaching the offseason. “I need it; I gotta get healthy and go from there.”

 

 

That Coates had what was easily his most productive game in more than three months would be a positive way to head into the offseason if it wasn’t for the fact that “most productive game in more than three months” meant a stat line of two catches on five targets for 34 yards.

 

 

In September, that was a good quarter from Coates. It turned into roughly what he’d produce offensively over a 13-week span. Combined.

 

 

After a first month of the season in which he had a remarkable six catches of 40 or more yards in the Steelers’ first five games – incredibly, that held up all season to tie for the NFL lead – some broken fingers suffered in what was a career-best game (six catches, 139 yards, two touchdowns) against the Jets on Oct. 9 completely torpedoed Coates’ once-promising season.

 

 

Until Sunday, Coates over an 11-game span (including playoffs) since the Jets game put up this rancid stat line: 18 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards. Steelers quarterbacks had a passer rating of 16.4 when throwing to him after the Jets game after posting a 126.8 rating when throwing to him over Weeks 1-5 games.

 

 

The fingers, two of which he said were broken, quite obviously affected Coates. A late-season hamstring injury didn’t help. After being the Steelers’ No. 2 offensive threat (behind Antonio Brown) as well as one of the NFL’s top deep threats in September, Coates was relegated to special teams-only duty over the first two games of the postseason.

 

 

“I got hurt and I kind of lost my (feel) for this offense because I wasn’t going to play and it kind of threw me off,” Coates said Sunday. “I lost my focus, and it went downhill from there.

“I’ve got to grow up; I’ve got to be a better player when it comes to that. I’ve got to grow from it and just continue to be on the rise.”

 

 

Coates had more catches and targets in the AFC championship than at any point since his fingers were injured, and he played more offensive snaps (16) against the Patriots than he had in a game in over a month. Coates confirmed that he knew he throughout the week that he was going to be a bigger part of the gameplan in Foxboro than he’d been in recent weeks.

 

 

“I knew I was gonna have an opportunity to make plays,” Coates said.

 

 

Coates potentially could have been one of the game’s biggest heroes had he made a play on his first chance to. Three Steelers’ offensive snaps into the contest, Ben Roethlisberger on a third-and-1 went deep down the left sideline to Coates, who was in man coverage and had half a step on Patriots defensive back Eric Rowe.

 

 

About 35 yards downfield with a potential touchdown for the taking if he makes the catch… the ball flew through Coates’ fingertips.

 

 

Some said a pass interference flag could have been thrown on the play (Rowe’s hand grazes over Coates’ outstretched arm well before the ball arrives), but Coates downplayed that.

 

 

“I just misjudged ball,” Coates said. “I had a bad read on it, and I kind of thought it was just falling and… just left the play on the field.”

 

 

Coates wasn’t doing much of that (leaving plays on the field) over the first third of the regular season, when he was a dynamic playmaker. For a team that struggled to find a No. 2 option at WR all year long, Coates regaining that form in 2017 will be quite the offseason, training camp and preseason storyline to watch.

 

 

 

 

Speaking of the offseason, enjoy it as much as you can. Thanks for reading along all year. But in the NFL, of course, there is no offseason.

 

 

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January 20, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Justin Gilbert will remain on kickoff returns; relieved late poor KC return didn’t haunt Steelers

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Justin Gilbert knew he was in trouble right about this point of the Sunday’s final kickoff return. Luckily, the play ultimately did not cost the Steelers. Gilbert will return kicks again Sunday in the AFC championship. (photo by Getty Images)

 

 

 

SOUTH HILLS (it’s my tribute) – Justin Gilbert admits the nervousness he felt was heightened a little bit more than even his collectively-anxious teammates and Steelers fans across the globe.

 

 

With 2 minutes left this past Sunday and the Steelers clinging to a two-point lead, they needed a first down to close out the game.

 

 

“When AB caught the first down,” Gilbert recalled, “it was just kind of like a ::shew!::

 

 

I was asking Gilbert his thoughts watching the Steelers close out the game on Thursday – but rest assured, if the offense wouldn’t have done so and the Steelers had lost, Gilbert undoubtedly would have been bombarded with questions about it much before that. As in, postgame. And, like, from every member of the media.

 

 

That’d be because – fair or not – Gilbert’s kickoff return of minus-2 yards that began the Steelers’ final possession – again, fair or not – would have taken a significant public share of the blame. It might be a stretch to say it would have been a play that would have lived in Steelers infamy forever – but it would be up there remembered like  Joe Nedney’s “acting” and Fitzgerald Toussaint’s fumble as plays over the years that cost the Steelers a chance to advance to an AFC championship game.

 

 

Gilbert’s only current role on the team is as a kickoff returner – and he just (re-)earned the job last week. As a result, he was only on the field four snaps, only touched the ball twice.

 

 

His first return was a good one – 28 yards (a Steelers’ playoff high) on the opening kickoff. But his second return, um, was not so good.

 

 

With the Chiefs having just scored a touchdown (but missing out on the two-point conversion) to pull within 2 late, Gilbert fielded Cairo Santos’ kickoff at the 7. He ran straight forward at first – but with a wall of Chiefs bearing down on him, Gilbert cut right.

 

 

It, um, didn’t work. He was tackled at the 5. The ball even came out late; however, it was after the play was ruled down.

 

 

The damage was done, though: the Steelers were backed up so far that Le’Veon Bell was lined up deep in his own end zone for the ensuing snap. And if the Steelers went three-and-out, Kansas City likely would have been very close to being in range for a game-winning field goal (to say nothing of Tyreek Hill having another shot).

 

 

“I was planning to take a knee – ‘Just take a knee,’” Gilbert said.

 

But that strategy was rendered moot when Santos (probably intentionally) kicked it short.

 

“Then, (the Chiefs’ coverage players) were up on me so fast. I caught a glimpse to my right. I thought I had an opening; I started running that way and I saw (teammate Eli Rogers) waving his hand, like, ‘I got your block; come on.’ So I was trying to make it to the block. But No. 21, (rookie Eric Murray), he did a good job of cutting me off.”

 

 

The Arrowhead Stadium crowd was rocking. The Chiefs had all the momentum.

 

 

Fortunately for the Steelers – and Gilbert – the offense came through.

 

 

In reality, after watching the play multiple times, the blame (and “credit”) lies not with Gilbert on the play but on the Steelers’ return ream and, mostly, the Chiefs coverage team. Gilbert never stood a chance (albeit he’d have been better off just being tackled at the 12, of course). Still, coach Mike Tomlin was noncommittal at his weekly press conference about whether Gilbert would hold onto his kickoff returner job.

 

 

Turns out, he has.

 

 

Gilbert said he’ll be active, in-uniform and back on kickoff returns.

 

 

“I’m back there again this week,” Gilbert said. “So hopefully we can make one pop.”

 

 

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January 17, 2017
by Joe Rutter


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Rutter: Only one winner in Facebook Live snafu — and it’s not Antonio Brown

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If it’s true that, as the Wall Street Journal reported in a July story, Antonio Brown is getting paid $244,000 by Facebook Live to create video content, then show me the money.
Not in the Jerry Maguire sense. I mean to me, as in give me a chunk of the proceeds. Shouldn’t I get a small cut? I made a two-second cameo (see the above screen shot, I’m the dude in the upper right corner) in Brown’s 17-minute, 32-second live feed after the Steelers’ 18-16 win over the Chiefs on Sunday.
I think I’m at least entitled to about $2.44 considering the sum the All-Pro receiver is receiving from Facebook Live.
Seriously, if there is one winner in this VideoGate fiasco — and it’s not the guy primping for the camera incessantly throughout — it is Facebook Live.
The publicity the company is receiving from this incident is incalculable. It’s safe to say that of the $50 million the company is paying celebrities and media companies to produce content, nobody has brought in the return on investment like Brown.
Anyone remember anything interesting from, say, Michael Phelps or Russell Wilson on Facebook Live? Anyone even know they were posting live videos? That’s what I thought.
Brown can’t be considered a winner because he stands to lose much more than the $244,000 Facebook Live is paying him in future NFL earnings and endorsements.
Considering the language he showed being used in the video, and I don’t just mean from his head coach. For all of the “God is the greatest” references Brown made in the video, he threw in a few sexually explicit references to the male anatomy — sometimes in the same sentence. That kind of garbage tends to turn off endorsers — no matter how many times you flash your teeth for the camera.
Coach Mike Tomlin hinted Tuesday that Brown’s future with the Steelers could be in jeopardy if such shenanigans continue.
“I think that’s often time why you see great players move around from team to team,” Tomlin said at his weekly press conference. “I definitely don’t want that to be his story. I’m sure he doesn’t want that to be his story.”
In other words, Tomlin doesn’t want Brown to become the next Terrell Owens, a supremely talented wide receiver whose pain-in-the-butt antics are one reason he shuffled from San Francisco to Philadelphia to Dallas to Buffalo to Cincinnati in his career.
Brown arguably is the best receiver in the NFL and one of the two best players on the Steelers. But his contract expires after the 2017 season.
The Steelers have put off renegotiating a new deal until a star player has one year left on his contract because they don’t want to start a precedent. Brown has gotten advances on his salary the past two offseasons, but this is the winter/spring/summer he truly can cash in on a big payday.
Brown’s video may not keep the Steelers from extending an offer to their star receiver. But it could cause them to lessen their offer — or decide to let Brown play out his final season before slapping him with a franchise tag, negotiating a long-term deal before free agency or letting him walk away.
Brown will turn 29 in the summer, not old by wide receiver standards, but not young, either. As he enters a new contract, Brown will be 30 with his best years likely behind him.
Will the Steelers be committed to paying up? Nobody knows at this juncture.
Only one this is certain: Facebook Live will not be. Reports surfaced this week that the company will no longer be paying celebrities for live video content.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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January 14, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Rather than sulk, Jarvis Jones admirably sought out new role with Steelers

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Jarvis

Jarvis Jones has taken a few hits to his ego this year. He’ making the most of the situation, though. (Chaz Palla/Triblive photo)

 

 

 

THIRTY THOUSAND FEET OVER AMERICA’S HEARTLAND – When the Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones, they surely hoped he would their version of, say, a Justin Houston.

 

 

Jones did a fine Houston impersonation this week. However, it really wasn’t what he had in mind.

 

 

A first-round pick four years ago, Jones found himself on the scout team this week in advance of the Steelers’ divisional round playoff game against Houston and the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s far from ideal, a proud man who was a great player in college at Georgia who has started 35 games in the NFL and surely will get a chance to start again in the future. But instead of sulk of complain or become insubordinate about his current role, Jones has admirably embraced it,

 

 

“I’m in it to win it,” Jones said after a practice this week. “It’s about putting your hands in the pile and doing what you can do to help this team be great, you know? That’s where I’m with it. These are my brothers, they need me in certain roles now, and I need to perform in whatever role I’m asked that will help.”

 

 

Jones was talking not long after peeling off a green pinney with Houston’s No. 50 on it following a midweek practice. But truth be told, even after first losing his starting job at right outside linebacker to James Harrison and ultimately being all but entirely removed from the defensive gameplan, Jones’ present value is far more than a scout-team body.

 

 

Not only is he a valuable insurance (how many teams have a 27-year-old, 3 1/2-year starter with first-round pedigree on their bench?) in case something should happen to the 38-year-old Harrison or starting left outside linebacker Bud Dupree – both have injury red flags – Jones also showed some value when he made a tackle on a kickoff return during last week’s wild-card win against Miami.

 

 

There was Jones, a college star and first-round pick who’d never played any more than a bit role on special teams in his life, out there playing special -teams snaps during an NFL playing game.

 

 

And here’s the thing: it was Jones’ idea.

 

 

Jones approached coaches about joining some ‘teams units.

 

“For me to just sit on the sideline and just collect a check, that… is so unprofessional for me,” Jones said. “Knowing I can put my hand in the pile somewhere – if the defense is set, the defense is set – but, (man), there’s a lot of positions on special teams. Let me help out. I want to put my hand in the pile. I don’t want to sit on the sideline.”

 

 

For a player who’d not only been demoted from his defensive role but also, you’ll recall, was passed over for a fifth-year contract option by the Steelers last spring, seeking and embracing a new role wasn’t necessarily something Jones had to do. Let’s face it: the reality is that Jones likely won’t be here come fall. He’ll become a free agent in March, and – while he’ll never be an All Pro, as some hope of first-round picks – he’s proven he’s a capable starter in the league.

 

 

It’s not a completely apt comparison because Jones is younger and has more of a recent track record. But Jones has a role model a few lockers down from him in the Steelers’ facility in Darrius Heyward-Bey, a former top-10 draft pick who’s become a favorite among coaches and teammates for his attitude in embracing a role as a special-teams standout.

 

 

Jones is also well-liked among teammates. Especially with the stakes so high now in the postseason, his selflessness won’t go unnoticed.

 

 

“Jarvis is a great teammates, a great guy; his ego, he checks that at the door,” Heyward-Bey said. “(But) I don’t think we should praise a guy for deciding he should take team first. That should be the norm, you know?

“Because it’s bigger than me; we’ve got young kids watching us, and you want to go out there and help your teammates win. I believe this organization, they give people opportunities to be successful. And you try to take advantage of that, and sometimes things don’t work out for you the way you want to work out. But for a guy to go in and be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to put team first?’ Great job. Now let’s go to work.

“At the end of the day, It’s still football. Yeah he’s not a starter, yeah he’s not getting a bunch of sacks that everybody thought he would do – but he’s blowing stuff up in special teams.”

 

 

“What happened, happened,” Jones said. “I’ve got a new role on the team; I’m playing special teams right now. So I’m doing my job, man. I want it just as much as those guys do, and I know that regardless if I’m on the field playing defensive snaps or special teams snaps it’s going to take all of us to win it, and me getting an opportunity on special teams, just another way I can show I can put my hand in the pile.

“I’m in it to win it. I think we’ve got a great team, if we do the things we need to do. So everybody’s got to put their hands in the pile, and that’s my job right now. I think our defense has been playing great – and I’m playing special teams roles right now, so I am going to continue to do that. I’m going to take advantage of them.”

 

 

 

 

Enjoy Sunday’s game.  Avoid the ice.

 

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January 9, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Somehow, Le’Veon Bell’s big day gets somewhat buried. Let’s appreciate it.

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Bell

Le’Veon Bell spent much of Sunday running away from the Dolphins’ vaunted front seven. Why aren’t we talking about that more? (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

 

 

 

SOUTH HILLS (blatantly stealing that blog dateline now that it’s no longer being used anymore) –

Including a video story and, well, let’s just say an off-the-field piece from later Sunday evening, the TribLive.com Steelers page had no fewer than 11 fresh stories posted in the aftermath of the Steelers’ playoff-opening 30-12 win against Miami.

 

 

Just one-half of one was specifically devoted to the Sunday exploits of Le’Veon Bell.

 

 

The same Bell who set the Steelers record for rushing yards in a playoff game. Yes, the Steelers of more playoff wins than any NFL team. The Steelers of the NFL-record six Super Bowl wins. The Steelers of the three Hall of Fame running backs.

 

 

Bell stands alone above them all – at least, as measured by single-game postseason rushing is concerned. (Then again, Bell also just four weeks prior set the team’s single-game regular-season rushing record, too!).

 

 

Sure, Bell’s big day was referenced not only in the aforementioned dual running-game piece I wrote but also the Joe Rutter game story, of course.

 

 

But on a day in which the Steelers advanced to the second round in frigid weather in which there arose questions about the health of Ben Roethlisberger and the opposing team’s QB was subjected to a brutal hit and 38-year-old James Harrison had a big day and superstar Antonio Brown had a big day and, and… and…

 

 

Well, somehow, Bell SETTING THE STEELERS PLAYOFF-GAME RUSHING RECORD somehow got lost in the proverbial shuffle.

 

 

Not by his teammates. A sampling of their impressions of Bell:

 

Coach Mike Tomlin: “He’s a man for all situations or circumstances. Whether it’s inside run, whether it’s perimeter run, whether it’s the passing game, he’s just good, has a good skillset. He does a lot of things well. And so, he adds value to us in that way.”

 

Roethlisberger: “He brings a little bit of everything to the table… If he gets one-on-one with a guy in the hole or just beyond, I get the best view in the house. I’ll never forget when Charlie Batch was here, he used to always tell me about how he would hand off and just watch Barry Sanders. I am not trying to put Le’Veon with Barry Sanders yet, you know that is an awesome honor. But, it is fun to sit and watch and just see what he is going to do because he is incredibly talented.”

 

Center Maurkice Pouncey: “He runs through tackles, he’s a really aggressive player. It’s good to have (him) on the team.”

 

Guard Ramon Foster: “Somebody (this week in Miami) said they were going to be able to stop him, and he said, ‘It’s crazy if they’re able to do that.’ and I just love that (Bell said it to the media). I was just hyped that he acknowledged that ‘Man, I’m that guy.’ And what better running back is there?”

 

 

Some superlatives–

 

  • Bell’s carries, chronologically by yardage: 11, -2, 7, 2, 8, 5, 5, 15, 6, 5, 8, 25, 0, 1, 1, 0, 2, 15, 8, 26, 0, 2, 2, 2, 3, 8, 4, -4, 2
  • That’s nine carries of at least 8 yards, 14 carries of at least 5 yards and four of 11-plus yards
  • His 57 rushing yards in the first quarter were the second-most in Steelers playoff game (1 yard short of Kordell Stewart in a Jan. 3, 1998, game against New England)
  • Bell (60) had more total yards than the Dolphins in the first quarter (55)
  • Bell’s 99 first-half rushing yards tied the team postseason record held by Barry Foster (Jan. 7, 1995 vs. Cleveland)
  • In his postseason debut, Bell became the ninth Steeler (17th occurrence) to have a 100-yard rushing game in the postseason. The most recent to do it? The immortal Isaac Redman (in “The Tebow Game” Jan. 8, 2012 at Denver)
  • It also took all of one postseason game for Bell to become the 11th Steeler (14th occurrence) to have two or more rushing touchdowns in a playoff game (the most recent had been Rashard Mendenhall vs. Baltimore on Jan. 15, 2011)

 

 

Kansas City in six days. Enjoy your week.

 

 

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January 6, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Mitchell says Steelers ‘have got to smash the run’ of Dolphins, Ajayi

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The news coming out of Miami on Thursday was that Matt Moore officially will start Sunday’s wild card playoff game at Heinz Field against the Steelers.

 

 

 

 

But Mike Mitchell didn’t want to talk about Moore.

 

 

 

 

“You take all that passing stuff out the window – we’ve got to smash the run,” the Steelers safety said after practice. “We went down there (to Miami on Oct. 16) and gave up (222) yards rushing. We just got beat in a very physical manner.”

 

 

 

 

To hear a Steelers defensive player admit that — “We just got beat in a very physical manner” – might as well be akin to walking through a vat of battery acid. Among other things, the Steelers (their defense, in particular) takes a particular pride in always being the more physical team. This dates back well into the Farrior/Hampton/Polamalu/Porter defenses of the previous decade, and truth be told, surely reaches back much further, way back to the Steel Curtain of the 70s.

 

 

 

 

JayA

The Steelers were “just beat in a very physical nature” by Jay Ajayi and the Dolphins in Week 6. (Chaz Palla, Tribune-Review photo)

Even though he’s only in his third season with the Steelers, Mitchell is as prideful as they come in regards to upholding the Steelers defense’s reputation and standards. So while getting beat is one thing – getting beat by way of the other team out-physicalling you? It had to pain Mitchell to admit that (and he did so no fewer than four times Thursday).

 

 

 

 

“I don’t really know that it’s something you admit; you just have to watch the tape,” Mitchell said. “I’m a big guy that the tape tells a story – and if you watched it, you know. Any time (the opponent) runs for more than 200 yards, you weren’t more physical than them, that’s for sure.”

 

 

 

 

Led by Jay Ajayi’s 204 yards, the Dolphins rushed for 222 yards in a 30-15 win for Miami on Oct. 16. That’s the most the Steelers allowed this season during a game in which all their starters played (in other words, any game except last week’s meaningless finale against Cleveland) by a wide margin. The 140 yards New England put up the following week is the second-most against the Steelers this season.

 

 

Only three times since Mitchell arrived in 2014 has an opponent rushed for even within 50 yards of the 222 the Dolphins put up 12 weeks ago.

 

 

We’re not the same team we were back then – I don’t think they are either – but we spent the early parts of this week and since that game correcting those issues and trying to get those corralled in,” Mitchell said. “But that being said, it’s a very physical football team; they’re going to come in and try to play exactly the same way they played in the first game. And we have to try to answer accordingly.”

 

 

Does the memory of that game mean the Steelers’ defense is compelled to declare that it won’t happen again like that this time?

 

 

“It needs to be,” Mitchell said. “But everything we say is irrelevant – it’s about what we do on Sunday.”

 

 

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January 4, 2017
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Artie Burns – created by God – believes he can, in fact, cover Jarvis Landry

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Landry — shown here making a catch in front of Artie Burns — on if there’s a DB who can stop him: “I have not found one yet and probably never will find one in my career.” (Photo courtesy USA Today)

 

 

 

SOUTH SIDE – On the seventh day, God rested. The NFL, however, plays on Sundays. So Jarvis Landry wonders why God didn’t spend at least part of that day creating the world’s perfect cornerback.

 

 

Because if He did, according Landry, someone – finally – might be able to cover him.

 

 

Landry is the leading receiver for the Miami Dolphins, who of course are in Pittsburgh this Sunday to play the Steelers in an AFC wild-card game.

 

 

Last week, The Ringer’s Kevin Clark asked Landry what defensive back can stop him. Landry replied, “I have not found one yet and probably never will find one in my career.”

 

 

This exchange ensued:

 

Why?

“God hasn’t made one. He can’t and he won’t.”

There must be someone, right? Seattle’s Richard Sherman?

“One-on-one? No.”

Arizona’s Patrick Peterson?

“No.”

New England’s Malcolm Butler?

“No.”

Kansas City’s Marcus Peters?

“No.”

He volunteers a name:

“Deion Sanders? No.”

 

 

The Steelers’ Ross Cockrell and Artie Burns weren’t even under consideration, of course – which is understandable considering the duo combines for just 32 career starts. And Landry also had a good-but-not-remarkable day when he faced the Steelers in South Florida on Oct. 16: In only three games this season did Jarvis Landry have more catches than he had against the Steelers (seven). In only four games did he attain more yardage (91).

 

 

Burns was asked Wednesday morning what he thought about Landry’s comments:

“I mean, that’s his opinion, that’s his motto, that’s the way he thinks. Every man has to have a high opinion of themselves and has got to boost their confidence and stuff like that, you know? That’s just the way thinks.

“I don’t know him on a personal level – I’ve seen him play, I respect his game and he’s a real good receiver.”

 

 

Burns was asked if he has the same “no-one-can-beat-me” mentality as a cornerback:

“Most definitely. That’s the nature of ‘ball; you gotta have that ego about yourself. You can’t just go out there and be like, ‘Oh this guy is real good – he might beat me,’ or something like that.”

 

 

Burns was not a starter for that 30-15 loss to the Dolphins; he became one two weeks later. Now, he rarely leaves the field for the Steelers’ defense. Safe to say, we’l learn Sunday whether Burns is an earthly human being capable of limiting Landry.

 

 

(Then again, no confirmation is available on the carbon-based life flesh-and-blood composition of the DB’s for the Jets or 49ers, who this season during games held Landry to 33 and 28 receiving yards, respectively).

 

 

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